Alamo Safe and Lock Co.
San Antonio, TX
This object is a heavy metal safe, manufactured by Alamo Safe and Lock Co. in the late 19th- early 20th century. It was owned by John Lincoln Clem- an army officer who served in the Civil War.
Clem was born in Newark, Ohio in 1851, with the name John Joseph Klem. When he was young, he changed his middle name to Lincoln because of his deep admiration for President Abraham Lincoln. He also changed the spelling of his last name from “Klem,” to “Clem.” When he was nine, his mother died, and he ran away from home to join the Union army. Although the 3rd regiment out of Ohio wouldn’t accept him because of his age, a year later, the 22nd Infantry Regiment in Michigan let him follow them, adopting him as their unofficial drummer boy and mascot.
He was allowed to officially enlist in 1863, at the age of twelve. Clem, carrying a musket that had been sawed down for him to handle better, became famous after the Battle of Chickamauga. During the battle, he became separated from his group, and was ordered to stop and surrender by a Confederate Colonel. Rather than surrendering, Clem swung around with his musket and fired, shooting the Colonel. He returned safely to Union lines.
As a result of his heroism, he became known as the “Drummer Boy of Chickamauga,” and was promoted to sergeant- the youngest soldier ever to become a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. A month later, he was captured by Confederate soldiers in Georgia and used as a propaganda tactic by the South, who stated “when they have to send their babies out to fight us.” He was soon released in a prisoner exchange with the North.
In 1864, after fighting in several more battles, Johnny Clem was discharged from the army, and returned home to finish school. He graduated high school in 1870 and tried to enlist in West Point. After failing the entrance exam several times, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In 1875, Clem completed artillery school in Virginia, and then transferred to the Quartermaster Department, where he was eventually promoted to captain. Near the end of his career, John Clem was the chief quartermaster at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio (1906-1911).
By the time he retired in 1915, he was 64 years old, had risen to the rank of brigadier general and actively served in the military for 45 years. After retirement, he was promoted to major general. He was officially the last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the United States Army. Clem died in San Antonio in 1937, and was taken to Arlington National Cemetery to be buried.
John Clem lived a life of bravery and adventure. His story has inspired many over the years. The song “The Ballad of Johnny Shiloh,” written by Andrew Landers, commemorates him, and there has been speculation that the popular Civil War song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” was inspired by Clem. Even Walt Disney produced a film in 1963- exactly one hundred years after Clem enlisted- called “Johnny Shiloh,” based on Clem’s time as a young drummer boy in the Union army. John Lincoln Clem was a larger than life, true American patriot and legend. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Trivia Card Game
This object is a trivia card game called “Texas Heroes: An Instructive Game,” created by Sally Trueheart Williams in 1908. The cards have three to five questions listed with a picture of the answer above. The people on the cards are those widely known by Texans, such as James Bowie, Sam Houston, David Crockett and many others. There are also historic places included that also have an important role in the history of Texas such as San Antonio, Nacogdoches, and Austin. A pamphlet is included with testimonials from Texas educators promoting the game as a useful educational tool.
Sally T. Williams (1871-1951) daughter of Henry M. Trueheart and Annie Vanmeter Cunningham, was an active member of the Galveston, Texas community. She had a passion for history, education, and charity. She was member of the Equal Suffrage Club, the Wednesday Club, First Presbyterian Church, American Red Cross, Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Colonial Dames.
In 1900, a hurricane devastated much of Texas, in Galveston over 3,000 buildings were destroyed and around 6,000 people were killed. In the wake of the storm the American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton, played a large role in the relief efforts. Women’s clubs and associations in the area also volunteered, thus women had more visible public roles in the community. The efforts of these women’s civics clubs evolved to a suffrage movement. As a member of the Equal Suffrage Club, Sally T. Williams stood for the right of women to vote and argued that municipal maintenance can be compared to public ‘housekeeping.’ The argument was an attempt to convince other women that participating in women’s suffrage was not violating the traditional roles of women in the home.
