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tv   First Lady Lady Bird Johnson  CSPAN  November 18, 2013 9:00pm-11:01pm EST

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currency that allows people to exchange real goods and services without using real money. and later, testimony about finances in the homeland security department. a beautification to my mind is far more than a matter of cosmetics. to me it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the manmade world into harmony, to bring ardor, usefulness, delight to our whole environment. and that of course only begins with trees and flowers and landscaping. >> that's from the film created by the johnson administration, with lady bird johnson talking
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about beautification, her signature issue as first lady. she was a natural campaigner, successful businesswoman, and a savvy political partner to her husband, our 36th president, lyndon baines johnson. good evening and welcome to c-span's "first ladies: influence and image." tonight we'll tell you the story of claudia taylor johnson, known to everyone as lady bird. the wife of our 36th president. here to tell her story tonight are two guests -- cokie roberts, political commentator for abc news and npr. she's also the author of two books about women's political history -- "founding mothers" and "ladies of liberty." thanks for being here. >> betty karolyi is a first ladies expert. she's the author of numerous books including "first ladies from martha washington to michelle obama." and she's currently working on a new biography of lady bird johnson. ladies, i want to start with the beginning, where we were 50 years ago this week. this is an administration birthed in national tragedy. what were the immediate challenges for the brand new first couple in those first terrible days after the
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assassination of kennedy? >> well, they were enormous. first of all, nobody knew whether there was a widespread plot. and so the country was in terror for a period of time. and then they had to -- they had to be both taking over and making sure that there was a peaceful transition of power without seeming to take over because of the image of being -- pushing the kennedys out of the way, any of that. so they had to be very, very careful. in how they handled it. and lyndon johnson was very lucky that he had lady bird to help him with that because she had a good ear for knowing exactly what to say and when to say it. >> and in particular what did she do during those first weeks? >> she said she felt like she was on stage for a part she had never rehearsed. but in fact i think it would be hard to find a first lady better prepared than she was. and she immediately started taking notes. you know, we have her shorthand notes while she was still waiting to hear whether
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president kennedy had died. and on the way back, on the plane she started making plans for mutting her radio station into some sort of blind trust so that they would not be accused of profiting from it. so she really took over very fast. i mean, she was a good study. >> i'd like to just play off of that idea of her taking notes. because this was an administration which documented itself extensively. they were -- there was a daily diary that she recorded of herself. there were also the lyndon johnson phone tapes which many people -- >> which are fabulous. >> -- who love political history are aware of. then there was also a naval television crew that followed the first couple around and documented. is this new to this administration, or had this been going on for a while with presidents? >> i think the amount of documentation is new. she didn't record every day because some days were just too full. but she would -- she had a little recording machine, and on days that were too busy she
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would stuff brown envelopes with menus or lists of people she had seen and then she would get an hour or so and sit down and record. so those recordings are still being triebd. they're wonderful. her white house diary, which people may have read, is i think 800 pages. but that's only an eighth of what she has on those tapes. so we're waiting for the rest of it to come out. >> i mean, there were before this recordings of course. we have some kennedy recordings. we have some roosevelt recordings. and louisa catherine adams, john quincy adams' wife, wrote when she was first lady the autobiography of a nobody, which tells you something about her state of mind at the time. there was -- i think that most first couples have an awareness of the magnitude of the job. but lady bird johnson had such a sense of history that she understood. she said she dared herself to keep a diary and she understood that was something special.
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>> in fact, throughout this program we will see some of the video from the naval crew that followed the couple around to document their days in the white house and here are some of the clips. we're going to start with one of those. this is lady bird johnson on november 22nd, 1963, recording that first tragic day that brought them into the white house. >> mrs. kennedy's dress was stained with blood. one leg was almost entirely covered with it. and her right glove was caked. that immaculate woman, it was caked with blood, her husband's blood. she always wore gloves like she was used to them. i never could. and that was somehow one of the most poignant sights. exquisitely dressed and caked in
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blood. i asked her if i couldn't get somebody to come in to help her change. and she said oh, no, that's all right. perhaps later i'll ask for gallagher, but not right now. and then that person, that gentle, that dignified, you can say had an element of fierceness. she said, "i want them to see what they have done to jack." it was decided that he should be sworn in there in dallas as quickly as possible. and there, in the very narrow confines of the plane were jackie on his left. her hair falling in her eyes but very composed, and then lyndon,
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and then i was on his right. church shoes with the bible in front of him and a cluster of secret service people and congressmen we'd known a long time. lyndon took the oath of office. >> what are you hearing there that people should understand about lady bird johnson? >> well, she's very specific. i had really forgotten how she gets so many details. and her description of that but also before that when she talks about walking into the hospital. and the kennedy car was still there. and she saw this bundle of pink blossoms and the blood around it. she's a very astute observer. wonderful. >> she's also a wonderful writer. and she's aware of that. she writes intentionally. but she's clearly -- i mean, she's also clearly upset in that recording. you can hear it. and she's trying to both
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describe the situation but at the same time give homage to jacqueline kennedy, this very meticulous woman caked in blood. all of that to say -- she's trying to tell you what was happening but not to in some way sensationalize it. >> and for her following in mrs. kennedy's footsteps, cokie roberts referred to this sort of delicate dance of being respectful but needing to take control. what was the two women's relationship like? >> well, lady bird johnson, many people said you must be -- this is a daunting act to follow. and she said, well, feel sorry for mrs. kennedy, not for me because i still have my husband. and i think she made a special effort not to imitate in any way some of the projects that she considered, for example, buftifying the mall. lyndon johnson had advised her not to do that because the kennedys had done something
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similar. but she was an amazing -- she was amazingly absent. she didn't have envy of anybody. she seemed to consider the kennedys a different generation. and i find her amazing in that regard, that she knew that jacqueline kennedy was extremely popular and yet she knew that she had a lot to offer too. >> and she had filled in for jackie kennedy. >> many times. >> that's something you have to keep in mind. there were lots of times that mrs. kennedy was pregnant, she'd lost a baby, she wasn't well a lot of times. a lot of things she didn't want to do. and mrs. johnson filled in. so she knew the role well. and she was a quintessential washington political wife. she had been on this scene since the 1930s and she really knew it well and she had a cadre of other political wives who were just extraordinary women and
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they all gathered around her and that made that transition somewhat easier. >> we should say at the outset, among those women who gathered around was your own mother. can you talk about the friendship between your parents and the johnsons? >> well, my father was first elected to congress in 1940. he was 26, and my mother was 24. think of it. and in that -- that was of course before world war ii. and so still the rules were still there of calling. so you had to go calling. and it was -- you know, the supreme court on monday. the cabinet on tuesday. i'm making up the days. but the senate on wednesda like that. and there was my mother, this 24-year-old girl, except people were older then than they are now. so her first day of having to go calling. and the horn honks outside and she goes running down and it's lady bird johnson and pauline gore, al gore's mother. and they took her calling that first day. and the friendship has been very, very warm ever since.
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to the point all through their husbands' political lives and then when they both became widows they traveled together and had a wonderful time together. >> we're going to step back in time and learn more about the biography of the woman who became first lady on november 2 27bd, 1963, but before we do that a reminder about your involvement. these programs are interesting because of your questions, and we hope you'll join in tonight. three ways you can do it. you can tweet us @c-span's website. @firstladies. we're also already taking questions from people on our facebook page. and you can call in. here are the phone numbers. if you live in the eastern half of the united states, eastern or central, 205-385-3880. pacific or mountain or further quest. 202-585-3881. and we'll mix your questions throughout our 90-minute program. her biography. where was she born and to whom? >> she was born in a -- well, you can't really say a town because it's a house outside the town which is really not much of a town either.
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carnac, texas. in 1912. december 1912. in a big house. i mean, one of the things i found in studying first ladies is how many of them married down. that is, they married into families considerably below theirs economically, socially, sometimes even education. and it made a big impression on me to drive past the house where lady bird johnson was born. that 17-room house with six fireplaces and the big white columns. and then go 300 miles. it's right near the louisiana border. and then drive 300 miles west and see that low to the ground four-room cabin where lyndon johnson was born. so she came from a far wealthier background than he did. >> what are the important things to know about her childhood and what shaped her? >> well, i think the death of her mother. she was only 5 when her mother died in what i consider mysterious circumstances. and she was a very lonely child, although she said she wasn't.
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but how would she know what any other kind of childhood would be like? she had two older brothers but me were sent away to boarding school. >> they were a good bit older. >> they were a good bit older. they were sent away to boorgd school. particularly tommy, the oldest brother, she said she never knew him, when he died in 1959 of pancreatic cancer she said she cried harder than she'd ever cried in her life. so it was a lonely childhood, i think. even her name, lady bird, the typical story is it came from a nurse, but she says in her interview with mike gillette that it was really two little african-american playmates, the children of hired help, who decided to call her that because they didn't like claudia. but it was not considered somehow acceptable to say that she had african-american playmates. so the nurse was brought in and it was attributed to the nurse, the lady bird. >> and an aunt.
