Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More of Austin

We continue to greatly enjoy this city, that, according to our guide Patsy, was once described by Governor Perry as the blueberry in Texas’ tomato soup (me, I hope he runs again in 2016).

We began the day with a walking tour of the capitol grounds, followed by the Congress Street and 6th Street Historic Districts. Patsy, who is on her mother’s side a sixth generation Texan, provided a wonderful narrative as we walked.

This little cowpoke thought he was our tour guide
This is Patsy, who was tour guide extraordinaire

More of the Driskill

Including the man himself. According to legend, having built this great monument to himself, the cattle baron then lost it to his brother-in-law three years later in a poker game. Patsy says she never quite bought the story and has done research indicating that he put himself deeply into debt to build the hotel and was wiped out when 3000 head of cattle died in a sudden freeze
Another lovely cityscape with a great story of the community rallying to save the Paramount

City motto that you see everywhere: Keep Austin Weird. Even the mannikin has ink

After the walk we repaired to the Driskill’s 1886 café for a mid-morning coffee and then headed up to the LBJ Library. 

The first presidential campaign I was aware of, 1960. Four years later I was active as a youth volunteer in Johnson's campaign. A year after that I was in the streets protesting.
 Now back in the day I was one of those on the streets yelling “Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?” in protest of the Vietnam war. But even then, as a budding historian, I knew intellectually that it was much more complex, and the passing years (almost 50 now) have made it, if anything, moreso. Long story short, the Library did a fine job of presenting the complexity of the era and not entirely from LBJ’s perspective. For both of us it was a great, if sometimes wrenching, experience to relive the era, though  I was pleased to see my dissertation director, Robert Dallek, commenting in several of the videos. He was working on the Johnson books  when I was studying with him in the late 1970s and early 1980s and I know how much agony they were for him. 

This, in many ways, is what the historian Eric Goldman correctly dubbed "The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson," the loss of this vision. As Bob Dallek pointed out in a couple of the videos, Johnson permanently transformed the society, especially in the area of "race" relations, but he was poised to do so much more had he been able to cut loose of Kennedy's war.

Johnson was actually the first president I saw live, though not this close
A final note. Sharon observed that what she thought I liked most about the LBJ Museum was the abundance of pens, signing pens, desk pens on LBJ and Lady Bird's desks and even gift and signing pens that LBJ gave out available in both the originals and later replicas for sale in the gift shop.

1 comment:

raymonda2 said...

The Gulf of Tonkin incident and subsequent escalation of the war did not happen during the Kennedy years.