Monday, January 22, 2007

January 22, 1973:

Lyndon Johnson Dies

Only once did two former presidents die closer in time to each other as Harry Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson did, namely the famous deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the same day, July 4, 1826. Nearly 150 years later, the elderly Truman (88) died the day after Christmas in 1972, and the not-so-elderly Johnson (64) died less than a month later, on January 22, 1973. The period of official mourning -- 30 days, marked by flags at half-staff -- wasn't even over for Truman when it happened.

Johnson had been in retirement just over four years. Like Cincinnatus, sort of, he'd gone back to his ranch. Such were the last days of LBJ, 36th President of the United States, according to page one of the New York Times, January 23, 1973:

"...One of Mr. Johnson's last formal appearances took place last Tuesday in Austin, where he attended the inauguration of Gov. Dolph Briscoe and Lieut. Gov. William P. Hobby. On the ceremonial platform outside the capitol, Mr. Johnson, looking thin, seemed to be enjoying an opportunity to see old friends and shake hands with well-wishers who flocked around him.

"Later that day, he took Walter Heller, the former chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, to Southwest Texas State University, Mrs. Johnson's alma mater, in San Marcos, for a talk to a group of students.

"In a discussion of food and meat prices, Mr. Heller predicted a rise of 6 to 7 per cent in meat prices. 'I can tell you what's happening with cattle,' Mr. Johnson said. 'I paid my dealer $92 a ton for feed. The bill went to $110 a ton and now it's costing me $156 a ton for food.'

"Last Saturday, joining Mrs. Johnson in her beautification work, the former President went to Ranch Road 1, which runs across the Pedernales River from the LBJ Ranch, and planted a redbud tree, a Texas tree that blooms with red flowers. The tree was the first of 100 to be planted along the road.

"On that occasion, Mr. Johnson told a friend that he was not feeling very well and said that that was why he had not gone to Washington for the inauguration of President Nixon."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ladybird Johnson and Dolph Briscoe are still with us, of course, though I understand that Mrs. Johnson has grown quite frail in recent years. When I was in school one of my friends insisted that Dolph Briscoe grew albino marijuana on his ranch near Uvalde and consumed vast quantities of it while in office; this, he said, explained the governor's phlegmatic demeanor and lack of obvious activity as governor. ANK