Women’s clubs in the late 1800s to early 1900s gave way to the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs (TFWC) which encouraged progressive movements and activism. The TFWC has accomplished and influenced numerous developments in Texas such as children’s health laws, traffic and highway safety, food purity standards, and historical preservation, to name a few. In its infancy, the TFWC consisted of mainly wealthy women and teachers, though today the membership is much more diverse. Many of the projects and activities of the federation have become the responsibility of the government in modern times, however the TFWC is still active and takes on projects involving aid to abused women and cancer patients and their families. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
San Antonio, TX
This object is a section of a metal fence with a detailed design on the end posts. It is a lasting symbol of German-style architecture found throughout central Texas. Though German-Texas immigrants began mixing in Anglo building methods, some elements of German craftsmanship endured throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and into today.
Germans are currently the third largest national-origin group in Texas, behind Anglos and Hispanics, comprising about 17.5% of the total population of the state. The majority of immigrants settled in a belt-like pattern, called “chain migration,” across the south central part of the state, forming a chain from Galveston along the coast, to Austin, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, and west into Kerrville, Mason, and Hondo on the far side of the Hill Country. Chain migration often occurs when immigrants enter a new place and settle there. They then start to branch out to farther points, creating a “chain” of connected communities- in this case, German communities.
The influence for so much migration to Texas was rooted in the so called “America Letters” that were written by immigrants, sent to their homelands, and often published. They sang the praises of their new homeland, and severely understated any downfalls. The letters were written by true pioneers who saw emigration as the solution to issues in their homeland, seeking economic, political, or religious opportunity.
In the case of Texas Germans, Friedrich Diercks was the most notable pioneer to bring attention to opportunities in Texas immigration. Originally intending to immigrate to Missouri, he switched gears when he heard about land grants being offered to European immigrants in Stephen F. Austin’s colony in Texas. Diercks applied for, and received over 4,000 acres in the northwest corner of Austin County (near Round Top, Texas).
As a result of the “America letters” written by Diercks, a steady stream of immigrants flowed into Texas from northwestern Germany. By 1850, the German Belt was well established. Towns like Fredericksburg and New Braunfels were founded during this time, and still house some of the largest concentrations of German descendants in Texas. Many of those people still speak German to each other.
The settlers who migrated during this time were by no means poor. They were generally solid middle-class peasants. Many were land- owners and artisans, and a few were college educated. The vast majority were farmers though. The Germans were ambitious though, and felt their futures in Germany were being stifled by their current social and economic system. In their new home of Texas, though many stayed in the cities such as Austin and San Antonio, many others moved to the rural areas of the Hill Country and farmed the land.
During the Civil War, migration was halted by the Union blockade of Confederate ports. Once the War ended though, more Germans than ever before arrived in Texas. Between 1865 and 1890, the number of German Texans jumped to over 40,000, and since 1930, the reach of German settlements has changed very little.
Before the World Wars, German heritage was widely preserved due to their relative isolation in their clustered colonies. However, due to German prejudice surrounding the World Wars, many folkways were lost, and many settlers stopped speaking German. As more and more of the Anglo- Texan culture intertwined with German heritage, even more of the pure German culture in Texas was lost.
Today, we still see the imprint of German culture in celebrations and historic architecture. Events like Oktoberfest, Saengerfest, and Wurstfest celebrate the culture that so many Texans have roots in. Buildings like Sunday Houses, and even modern German Texas farmhouse style homes, pay tribute to the heritage of 19th Century German immigrants.
Texas is a melting pot of heritage and has, in many ways, seamlessly accepted and tied together countless cultures and practices. From Hispanic, to Czech, to German, we all come together to celebrate what makes our state so unique. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Unknown date, likely 20th century
Materials: Paper Mache and Paint
This mask represents a character named Sun Wukong (孫悟空), or the Monkey King, who appears in Chinese folklore and plays a large role in the 16th century classic Chinese novel Xiyou ji, or Journey to the West. In the mythology of Sun Wukong, he was born from a stone egg on top of the Mountain of Flower and Fruit, when the wind blew on the stone egg it turned into the monkey. The Monkey King gained immortality and supernatural powers but rebelled against heaven when the gods excluded him from a royal banquet. He stole Xi Wangmu’s peaches of immortality and Laozi’s pills of longevity, then destroyed many of heavens palaces. The Buddha captured the Monkey King and imprisoned him in a mountain for five hundred years. The Buddha released him in exchange for his aid protecting the famous monk Xuanzang in his pilgrimage to India to retrieve the Buddhist sutras.
