The Voice of Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson
With her passing, we lose a unique American voice. Wayne Bell remembers Lady Bird Johnson, and some of her pearls of wisdom.

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This is a weekend of remembrance and mourning here in Texas. At this hour, people are filing through the Great Hall at the LBJ Library in Austin, paying their last respects to Lady Bird Johnson. Her funeral is at 2 o'clock this afternoon, also in Austin.

With her passing, we lose a unique American voice… definitely Southern…and musical. And what she had to say revealed a keen observer with a philosophical bent.

Take a listen…to a few pearls from Lady Bird.

(:44) Nothing is ever completed, is it? During the New Deal days there was so much FIRE in this county and it was a kind of a marvelous fire. Everybody thought we could roll up our sleeves and remake America.
And this friend of mine who was in the vanguard, she and her husband, of lots of good stuff. And she was saying to another friend "Oh I just hope I live long enough to see how it all turns out." And this friend looked at her and said "Therin, it's never gonna ‘turn out'. It's going to keep on changin'. And your job, and mine, is just try to see that the changes are generally for the better.'"

(:32) One of the reasons that Lyndon, when he thought he could FINALLY do it, went for civil rights with everything he had. And that is for the white man in the South as well as for the black man in the South. And I can't quite explain that to you, except that he thought their fates were…that it would be a loosening, a freedom, a rise for the white man as well as for the black man.

(:21) I became acquainted with natural world at a very early age, and it was my sources of…Joy, and contentment, and unending exploration, and a resource…and free!

(:24) We see all the other problems of the world. We recognize we are just a mosaic in the vast picture of the environment. But you do what you can where you are!! You just mustn't feel impotent because you're not all powerful. You just must grab you're little piece and go with it. (laugh)

(:18) Lady Bird Johnson, speaking there about the inspiration for her Wildflower Center. All of these recordings were made in 1992. Mrs. Johnson will be buried tomorrow at the LBJ Ranch west of Johnson City, in the Texas Hill Country.

From Austin, this is Wayne Bell, Houston Public Radio News.