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someone she ended up having to take care of. so there she was, this little girl all by herself in this big house, a father that was around but had no clue what to do with her. this sort of nutty old southern aunt. and some playmates here and there. but the big advantage to that was she became a world-class reader. >> how important was it for southwestern women of that vintage to get an education? was it unusual that she went to college? >> yes. slightly. but by that time more women were going to college. i mean, we're now talking the 1920s and into the 30s. yes, it was more common than it was clearly a generation before that. >> do we know why she was interested in journalism? >> i think that for a lot of women -- do you have an answer to that? >> she was interested in high school. so it's obviously an early interest. and i think it was part of her plan to get out of that area, to get out of that part of texas. >> i also think for a lot of
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women, you know, they could write. they had learned to write. and that that was something that they thought they could do. my mother wanted to be a journalist too. and they both ended up as politicians. >> the interesting thing to her approach, here she was from a wealthy family and she not only got a college degree but she also got a teaching certificate and learned stenography. >> that's what a girl did to prepare for all possibilities, right? >> but isn't it interesting that she felt the need to prepare for all possibilities with as much money as she had? >> yes. because she had a good income. i figured that she was inheriting about $7,500 a year in the 1930s, which was about what five school teachers could make. but her aim -- i think her aim was to get out of there. she said some faraway place like hawaii or alaska. and remember, she went to the same journalism school as walter cronkite. in fact, they had the same professor. singled out the same professor as a favorite. cronkite said he was a good
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professor. i think his name was paul bolton. and she hired him to head the news division, that same professor, when she bought the radio station. so i think we forget how very well trained she was as a journalist. >> how did she meet lyndon johnson? >> well, by chance supposedly. but it was certainly through a woman that they both knew, and they must have heard something about each other before. it was a september afternoon when lady bird had dropped into the woman's office. her name was jean beringer, a woman she'd grown up with although the woman was older than she. and lyndon dropped by the same office. it was as lady bird says in one of the interviews, it was electric going from the first minute. and the love letters, which have just -- the courtship letters, which were released by the library last valentine's day, everybody should read them online. you just put lbj courtship letters and you can read the transcripts.
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they were conduct a hot and heavy courtship there. >> and fast. he was not going to waste any time. she was either going to marry him or not. >> he was at the time a congressional aide. >> right. >> so she knew she was going to be selecting a life in politics. >> i guess so. i mean, you could be an aide and not run. but he clearly had ambitions. and she was for those ambitions. >> and he seemed like -- you call it whirlwind but it seemed like he called it, if you raeld the books, very directed. he knew he wanted her from the get-go. was she encouraging this? did she have any doubts about it? >> from her own oral history she basically says hold on here. as anybody would. and he essentially said, well, are you going to marry me or not? because if not let's just not see each poop she didn't want to have him gone. so she finally said, okay. >> did her father approve? >> he liked lind okay but he
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thought it was too fast. they met on september 6th and lyndon showed up on halloween. so what is that? seven weeks later. i mean, the time they'd spent together, which was about five days, i think, and he was ready to get married right then. so even the father said this is a little too fast. and the woman who introduced them thought it was too fast. and aunt effie certainly thought it was too fast. so yes, against really all the family counsel she went ahead -- she said when she got in the car that saturday morning and they drove down to san antonio to get married she didn't know whether she would get out on the way. so she really didn't make her mind up until 6:00 when she went to the church. >> they were very young. 22. and he was 26 when they married. >> she wasn't quite 22. she was 21. because her birthday came afterwards. >> but that was normal. >> 21 to 23 was normal. >> it was a very normal time to get married. >> before we learn more about their political life let's take a few calls. we'll begin with james in
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oakland, california. hi, james, what's on your mind? >> caller: hi. i have two questions. one is did lady bird johnson have any contact with jacqueline kennedy after she was first qulad? and did lady bird johnson ever have doubts about the vietnam war? >> thanks very much. did they continue their contact after the johnson white house began? >> yes. the johnsons, the tax bill, when that was signed, when lyndon johnson signed that he went with lady bird johnson to the house of jackie kennedy in georgetown and gave her four pens. one for her, one for each of the kids, and one for the library. i think during the white house years the contact was rather formal. the johnsons certainly invited mrs. kennedy back but she never came back while they were there. they gave gifts to the children. i know the first christmas, for example, they gave john jr. a fire engine. they certainly reached out to
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her. after the white house, though, in the 1980s, after she was widowed, lady bird johnson and jacqueline kennedy -- i guess we wouldn't say renewed a friendship. really established a friendship when they were both on martha's vineyard for periods in the summer. >> when you look at the documentary evidence, certainly she supported her husband publicly. in her private materials did you ever find any doubts she expressed about the vietnam war? >> i never saw anything. >> she said if you're going to start a war it has to be because of some big event like pearl harbor. and to me that meant she thought they didn't have it in vietnam. >> it was so hard with all of the protests. and they were so personal. and that i think would put you in a position where you just want to support him no matter what. >> michael's in washington, d.c. hi, michael. >> caller: hi, susan. i wanted to let you know that this program is just fabulous. thank you so much. i've watched it all the way from the beginning. >> thanks for watching.
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>> caller: my first question is did lady bird johnson have any of the former first ladies that were living at the time, obviously jackie kennedy didn't come back, she didn't come back till the nixon administration, but did she have any of the former first ladies back at the white house and was she the oldest, longest-living former first lady? >> thank you very much. >> the longest-living, we just discussed this, was bess truman, right? but it's a very close tie. i think bess truman made it to 95 and lady bird johnson and betty ford were both 94. so it's very close. the other question about -- >> did other first ladies come back? >> i don't remember who else was around to come back. mamie eisenhower and bess truman. >> and lou hoover? >> no. lou hoover was dead in '44. but i know that the johnsons went to the trumans in independence because that's where they signed the medicare act. and certainly there's a picture of them all there.
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but i don't remember anything about -- they did confer with the eisenhowers about how to give the ranch to the nation, which is what the eisenhowers had done with the gettysburg farm. but i don't remember having any luncheons for former first ladies. >> early in their marriage lyndon johnson gave lady bird a movie camera, and there are many hours of what are really family home movies that are now recorded and accessible to historians and other researchers at the lyndon johnson library. we're going to see one of those next. it is from the 1941 special election. >> son-in-law. that had ensued, went all over texas. a night rally. some of the gestures have persisted through the years.
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weight was not his problem then. sometimes he'd sweat down three or four suits a day. over on the right, the emcee. all i did in those days was wait and look. this is in competition with a carnival. never try to do it. >> they are fun to watch with the commentary. >> can i just say that those are accessible to anyone online. if you just put johnson, lbj, home movies, about 35 of them come up and you can watch them all. she said, by the way, that was her favorite campaign, and it's the only one they lost. >> lost. >> would you talk about his progression from congressional aide to the congress? >> well, when she married him, he was a congressional aide, and that's when she started out.
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she got the new year's eve, 1934. she'd been married, what, six weeks, five weeks or something. and he served about a year before they went back to texas. so he could be head of the national youth administration. then she goes back in 1937 when he's elected to congress. and she's there for about a dodd years as cokie said as a congressional wife and she's very good at making -- at networking with other women. she's a very loyal member of the congressional wives' club. then he gets elected to the senate in 1948 and she's a very loyal member of the senate wives. but in the house years, in 1941, after pearl harbor, lyndon enlisted. he'd been in the naval reserves, and he enlisted and went off on active duty, and she ran his congressional office. i don't think we have another first lady who ever ran her husband's office. bess truman worked in her husband's senate office for pay, and lady bird johnson was always
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very careful to say in all the letters that she sent out that she was volunteering her services. >> and it's remarkable. he just left her in charge and off he went. and then various friends of his reported to him she was running the office a whole lot better than he had. but coming back to what betty was saying about network with the political women, it was an extraordinary group of women to begin with but what they were doing was not sitting around drinking tea and tending to the tatting. they were very politically active. both in her husbands' campaigns and in the broader campaigns, registering campaigns, organizing conventions, all of that. but they were also very active in the district of columbia. it was before home rule. and they, no matter where they were from and at a time when it was not particularly -- wouldn't have been popular were it known where they were from, they
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worked with the african-american women here in washington on all kinds of social service issues. and they really did create a social safety net. >> one thing that was interesting in the home video that we -- home film we just saw was she said my job at that time was to sit and watch. at what point did it become -- this was 1941. become okay, acceptable for spouses of congressional candidates to become seen as being actively involved in campaigning? >> well, it was different in different places. and some had been active from the beginning. louisa catherine adams talked about "my vocation" to get her husband john quincy adams elected president. god knows he wasn't working on it. so they had been much more active than anybody gives them from for all through history. and certainly eleanor roosevelt was out there doing campaigning. so i -- and it was considered bad form if you didn't do a
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certain amount of campaigning. but it was behind the scenes, most of it, and i think qulad bird johnson deserves there for being the first wife of a presidential candidate to go off on a speak tour of her own. that was very knew. because even eleanor roosevelt campaigned for other candidates but i don't think she campaigned for her husband knell ran for that third term in 1940 because it wasn't considered -- i don't know. >> lady-like. >> laid you why-like to be open about your support for your husband. you were behind the scenes maybe organizing women to put up posters or sending out posters. you were thanking people. what did lady bird johnson say? the wife of and, her job is to walk behind him and say thank you. thank you. so it was pretty behind the scenes until i think the '60s. >> but jackie kennedy did do some ads in spanish, for instance, to try to get -- something we talk about all the time now. to try to get the hispanic vote.