The story of the Monkey king is an important myth in Chinese culture, and it continues to be a popular story in Chinese theater and cinema. Many Chinese operas use face paint rather than masks such as this one. In the Chinese Opera, colors have significant meanings and are used as a visual aid. Red is used to represent a positive character or to show courage, intelligence, or bravery, black is used as a neutral color, blue is used to show stubbornness and white is used as a negative color or to represent a sly or evil character. Gold and silver show characters such as gods, demons and spirits. While red is the predominant color in this specific mask, there are other depictions that have white as the main color, with red framing the eyes nose and mouth. The colors in different masks allow the viewer to better understand the character’s role in the narrative.
Many families enjoy visiting the Chinese Opera during the Chinese Lunar New Year. Each year is represented in the Chinese zodiac by an animal and last year, 2016, was the year of the monkey. To celebrate the year of the monkey many may have used a mask similar to this one in the festivities. The Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is a centuries old tradition that lands on the first new moon of the year, in 2017 that was January 28th. The celebration traditionally honors deities and ancestors and it is also a time to gather with family, cleanse homes to rid ill-will and welcome good fortune and prosperity for the rest of the year.
One of the first Asian groups that immigrated to Texas were the Chinese in 1870 who were employed to work on the Texas railroads. In the following six decades, because of the Chinese exclusion law, the only Chinese that entered Texas were called “Pershing Chinese” because of their aid to John J. Pershing‘s troops against the paramilitary forces of Mexican insurgent Francisco “Pancho” Villa. They were allowed to settle in San Antonio, where even in a hostile environment the culture remained. After the exclusion act was repealed, Chinese immigration resumed and continued through the decades allowing the Chinese population in the United States (and Texas) to grow. Every year San Antonio celebrates our Asian cultures at the annual Asian Festival, held this coming weekend. Get your tickets HERE. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Unknown date, likely 20th Century
Materials: Cloth, hair, Ceramic
This Japanese doll is a depiction of princess Yaegaki-Hime, the heroine of a five-act drama called Honcho Nijushiko or The 24 Models of Filial Piety. This drama was originally preformed in 1766 as a Bunraku, a Japanese puppet theater originating in Osaka, and then became a popular drama in the live acting Kabuki theater. The character of the princess Yaegaki-Hime has gained fame through the Bunraku and Kabuki plays. The Yaegaki-Hime doll presented depicts her holding the legendary helmet that had been gifted to a samurai lord named Takeda Shingen by a fox god called Suwa Myojin. The helmet is enchanted to protect the samurai who wears it so that the samurai will always win and, when in need, the helmet would summon 808 foxes to protect the owner. In the famous scene of heroinism, Yaegaki saves her lover, Katsuyori, from the wrath of her father. He had sent two men to kill Katsuyori because of a family feud, Yaegaki prayed there was something she could do and mourned for her lover. She touched the enchanted helmet and became possessed by its power, with the protection of two white foxes she ran across a frozen lake to warn Katsuyori. The climax of both Bunraku and Kabuki plays is Yaegaki’s dance as she becomes possessed by the fox spirit and saves Katsuyori. The story ends as the family feud is resolved, the lovers marry and live happily ever after.
In the Bunraku tradition, scenes are narrated by musical chanting with the accompaniment of a shamisen, which is a stringed instrument of the lute family. The narrator voices the characters using a unique emotional vocal style for each character, sometimes for important scenes there may be multiple narrators chanting together. The puppeteer, or chief handler, also plays a role in narrating the story with his own exaggerated facial expressions, he would operate the head and right hand while 2 assistants, dressed and hooded in black, control the left hand and lower body movement.
The tradition of puppet theater in Japan stems from 11th century traveling story tellers and may have been influenced by Central Asia. The style of puppets has evolved from simplistic, hand-less and leg-less puppets to intricate full bodied puppets with moveable mouths and eyes. Japanese puppet theater was considered a sophisticated, adult pastime and was immensely popular the during the Tokugwa, or Edo, Period (1600-1868). The Japanese puppet theater did not gain the name ‘Bunraku’ until the late 18th century, it derives from the troupe established by Uemura Bunrakuken in Osaka, Japan. The plays for the puppet theater were written playbooks, published in authorized editions and, at the height of the puppeteering tradition over 1,000 plays were written and performed.
