Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson: 1912-2007

We lost another great Texan today, Lady Bird Johnson. No matter if you agreed with her or her husband’s politics or not, all could concur that her mission to beautify the country and the state of Texas with wildflowers was a glorious, wonderful thing. Whenever I see bluebonnets, I think of Lady Bird, and I’m thankful her legacy of gorgeous, blooming flowers will continue far into the future. Not to mention, she was an excellent cook and some of her recipes are now a staple in many a Texan’s and homesick Texan’s collection alike.

I met her once, and she was chockful of both homespun spirit and well-bred grace—our brief conversation is a memory I’ll always treasure. I was horribly saddened to hear she had left us, but at least she can now reconnect with her Darling in the afterlife. Not to mention she can also meet up with other late, great Texans such as Molly Ivins and Ann Richards as well. My bet is there are some incredible parties happening upstairs!

Rest well, Lady Bird, and many thanks for adding so much beauty to Texas’s landscape. Our highway vistas wouldn’t be nearly as glorious without your efforts. You were a true daughter of Texas and we are all grateful for how your efforts improved our lives.

Good-bye and farewell. You will be missed.

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27 comments:

BEAR said...

When you get to meet a great one, they capture your imagination and your heart. What a blessing it must have been to meet Miss Lady Bird. If I may, I would like to share my little story. I was at a Christmas Party in Houston a number of years ago, and I met this dear woman who was many years my senior. No one was talking with her and so I decide I would. What an adventure. She was the mother of the best friend of the hostess. Well, they were good people so she must be a fine lady. Let us learn more. Before long talk turned to religion and politics, and old Texas history. At the end of our hour long visit, she asked if I would care to come visit with her sometime at her home in East Texas, for she enjoyed our conversation and had more to tell me. I told her I would be delighted and she told me where she lived, on Lake Sam Rayburn. I told her that I knew the lake well for I fished there all the time and that, as I am sure she knew, it was named for the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, where upon she corrected me gently and said, "no, Barry, it was named for my husband." Then, I knew who she was and realized what a genteel lady I was in the presence of. What a serendipitous Christmas Present that was.

Lydia said...

Who can forget her efforts to spread beauty (and wildflowers) all over this country? I didn't remember that she was a good cook, but I remember her as a steady and calm presence during the years she was in the national spotlight.

Lissa said...

You said it so much better than I ever could. As much as I go on about how much I miss Texas food, the Texas wildflowers are something I miss dearly - and like the food, it's hard to find wildflowers like they're "served" in Texas.

Rest in peace, dear Ladybird.

Frank said...

It is a sad day here in Austin,TX as the tributes to Lady Bird abound. She started the 'green' movement before it was cool.

Mike said...

As I leave our little 'burb north of Dallas each morning....more times than not I'm stuck at the FM407 light. Recently, a new xeriscape bed was planted at this intersection...a variety of wild grasses/Texas sage/boulders and one solitary bluebonnet. This morning I stared at the wildflower....thought about Lady Bird....thought about the Hill Country...Fredericksburg...
Enchanted Rock....Crabapple Creek.....I need to get back to the "hills" as my dad used to say.

Yaya said...

For me it's just not Spring until those wildflowers have bloomed. I could be having a bad day, but the sight of a bluebonnet brings a smile to my face and peace.

May you rest in peace and God's beauty in heaven above Ladybird.

Sherpa said...

I've lived in DC for almost 6 years. Each spring I thank the Lord for Lady Bird. DC is the biggest success for her beautification and roadside flower project.

Madam Chow said...

A remarkable woman, and her work with American wildlowers and beautification of our highways was much needed. Thanks for the post.
On another note, I've tagged you!

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I had the chance to visit the LBJ museum in Austin a couple of months ago and came away with a new appreciation for this remarkable woman. Glad we had her with us for 94 years.

The County Clerk said...

Yes. A loss.

Texas is less now.

TexanNewYorker said...

Can't you just picture her telling St. Peter that, oh, those pearly gates are nice, but what would really offset those highways of gold would be some bluebonnets? :o)

Anonymous said...