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>> next is a question from ellen in murrieta, georgia. hi, owen. >> caller: hi. >> what's your question for us? >> caller: my question is -- i have two. first is what were lady bird johnson's hobbies? and two is what was her relationship with her kids? >> okay, owen. so how old are you? >> caller: i'm 9 years old. >> 9 years old. and how did you become interested in qullady bird john? >> caller: well, my mom has been telling me about these first ladies programs. and i really like history for a while. and, well, i wanted to be able to call in and watch one. and i am able to now. >> well, thank you very much for participating. >> that's wonderful. >> that's great. so the questions were did she have any hobbies? >> i would say her number one hobby was nature, the outdoors. i mean, she said it was "my kingdom, my world." and people told me that if she was doing something she didn't
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particularly like like sorting through pictures or doing some work that woz boring -- >> i think photography too. she did enjoy the photography. >> and also the second question was about her children. >> she was -- i mean, she was a mom. you know, there was no question but that she was a present mom. lyndon johnson is two, three months younger than i am. and lucy of course a few years younger. she was always around, and so were they. and then as she grew old they were very wonderful caretakers for her. >> we need to talk about -- we said at the outset shes with a successful businesswoman in her own right. another first she had, she was the first self-made millionaire among the first ladies. how did she become that? >> well, she inherited some money from -- and some land from relatives and she bought a radio
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station in 1943. i think the figure generally given is $17,500. and then she was very active in seeing that it was turned around from a money-losing operation to a money-making operation. she went down and lived in austin for six months or so and mopped floors and windows. >> i just couldn't get over this when i read it in her oral history. she takes over a radio station and starts running it. i mean, huh? how do you do that? she just went in, she changed the building, she changed the staff. she got the station up and cbs came in as an affiliate and it became this highly successful station that she was running. and johnson basically just said to her, go run that station. and off she went and did it. >> and she drove back and forth -- >> she drove back and forth constantly between washington and -- i did that as a kid, too.
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between new orleans and washington. it was no fun. there were no interstate highways. there was no air-conditioning in the cars. it took a long time. >> but is it fair to say she was a successful businessperson but it didn't hurt to have a politician who later became the majority leader of the senate as your spouse? >> yes. many people have charged her, for example, when it came time to apply for a tv station, the fact that her husband was a senator. other people just didn't apply for the license. but she kept a really careful eye on the reports she demanded. when she was in washington she demanded weekly reports and people said she went over them with a fine-toothed comb suggesting different sales pitches to use to sell air time. she was very active in who got hired. so she was managing a good stati station. >> and it was just the beginning. it became a communications empire. >> with tv. >> also during this time period the johnsons with lady bird,
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really her investment, bought the acres in the texas hill country that was known as the johnson ranch. we're going to learn more about that in this next video. >> the living room is the oldest room in the house, dating back to the 1890s. in fact, she would return to this as "our heart's home." this home out here on the ranch. we have a few things that speak to her connection to the room here. one of the things she wanted to highlight was the native american heritage here in the hill country. and we do have a small collection of arrowheads over there. mrs. johnson actually had her daughters linda and lucy look for arrowheads and mrs. johnson would pay them each $1 for every arrowhead she found that linda was doing quite a bit better at collecting them. and it turns out linda was actually paying her schoolmates 50 cents per arrowhead and collect a dollar from her mother. she had an eye for copper and collected various items through the years and had gifts from various friends. one of the objects that always gathers visitors' attention, the three television sets. the president loved to watch the
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news, and at that time the three major networks, abc, nbc, and cbs, would all shoat news at the same time. the president would turn down the volume on the television set he didn't want to watch. but mrs. johnson's favorite program was "gunsmoke." and she routinely altered her schedule so she could catch an episode of her favorite western. shortly after lyndon johnson became president the ranch was dubbed the texas white house and life at the ranch revolved around the home. and to show you the importance of the ranch and the home the johnsons returned home 74 times during johnson's five years as president. mrs. johnson as first lady loved to show off the texas hill country and her home. the guests to the ranch would often informally gather here in the den. and various heads of state came to visit. president diaz ordaz of mexico, west german chanceler lewd wiig echolt and israeli prime minister levi eshkol to name a few. the dining room was a special
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place for lady bird johnson where she entertained her guests. she picked out a wall paper very similar to the hill country. very similar to the scene she would have seen out her picture window that she had installed at her request. mrs. johnson gave a tour of the house in 1968 that was filmed where she featured the china that you see her, purchased in mexico, very colorful. the president would sit down at thend of the table where you see the cowhide chair with typically mrs. johnson at the other end of the table. and one feature that you'll notice next to their president, a handy telephone. president johnson loved working the telephones in the middle of a meal, could make a call or answer a call. mrs. johnson wasn't necessarily happy about that but she bought used to that because lyndon johnson was such a workaholic. as first lady mrs. johnson spent a lot of time here at the ranch and it was very important because it provided such a respite from all the turmoil of washington, particularly later in the presidency where the johnsons could come home,
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recharge their batteries and make that connection back to the land and this place they valued so much. >> how important was the ranch to them? >> well, she didn't like it at all. she said the house looked like a charles adams house. she was very annoyed when he bought it. but she got to love it. and as you heard, k5u8d called heart's home. >> the first ladies series which we've referred to a lot, the modern first ladies series, the biography of her is written by lou gould, who is sort of the dean of this series. he makes a point in here about the difference between the kennedys, who were people of the east coast and people of the sea, and the johnsons, who are people of the land, which spurred her -- their love of conservation. does that connection make sense? >> sure, it does. it makes a lot of sense. and that whole being part of texas, which is a whole almost
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country of its own, was very different from the boston early part of the country, all of that. this is where the country spread to and grew up and became exciting and sort of every -- on your own, out there. and of course being in a ranch like that really emphasizes it. but mrs. johnson again was very interesting about -- talked in the little film clip about being chancellor errhard there. and that was a great success, of bringing him to the ranch and serving him texas food instead of it being a white house state dinner. and of course that part of texas has a lot of people of german desce descent. and they were also around. and that was a great eye opener for the chancellor and a wonderful moment for those people in texas. >> many studies have been made and books have been written about lyndon johnson's senate majority leader career and what a powerful majority leader he
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was and how happy he was. master of the senate, for example. what were the vice presidential years like for lady bird? >> the vice presidential years for her were great, but they were terrible for him. everybody says they were his worst years. but she loved it. first of all, she traveled a lot. and i think she talked about arriving in senegal and feeling like she'd been put down in the middle of national geographic because it was -- so the travel was good. she really thrived on being second lady, if that's what we're going to call it. and of course as cokie pointed out she filled in a lot for mrs. johnson. >> but if he was unhappy and her role was really to keep him happy in his political career, keep the domestic life going. how did she help him through that? >> well, she tried. she was always trying to get him to go to the gym because he put on a lot of weight. and she tried to get him to watch his diet, and she invited a lot of people for him to --
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that he would like to see. but they were really not good years. i think everybody would agree that he did not do well. the vice president, that job is a little difficult for strong people. >> but she started these women doers luncheons, and she had them in places like senegal. and again, people think that this is something new under the sun, that just recent first ladies have been interested in women and women's issues and promoting the role of women around the world. mrs. johnson was doing that back when she was second lady. >> and this 1960 campaign, this is the one where she really came into her own and campaigned, understood what it was like to be on the national stage in a way she hadn't in the past. is that right? >> well, i don't think anybody knows what it's like to be on the national stage until they're on it. i think that's always a shock. no matter how experienced you are as a candidate or as a candidate's family.