A new type of Japanese entertainment emerged in the beginning of the 17th century called Kabuki, where women would play both male and female parts in storytelling with song and dance. Many of the stories in the original Kabuki tradition were those of everyday life however, many of the successful Bunraku plays were adapted for the Kabuki stage. During this period, when women played the roles, Kabuki was not deemed as sophisticated as its puppeteering counterpart. The themes of these stories were often comical, suggestive and the women were usually prostitutes. The Shogunate banned women from acting to discourage prostitution and became a tradition of performance with a completely male cast. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Visit the Asian Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures on February 4th to see live performances of Asian music and dance.
Unknown date, likely 20th century
Materials: Paper Mache
This is a Chinese Opera mask depicting Jian Wei, a character who appeared in the The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This traditional Chinese drama combines historic events, and legends, from the third century AD and the civil wars after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The wars between the Shu, Wu, and Wei kingdoms spawned stories of violence, betrayal, heroism, and romance.
Jiang Wei is represented with a red, white and black three tiled face with a taijitu, or yin yang, symbol on his forehead. The colors and symbols on the face of an opera character give the audience insight to the personality of the character. Red represents loyalty and courage in Chinese culture. Because his face is mostly red, it suggests an overall positive character. The taijitu on his head tells the audience that he is a Taoist master and has an immense knowledge of the universe. Jiang Wei was a historical figure who was originally a general for the Wei kingdom but his authority was not respected so he became a general of the opposing kingdom of Shu. He later became the successor to the famed Zhang Liang, however, he betrayed the Shu kingdom by manipulating them, allowing the Wei kingdom to overthrow the Shu.
Masks such as these have several purposes, they can be used for ceremonies, protection, festivals, and theater. In this case, the mask would be worn by an opera performer, today actors typically wear face paint rather than masks. Using paint is more difficult and requires skill, but it allows the actor to better convey emotion.
In the Chinese Opera there are four different types of roles. The first is the female role or dan usually young a maiden, elderly woman, or warrior woman. Second is the male role or , which refers to a young man, elderly man, or sheng combat warrior. Then there’s the clowns or chou which can be either male or female, the clowns are comical characters that can act as the villain or simply provide comic relief. Finally there’s the painted face roles, called jing, which are powerful male roles. The painted face characters usually include generals, villains, gods, supernatural beings, or other powerful characters. The singing style is different for the painted face roles, it requires a deep nasal voice. Their costumes are big and demand attention, with large shoulder pads and heavy fabric these characters take up a lot of space.
Tales like these have been an important part of Chinese literature for centuries with the opera being a form of historical education for many common, or even illiterate, Chinese peoples. However exaggerated and whimsical the operas appear, many of the stories contain historical fact in the events and characters. The legends told in the Chinese Opera have influenced the identity of the Chinese culture and people. During the mid-nineteenth century, China was in increasing contact with Europe though many western explorers. Europeans journeyed to China to learn about and study the Chinese culture, spread religion, or secure trade routes. The Chinese identity was challenged by the sudden and immense exposure to western society. The traditional tales performed in the opera encouraged and reinforced the Chinese identity. On an international level Chinese Americans brought the Peking Opera to America when there was an increase in immigration in due to the 1849 gold rush. The Chinese have used opera to continue and spread their legends and history. Today the Chinese Opera can be found in countries across the world and has influenced modern media. Chinese themes, stories, and characters play parts in video games like Dynasty Warriors, novels like Journey to the West, comic books, and some have been adapted into full-length feature films. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
San Antonio, TX
Materials: Wood, Canvas, Leather, Paint
This object is a reproduction of a 19th Century covered wagon. It was gifted to the museum on November 20, 1976 by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Texas. It was the second wagon in line as part of the Southern route wagon train for the Bicentennial Pilgrimage.
In 1976, the United States celebrated its 200th birthday with festivities across all fifty states. In a monumental effort to bring the nation together, an idea was created that would involved every state, a year-long nationwide wagon train pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is a journey in search of moral or spiritual significance. For the Bicentennial Celebration, it was a way to reaffirm the founding morals of the country. Each state sponsored an authentic covered wagon, which would be represented on a wagon train to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
In total, there were five separate trains, recreating five distinct historic routes in westward expansion– the Northwest route, the Southwest route, the Southern route, the Great Lakes route, and the Colonies route. The Texas covered wagon was part of the Southern route, along with nine other wagons. The Pilgrimage represented a replay of history in reverse, with all of the wagon trains meeting up at the birthplace of the nation in Valley Forge, on July 4, 1976.
