JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1805LADY BIRD TELLS OF RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE KENNEDYS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was born 103 years ago today, December 22, 1912, in Karnack, Texas.
Mrs. Johnson was riding in the JFK motorcade in Dallas behind the Secret Service follow-up car when shots rang out. She later stood beside the Vice-President aboard Air Force One as he was sworn-in following the death of President Kennedy.
On March 9, 1979, Mrs. Johnson gave an oral history interview here in the Nation's Capital for the John F. Kennedy Library.
Mrs. Johnson recalled Senator Kennedy as...
"one of the young bachelors who became the subject of a lot of (glamorous) stories because of his handsome boyish good looks and his family background."
As far as JFK's offer to join him on the ticket in 1960 in the Vice-Presidential slot, Lady Bird recalled that she preferred her husband decline. She said that both of them had been happy in the Senate and LBJ "had always been a very free man." She feared that as VP he would no longer have that freedom but said LBJ accepted because of "party loyalty."
Mrs. Johnson also told about her first visit to the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. She said that the house was charming and "full of pieces of much-used family furniture....and a lot of pictures of the (Kennedy) family doing things."
As far as LBJ's relationship to JFK as his VP, Lady Bird said...
"President Kennedy couldn't have been more understanding and perceptive and active in choosing things he assigned to Lyndon to do & giving him a very free rein and back up in doing it."
And in regard to reports that the Kennedy administration was not kind to Johnson as Vice-President, Mrs. Johnson said that her husband "was never hurt, angry or disappointed" with the way he was treated by JFK but that "he did feel...some dislike on the part of some of (JFK's) staff."
LADY BIRD JOHNSON (1912-2007)
The future First Lady's father was a successful businessman. The little girl's nickname was christened when her nurse said she was "as pretty as a lady bird." Lady Bird graduated from St. Mary's Episcopal College for Women in Dallas and went on to earn two degrees from the University of Texas.
She married Lyndon B. Johnson, who was to become Senate Majority Leader, on November 17, 1934.The couple had two daughters, Lynda and Luci.
During the 1960 Presidential campaign, Lady Bird traveled 35,000 miles to 11 states and appeared in 150 events. As First Lady she started a Capital beautification project and promoted the Highway Beautification Act. She was also an avid supporter of the Head Start program.
Lady Bird Johnson died on July 11, 2007. She was the 1st First Lady to die in the 21st Century.