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to run as president and vice president is a whole other thing. >> how popular? the 1960 ticket in the southern states in particular with a roman catholic on the ticket had a big selling job to do. also the south was changing at that time. can you talk about how the johnsons approached the people that lived in the south during that campaign? >> mainly by identifying with them. and mrs. johnson was very key in that. she emphasized her alabama roots, which is where her mother was from. and she had spent time there with her cousins as a child. and she insisted on spending time in the south. but she also -- when they went home to texas, they did have this one awful incident where they were attacked and she was very rudely and somewhat dangerously treated. and a lot of political analysts think that actually threw texas to them because people were so
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shocked to see a lady and particularly a lady like mrs. johnson treated in such a fashion. but look, the main thing is that texas did go for the ticket and had it not kennedy would not have been elected president. and whenever we're talking about the pick for vice president and all that the only time we can ever actually prove that a vice presidential pick made a difference is the johnson pick. >> and she remember held those teas all across texas and insisted on shaking hands with all the 400 or 500 women who showed up. and after texas did go for kennedy-johnson in '60, didn't robert kennedy say mrs. johnson won texas for us? >> when approached during the campaigning about the catholic issue, how did mrs. johnson reply to people? >> i'm not sure i ever heard her reply to that question. >> i don't think it was a question that would have been addressed to her. it was much more either sotto
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voce or it was directed to the kennedys. >> next call's from john in houston. john, you're on. >> caller: good evening. how are you all? >> good. thank you. >> caller: good. i appreciate c-span having the first ladies series. one question i had was you highlighted a little bit about it but how was mrs. johnson treated on the lady bird express? i know she came to charleston in 1 1964. i believe congressman bobs accompanied her with congressman mendel rivers, who was a big powerful congressman in the state. and he kind ever went out on a limb to do everything he could for her. but i think she was treated pretty bad here in charleston. but overall how was she treated i guess through the rest of the south? and what was their relationship with the johnsons? >> thank you. it's nice with the campaign style and the approach in the south we're talking about. >> in 1964 we were in a whole different place because the president had signed the 1964
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civil rights bill in the summertime and the south was up in arms. and mrs. johnson absolutely insisted on taking what was the lady bird special through the south saying, you know, this is the part of the country that i am from, i am not going to write off the south, and so they all got organized. i found just recently in my baseme basement, since i live in the house we grew up in, all of the advance work for the lady bird special in my mother's handwriting. and she has various places we can't find a local politician to show up. but the women who were wives of candidates -- of members were with them, and my father as the caller said served as something of an emcee on the train. but my mother tells the story that they would have to go ahead
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because there were bombs along the way, there were threats all along the way, but not only was mrs. johnson on that train but so were the johnson daughters. and that was a lot of -- that was a lot of coverage. >> and we will come back, as i mentioned, a little bit later on and have some reflections from linda, the daughter who was part of the campaign then. but i wanted to just ask this question when we're talking about her approach to politics and campaigning from a facebook viewer. david we wilchwelch, who asks h- essentially asking whether or not she could have had a political career in her own right if she'd been born later. >> well, that's an interesting question. i somehow don't see her as running for office. but she developed the traits -- for example, she started taking speech lessons -- speaking lessons, public speaking lessons in 1959. so that was a far cry from where she started out where the only thing she did was working in the back room with the letters and
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getting other women to do the speaking. lyndon's mother and her sister were the ones she turned to in the '40s. so she did develop. so maybe in another time she would have been. >> and also, you know, what happened with my mother, her contemporary was that my father was killed in a plane crash and my mother ran for his seat. that could have easily happened with mrs. johnson. but i will tell you that what she said to my mother when mama called lady bird to say she was running, ms. johnson said, well, lindy, that's wonderful, but how are you going to do it without a wife? >> just to demonstrate the kind of partnership they had and how essential that she was to lyndon skrons's approach, public approach, we have a clip next for you that is a pretty well known one. it is lady bird's critique of an lbj speech. this was one that was right after a press conference. and you can hear how very direct she is with the president in his
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approach and his presentation. >> you want to listen for that one minute to my critique or would you rather wait -- >> yes, ma'am. i'm willing now. >> i thought that you looked strong, firm, and like a reliable guy. your look was splendid. the close-ups were much better than the distance ones. >> well, you can't get them to do it -- >> well, i will say this. there were more close-ups than distance ones. during the statement you were a little too breathless and there was too much looking down and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. a drop in voice at the end of sentence. there was a considerable pickup in drama and interest when the questioning began. your voice was noticeably better and your facial expression was noticeably better.
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i thought your answer on laos was good. i thought your answer on vietnam was good. i really didn't like the answer on duh gaul because i think i've heard you say and i believe you actually have said out loud that you believe you shouldn't go out of the country this year. so i don't think you can very well say you'll meet him anytime it's convenient for both people. >> what are we hearing there? >> we're hearing a very firm, very careful evaluation of a speech. i think it's wonderful, that tape. >> and he clearly wanted her analysis. he relied on it. but as you listen to that tape all the way through, he starts backing away from the phone because -- and starts getting somewhat defensive. well, they told me to do that, that kind of thing. because nobody really likes to hear that direct a criticism. but he relied on her to tell him the truth. >> they were obviously very close and valued political
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partners. but the flip side of this is that there were challenges in their marriage because of lyndon johnson's infidelity. something that he actually would occasionally brag about. how did this affect their partnership, if it did at all? >> people who knew them said she always acted as though it didn't happen but she must have known it existed. and i think it's important to realize journalists changed how they covered presidents during the johnson years. you know, she had lived in washington all those years and watched as franklin roosevelt's relationship with lucy mercer and john f. kennedy's relationship with other women, reporters didn't write about that. but in the johnson years, and perhaps encouraged a little bit by the president himself, johnson himself, they did start writing about the women around them. i think "time" magazine in 1964:00 lyndon johnson had been
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president only three or four months, had this article about lyndon johnson driving around the roads of texas at 84 miles an hour with a glass of beer on the dashboard and a beautiful young reporter at his side cooing into his ear, "mr. president, you're fun," i think was the headline. i don't think you'll find any articles on previous presidents. so i think it's important to remember that she came into the spotlight at a time when the spotlight had changed. >> here's one critique of president johnson about this aspect of his -- and the source is lou gould again and his biography. johnson preyed on some of the women who worked with him and was not above make advances to the wives of friends and reporters and acted as a kind of romantic predator when his wife was not present. can you talk about the reporting relationship and how that has changed? you said nothing is new under the sun. and we have many examples of prior first ladies who dealt
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with this. but times were changing. >> well, i think -- i, trust me, was not somebody who was aware of this in terms of mrs. johnson's views and all of that. it was something nobody would talk about. certainly not the moms. but i think that what's happened in terms of reporting is that it's only grown, but part of that has to do with the increase in the numbers of women in the ranks of the reporters because there is a sense that the personal is political. and i think where you really saw the huge shift in that was in 1984 with gary hart. by i think that before that there was a sense of what happens on the bus or on the trail or whatever stays there. and that did change with the increased number of women on the bus. >> back to phone calls. dave and albuquerque. hi, dave.
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>> caller: hi. how are you? >> great. thanks. what's your question? >> caller: i've been wondering, the series has been really great, but one question that keeps occurring to me for loathe ladies and lady bird, how big of a staff do they tend to have in the east wing? do they have their own speechwriters? i know they have a social secretary. but how big of a staff is there generally that the first lady has at their disposal? >> well, thank you for asking that because in many ways lady bird johnson created the framework for the modern first lady. how did she do that. >> as she went into office she hired liz carpenter as chief secretary and chief of staff and bess abe bell who had been working for her as social secretary and they really took over the east wing and then hired others, obviously, to help. but that was the first time that a press secretary chief of staff -- >> knew what they were doing?