During a time when the country was frustrated and tired from government scandals, the Bicentennial wagon train was designed to reach out to communities and rededicate the country to the founding ideals and principles of the United States. This was a way to bring people together at every level- federal, state, local, and within communities. Participants could commit themselves to the entire duration of the wagon train, or they could join for shorter periods of time. The idea was particularly to get entire families involved- some families even pulling their kids out of school to participate.
The wagon now housed at the Institute of Texan Cultures was a gift from that pilgrimage. It is the original Texas wagon, which was driven by Hazel Bowen, a native Texan and horse-handling expert. After the Bicentennial celebrations ended, Hazel drove the wagon back to Texas, and a few months later, was able to drive it once again through the streets of San Antonio. On November 20, 1976 Hazel, escorted by the 1st Cavalry of the United States Army, drove the wagon from Freeman Coliseum, through the streets of downtown San Antonio, and parked it on the grounds of the Institute of Texan Cultures. This historic covered wagon has been on permanent display since then. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Wood and paper
The use of tobacco is centuries old, thought to have been discovered by the ancient Maya. There is evidence of smoking on Mayan pottery going back as far as the 10th century. In the 1600s, tobacco smoking became popular in Spain and was a symbol of wealth. Ironically, tobacco use was initially thought to be a cure for many illnesses. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the negative health effects of smoking began to be known, and it was first proven to cause cancer.
In cigars the outer layer, or wrapper, holds the tobacco together into its signature shape. This outer layer also determines much of the character and flavor of the cigar. The exterior leaves were picked while still green and go through a special aging process depending on the color and cigar type desired. Cigars today come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, with tobacco produced in many different countries and regions. The tobacco leaves filling the cigar need to be arranged in a way that forms air passages, the size of which is important to the quality of the cigar. If the airways are too small, the cigar will not burn, and if they are too large the cigar will burn too fast. Prior to the 1950s all cigars were hand folded, and getting the correct arrangement of leaves took a skilled worker. Today machines have taken over that task, by replacing the painstakingly folded inner leaves with smaller pieces of chopped up tobacco.
Henry William Finck was raised in New Orleans where he worked in the cigar making industry and learned the trade. He managed a cigar factory in New Orleans until he came to San Antonio in 1853 and started his own business with $1,000, borrowed from his life insurance.
The Finck Company made special “private label” cigars for the Travis Club, a private men’s club, founded in 1890. In 1906 the private label cigars were made only for the club, but during WWI the club members began inviting young military officers and trainees in San Antonio to join the Travis Club. These military men enjoyed the cigars so much they demanded they be sent to other military related men’s clubs. It became a widely popular brand and is still a top seller today, with an image of the original building printed on the label as a tribute to the history of the brand. Today the Finck Cigar Company is the only automated cigar factory in Texas. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Late 19th- early 20th Century
Materials: Metal, Wood
This object is a Norwegian krumkake iron. Not to be confused with crumb cake, this Norwegian cookie is pronounced kroom-kai-kuh, and means bent or curved cake. The plural is krumkaker. Krumkake is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie. Krumkaker are made from flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and cream. They look and taste very similar to waffle cones, and are made in a device that looks similar to a waffle iron.
Krumkake irons are decorative two-sided iron griddles, with intricate patterns that vary based on what region of Norway it’s from. Older irons were designed to be held and turned over an open fire, and had wooden handles to be able to turn them without getting burned. Newer versions are electric, and allow bakers to make more, in a shorter period of time.
Once the batter is poured onto the griddle, it’s baked to a light golden brown. While still hot, it’s rolled into small cones with the use of a conical rolling pin. Krumkaker can be filled with virtually anything- from whipped cream, to chocolate, to berries, or can just be sprinkled with powdered sugar.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the term “Christmas cookie” became popular, possibly due to the fact that ovens became popular household appliances around that time. However, cookies in Norway were categorized as one of three types: those baked in an iron, those that were deep fried, and those baked in ovens. Cookies baked in irons- like krumkaker– can be traced back at least a thousand years.
