Monday, August 4, 2008

When LBJ Came to My Home Town

I grew up in a middle of nowhere town. But that little town had a few heavy hitters in the world of politics. As result one day then Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson came to my hometown.

It was a grand small town event. It shows a type of mastery which I guess still exists, and if so then some other kids are going to be blessed with memories like this.

LBJ gave a brief pump up the crowd speech at the baseball field of the local high school. They took out a fence section in center field. After the crowd had filled the seats, LBJ appeared through that fence section riding a white horse. (How many current political leaders can ride a horse?)

LBJ was of course wearing a giant white cowboy hat. He and the horse circled the bases. He dismounted onto a podium that had been placed atop home plate.

I have no idea what he said, but when he finished they brought the horse to the podium, LBJ swung up onto his steed, waved his cowboy hat and galloped off through center field.

Now that was one hell of an image. How could you not vote for him after that?

But it got even better.

That evening he attended a dinner and dance at the local country. The club was famous for its parquet dance floor.

After the dancing had begun, someone brought in a donkey. (The symbol of the Democratic party) LBJ danced with the donkey on the parquet dance floor.

Later the floor had to be repaired in some places. I assume the donkey was not an experienced dancer.

Once again, the imagery of that day has remained strong with me all my life. Regardless of the Vietnam War and the riots and all the other things that many people remember when they think of LBJ, the riding in on a white horse and dancing with a donkey will always be the primary things I think about when I think about LBJ.

What power is held in images? The power to overcome rational facts and thinking for certain.

Do you think you leave such powerful images? Could you? Would you?

No comments: