June 8, 2016

"My daddy used to come to my bedroom at four-thirty in the morning when I was workin’ on the highway gang..."

"... right out of high school, and he’d twist my big toe, real hard so it hurt, and he’d say, 'Git up, Lyndon, every other boy in town’s got a half hour’s head start on you.'"

Said LBJ, quoted in Robert A. Caro's "The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV."

28 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

LBJ was one mean, smart SOB, but you have to hand it to him, he was an authentic mean smart SOB.

JRoberts said...

Imagine the lawsuits and years of therapy if a parent did this to one of today's special snowflakes.

Laslo Spatula said...

Hillbillies on the Porch:

"Whacha whittling there, Deke?

"Well, I started tryin' to whittle a pony, but now I think it's just gonna be a pony with no legs."

"That's a sad pony."

"Yeah. But I just listen to what the wood tells me."

"You know, I was thinking back on the old days. To get me up for work my daddy would wake me at four in the morning by putting a snake on my face."

"A snake? What kind of snake?"

"I don't know, it was always dark."

"Sounds kinda dangerous to me."

"Ah, it never bit me or nothing. Daddy would keep it close to his lap, so it must've been safe."

"Uhhhh..."

"Yeah...?"

"I think that was maybe your Daddy's cock he was puttin' on your face."

"Naw, that can't be it. My sister says Daddy used to wake her with a snake to the face, too."

"Sure, sure. I'm sure it was a snake, after all."

"Damn right it was a snake."

"Sorry -- I don't know what I was thinkin'."

"Yeah. Daddy did some weird things from time to time, but that was on account of the war."

"Yeah."

"Yeah."

"Obviously a snake."

"Damn right it was a snake..."


I am Laslo.

Big Mike said...

Somewhat above half of LBJ's stories were made up. Caro is just gullible.

Fernandinande said...

he’d twist my big toe, real hard so it hurt,

Daddy was sadistic....

and he’d say, 'Git up, Lyndon, every other boy in town’s got a half hour’s head start on you.'"

...and nonsensical. It sounds like a case of "the early worm gets eaten by the bird", but a road crew starts at a certain time and you're either late or you're not.

gspencer said...

Cute quote and touching gesture by a good father.

But LBJ was a through-and-through bastard in every frapping aspect of his miserable existence.

Ask Jack K.

Meade said...

That's funny. My daddy used to come to my bedroom at four-thirty in the morning when I was right out of high school, and he’d twist BOTH my big toes, real hard so the toenails would come loose, and he’d say, "Git up, Meade, every other boy in town's been down to the draft board and got his 2-S deferral."

Alexander said...

Ask any Texan, a Texas tall tale is the tallest.

traditionalguy said...

LBJ was a Texas original. Getting away with murdering the opposition was the least of his crimes. The day Joe Kennedy accepted LBJ's offer to be JFK's VP was the effective day the Kennedy Family died.

Ann Althouse said...

"Somewhat above half of LBJ's stories were made up. Caro is just gullible."

How is Caro being gullible in reporting what LBJ said? Larger context -- LBJ is already President and using speech like this in his amassing of power:

"Talking to reporters on the plane about the federal budget, he had suddenly stopped and begun talking about himself. “I’ve always been an early riser,” he said. “My daddy used to come to my bedroom at four-thirty in the morning when I was workin’ on the highway gang, right out of high school, and he’d twist my big toe, real hard so it hurt, and he’d say, ‘Git up, Lyndon, every other boy in town’s got a half hour’s head start on you.’ ” Making an early-morning call to an old Hill Country ally, E. Babe Smith of Marble Falls, he said he hoped he hadn’t woken him up— and then said he was sure he hadn’t because Smith had been “a poor boy,” too, and therefore must have been getting up early all his life, as he himself did. “That’s the only way we can keep up,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re too far ahead of us.” Other old acquaintances recall similar early-morning calls from the Johnson Ranch that vacation. “We always get up early, don’t we?” he told Fredericksburg attorney Arthur Stehling. “We can’t make it unless we do.” And at the age of nine and ten he had worked beside his cousin Ava, hauling the heavy bags of cotton, their backs stooped over in the burning sun, Ava to whom he had whispered as they worked, “Boy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living than this. There’s got to be a better way.”"

