The White House: The First Lady Bird

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She already has a healthy head start this year. In direct relation to Lyndon's pet projects, she went 1) to Huntsville, Ala., in March and talked about Lyndon's space program, 2) to Cleveland's Riverview Golden Age Center in April and discussed Lyndon's federal health and housing plans, 3) to hard-scrabbling Appalachia in May and spoke about Lyndon's poverty war, and 4) to Atlanta's Communicable Disease Center in May. And last week, on a trip billed by Lady Bird as a "land and people tour," she charged into Montana, Utah and Wyoming with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall for four days that averaged more than 18 hours each —ostensibly to create interest in tourism and conservation and to dedicate the $81.2 million Flaming Gorge Dam in Utah. But she never missed a chance to clutch hands and to praise needy candidates. In Montana she described Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield as one of Lyndon's "oldest and most trusted friends." In Utah she told the folks that Senator Frank Moss is "always watching out for Utah." In Wyoming she spoke of Senator Gale McGee: "Everybody knows Senator McGee—he's your home folks." And in Idaho she said: "We in Washington have heard much about Idaho from Senator Frank Church and his wife Bethine and Congressman Ralph Harding and his wife Willa." "

Look, Y'AII!" Only once, during a relaxed and silent voyage in a 27-foot rubber raft down the twisting Snake River, was Lady Bird able to push away all reminders of wheelhorse politics and White House pressures. Wyoming's magnificent Teton Mountains loomed over the river, and when she caught her first glimpse of the peaks, Lady Bird cried: "Look, y'all, just look!" Idling along at 7 m.p.h., she spotted a formation of Canadian geese. "Hey! Say, what are they?" she exclaimed. "Aren't they gorgeous, strung out across the sky?" Then she dipped a paper cup in the water, drained it, and took out a little notebook to jot down some notes for her diary.

Suddenly Lady Bird spotted photographers on another raft waiting downstream to shoot more pictures. "O.K.," she sighed. "Pass me my lipstick." Now she was Lyndon Johnson's wife again. The First Lady Bird put on a chipper smile, and the cameras went click.

* When she was two, her Negro nurse landsaked, "Lawd, she's purty as a ladybird," and the name stuck. A ladybird, as it is called in the Southwest, is not a bird at all, but a black-dotted little beetle, otherwise known as a ladybug.

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