LBJ Library at 50: All the Cake
Getting some free cake on LBJ's birthday is a rich tradition
By Kate X Messer,
12:01AM, Thu. Aug. 26, 2021
We made it to the LBJ Library & Museum in July, during that tiny sliver of high we all felt as tumbling COVID numbers began to show that the vaccines do work. Nevertheless, the host of this media day, Luci Baines Johnson, made a point of letting everyone know that she’d been double vaccinated and would welcome a handshake if any of us felt so inclined.
You bet I shook her hand. I also let her know that not only was her daddy the first president I remember, but that he and I share a birthday.
Side note: It did occur to me to say, “Lady, I’ve been in lockdown for over a year, but if I'm going to catch the damn thing, it would be an honor to catch it from you.” I’m so glad I kept that to myself.
“The LBJ” as those of us in the fan club call it, is a very special place to me. Every year, the museum offers a big ol’ sheet cake to guests who visit on the big fella’s birthday. And any year that I can make it on August 27, I line up for a slice. Of course, I mention that it happens to be my birthday, too, and every year, the sweet volunteers divvy out an extra portion.
Look, when I first moved to Austin, I bought into the whole macho Texas canon: “You may go to Hell, I have gone to Texas!” But over time, as I came to love my new home, the truths that made me feel like a real Texan were not the mythological acts of bravado and chest puffery, but instead the courageous accomplishments of the Great Society: the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 & 1968, voting rights, Medicare, bilingual ed, clean water and air, the National Endowments for the Arts, NPR, PBS, I could go on. The achievements of the LBJ administration – everything my presidential birthday twin muscled into being – demonstrated true Texas generosity of spirit for generations to come.
Editor's Note: Because the LBJ Library has closed due to COVID considerations, no free cake will be served for LBJ's birthday on Aug. 27. However, President Johnson's 113th birth anniversary will be commemorated with a program at the LBJ Memorial Grove in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Aug. 26. Video of that ceremony will be posted on the LBJ Library’s YouTube channel and on social media.
Also, a traditional wreath-laying ceremony will take place at President Johnson’s grave at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park on Friday, Aug. 27. Video of that ceremony will also be posted on the Library's YouTube channel and on social media.
And HBO will honor President Johnson’s birthday with an airing of the film All the Way, based on the Tony Award-winning play by Robert Schenkkan and starring Bryan Cranston as LBJ. It will begin at 3:35pn CDT. The film will also air on HBO Latino at 3:48pm.
In this week's cover story you can read more about the LBJ Library's five decades of keeping history and making history.