Caro, Robert A. (2012-05-01). The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV (Kindle Locations 13254-13265). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

mockturtle said...

The Kennedys would have put Satan on the ticket if it had been politically expedient. LBJ was the epitome of the effective politician. In other words, corrupt, ruthless and ambitious. Caro's biographies capture him perfectly.

mockturtle said...

And the Kennedys were every bit as corrupt, ruthless and ambitious.

Comanche Voter said...

Well JFK knew that the Kennedy machine could count on a lot of voters arising from the dead in Chicago graveyards--and going to the Illinois polls early and often. But it took LBJ to wake the dead in the Texas graveyards. He'd done it before in 1948, and he would do it again in 1960.

It's interesting to recall that both LBJ and Barry Goldwater had reputations (in LBJ's case deservedly so) of being masters of the Senate.

mikee said...

LBJ's beatification continues unabated. Soon it will be that damn Nixon who got us mired in Vietnam.

I, for one, await an attempt to paint James Earl Carter in a positive light, turning his micromanagement of the White House tennis court schedule into something good, and making light of the many, many deaths in Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East that his moral-equivalence-means-we-stay-weak foreign policy engendered.

Unknown said...

Whew! Saw the header and was afraid it was going to be yet another revelation from Lena Dunham.

aritai said...

LBJ was human in every way. Feet of clay amplified by knowing others had the same weakness. But there's something to be said about crawling up out of the dirt in Texas. Starting as a teacher, then coach the principal, the superintendent, then house step by step on up the president. His dad came in a few months if that before he turned 18 asked where he'd be moving to, else here's what your monthly payment for room and board will be. He was very much a republican in dem clothing, since that's what it took to be elected to one of the thousand school districts, which was a necessary step on the way up. What, 1800 school districts. Yes, this is how Texas sidestepped all the segregation issues. You had to convince each district independently, and they each had their own government and judges until the federal government usurped all of their authority. Such was life. Made lBJ a leader and commander of loyalties. With his eyes fixed on where the power was, to get there as quickly as possible and make the best deal he could for everyone knowing his hardscrabble beginnings. Crooked, but only as much required to succeed compared to all the worse political crooks. And he punished one of the worst crooks, and enablers of other crooks that killed, and lied his son all the way to the presidency, that worst of men (boffig his chauffer in earshot of his entire family, including Rose of all time, JFK's dad. LBJ was decent man for that time, within the political constraints. And Lady Bird was gem.

Fred Drinkwater said...

LBJ was the object of one my my dad's first lessons in politics to me: "He started out as an elementary school teacher, and now after years in politics he's rich. How do you suppose that happened?" (I never bothered to check this story, though.)
Other lessons:
"Forget about who's president. The government guy with the most influence over your life is the guy who runs the local zoning board."
From when he was briefly on the local neighborhood association: "I called the county office today to see about getting copies of the last 10 years of budgets. The lady at the county said 'Gee, I think those are classified'. "
From when he was a director at NASA, doing a study on commercial aviation safety: "Help me sort out this pile (about 1000 sheets of paper). The FAA finally responded to my request for records, and it looks like the guy dropped this and then just stuffed it into a box."

Ann Althouse said...

"He started out as an elementary school teacher, and now after years in politics he's rich. How do you suppose that happened?"

Radio station.

"Lady Bird had purchased one small radio station in 1943 for $ 17,500. Since then, thanks in part to a twenty-year-long string of strikingly favorable rulings by the Federal Communications Commission (which, among other aspects, had left Austin as one of the few metropolitan areas with only a single commercial television station), the company had burgeoned into a chain of immensely profitable radio and television stations the length of Texas, and by 1963 it owned as well 11,000 acres of ranchland and major shareholdings in nine Texas banks. Johnson had quieted the speculations by his unequivocal denials that there was any relationship. He had said, over and over, for twenty years, that the LBJ Company was entirely his wife’s business and he had nothing to do with it; that, as he claimed in one of many such statements, “All that is owned by Mrs. Johnson.… I don’t have any interest in government-regulated industries and never have had.”"

