Breakfast Club Resurrects Classsic LBJ Stories

August 5, 2009

As posted earlier, one of the liveliest forums for Texas political lore is the loosely named “Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club” of “used-to-bes” who gather weekly at the Waterloo Ice House across from Seton Hospital on West 38th Street in Austin. Its  attendees include former Texas legislators Bill Abington and George  Nokes, former Congressman Jack Hightower, former LBJ aide and corporate counsel Jim Wilson, former LBJ Library honcho Harry Middleton, former Governor John Connally staffers Terrell Blodgett and John Mobley  and retired business exec Frank Cahill. Their collective memories hold a treasure chest of rich stories, some of which actually can be told.

At this week’s coffee/breakfast conflab, Nokes asked Middleton if it was true that President Lyndon B. Johnson once asked one of his aides whose ass he would have to kiss to have Lady Bird Johson appointed to the University of Texas Board of Regents.  Harry denied any knowledge of that occasion, but then offered a similar episode.

He remembered that Johnson called him from the Ranch one day to say that then- Texas Governor Preston Smith had called and wished to come see him. The President asked if Middleton knew what he wanted. Harry did not. But he does remember the President’s comments  following Governor Smith’s visit.

“I still  don’t know what he wanted,” Johnson reportedly said. “He brought his wife and her mother, they came too late for lunch, too early for me to offer drinks,  and he didn’t want to  ride around the ranch.  If he wanted me to kiss his ass, he should have said so… I’ve  been in that business for forty years.”

–Julian Read

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