The 2023 LBJ Museum of San Marcos Spring Lecture was held Thursday, March 23, 2023, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm in the museum’s auditorium.
Welcome to the Table with Jean Schuler
The LBJ Museum’s Annual Spring Lecture featured Jean Schuler. Schuler is a graduate of the University of Texas and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She is best known for her At the Table with LBJ and Lady Bird: History, Humor, and True Texas Recipes book. Throughout the book, Schuler analyzes how food connects us through culture and memory by sharing menus, events, weddings, and hilarious anecdotes from the lives of LBJ and Lady Bird. Along with these pieces of their life, Schuler adds homestyle illustrations throughout the book, illuminating the distaff side of the 36th presidential administration.
The event began with a reception highlighting food from the cookbook made by members of the museum’s board of directors. Linda Rodriguez, board vice president, prepared the raw vegetable bowl and dip, cheese wafers, Texas Trash, and delicious banana bread. Elly Del Prado Dietz, board member, made cucumber canapes while Kate Clayton, board member, used the stuffed mushroom recipe. Jean Schuler provided the delightful lemon cake.
During the lecture, stories were told and memories were shared. Jokes were cracked and questions were asked. Schuler told one of the most touching stories when, at age 11, she wrote a letter to LBJ telling him how thrilled she was that she saw him while on a field trip to the LBJ Ranch in his green Ford. In her letter, she said, “You are a smart lucky man.” The P.S. to her letter said, “Write me so I’ll have something to brage [sic] about.” On August 26, 1971 Schuler received a letter from LBJ along with a souvenir engraving of the ranch “as a small thank you for a nice letter.” This was something she could brag about when she asked the archivist at the LBJ Presidential Library what the president did save. The answer to her question was “A lot. Almost everything. There are over forty million pieces of paper saved.” After telling the archivist the story of writing to LBJ as an 11-year-old, the archivist went away for about 20 minutes and reappeared with Schuler’s letter to the president. Schuler said she felt connected to the LBJ Presidential Library at this point. “After all, my letter was part of presidential history!”
Along with Schuler’s memories, the presentation was interspersed with recipes, stories, humor, and the history of the Johnsons from the book. Schuler discusses Zephyr Wright, the longtime Johnson family cook who famously moved to the White House to continue cooking for the president and the women he affectionately called his “three girls.” LBJ developed a close relationship with Zephyr and her husband, Sammy who was the family’s driver. Zephyr and Sammy would discuss the discrimination they faced outside the workplace and many sources pointed to their relationship as one of the many reasons he decided to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Zephyr was on hand when he signed the historic Civil Rights Act. LBJ gave her one of the pens, famously saying that she deserved it more than he did.
Schuler ended her presentation with an appreciation for President Lyndon Baines Johnson by pointing out the three pages of legislation that LBJ and Congress enacted during the 1960s with the final count being 135.
We had a wonderful evening filled with delicious treats from the recipes in the book. Stories were told and memories were shared. Jokes were cracked and questions were asked. If you were there you had quite a treat. If you missed out, well… you just had to be there!