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>> yes. and i tried to find out the number and was told by her office that it varied because not only did she hire a large, competent staff herself but she also brought in on loan people from different departments. for example, she brought in people from the secretary of interior's office so it was not on her budget. it was somewhere in the 20s. >> and she also still had this cadray of women that worked with her on these things, pp particularly on head start. so she had a lot of volunteers, very smart volunteers as well. >> how long was it before the office of first lady was officially established and how was that done? >> well, that's difficult to answer. most people point to mamie
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eisenhower having it listed in the blue book as secretary to the first lady but, of course, way back in the beginning it was mostly a relative or friends, the sister-in-law who did the volunteer work. so it's hard to document. the roosevelt women always had their social secretaries and they passed those on from one generation to the next. but i think we can point to lady bird johnson as having the first really professional staff. remember, liz carpenter had been a reporter since 1942. that's when lady bird met her. i mean, their friendship went way back. so she chose people and they stayed with her the entire time in the white house. >> and after. >> and after, right. >> and the other thing that i think is remarkable is that as mrs. johnson became so much in demand on many of these issues, particularly on what they call
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beautification, environmental issues, people wanted her everywhere and so she had to create essentially an office of surrogates, which is such a funny notion because we always think of the first lady as the surrogate for the president but there was an office of surrogates for the surrogate. >> next is shirley in austin, texas. hi, shirley. you're on. >> caller: yes, hi. well, i'm so pleased that you're doing this series. it's just wonderful the first ladies are getting their due. i wanted to mention earlier in the program you asked if mrs. johnson ever had former first lady at the white house. well, i know she had two at the ranch, mrs. carter and mrs. ford. and i believe it was probably in the late 1980s. and also i wanted to mention that mrs. johnson's centennial was last -- her birthday was
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last december 22nd, 2012. and in honor of that, the post office issued a commemorative stamp and mrs. johnson was only the fifth first lady to have a stamp. the others were martha washington, dolly madison, abigail adams and roosevelt. >> my producer tells me that you have a connection with the former first lady? >> caller: yes. i was her executive assistant from 1991 until her death. >> what is it that you would like people watching this program to know about mrs. johnson? >> caller: oh, my. well, first of all, cocie and betty, you're doing a terrific job. thank you. she was very warm. she was unflappable. she had a hearty and such a good
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role model and when you worked for mrs. johnson and for the president, too, i didn't know the president but you became part of the family. so she was my friend and i loved her but she loved me, too. so it was a privilege working for her and knowing her and her family. they have certainly followed in her footsteps and they are all just terrific people. and, anyway, it's been an honor. >> thanks very much for your call and adding your personal reflections to the program. >> you know, at mrs. johnson's funeral, all of the staff, no matter how old they were or how far away they were came, including some secret servicemen who had really retired long before but who loved her so much that they made the huge effort to get there. >> well, with all of those kind
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words, regina is asking on twitter, is there anything in her white house diary that would shock us, even today? >> she wouldn't have put it in there, i'm sorry to say. >> she was careful on what she reported on, huh? let's go to marvin who is watching us from los angeles. you're on the air. >> caller: yes. thank you very much for the program. one thought, first. i was able to be at the texas delegation at the democratic convention where jfk and lbj had sort of a debate. it was very humorous. and jfk said, i think he's such a great senate majority leader, you should stay there. my question, number one, is did lady bird johnson want lbj to accept the vp nomination and, number two, would lbj have been as successful in all of his various jobs without the support
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of lady bird johnson? >> well, i think we can start with the second one first. everybody pretty much agrees it would have been a different lyndon johnson without lady bird. don't you think? >> absolutely. and i think he'd say that. she was an enormous part of his success and support. >> and then on the 1960s question, it seems fairly clear that initially she and a lot of other people did not want him to take the second spot on the ticket. they considered john kennedy a really junior member of the senate and he should wait his turn. nobody campaigned harder than she did. >> well, what happened was that sam rayburn had to be convinced and at least my family's story is, do you want richard nixon to win? >> exactly. >> on her beautification, her cause, how did she choose it? >> well, first of all, it was a
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heartfelt thing. the year that they had the rest of the kennedy term, she didn't choose a project. she didn't even change the curtains that needed changing because she said the next family might not like it and she acted as though that would be the last year in the white house. but then after lyndon johnson won so big in 1964, she sent out really requests for advice on what she should do and the word came back that she, like other first ladies, should do something about washington. and that the beautification of washington really came out of that. but very quickly i think it became clear that her committee, her beautification people had split and some wanted to go more national and that's where the emphasis on national parks, highway beautification came. mary, who was a very important part of that whole movement, thought that she should do something -- she said the highways were terrible. the new jersey turnpike, all of
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those signs, it can be better. so it's good to think of her beautification project as being national and that was highway beautification, getting the j k junkyards either removed or covered by fences. one group wanted to plant tulips. i think they were called the dogwood and the others who wanted to go into the foreign neighborhoods where sports fields, recreation facilities were just not there and do something for those neighborhoods. and the important thing about her, i think, is that she incorporated them all. >> uh-huh. she tried to do them all. but what she also did was she personally lobbied the united states congress. >> yes. >> and there was no -- there was no hiding behind, you know, the man and she did not pretend that she was not doing it. she was up there lobbying and it was very tough. you know, it sounds all nicy,
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nicy but there were people, of course as there always are in these situations, people pushing harder saying she wasn't doing enough, needed to be a much bigger emphasis on cleaning everything up and people saying you are going way too far. and she just hung in there and she kept it up. i mean, even as the congress was ready not to reauthorize, she kept it up. so she was a very powerful force. and that really was the first time that -- first ladies have always lobbied from martha washington on. >> we showed you the labor special trained for. and that's a good time to show because it demonstrates her political skills which she put to her environmental issues. let's watch that now. >> the whole nation at this election are at a crossroads
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between past and future. we face many problems together. peace is one and economic prosperity another. we have worked well in the past through this partnership and it takes men in washington who care about the people of the south and it takes citizens here at home with a vision of the future. today, many represent one of the nation's proudest pictures of progress. it means we will face new challenges together with imagination and zeal. we draw on the past for our strength but we do not plan to turn back. [ applause ] >> mother didn't want the south to think that we didn't want their vote, that just because we
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knew that there were a lot of people who didn't like the civil rights bill, for instance, she hoped that she could appeal to them to -- to recognize that that was a time that was coming and that change had to be made and we were moving forth and that there were also a lot of african-american citizens who were there and we wanted to reassure them. now, we ran into some people that didn't like us and that were very vocal. we heard that there were threats that they were going to blow the train up and so they ran a car threw before ours just to think if it was on the tracks, it would blow up the sidecar and not get us. but -- and then there were threats all along the way.
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but it was a wonderful success and mother would stand on the back of the train like she had seen harry truman do and she would tell him how proud and how happy she was to be here and she hoped that they would vote for her husband. >> and cokie roberts. >> nice to see him. >> those political skills apply to the campaign of beautification campaign. how do they stand her in good stead? cokie mentioned how controversial this was but was it a tough job selling this to the congress and was it a difficult job with the lobbying groups? >> the highway -- the billboard lobby was strong and i think maybe now the judgment is that she tried to do too much on that, that that was really very hard. but she did. >> and washington, i mean, people don't realize, this
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beautiful city we live in is much, much, much more beautiful because of her and mary, her friend, a wonderful philanthropist. i mean, this profusion of flowers and trees and the fact that you just come into the city and are greeted by just total beauty is a result of her having been here. >> and this was a compliment to lyndon johnson's great society programs or was it a truly independent campaign? >> well, it was a little of both. we had certainly associated -- that's something that we acquired of what will be your project? i think michelle obama was asked that even before the nomination. so it was a little of both. it was a compliment to the great society and it was also uniquely hers. >> but the first ladies who have succeeded her, particularly both michelle obama and laura bush, have said -- have quoted her
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that she has said, you know, i realized -- and i think that's part of what betty was saying. it took her a while and she had to have that big landslide that she was no longer the heir to the job. but she said i realized i had a pulpit and i could use it and i could use it to do good. and she determined that she was going to do that and they have taken those words and followed them very consciously quoting her. >> roslyn carter also. >> and she continued that work after the beautification, if we use that term which she hated also. >> she hated it. >> and she continued after she left the white house i think until 1991, 22 years after leaving the white house, she continued to give that highway beautification award out of her own pocket to highway workers in texas who had done the most to
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beautify the highways of texas. so i'm always interested in which first ladies continue their projects afterwards and which one forget that they ever did that. >> here are some of the key accomplishments and challenges of the johnson administration, including the passage of a major education bill, the establishment of public broadcasting, the establishment of medicare and medicaid, the signing of the civil rights act which had been kennedy administration legislation, the warren commission report with the findings on the johnson -- the kennedy assassination, the establishment of the outer space treaty which people say today is the framework for how the international community treats outer space and, of course, the vietnam war. >> and the voting act of 1965 which i think is probably the most important civil rights legislation because it made it clear that people could get the vote and then work to get themselves in a better
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situation. but the civil rights bill of 1964, you're quite correct, of course, it started under president kennedy but i don't think there's any way on earth president kennedy could have gotten that bill through congress and i think it took lyndon johnson and his great skills as a former majority leader and an incredible arm twister to get that bill through and the tapes certainly show us that. >> in each of these programs we've talked about how the first lady -- the first couple have used the white house as a base for their lobbying, as it were, their relationships in washington. how did the johnsons use the white house? >> they used it very difficultly than the kennedys. there was a month of mourning, of course, after the assassination and so there was no entertaining. but by early january of 1964, they were having their two or three evenings a week getting congressmen and their spouses in there in small groups.
