National Geographic : 1966 Nov
EKTACHROMEBY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERSDEAN CONGERAND JAMES P. BLAIR © N.G.S . is Lady Bird in the next room with Laurance Rockefeller and 80 ladies talking about the daffodils on Pennsylvania Avenue." The President was referring to Mrs. John son's program to encourage citizens to beautify the Capital, and by extension the whole coun try. But she has other interests. On one crowded morning such as Eleanor Roosevelt knew, Mrs. Johnson met with six civic and welfare groups. Afterward she at tended the Senate Ladies' Red Cross luncheon at the Capitol, returned to serve tea to the White House Library Committee, and finally, at an East Room ceremony, presented a liter ary award to the distinguished American writer Thornton Wilder. I talked with Mrs. Johnson about her full life as we sat alone on Mr. Truman's balcony, looking toward an entrancing vista of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Me 636 morial outlined against a dusky sky. "My deep interest in working for a more beautiful America goes back to the time I first walked in the piney woods of east Texas," she said. "I also feel very close to Project Head Start. This idea of helping needy pre school children catch up with more fortunate ones was born in the East Room. It grew out of a conference between many people-offi cials of the War on Poverty and volunteers from all over the country. "I wanted to help, thinking of my own chil dren," she said. "To me, they are the pulse and heartbeat of the White House." Social Life Reflects Nation's Dignity It has never been easy to separate official business from social activities at the Execu tive Mansion. Certainly it was not just for pleasure that President Adams in 1801 gave a feast "to Indian kings and aristocrats," as he recorded in a letter.