Lady Bird Johnson, the widow of President Lyndon B. Johnson who died this week, made several visits to Baltimore before, during and after her husband's years in Washington.
Baltimoreans got their first glimpse of her during the presidential campaign of 1960, when she "brought a white-gloved touch of Texas" to the city, reported The Sun.
The first reception, attended by 500 women, was held in the Guilford home of Dr. Mildred Otenesak, a Democratic national committeewoman.
Otenesak told reporters she was "overwhelmed" at the turnout -- which included Helen Avalynne Tawes, wife of Gov. J. Millard Tawes -- since she had expected no more than 300 women at the reception.
Described as having "a touch of velvet and stamina of steel," Mrs. Johnson displayed both during an impromptu news conference held over petits fours and coffee.
When asked about civil rights, she "stiffened a bit," observed the newspaper.
"When Lyndon speaks, as he said in Nashville, he doesn't speak as a Southerner to Southerners, a Protestant to Protestants, or white to whites, but as an American," she answered.
"I think that's the proper way," she said as she discussed her husband's role as Senate majority leader in helping guide two civil rights bills through Congress.
Dressed in a two-piece coral suit, Mrs. Johnson said she didn't think candidates' wives' clothes should be a campaign issue.
"I think there are more important issues for women to discuss and to make up their minds about," she said, in response to a question about Jacqueline Kennedy's style of dress.
She told listeners she felt "a strong Democratic pulse beating in the nation" and that her husband was "an exciting man to live with and an exhausting man to keep up with."
The reception line, which extended out of the house and onto the lawn, slowly passed by Mrs. Johnson, who shook hands while saying a few words to each guest.
After leaving Guilford, she traveled by automobile to the MeDeSo Club in the 1800 block of Eutaw Place, where she addressed a reception of 200 women sponsored by the Valiant Women's Democratic Club and the Colored Women's Democratic Club.
After sipping a cup of coffee and repeating her message of earlier in the day, Mrs. Johnson departed for Washington.
Five days after the 1961 presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy, she returned to Baltimore on a blustery January day with her husband, the vice president, and Nellie B. Connally, wife of former Texas Gov. John B. Connally Jr., who had been named secretary of the Navy in the new administration.
The purpose of the visit of the two women was to christen the cargo ship Solon Turman, named for the president of the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co., which had been built at the Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point shipyard.
The christening was her first official act as the vice president's wife and couldn't have come on a worse day, as gale-force winds swept the area with the mercury hovering at 10 degrees.
"The 50-mile-an-hour winds whipped off the hats and disarranged the hair of scores of dignitaries present, and the ten-degree temperature cut short the customary pre-christening picture taking and other activities," wrote Helen Delich Bentley, then The Sun's maritime editor.
While posing for photographers holding a bouquet of yellow Texas roses and a bottle of champagne, Mrs. Johnson had to be momentarily rushed off the launching platform to catch her breath.
A great gust of wind curled up the edge of the vice president's fedora at the same time it swept away Mrs. Connally's small navy straw sailor hat while her shirred beaver coat worn over a navy blue suit billowed open.
As she stood hatless on the platform, Mrs. Connally, who was the ship's matron of honor, endured the constant flapping from the ribbons tied to the flowers and champagne bottle that repeatedly slapped her face.
"I just went all to pieces," she told reporters of her wind-blown experience.
James H. Morris, the shipyard's general manager, had a launching plate welded to the Turman's bow to facilitate the breaking of the champagne bottle.
As Mrs. Johnson smashed the bottle "with more force than I had," champagne "blew all over her and the few brave souls on the launching platform," Bentley wrote.
Mrs. Johnson quickly brushed off the bubbly as she made her way to a warm limousine, which conveyed her to the Belvedere Hotel for a post-launch reception. (Because of the fierce weather, the ship was not launched that day.)
However, everyone was shipshape in time for the party that was held in the Assembly Room and Ballroom of the Belvedere, where the tables were decorated with sprays of Texas bluebonnets while caged birds sang.
Guests were serenaded by an orchestra that played "Texas, Our Texas," "Deep in the Heart of Texas," and "Anchors Aweigh."
The vice president drew wide applause when he said he was "proud that Lady Bird discharged her responsibilities" and that he would not have "missed this for anything."
Recalling her experience on the launching platform, Mrs. Johnson said, "I had the feeling I was really on the deep, wild sea in a blowing gale, and I felt the grave responsibility the men assume in their duties."
In 1990, she attended commencement ceremonies at the Johns Hopkins University, where departing President Steven Muller presented her with an honorary doctorate of human letters.
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