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they could have done it in one big reception and gotten some footage but they did it a dozen at a time and got much more -- got much closer to the congressman. also, i was struck by the fact that she used the white house -- many of the congressmen's wives had never been upstairs but she had them and the women reporters up there. i think january 8. she had only lived in the white house about a month and she had the women reporters going through the family bathrooms and looking at the living quarters. it was completely different from jacqueline kennedy's attitude that the upstairs was off limits and was private. >> don't underestimate the power of that because people, when they feel that they are in the inner and they've gotten something special, they are likely to be nicer to you. >> i also read that women reporters were coming into their own and during this time period
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mrs. johnson, by having lots of news to cover, helped them with their careers. >> yes, i'm sure they appreciated her being so open. i was struck by the fact when she had the women reporters through the upstairs quarters she said, i felt good about it because i've always been open about my life and i think that's why i am pleased to share most aspects of that with the reporters. but she said one thing she'd do next time was put away the books she was reading because i think a week later an article appeared with -- may have been a coincidence, but listing the books that mrs. johnson liked. so even she, i guess, would have -- >> put the bible out there. >> mrs. johnson fired mrs. kennedy's french chef but continued the restoration of the white house as she insisted that all of the acquisitions be american-made, which was a bit different than jacqueline kennedy's approach to the white house.
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we saw her saying i want the finest things no matter where they came from. >> jacqueline kennedy told her to get china made from france and she did not. she got it made in the u.s. with a wild flower theme. >> they had the first white house wedding in 53 years. >> right. well, first, lucy's wedding and then lynda's. they had both of their daughters marry while they were in the white house. and, of course, that was a very joyous thing to have because by this time we were getting foo the vietnam war and into some of the real nastiness and to have the weddings was a really nice moment of just sitting back and saying this is a family. >> who did the daughters marry? >> well, lucy married in august of '66, right? she married pat nugent in a
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catholic ceremony. so lynda's is the first white house wedding since the wilson daughter in 1914. so this -- and she married -- he had been a military aide, charles robb. >> and what was mrs. johnson's role and was she very much involved in the planning of all these things or -- >> oh, yes. i mean, everything became political whether or not there was a union label in lucy's gown. her diary has a lot about what an ordeal that was for her. >> they had to make two dresses. >> is that right? >> and the day after lucy's wedding, i know that she fled to the virginia farm where she sometimes went when she didn't want to see anybody. and of course after lynda's wedding lyndon fled. so i think they both found it stressful. >> caller: good evening. i want to say i love your program. the question i have are, what
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are lucy and lynda doing now and how many children do they have each? you this very much. >> well, lynda is here in the virginia suburbs of washington. her husband, chuck robb, was governor of virginia and senator from virginia and lynda has been very, very active in all kinds of causes where she's been very effective and she was the first lady of virginia. and she has been a political wife herself and knows those ropes. lucy was married to patrick nugent. they divorced. i think she had four children and is now married to a and turpine. and so lucy's christmas cards have a million children in them. >> there are seven. >> and ian turp pine has a
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connection with the johnson family? >> yes, he has a business in texas. >> what was lady bird's most challenging time in the white house? was it the vietnam years? >> i think so. i think the vietnam years were very hard on everybody. they were hard on the whole country but we also were going through this huge generational fight. and i think that having people outside the white house screaming hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today? can you imagine? and this is somebody that you know means -- wants to do the right thing by the country and it is a horrible thing to have that happen. >> but she kept going out and giving speeches in spite of those. you remember the williams college, the yale. she said, i don't want to shut myself off, which would have been easy to do. >> in 1999, lady bird johnson gave an interview to c-span and she spoke about vietnam. >> where's vietnam going to fit in?
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>> as a wretched obstacle along the way which you couldn't solve, couldn't escape, couldn't shake off. >> when did you see him at his lowest? >> during those days. i think when the bags began to come home. by that i mean -- >> body bags? >> they would come in at night on freight trains and i don't know whether this was good planning or just happenstance but several times i would be on my way back from a trip to new york from somewhere and at the station, as i would get off, there would be freight trains and those bags would be -- were being unloaded and put on to -- i don't know what kind of
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vehicle. and that -- i knew what he was doing and i knew i couldn't help him. >> did you try to help in any way? >> yes, yes. of course. >> what would you do? >> i would just say, you're doing the best you can and i think a lot of those people understand it. and there really isn't much you can do in a situation like that except to say, i'm here. >> as the public sentiment against the war mounted, can you walk us through the president's ultimate decision not to seek re-election and what lady bird's role in that was? >> well, she says -- and i think there's other evidence to support this -- in fact, she wrote in her diary in 1964, i know when the time to leave will be and it is exactly -- and she picked, march of 1968.
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she was such an authentic person that i don't think she dreamed that up later. certainly as 1967 wound on, there was a big meeting in september of '67 at the ranch and she talks about being called in with the top advisers and she says, i don't want another campaign. i don't want to ask people one more time to help out. but it was hard for lyndon johnson to walk away from the presidency, i think. and i believe there was a sentence written that he would include in his state of the union and then he said he forgot it or couldn't find it in his pocket or something. but i think she very much wanted him not to run in march of '68 and he, of course, found it difficult to walk away. >> she was worried about his health and what we haven't talked about was his heart attack in 1955 which was really a massive heart attack and he was -- he was quite affected by it. and the whole family was affected by it. and so i think that that was something that they always had
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hovering over them and she had been very protective of his health and of his diet as best she could be and so it was -- it was something that was always on her mind. and, in fact, he did die in january of 1972. >> so she had four years after the white house? >> '73. i think he lived like four days beyond what would have been another term. >> second term. and he had a serious -- he couldn't have been president. had he that serious heart condition, another heart attack. >> and the national tumult continued with the martin luther king assassination, robert kennedy assassination. how did they hold it together knowing that they would be leaving? >> well, it was a terrible time. 1968 was just a year that -- you know, here we are in the week of the 50th anniversary of the 1963
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assassination and that was the beginning, you know, of america's loss of innocence but we had no notion that what was going to happen after that happened. and just trying to keep the country together and keep it in some sense of not falling into despair was something that all of the political leaders had to do and the president tried but it was very hard for him because he was seen as the symbol of the problem by so many of the people. >> as we said, lyndon johnson lived just four years after he left office in 1969. lady bird living 38 more years and many of those active ones. we're going to return to the lbj library to see how they lived there and prepared the library for the recording of the johnson administration's history. >> we're in the private office of mrs. lyndon johnson at the lbj library. i was her social secretary from 1976 to 1990.
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and a typical day would begin with her coming in in the morning probably around 9:00 and she would come in toting a straw bag and each hand filled with some of these things that you see on her desk that she had taken home for signing or speechwriting or event planning, whatever she was working on. and she would always say when she came into the office that she felt like a little burrow. she would come in and get to work and her desk was always very orderly. she had her calendar that she worked in, her day book, and she kept files on her desk, files she was working on, trips she was taking. she was on the board of one of the banks, national geographic, smithsonian. she would keep in large envelopes the title or dates on them so she could pick them up and work on them and close everything back in them. as she worked on her desk with letters that she was processing
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or things, when she completed things, she would put them on the floor but she stayed at the office most of the day making phone calls or working on projects that she loved so much. she loved this office because she could look out at her al a mater and then a quarter to the capitol and the city she loved so much. she would stay here every day, and that was pretty much monday through friday. and when we were having guests at the rampnch, she would sometimes go out a few days early and stay in the different guest rooms to check on the water and the lights, the electricity to make sure that everything was working, the tvs in the different rooms and we'd also make a stop on the way out to the ranch to pick up magazines that were guest specific for whoever was coming to the ranch for the weekend. very thoughtful and meticulous and very gracious about that. we had three office staff at the
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time. we had a person who handled her calendar. we had a person who came from the white house as her press secretary to work on speeches and i was in the office. so that chair was usually occupied by one of us a good part of the day as we rotated new projects that she was working on. by friday afternoon, she was ready to leave and go to the ranch, which she really called home. and about 3:30 in the afternoon she would say, do i have anything else to do? and if the answer was no, she would say, tell the secret service i'm ready to go. and she'd get up and we'd back those little saddlebags up and she'd take off and she'd head to the ranch to be there for the weekend to be back here on monday morning. i was so fortunate to be here and learn so much from her and the way she did things and the way she entertained and i like the way she entertained and i think that's one reason why we did so well together. i really loved her sense of making people feel at home.
