Our journey through Central Texas had a morning set aside to visit the LBJ Ranch. The Hill Country is famous to local Texans and out-of-staters as well. While a lot of Texas is hot and humid, the rolling hills have a wonderful climate that moderates the summer months of July and August. Evenings cool off and frequent days of respite mix it up with those sweltering days that drive every living creature into the cool shade of a rock or tree.
There between the towns of Johnson City and Fredericksburg is the family home of Lyndon B. Johnson. I was curious to see where this “Texas White House” was located and the appeal that it had. During the Johnson administration, many of our national leaders visited and did their political business on the fields surrounding the home. National heads of state also came to see the hills of Texas before they fly back to their homes.
At the entrance to the ranch a one-room schoolhouse, where the Johnsons learned to ABC’s sits on a knoll. The old-fashioned desks and all of the trappings of solid American learning are preserved behind a plate-glass wall. Fifteen desks all lined up in straight rows fill that classroom. The teacher’s desk is positioned for the schoolmarm to observe all that is happening in this hallowed hall of education.
Vast fields not only are covered with crops from this working farm and ranch, but the vistas are seemingly endless. This President knew about hard work, the value of water and innovation as a necessary part of farming. Black Angus cattle stared at us during our drive-by tour.
LBJ’s presidential jet is retired in a covered hanger for visitors to see. It is a far cry from the opulent luxury of our modern-day elected official. The land vehicles are retired here as well. Their simplicity today is a testimony to how complicated it is to protect that one man in the highest office of the land.
Yes, Texans like to do things BIG. However, there is something homey, warm and simple about the house where the Johnson family called home. It is magnificent compared to the home where many of the family members were born. Yet, it is still humble although historic at the same time.
Then, finally, at the end of the tour is the Johnson Family Cemetery. Generations of Texas neighbors valued this family. There is respect for this special heritage.
photo credit: brucefong photography