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


  1. There's a good documentary series on LBJ, American Experience: LBJ. It used to be available to stream on Netflix, but seems to no longer be available.

    Growing up in Texas, I had many relatives cut from a similar cowhide as LBJ. It truly is a different place from the rest of the country. Several Georgians have advised me I'm a Texan, not a Southerner, which I find amusing.

    Looking forward to the second book.

  2. Hey, Jef. I have that documentary -- it's excellent. I didn't know you were from Texas! My sister lives outside Dallas and is married to a born-and-bred Texan who promises, after a short, job-related stint outside the state, never to live anywhere but on Texan soil. Their kids may be more Texan than I am American. I know you know what I mean!

    Have you read THE SON yet? I'm anxious to tuck into that big novel of Texas. I always think of you as one of our cultured southerners.... :> xoxo

  3. I just finished Countdown. Excellent! My mom was 13 when the Berlin wall was built, and 14 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was 13 when the Berlin Wall came down.

    It is so riveting to read your story--of what it felt like to live near D.C. at that time. My mom was in southern NJ. Seeing the pop culture and all of the Freedom Rider stuff going on, along with Camelot is so cool. It just fits better. The songs we still know--where they came from, etc...

    Please tell me your next book includes the same characters?

    Thanks so much!


  4. Thanks, Elizabeth! Jo Ellen is in book two, which takes place in Mississippi, where you'll meet Sunny, age 12, and her family. I hope you'll love them, too! xoxo


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