I stopped by to mourn with you, and was comforted by your words.

Although she was admired as a most graceful first lady and the woman behind the man, she was a business woman. In 1942 she bought a radio station with a meager inheritance from her mother. She turned it into a multimillion-dollar corporation.

There's much to admire about this great lady. Thanks for giving us a place to express our love and sadness.

Texann

Kalyn said...

What a lovely tribute. I did admire her, and I certainly thought of her when I went to Texas and saw all the bluebonnets.

Anonymous said...

Lovely entry about a wonderful woman. I was sad to hear about her passing too. :(

Ari (Baking and Books)

Melissa said...

Lady Bird,

Thank you for making all those drives I took, back and forth to college and then to see My Love in the Hill Country, so beautiful and memorable. What a legacy you've left. May God bless all the loved ones you've left behind.

Anonymous said...

This link will take you to a tribute page on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. Click on the image gallery. My favorite is in the "early years" and shows Lady Bird as a young girl standing on a crooked pier holding a string of fish. Ahhhh a true Texas girl.

Enjoy! Texann

http://www.ladybirdjohnsontribute.org/

Vanessa said...

Lisa, I so agree. As a child I remember listening to LB talk about "trees, bushes, and shrubs" and I just loved her. But 94 years is a good run and as you say she is kicking her heels and dancing with the man she loves and her faithful friends. As endings go it seem like a good one.

Susan said...

What a lovely remembrance for a lovely woman. I knew that Lady Bird was largely responsible for beautifying our country but I didn't know about her cooking talents. Thanks you for sharing pointing that out, Lisa. You are fortunate to have met such an inspirational woman.

Happy said...

Lady Bird was a true Texas wildflower. She bloomed wherever she was planted. She radiated folksy wisdom and gentility while never losing the common touch.

May her rich legacy of beauty and compassion continue to grow in us!

vlb5757 said...

Texas has lost a great citizen. My MIL used to live in Austin and belonged to the same Wildflower group that Lady Bird belonged to. She said she was every bit the lady you think she would be.

EVille said...

In a state well-known for strong, influential women, Lady Bird was the quiet giant among them. For me, it was comforting to know that, although quiet, she was still there, a rare tie to a past when I was so inspired, idealistic and much younger. Many days that has been the strength I relied on.

We are on our own now, folks. Perhaps it's time to assure the legacies of our own time and lives. To be remembered by just one person the way millions remember Lady Bird could be considered a great life indeed!

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

What a beautiful post!
She indeed was a gentle spirit and a gracious southern lady.
She had to live up to the name of Lady Bird!
Thankfully she left her wildflowers behind for us.

Homesick Houstonian said...

the recipes link is not working

Lisa said...

Yes, a fond "farewell" to Lady Bird. She left a wonderful legacy. My friend Shirley is from Texas, and two of her children live there (Austin and El Paso). She drives out there once a year for an extended visit, and she's always sending me these wonderful e-mail messages describing the wildflowers.

ALL THE BEST said...

A lovely, strong and wonderful woman who will long be remember!

Robbie said...

On Sunday morning last week, I got on my motorcycle in Austin, and got onto HWY 290 just a few minutes ahead of Lady Bird's cortege.

The 40 mile ride into Johnson City was an emotional and moving experience --- the entire route was lined with thousands of people. Almost every person seemed to be holding a US Flag, a Texas flag, and handfuls of wildflowers.

Every sign I saw along the ride expressed the same overwhelming sentiment: gratitude.

I wasn't sure if I were more proud of being an American that day, or of being a Texan.

IF you ever doubt that patriotism is dead in this country, I'd advice a long, slow drive through small-town Texas.

The other thing that stood out to me along the route: Men in hats. Nearly every man on the route was wearing a hat (mostly of the cowboy vareity).

I was proud to stop in Johnson City and stand in the streets as the cortege passed just a few feet from me.

All in all, a very moving day.

Julie said...

She's left a wonderful legacy. I grew up in Washington, DC and the banks of daffodils that bloom alongside Rock Creek Parkway each spring were planted because of her.

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