Big Muddy

I’m a little worried about Hillary Clinton. I do have something to say about her but it will have to be later on.  I will only interrupt my extreme busyness to tell you that I spend all of my time hosting WebEx presentations (…the CDC reports earliest flu activity in 10 years … virulent strains bringing more severe illness… and so on …) and baking bread. In fact, I am so into the bread making that I couldn’t wait until Xmas for a Danish Dough Wisk so that Santa could bring it to me. My bread kind of stinks* but the process of making it is very therapeutic for me.

*That’s an oxymoron because my bread actually has no smell and no taste either. But it’s awful purty.

Busy or not, we  can’t let a week go by without some kind of Creek Project story. Here is the end result of a few days of digging and back-hoeing from my backyard to the street. When they were all done doing whatever they were doing, the end result is that my topsoil is buried, the stupid clay/sand from the depths has been churned to the top and it’s a sea of mud wherever you look. The dog is delighted; we are less so. He digs in it, he rolls around in it , he otherwise enjoys himself in it and then drags some in the house when he returns.

like a 40 degree Woodstock for dogs
kind of like Woodstock if Woodstock happened when it was 40 degrees

As soon as they shoved the dirt back to a reasonably level appearance, the crew said goodbye to us because they were being laid off for the winter.

Anyway, did you know that YouTube is loaded with Lady Bird’s home movies? This isn’t a home movie but it does have a bit of a White House Staff Christmas party where the Bajas are playing what I believe is the Woody Woodpecker theme song. And the dog stars of all time, Him and Her, are in the finale stealing the scene from George Hamilton.

Oh, Lyndon!

I already knew this because I read it straight from Doris Kearns Goodwin herself:

“Lyndon B. Johnson had “give-away” items in the Oval Office like this electric toothbrush set stamped with the Presidential seal. Rumor has it, Doris Kearns Goodwin amassed several during her tenure as a White House intern, and finally asked LBJ, “Why toothbrushes?” LBJ said, “I want people to think of me right away when they wake up and right before they go to bed.”

Our Presidents

Hostess Brands Inc Is The New Dress Factories

And the BCTGM and is the new ILGWU.

I was going to try and write something clever about the Hostess closing but when I read the company FAQs to their employees who find themselves screwed out of job thanks to their own union, it reminded me of the last day that my mother went to work. After 40 years of doing piece work in a dress factory, she arrived one morning to find the doors chained and padlocked. During the remaining years of her life, she would often mention that her good scissors were in there and she never saw them again.

She worked at Plymouth Dress Company for 38 of those years, and when they went out of business, she was one of the lucky ones who was able to find a spot in another union shop. Even then, she only did finish work on garments that were cut and started in the Dominican Republic. When the second factory closed, there were no more union shops around and it was a situation thatt was repeated nationwide.

The ILGWU put their own industry out of business in America. The BCTGM has only closed down one business. So far.

This made me tear up a little today:

They aren’t kidding about feeding the kids. At time that her factory doors were shuttered in 1989, when she was earning more than she ever did previously, my mother was getting 10¢ a collar.


UPDATED: Mercy me – we almost forgot to do an LBJ tie-in to this story. From the Cripes Suzette archives: Look for The Union Label


Luci’s getting married

LBJ reaches out to old pal and campaign contributor Stanley Marcus, president of Neiman-Marcus

Marcus taps his pal Priscilla of Boston to design gowns for Luci and the bridal party because who wouldn’t?  Priscilla remains the unsurpassed rock-star of bridal design even after she was strangled to death by David’s Bridal.

Situation! Priscilla of Boston was producing 2,000 dresses a month in a non-union shop.

For sale is a photo of the sitting president and president emeritus of the AFL-CIO ILGWU at a press conference announcing resolution to the union-instigated “crisis” surrounding the production of Luci Baines Johnson’s bridesmaids’ gown. This news clipping is pasted onto the back of it. The ILGWU committed suicide by self-strangulation and took the American dress business down with it.

Money quote: When Louis Stulberg and David Dubinsky, president and president-emeritus, respectively, of the ALF-CIO International Ladies Garment Workers Union learned that non-union Priscilla of Boston  was to design and make the dresses, they got in touch with their friend Mr. Johnson. And we all know what happens when the union puts the touch on you.

Priscilla took a look, recognized big trouble and tried to get out of the whole thing.

