politician of the century: LBJ

photograph of Lyndon B. Johnson when he was about six years old seated on a porch in or near Stonewall or Johnson City, Texas. National Archives/LBJ Library
This is a still we're seeking permission to use in book two of the sixties trilogy.

I was up early this morning, researching LBJ, finishing his biography for book two. I was searching for the source of "Get those coonskins up on the wall!" a quote I attributed to LBJ when I first wrote the biography, but didn't source at the time.

I found it in several places, including this article in Texas Monthly, "Politician of the Century: Lyndon Johnson," which made me laugh out loud when I got here:
...there is also, in every conversation, that drawl, that Texan way of talking that made him so easily caricatured. It is impossible to listen to the tapes without reflecting upon how different Texas is—how very separate—from the rest of the country. Consider this recently released tape with Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to the late President Kennedy, on the day that Johnson called to ask Shriver to take charge of the War on Poverty.

Johnson minces no words: “Sarge, this is your president speaking, and I’m going to announce you as head of the War on Poverty.” Shriver responds, “Can’t we just study this a little?” He suggests getting back to Johnson in a few days. Fat chance. Johnson wonders if Shriver has the “glands” for the job.

“I’ve got plenty of glands,” Shriver says, defensively.

“Well,” Johnson says, “I’d like to have your glands. Indeed, I’ve been going to some old doctor and I’m trying to get some of those old goat glands I’ve heard about.” At this point, Shriver can be heard saying to his wife, Eunice, “Well, I guess I’m the head of the War on Poverty.”
hahahahaha. Oh, Lyndon. Gems like this are what keep me in the game and at the page. Little presents to trip across with delight, at 5am, when you least expect them.

May I also say how amazing it is for this researcher to find this 1999 article online at Texas Monthly? Very generous. Thanks, y'all. 

xoxoxoxo Debbie

going and coming, never astray

Editorial notes on the draft of book two of the '60s trilogy arrived two days before my spring travels. I went anyway.

D.C. in mid-April, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Denver in May, and several local schools in June, capped by a trip to Pine Manor College in Boston on June 30, which brings us up to date. Sort of. 

I didn't take my camera for work, but I sure did take it on the road to visit my sweet peas in D.C. and Denver. Then there are the peas right here, at home, too. We had a pretty good time just being with one another.

I look at these pictures and feel lucky. I know I am. I also realize -- again -- how my writing life is an extension of the life I lead... my stories come directly from the day-to-day of living... 

...playing cards at the kitchen table, going to High Tea at the Mayflower Hotel (not so high anymore, I'm sorry to say), celebrating birthdays, rides in wheelbarrows, cloud watching, reading, hiking, wondering, cooking and eating together... the simplest of everyday activities is the stuff of our lives, and, for me, it's all story. 

I'm grateful for the stories in my life... every one of them.


Home. I finished another draft of book two, somewhere in all that travel. I'm waiting for line edits now, and will revise again. Then we're into permissions and copy editing and design and production and proofreading and all the amazements that make a book come to life.

I can't wait for that part. I'm staggering to the finish line with this documentary novel -- the biographies are still not where I want them, for one thing -- and it's good to have family time like I've had this spring, to mix it up and remind me that there is life beyond 1964 Mississippi and Freedom Summer and the book that has consumed my life for the past three years.

It's all good. And I have no poetry left in me to make it sound better than this. This is it, and it is good. Very poetic, eh? More on book two, next.