In the pre-Christian Viking tradition, during the dark afternoons of the Winter Solstice, children would go from house to house looking for treats. Because Norway is so close to the North Pole, darkness came by 4 o’clock during the months of December and January.
Before Christmas began being celebrated in Norway, around 1000- 1100, Norwegians celebrated Jul (the English tweaked this to yule) a time to celebrate the last of the harvest, and a way to look forward to spring. It was a celebration of light manifested through the yule log thrown on the fire.
Norwegian Christmas is a celebration of more than a thousand years of beliefs and traditions, all tied together in a month-long celebration. The baking, the solstice, the celebration of light, and Christian faith, all come together for the holiday season.
Perhaps this explains why krumkake has endured. Today, it is a featured element in the tradition of “seven sorts,” which is a Norwegian holiday baking custom. Per tradition, seven traditional cookies are to be baked and served during the holidays. Although which cookies are included in the seven are disputed, krumkake is the most widely accepted, along with pepperkaker (gingerbread).
Norway’s holiday traditions are still honored by Norwegian immigrants and their descendants across the American mid-west, and communities in Texas. The krumkake is just one of many elements of Norwegian tradition that interlock the past and the present. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Salvatore Ferragamo Shoes
Materials: Leather, Thread
This object is a pair of black and white leather spectator pumps, designed by the Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo and owned by Lady Bird Johnson. They were loaned to the Institute of Texan Cultures for a temporary exhibit called “Footprints and Imprints” showcasing famous and influential people through their shoes, and later donated to the museum.
Lady Bird Johnson became the 36th First Lady of the United States when her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, was sworn in as president following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Born Claudia Alta Taylor, Lady Bird received her nickname at an early age, when a nursemaid stated that she was “as purty as a lady bird.” The nickname stuck, and for the rest of her life she was known as Lady Bird. Though her father and brothers called her “Lady,” her husband called her “Bird,” and that’s what she signed on her marriage certificate.
In the 1930s, Mrs. Johnson attended the University of Texas in Austin, earning degrees in History and Journalism. During that time, she met Lyndon B. Johnson, and in 1934 they were married in San Antonio at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
When Johnson became President in 1963, Lady Bird focused her energies on her first love- the environment. The country was facing uncertain times, and Washington, D.C. was in need of a facelift. Having grown up in the outdoors of far East Texas, Lady Bird had an appreciation and respect for the natural beauty of landscapes and wildflowers.
As First Lady, she embarked on a beautification project, which was named the Society for a More Beautiful National Capital. The project consisted of planting millions of flowers throughout Washington, D.C., including tulips, daffodils, roses, and the dogwood and cherry blossom trees that the Capital is so well known for. She stated at the time that “where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
This proved to be just the start of what became a national campaign, and in 1965, the Highway Beautification Act was passed. Through this Act, Lady Bird was instrumental in restricting junk yards and limiting billboards along highways throughout the country, in addition to promoting wildflower plantings along interstates all over the country.
Mrs. Johnson wasn’t just interested in beautification, but also in conservation. One method she used to bring attention to her campaign was to visit historic sites, national parks, and scenic areas. By taking along the head of the National Parks Service, dignitaries, and media, Lady Bird was able to shine a spotlight on the natural beauty that was in danger of being destroyed all over the country.
After leaving Washington, Lady Bird Johnson focused her attention on Texas. She was the force behind developing ten miles of beautiful hike and bike trails around Town Lake in Austin. In 1982, she teamed up with her friend, actress Helen Hayes, to found the National Wildflower Research Center. In 1995, it was moved to 279 acres in southwest Austin and renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The center is dedicated to conservation, education, and beautification through the use of locally available plants and flowers. It is now one of the country’s most credible research institutions, and is run by The University of Texas.
Lady Bird Johnson saw a need to preserve and protect our nation’s natural beauty before it was destroyed by industry. Her imprint can be seen every spring, driving the roads of Texas, or visiting the nation’s Capital. She was instrumental in making environment issues a priority for our country. She lived a legacy foretold by her nanny when she was given the nickname “Lady Bird.” Lady Bird Johnson truly left a lasting impact through her work, and because of her, we can still call our country “America the Beautiful.” [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]