In the end everyone was happy, with the possible exception of the non-union seamstresses who had the work taken  right out from under them. The Priscilla designs were made by 150 union seamstresses, a union label was sewn into the gowns, there was some plummy unionized factory overtime and the bosses got to hold a press conference to announce the union triumph over independent self-actualizers.

This is the kind of history that I love. The kind that involves watered silk and a five miles of hot pink tulle.

Bridesmaids in Pink Gowns and Headdresses at Luci Baines Johnson / Patrick Nugent Wedding. This poster can be yours for $99.00 from

FLOTUS Signature Colors

Everybody knows about Mamie Eisenhower’s deep and abiding love for the color pink but I ask you this:  why is there a dearth of information about Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite color? It’s yellow. I know this because duh of the one million photos of her selecting that color for important events like inauguration balls, state dinners and her daughter’s wedding.

As pretty as a little lady bird.

Here’s my theory, reeking of conspiracy though it is: Google up “Jackie Kennedy’s favorite color” and you will see the the revisionists have gotten their hands on yellow and reassigned it to Jackie O.  Photographic evidence of the period does not bear this out. I believe that there is a concerted effort to squash any association of the sunshine color to Lady Bird. It ain’t right, it just ain’t right. Here’s her inaugural ball ensemble:

Johnson presided over the 1963 event in a canary-yellow bateau-neck gown by John Moore. The down-to-earth First Lady ordered her dress through Neiman Marcus in Texas.

Here’s her philosophy on clothing:   “I like clothes—I like them pretty,” she told Time, “but I want them to serve me, not for me to serve them.”  Where have we heard that before? Oh that’s right – NOWHERE.

The color of this gown, which she wore to President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Ball, was officially called “First Lady Pink.”

“Although she always looked put together in her dresses, hats, and gloves, she was very mindful of her budget and did not worry about looking trendy.  “Knowing what to look for and how to tell a lasting fashion from a temporary fad has always helped me to shop intelligently,” she wrote to editors at the 1954 Fashion Press Week.”

link  Our Presidents

Color aside and generally speaking, styles selected for Inaugural ball gowns of the Republican First Ladies have endured and still look good. I’d wear Lady Bird’s ensemble today and I’d even give Mamie’s a whirl, even Barbara Bush’s. Who among you would  care to show up somewhere dressed in the bedazzled hazmat suit worn by Rosalyn Carter, the thigh-clinging eggplant wonder of Hillary Clinton or too-long toilet-paper dream of the current FLOTUS?

Hunkered Down And Holed Up

Hurricanes! Amirite?

Day 8 still no power at our house but half an hour away, our son is back on the grid so we bugged out and headed for heat and lights. They say that we might have power back in our house on Wednesday or Thursday.

What have I been up to all this time? Lots of closet cleaning, lots of napping and lots of reading about LBJ. Hal K. Rothman’s “LBJ’s Texas White House – Our Heart’s Home” makes me want to live in the Hill Country of east Texas, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream” made me wish she wasn’t so clipped and cold about a man she had a close and complicated relationship with and Robert Dallek’s “Lone Star Rising – Lyndon Johnson and His Times” clearly laid out the opposing forces that made the man’s personality what it was.

One thing that comes through loud and clear in any book you read about LBJ is that no matter what kind of finagling it took to make things happen,  he sincerely believed in the causes he championed. He was a long -term thinker and deeply aware of how his words and actions would affect his legacy. I read and reread the speech in which he announced that he would not seek reelection in 1968 and could not help but compare his principles and motivation to those of America’s current president. this came at the end of 30 minutes updating details and changes in strategy about the Vietnam war:

“For 37 years in the service of our Nation, first as a Congressman, as a Senator, and as Vice President, and now as your President, I have put the unity of the people first. I have put it ahead of any divisive partisanship. And in these times as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.

There is division in the American house now. There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospect of peace for all peoples. So, I would ask all Americans, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all its ugly consequences.

Our reward will come in the life of freedom, peace, and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead. What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.

Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.

With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

Can any one anywhere in this country imagine Barack Obama putting the country ahead of himself?

Lyndon Johnson remains as unpopular now as he was at the time of this speech. Although he carefully crafted and controlled his public image at every moment, in the end he donated 100% of his papers to his library in Austin without censor for “history to be his judge.” His library is the only one with no fee charged for admission and the papers are open to all who seek them. Can anyone anywhere in this country imagine Barack Obama doing that?