At the LBJ Library, the floors of archives are on beautiful, grand display:
And there are three floors of exhibits, which pull you through the history and culture of the 1960s, the time when I was a teenager. Did so much more happen then, or does it only seem so to me? Much of what was on display had no real connection to LBJ but intense significance to me as I walked through the depiction of the past:
The piped in music is The Doors, The Jefferson Airplane -- all counterculture, evocative of hating LBJ. "Did people hate him more than George Bush?" Chris asks. "Yes," I say without hesitation. Remember, there was a draft, and many more people were dying in Vietnam. I watch a little video that quickly documents what happened year by year from 1963 to 1968. So many impressive achievements I counted for little at the time, because of the war. So many sad things -- riots, assassinations. I cry at the one thing that always breaks through my public stoicism: the killing of Bobby Kennedy.
I remember where I was -- standing in the kitchen in our house in Wayne, New Jersey -- when I heard these words:
I was watching a little black and white TV on the counter and thinking how much I hated that ugly, old man with his ugly, endless war. I hadn't a shred of pity for him, but when he said those unexpected words, I broke down and cried. That poor man. How strange to suddenly see him as human.
Deeply affecting too were the handwritten edits on the short speech he gave on the day of President Kennedy's assassination:
We saw the many gifts, given by heads of state, most of them perplexingly bad. Only one stood out as truly worthy, from the Shah of Iran:
That is a terra cotta effigy urn, from 1000 B.C.
There's a replica of the Oval Office:
And I'm surprised how small and uninspiring it is.
I love all the old buttons:
Some so mindbogglingly inappropriate as a political statement:
But the perfect expression of the 1960s.
And don't miss the animatronic, joke-telling LBJ!