Caro, Robert A. (2012-05-01). The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV (Kindle Locations 7209-7215). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Larry J said...

Back in the 1990s, I met a man who was a retired pilot. He started out as a 19 year old B-17 pilot flying out of England in 1944 (shot down on his 28th mission, captured by the Gestapo, and spent several months in Buchenwald). In the early 1960s, he was a mercenary pilot flying out of Laos for the CIA. He stayed in Southeast Asia for about 8 years and saw a lot of dirty dealing going on. He described how all of the big construction contracts went to one big company, Morrison-Knudsen. He claimed that Lady Bird Johnson was a big stockholder in the company which may explain how LBJ left the presidency worth at least $40 million (about $200 million today). The pilot said that no one in the LBJ administration wanted the Vietnam war to end because they were getting very rich. If his stories are true, that would make LBJ much worse than just another corrupt SOB politician.

Jupiter said...

Ann Althouse said...
'"He started out as an elementary school teacher, and now after years in politics he's rich. How do you suppose that happened?"

Radio station.'

Not cattle futures?

Statistical James said...

The fact that Caro put this in Volume IV instead of Volume I suggests to me that Caro thinks the story is fake.

Franklin said...

LBJ's most prescient and consequential quote was his statement about him ensuring African-Americans (he called them something much ruder) would vote Democrat for the next 200 years after his Great Society spending programs.

mockturtle said...

And Lady Bird was gem.

Absolutely! My favorite. And, for that matter, in spite of what I said my previous post, I was fascinated by LBJ, which is why I read so much about him. His library in Austin is well worth a visit.

dwick said...

Yeah well, LBJ may not have had a legal financial 'interest' but he damn well had a SELF-interest - and he freely used his influence to advance that self-interest at every opportunity.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2007/07/the_honest_graft_of_lady_bird_johnson.html

As anyone who has seriously studied about LBJ knows, what LBJ 'claimed' and 'the truth' rarely match.

RichardJohnson said...

Comanche Voter

Well JFK knew that the Kennedy machine could count on a lot of voters arising from the dead in Chicago graveyards--and going to the Illinois polls early and often. But it took LBJ to wake the dead in the Texas graveyards. He'd done it before in 1948, and he would do it again in 1960.

I had read- in Caro years ago?- that a Senate or Senate primary opponent of LBJ in the early '40s had beaten LBJ by stuffing ballot boxes. LBJ vowed that he wasn't going to lose that way again: thus the 87 victory margin in the 1948 Senate primary, courtesy of stuffed ballot boxes. I wonder if the recent presidential election in Peru will come down to stuffed ballot boxes.

I also read that JFK and his friends infuriated LBJ by calling him "Landslide Lyndon," in referring to LBJ's stuffed ballot box victory in the 1948 Senate primary.

I hadn't read that there were stuffed ballot boxes in Texas in 1960.

We have all read about how LBJ and RFK hated each other. An uncle told me story about that. My uncle used to commute by rail to his job in NYC. One time, as my uncle was approaching Grand Central Station, he saw a limo parked in front. LBJ was wagging his finger in RFK's face. It didn't look like a very friendly conversation.

James Pawlak said...

Perhaps she would feel more secure with "one of the Boyz" or an Islamist sitting behind her.

She is fortunate that she lives in Madison---A city with a good supply of psychiatrists.

RonF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonF said...

Time for my LBJ story.

Alan King, old-school Jewish comedian, is on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. LBJ had just shocked the D.C. elite; he had had an appendectomy, and when the reporters asked him about it at a press conference he lifted up his shirt and showed them the scar. Johnny asked Alan what he thought about it and Alan said "Thank God it wasn't for hemmoroids!" Hilarity ensued.

Months later, Alan is back on the show. Politics comes up, and Johnny speculates on LBJ's sense of humor. Alan tells Johnny "I gotta tell you. Remember that joke I made about the President?" Johnny says "Yes". Alan says "I got a letter in the mail a week later. It was from the White House. I thought I was in big trouble for sure, that the President was upset about the joke. So I open up the envelope - and my hand to God, out drops a Polaroid!"

I can just see LBJ getting one of his aides to grab a camera while he dropped his pants.