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she was so, so good at it. >> the business of being guest-specific, she was so thoughtful about things being for you and when i got married, they were in the white house when i got married and she sent out to the house beautiful, which we've had since, a picture print of the capitol seen from the white house in the 19th century. and it was just so perfect because the capitol was the building that i grew up in but their view of it now. and it's, of course, signed by them. >> so we've learned from you and from this tape that she continued to be a very active first lady post-first lady into her very late years. >> in the 1990s. i think the macular degeneration in the 1990s, she had to stop reading and that's really when she stopped giving speeches, i
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was told, because she couldn't see the notes well enough. but certainly until the '90s she was very active and we were talking aboutle how even after the stroke she continued to see people so val yently going out to restaurants and even though she couldn't voice her reaction, she laughed and made people feel that she really appreciated them. >> and she was very active at the library and very, very interested in the work and very proud of the work of the library. i was there at least three times in this century, the 21st century. and she was always there. >> and she was so important in the building of the library. i mean, she looked into the smallest detail how they were going to attach certain things to the wall. she had herself raised in a crane so she could see what the view would be from her office, which was on the top floor. she was very important in the building of the library and where it would be located because she had traveled to the
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fdr library and thought a hometown might not be the best place. >> carolyn, good evening. >> caller: hi. i have two questions. how did she feel about her daughter getting married at souch a young age and also about the johnson school of after her husband's death? >> thank you. >> her work in texas was very much part of the work at the library it was all of a piece and she was very interested in that work. it's a great praise. it's a wonderful school. you know, she was private about her views about her daughter getting married young but obviously it was something worrisome but then once lucy had made up her mind, her parents embraced it and embraced her husband. >> and her post-white house years, her work for conservation and bought if i indication was recognized with the presidential medal of freedom in 1977 and the congressional gold medal in
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1988. also, the national wild flower center was created as a result of her work. where is that located? >> it's in austin. when she first started it, it was called the national wildflower center. it was on her 70th birthday. and it has since moved but it's still in austin and it's really quite an operation, answering questions from all over the world about what species will grow where and showing people model gardens and she continued to visit that right up until she was in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, i think, and she knew the people who worked there. she really continued to be active in that. >> as our time about lady bird johnson comes to an end, we're going to return to the ranch in texas one more time. >> this is mrs. johnson's private bedroom. it was part of the 1967 remodeling. she guespecified that she wante this to be her forever room. she wanted a fireplace, east-facing windows, and a large
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bookcase to display so many mementoes and keepsakes she gathered through the years, the birds, the china. and also camera. lyndon johnson gave mrs. johnson a camera for her wedding gift and she became quite a photojournalist. she had an eight-millimeter camera to capture home movies as well as a recorder here where mrs. johnson every night at the white house would record her daily observations. and this became the basis for the book, "white house diary," which is a very inciteful chronicling of the tumultuous 1960s. mrs. johnson loved to sit here at this desk to keep up with her correspondence and all of her activities as a very active former first lady. also in this space we have mrs. johnson's closet with all of the
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clothing. her formalwear, the ranch clothing with the boots and the hats, a lot of her colorful outfits and her shoes. one of my favorites, the straw hat with the bluebonnets painted on top and then her private bathroom that is, again, very reflective of the importance of family with all of the photographs of those who mattered so much to her and to her grandchildren and great grandchildren she was known as nene, a very, very special person in their lives. lady bird johnson had a great sense of history. and, in fact, during her years in washington, she would often be a tour guide for texans who went to the nation's capitol. i had the opportunity to meet her and i was very impressed that she wanted to see how the truman story was being interpreted knowing that one day her story would be told here at the texas ranch. >> the ranch was then seeded to
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the national park service as curators and it's available for you to visit if you happen to be in that part of the texas in the texas hill country. it's really worth the stop. she died at the age of 94. sheldon cooper wants to know how did the country respond to her death? >> it was an outpouring of respect and love. everybody showed up. former presidents and first ladies and, as i say, and members of congress and you will of the official people that you would expect to be there were there but also this wonderful response of her staff and those secret servicemen. seeing them come in was really quite something but also the park service gentlemen make about her sense of history is something that really we can enjoy so much and betty has made the point several times, all of this is available to us. all we have to do is go to our
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computers and mrs. johnson has made it possible for us to see their home movies, read their love letters and, most important from my perspective, hear those johnson tapes. she allowed those tapes to be opened to the public without knowing what was on them, which is very gutsy and we have learned enormous amount about american politics and american history from listening to those tapes. >> and where is she and the president buried? >> just down the road from the ranch house in the family cemetery. >> so not at the library? >> right. there's a picture of the family cemetery where his -- some of his siblings, i believe his mother and father are buried there. you can walk from the ranch to the cemetery to the birthplace to the school in ten minutes? i don't know. very short time. >> so as we close here, the question for both of you is, what should her legacy be seen
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as among first ladies? >> i think she was an outstanding first lady who really wrote the book for modern first ladies of what they needed to do to be noncontroversial and yet contribute to a spouse's legacy. and it will work for a man, too, you know. >> that's right. first guy. but she understood that she had a megaphone and that she could use it for good and she did that and instrumented all of her successors to do the same. >> as we close, we thank our colleagues at the historical association for their assistance and thank you for being with us once again tonight. ♪
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♪ next monday on "first ladies," pat nixon described by her husband as steadfast support
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even through the watergate scandal. her role as first lady was carefully crafted. she rarely spoke in public but was known to communicate with her husband via public memos and through presidential aides. she increased the profile of the white house with the acquisition of furniture and antiques and increased access to the home for the general public. join c-span next monday for the life and times of pat nixon. 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span 3, and on c-span radio. in 1968, lady bird johnson teamed up with the white house photographic unit to produce a film showing some of the private rooms of the residence. next, the 25-minute film, the president's house.
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many years ago when i was a wife of a brand new texas congressman, i snapped photographs outside these iron gates.
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i never imagined that one day i would live on the other side of that fence. like many tourists, i had the distinct feeling that this house belonged in part to me. i think that's a feeling that everyone who visits here shares. just like the thousands who come here each year, i was impressed by the majesty of the great state rooms on the first floor and was proud of the stream of history that ran through each of them. what the passerby doesn't always realize is that there are two sides to the white house. the official side that remains in the public eye and the private side that the public rarely sees. the living quarters for the president and his family. this is our living room. actually, it's the west end of
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the long hall. it's the center and crossroads of all family activities, an intimate place and yet busy and it belongs to all the family. psychologically, when you cross that threshold, you feel that you are at home, that you're inside your own house. you can put on a robe and slippers and curl up with a good book. we gather here on all the climatic occasions, such as the immediate moment ts followis fo state of the union message, another address to the nation. we usually invite those who worked on the speech or who had contributed to the event. on those nights, this room has been filled it has the same electric quality of a broadway opening. after the performance, you're anxious to hear the reviews. although we've had some thrilling successes and high
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moments of pride, there were some chilly moments, too. but happy or painful, this is where the initial public reaction is seen by the president. and this is where his family shares this experience. this room is also a listening post for the tone of the day when we have no engagements in the evening i come in here with some of my work that isn't so demanding and wait for lyndon to come home from his work. you can see his office from here. the lights may be on until 8:00 or maybe 9:00 or 10:00. sometimes he doesn't come home to dinner until after midnight. it's not very far for a man to commute but in terms of his responsibilities, there is a great distance from here to there. i recall being up here as lyndon brought in the latest
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acquisition for our old book collection and lucy emerged from the kitchen with a pan of brownies she had made and at the same time knowing that lyndon was down there only a few yards away but the tenses nights of all are the lights on in the cabinet room and the television vans on executive avenue, perhaps it was the crisis of the middle east in june '67. but sooner or later the lights would go out and then in a few moments i will hear an eager voice down the hall call out, where's bird? and then i know he's home. really home. like the living room in any american home, this book has its personal touches. bookshelves that reflect the interests of a family, old and treasured friends, one of the
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things that i am proud to leave as a reminder of our time here is that in addition to the white house collection of paintings, thomas sully's portrait of kimble is sheer romance and i love it. this is gypsy girl. the first painting acquired during our stay at the white house, i saved my favorite for last. you can almost feel the love between the mother and those children. look at that little girl. is she wondering what the small child is going to mean to her life? it's such a dear painting. it seems to set the tone of the room. it's where the family shared so many personal and intimate
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moments, where we felt we were in the heart of the house, really at home. each of the rooms in the family quarters of the white house has a special personality, a distinctive mood. here the treaty room has a dark, green velvety look. it reflects the open pew lens of the victorian period. right after the civil war this became the cabinet room for president andrew johnson. but it was president grant who introduced this table which so many succeeding presidents used to conduct the nation's business until 1902. that is when the country outgrew
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the second floor. president theodore roosevelt, who had six children and was not tradition-bound, built the west wing presidential offices separating once and for all the family quarters from the day-to-day work of the chief executive. many objects bring to mind earlier presidents. the torch years of andrew jackson, this lamp presented to mrs. grover cleveland, and this shell waste basket of president grant, guaranteed to attract the young boys who visited us. the chandelier has an interesting story behind it. it was designed for the east room in president grant's time. but it soon passed from room to room until it finally wound up gracing president roosevelt's new office. every time the door opened, it
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tink led, distracting him. he said put it in the vice president's office and it will keep him awake and there it remained until my husband became vice president in 1961. during mrs. kennedy's renovation, lyndon was instrumental in returning it to the white house where it hangs today. this room has seen many treaty signings. in our time, i've witnessed two treaties here involving the geographic extremes of our country. the first was the treaty which made the summer home of franklin roosevelt a partnership between canada and the united states. my husband was seated franked by the delegations. i remember james roosevelt and miss grace tully, the president's personal secretary.
