Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Texas White House

December 4, 2014

There was fog when we woke up this morning. The plan was to visit “The Texas White House” and we had our coffee and a quick breakfast and we were on our way. The route took us through the Texas Hill Country and the fog was fairly thick in some areas. By the time we arrived at our destination the sun was starting to peek out between the clouds.

The Texas White House is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. It is free to the public except for the tour of the house itself which cost us $6.00. At the visitor center you are given a vehicle pass and the staff shows you the route to take. They were very welcoming and answered all the questions we had. Plus they warned us, since this is a working ranch, to watch for cattle on the roads. We also watched a short interview given by Lyndon Baines Johnson as he gave a tour of the ranch and buildings.

Junction School
During his administration Lyndon Johnson signed more education bills
into law then any other president.
As a four year old he learned to read at this one room school house.
 As President he  returned 53 years later and signed
the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Lyndon Johnson was born, lived, died and is buried here.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on this site on August 27, 1908
The house was rebuilt in 1964 to be used as a guest house.
President and Lady Bird Johnson are buried here.
The taller stones his is on the right hers on the left.
A better view of the oaks. In the interview we watched
the President talked about walking down to the cemetery
and the calmness he felt when he was there.

Johnson stipulated to park planners that the LBJ Ranch remain a working ranch, and not a "sterile relic of the past."
To that end, the National Park Service maintains a herd of Hereford cattle descended from the same bloodline as the herd that Lyndon Johnson owned. They look more like 1960s Hereford cattle and so they can be called "history on the hoof." They manage the ranch lands as a living demonstration of ranching the LBJ way.

You receive the tickets for the "Texas White House" tour at the hanger just a short walk from the house and I did not even think to take a picture. Though we did take one of the plane parked in front.
Johnson was the first Vice-President to have an aircraft assigned to
him. He choose this JetStar. He continued to use it as President for
transportation to and from the ranch. The sign said he jokingly referred
to it as Air Force One and a Half. Though it did bear the call sign
Air Force One.
As the 36th President of the United States we were told he spent about 20 percent of his time at this ranch and for this reason reporters started referring to it as the Texas White House and the name stuck.

We were not allowed to take pictures on the tour.

President and Mrs. Johnson gave their home, known as the “Texas White House,” to the American people in 1972, retaining lifetime rights to live there. After the President's death in 1973 Mrs. Johnson continued to live there part time until her death in 2007. In 2008 they opened his office, 2009 living room and dining room were opened and 2011 the entire first floor. We were able to tour the first floor rooms which are restored to appear as they were during the time he was in office. Except for their bedrooms which we were told were left as they were when they died.  Our guide said the second floor consists of six bedrooms, one of which their daughters occupied the other five were for visitors, and five bathrooms.
The first room we saw was his office which had three other desks besides his. From what we were told by our guide he was always working. A Television was mounted as to be seen in the whole room. We were told he was worried about his image and he paid close attention to the news and what was being said. If he did not like it he would pick up the phone and call the station and let them know in no uncertain terms his dislike of what was said and as she said his language was to say the least colorful. 

It is a good size home but broken up into several rooms which makes it seem a lot smaller then you would think. I was reminded of when we toured the White House itself how the rooms seem smaller then I thought they would from seeing them on the television. Speaking of televisions in the living room there were three televisions one for each major network at the time; ABC, NBC, and CBS.

His chair at the formal dinning room table was on wheels so he could easily move over if he wanted to check what was on the news during dinner. There was also a phone attached under the table next to his chair.

One of the rooms we saw was Lady Birds sitting room. It had originally been the master bedroom. It was explained to us after waking up more then once to men standing in the bedroom, conferring with the President, Lady Bird had the two bedrooms added on to the house. So she could have some privacy and be able to sleep without interruption. In the Presidents bedroom he had a phone on both sides of the bed.

The tour guide talked about the fact that President Johnson never stopped working. His idea of relaxation and getting away from the duties of President was to check in on the operations of the Ranch itself. Something he did everyday.

We enjoyed the tour of the ranch and being able to catch a small glimpse into the life of a man who took running our country very seriously.

“All the World is Welcome Here”  ~Lyndon Johnson


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