It was overcast with an on and off drizzle as we left San Antonio for Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home. As we left San Antonio Babs snapped this photo of an edifice called “Tower of America”, a 750 foot tall tower located in Hemisfair Park which was the site of the 1968 Worlds Fair. The tower is said to symbolize desire for achievement.
First stop, Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home in Johnson City, TX, and a ranger guided tour of the house. Our tour guide Ranger Brian Vickers, no relation to the NASCAR driver, explained that Lyndon moved here at the age of five from the farm where he was born. The house is a six-room simple farm house. As a boy Lyndon lived there with his brother and three sisters. Lyndon’s mother was a teacher who had a bachelor’s degree which was unheard of at that time. His father, a Texas State Congressman, supported his family as the ranger said, “working as a “Jack of all trades” and master of none”. The ranger said the most important part of the home place is that it was where Lyndon Johnson learned the value of education from his mother and the liberal Democrat political philosophy from his father.
The LBJ ranch, or Texas White House, as reporters called it, is located about 20 miles outside of Johnson City. Then U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson purchased the ranch from the estate of his sister. The LBJ ranch was 2800 acres, 600 of which, including the house, they gave to the National Park Service. The ranch was then and is still today a working cattle ranch.
It has its own airstrip capable of landing a small version of a Presidential jet.
Me and Lyndon, who’d of thought?
The house is over 8,000 square feet including 8 bedrooms (6 bedrooms and 5 baths upstairs). Both Lyndon and Lady Bird had separate bedroom suites downstairs so that Lady Bird would not be disturbed by business being conducted by the President at all hours of the night. There was at least one telephone in every room and either three televisions, one for each national news network at he time, or an ability to view the three televisions from where he sat. No photos were allowed in the house.
The site also had some of Lyndon ‘s cars including a German version of an aqua car. Lyndon liked convertibles, Lady Bird hardtops.
Also on the ranch is Lyndon Johnson’s birthplace, his grandfather’s house, his school, and the family cemetery where he and Lady Bird are buried.
It was after 1:30 p.m. when we left the ranch for our destination to night, Del Rio, TX which is about 4 and 1/2 hours drive. Of course, because we were not picnicking, there was a picnic area or rest stop every 20 miles or less, but no restaurants or fast food places. About 2:45 we rolled into Fredericksburg, TX and a Church’s Fried Chicken place, pure heavenly chicken! This was a pleasant little town with an old fashioned downtown area that was thriving. It looked like a great place to walk the streets and window shop, but we didn’t!
After Fredericksburg there is a whole lot of nothing until you get to Del Rio. On the way all we saw was wild turkeys in the road and antelope in the brush.
Tonight we are in an older Best Western Inn that has been recently renovated and clean. Dinner was at Don Marcelino’s Mexican restaurant. Babs didn’t like hers, she’s a tough sell! My enchiladas were good and I like the re fried beans and rice.
Tomorrow we go to the Amistad National Recreation Area and then to Big Bend National Park.
Babs Says: If LBJ”s family was so poor, and his only careers were a teacher and politician, how did he end up with such a big, prosperous ranch and huge home? Being a teacher did not get me all that , so I guess politician is the money maker.