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it was a thrilling look back into the past. and then, from the northern port part of the country to the southern most, in october of '67, the treaty was signed here returning to mexico a small strip of land long in dispute between our countries. what a feeling of goodwill there was that day. the texas congressman from the border districts were here and a delegation from mexico. everyone, i felt, was saying to himself, it's done at last. i can recall some other writing performed at this table. all that will never go down in history. i was showing my guests the rooms on the second floor. we entered the treaty room and as i began my recital, i saw on the table some rather tattered notebooks and chewed pencils, a high school algebra and a latin
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book. it was evident that linda and lucy had discovered what i would soon learn, that this room is mighty conducive to getting work done. almost from the beginning i've used this room to launch the projects closest to my heart. it's a good place to gather your committee or your group, talk into being a pilgrim and get it moving. most of our beautification planning was done right here. we took our notes on president grant's table and the outside world with this old french telephone made back in the 1890s. and then i know that one day when i walked through the finished lyndon b. johnson library at the university of texas vivid memories of this room would come to mind. but almost three years our various library committees have met here, bringing in the
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chancellor and regence and here we watch the library grow from just a germ of an idea to a living suppository of history. and so a room that started out as a working environment for succession of presidents still provides that very important function, the 20th century first ladies with a variety of projects. it is a working room but like any room in the white house, it is also a collection of memories. having the entire family together for lunch is a joy but also a rarity. lyndon's hours and the girls are just as unpredictable but once
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in a while everyone's activities coincide and we gather in the family dining room. >> blond hair. >> looks like just any baby but mine. >> he's an angel. >> so much like his daddy. he's spilling on his chin. >> sir, do you know exactly what -- >> i thought he was with a bulldozer and cleats on. >> that's what i thought but they said there is no heavy plating on it and it's not like it's very durable but they are very dangerous because they have four gas tanks so if they are hit, the whole thing goes up. >> it's too hot.
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>> you know, i think about parting gifts at the white house might be an in-residence highchair. >> lyndon ought to get it, don't you think? wouldn't that be cute, mom? >> will you be glad if we get you your very own highchair forever? here are some beans. what kind would you like? >> yes, ma'am. and when i go down i'll find out exactly how much to a penny the other one was and how much the playpen was. >> all right. and i will then give you a check. >> yes, ma'am. >> and we'll have two grandmother highchairs and one grandmother playpen. >> but i bet we'll have two that will be in highchairs and take
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the tray off. >> mother shlt, are you trying tell me something? >> i'm going to have to go. >> bye, dad. >> get your little word in. i bet you think you're going. >> he wants to go. >> he knows you love him. >> he does. he knows you love him. >> bye-bye.
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uh-oh. >> to me, the yellow oval room is the loveliest room in all of the white house. while our living room is homey and cozy, this room is formal and elegant yet there is life here. it is warm and inviting. it is the one room in the white house where formal ceremony intermingles with family life. it symbolizes in a way the role a president's family plays while living here for the personal life and the official duties are always closely related. president franklin roosevelt's bedroom was next door and he would use this room as a sitting room and an office. for us, it has been the main drawing room. and on a winter evening, the fire is a good magnet for
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conversation. traditionally, the yellow oval room has been used for entertaining and for receptions. in fact, this is where the first official reception ever held at the white house took place. here, on a chilly january 1st in 1801, john and abigail adams received the ministers from the first six countries that had recognized this brand new nation. and still today this room offers hospitality to visiting chiefs of state. this is where we invite the prime ministers or kings and their wives for that half hour or so before the state dinner. the earlier part of the day is filled with ceremonies on the south lawn, colorful fanfare, sometimes a parade. this has always been an impressive experience, a responsibility. i go to the third floor before
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the occasion and look at the great map case and pull down liberia, india, then i a fairly of briefings on the visitor and his country. i also try to go over the guest list. a good many times before the state dinner. because hopefully you can say something more than just how do you do? to our guests who come from all over the united states to meet the visiting head of state. and then, it is a high moment when the color guard enters. the president escorts the wife of the visiting chief and i in turn bring our guest. for a year, perhaps the marine captain who led the group was chuck robb. he was terribly military and impressive. it was not until months had passed that i realized i might
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be looking at our future son-in-law. we have had so many wonderful personal, happy times in this room. here, lyndon and i celebrated just last year our 33rd wedding anniversary. the cake that linda planned held our time together one third of a century. what a day. it was our grandson's first birthday. like all birthdays the climax is the cake. this one provided us with a household crisis. those sticky little feet and that elegant louis xvi upholstery. in the end the furniture didn't suffer one bit, but my nerves did. then there was the christmas of '67. my husband was plunged into a trip around the world. prospects were bleak indeed for a christmas with the whole family together.
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i followed his headlines from australia to thailand to rome. and then gloriously he came home on christmas eve. that christmas we were seven. two sons-in-law and a new baby. unspoken was the thought that next christmas, chuck would not be with us. it was a fragile happiness, like some lovely bubble and i think the room must have sensed it for it was never prettier. it was our first christmas in the white house. a moment to catch and hold. it seemed to underscore my feeling that this house is only on loan to its tenants that we are temporary occupants linked to a continuity of presidents
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who have come before us and who will succeed us. for only a brief time, we served as the extension of 200 million people. holding their trust, working to fulfill it. >> the man who sits in this chair, sits in the chair that has been occupied by less than 40 men, in the long history of this great republic. he is selected by the will and by the votes of a majority of the citizens of this republic. he must execute the philosophy and the policies of the people of this nation. regardless of his own personal
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feelings from time to time. he is the executer of the will of the people of this nation. and he carries upon his shoulders day and night a burden that always seems at least to him too much to carry, but only for him to carry. we'll be leaving here shortly after having spent almost 40 years in the federal service. we came to washington with some very deep-set convictions. we felt that we could contribute to making this a better country for all of our people. in some fields we have made
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great progress. education, health, housing and in some respects we have had many disappointments. but in the last few years in this house, in this office, we have had a chance to impress upon the people of this nation those simple convictions that brought us to this town. and that kept me here for almost four decades. it's important to reflect and look back and see what has been done because there's no better way to judge the future than by the past. but the important thing that faces our country now is for a new president to look at these new challenges, and find new answers, find the means of communicating with our young and providing leadership and inspiration for them so that
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they will realize we do care. find a way to help better understanding come to our races. so that we can live together in peace and harmony and equality with justice to all. no president ever came to this office on a platform of doing what was wrong. most of us have made some decisions that were wrong, and as we leave office a good many instances most of the people seem to feel that most of the things we have done have been wrong. but every man who's ever occupied this office or sat at this desk or reclined in this chair has been dedicated to
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doing what he believes was for the best interest of the people of this country. i'm utterly convinced that when any man takes the oath of office as president, he is determined to do what is right as god gives him the wisdom to know the right. most people come in to the office with great dreams, and they leave it with many satisfactions and some disappointments and always some of their dreams have not come true. and i'm no exception. but i'm so grateful and so proud that i have had my chance, and as to how successful we have
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been in doing the greatest good for the greatest number, the people themselves and their posterity must ultimately decide. i have the satisfaction, my family has the satisfaction that we gave it all we had. and we think we provided some of the answers to the needs of our time.
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next monday on first ladies, pat nixon, wife of the nation's 37th president, described by her husband as his steadfast support, even through the watergate scandal, hes role as first lady was carefully crafted. she rarely spoke in public, but was known to talk to her husband about matters through memos and aides. she increased the profile of the white house with the acquisition of furniture and antiques and increased access to the home for the general public. join c-span next monday for the life and times of pat nixon. 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span3, and on c-span radio. c-span is offering a special edition of the book "first ladies of the united states of
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america." featuring thoughts from historians and first lady michelle obama on the role of first ladies throughout history. it's available for the discounted price of $12.95 plus shipping at and our website has more about the first ladies, including a special section welcome to the white house, produced by our partner, the white house historical association. which chronicles life in the executive mansion during the tenure of each first lady. this is c-span3 with politics and public affairs programming throughout the week and every weekend, 48 hours of people and events telling the american story on american history tv. get our schedules and see past programs at our websites and join in the conversation on social media sites. coming up tonight on c-span3,


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