May 12, 1967. The President’s secretary recording the Daily Diary (probably Marie Fehmer) writes a beautifully detailed description of dinner conversation at LBJ’s table. Also present are Sen. Russell and aide Harry McPherson. 

"At dinner, the President told Senator Russell that what he needed to talk to him about was Vietnam …The President outlined three choices open to him: 

'1. I can move further in the North—but they tell me that moving further in the north with the bombing will result in only killing civilians and will not accomplish anything that we've not already accomplished. 2. I can concentrate completely on the DMZ. 3. I can concentrate on the areas between the seventeenth and twentieth parallels and make my planes make that a desert. Just destroy anything that moves.'

Senator Russell feels that dragging this out each day leans more toward getting us in a big war. ‘We’ve just got to finish it soon.’ said the Senator, ‘because time is working against you both here and there.’ The Senator suggested that his feeling was that the only way to end the war was to blockade the ports and stop their lines of supply…The President expressed sincere belief that this would get us into war sooner than anything. He also felt that number (1) above would get us into war. ‘The only thing left to take out up there,’ said the President, ‘is a power plant which is located 1/2 mile from Ho’s headquarters. Suppose we missed,’ said the President.

The President then asked the Senator about Lester Maddox. The President told him, ‘Well, I watched him on Face the Nation last Sunday, and just decided that he definitely was not Georgia quality.’ The Senator said that Gov. Maddox was a child of fortune, just lucky, and couldn’t have beaten any other man in the race except the one he did beat.

After his talk w/ Amb. Clark, the President affirmed his belief that he was a ‘Holt and Menzies man.’ Sen. Russell said that he hoped Holt was an LBJ man because he knew that he won eight seats at least as a result of the President’s visit there. The President said that when Holt was here he stood up and said, ‘All the Way with LBJ.’ The President appreciated that, but then took him aside, and said, ‘Now listen, I don’t want you to become a casualty. If you are lost, then I lose a good friend. They’ll murder you back home.’ ‘No, sir,’ replied the Prime Minister, ‘That’s the way it’s going to be.’ ‘And so it is,’ said the President. 

The President then launched into a tirade against the newspaper reporters who follow him around at receptions. He explained to Senator Russell that Liz Carpenter’s procedure is to invite about 25 of them as guests to each reception type function and then allow a press pool to cover the whole thing. The President said that he can’t even swallow a mouthful of food without having one of them watch to see if he chewed it properly before swallowing. He said that all we’re doing is inviting 500 guests, standing them before the wall, and then making them be gracious to the 25 who come up to them and ask questions like, ’Are you happy here? Why are you here? Will you come next time? Are you a friend of the family? Isn’t the service worse here than it used to be? Isn’t the coffee weak?’ 

At midnight. Senator Russell stood up and said. ‘Mr. President, it’s midnight, and I have to go to bed because I’m an old man, and you have to go to bed because you’re President of the United States.’”

Top: Marie Fehmer; middle, l-r: Sen. Russell, Lester Maddox, Holt and LBJ; bottom,  Liz Carpenter in her office. 

October 17, 1966. The Johnsons and their staffs, including Liz Carpenter, pictured, depart for Honolulu on Air Force One. From Hawaii they will take a journey that will cover 17 nations and 25,000 miles, including Australia and New Zealand, the Phillipines, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea.  
LBJ Presidential Library photo #A3323-5, public domain. 

October 17, 1966. The Johnsons and their staffs, including Liz Carpenter, pictured, depart for Honolulu on Air Force One. From Hawaii they will take a journey that will cover 17 nations and 25,000 miles, including Australia and New Zealand, the Phillipines, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea.  

LBJ Presidential Library photo #A3323-5, public domain. 

August 5, 1966. Liz Carpenter runs the rehearsal for Luci Johnson and Pat Nugent’s wedding at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Later that evening, the wedding preparations take an unexpected turn: Liz gets a call from a concerned LBJ, who asks about her plan to use airline equipment to cool the church at the wedding. It is an ingenious strategy to combat the sweltering conditions of August in Washington. Unfortunately for the wedding guests, the International Association of Machinists, representing aircraft mechanics and other workers, are on strike, and the government is currently negotiating with them on a resolution. LBJ tells her to clear it with the Secretary of Labor—and as for the wedding guests, ‘Let ‘em sweat if they need to.”
One other interesting thing about the call is at the very beginning, while Liz waits on hold: the office secretary’s accidentally recorded comments about LBJ.  
LBJ Presidential Library photo A2924-5a.

August 5, 1966. Liz Carpenter runs the rehearsal for Luci Johnson and Pat Nugent’s wedding at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Later that evening, the wedding preparations take an unexpected turn: Liz gets a call from a concerned LBJ, who asks about her plan to use airline equipment to cool the church at the wedding. It is an ingenious strategy to combat the sweltering conditions of August in Washington. Unfortunately for the wedding guests, the International Association of Machinists, representing aircraft mechanics and other workers, are on strike, and the government is currently negotiating with them on a resolution. LBJ tells her to clear it with the Secretary of Labor—and as for the wedding guests, ‘Let ‘em sweat if they need to.”

One other interesting thing about the call is at the very beginning, while Liz waits on hold: the office secretary’s accidentally recorded comments about LBJ.  

LBJ Presidential Library photo A2924-5a.

April 3, 1966. Back in Washington, LBJ sees the press coverage of Lady Bird and Secretary Udall at Big Bend. Liz Carpenter later described his reaction:

"LBJ always knew what was in the papers. Once we were traveling with Mrs. Johnson and reporters to the Big Bend, and Stewart Udall was along, making grand gestures, pointing: ‘Look at the mountain, Mrs. Johnson!’ Mrs. Johnson was wearing a cowboy hat against the sun, and somebody took a picture of the two of them. 
I called the White House early the next day and got the President because nobody else was up yet. I asked, ‘What’s in the papers?’ He said, ‘Well, it’s good. You have a five-column picture on page one of the New York Times. Lady Bird looks like the Lone Ranger, and Stewart Udall looks like Tonto.’”

-Liz Carpenter reminisces at the “Legacy of the Sixties” symposium held at the LBJ Library and Museum May 12-14, 1999. LBJ Library photograph C1616-17.

April 3, 1966. Back in Washington, LBJ sees the press coverage of Lady Bird and Secretary Udall at Big Bend. Liz Carpenter later described his reaction:

"LBJ always knew what was in the papers. Once we were traveling with Mrs. Johnson and reporters to the Big Bend, and Stewart Udall was along, making grand gestures, pointing: ‘Look at the mountain, Mrs. Johnson!’ Mrs. Johnson was wearing a cowboy hat against the sun, and somebody took a picture of the two of them. 

I called the White House early the next day and got the President because nobody else was up yet. I asked, ‘What’s in the papers?’ He said, ‘Well, it’s good. You have a five-column picture on page one of the New York Times. Lady Bird looks like the Lone Ranger, and Stewart Udall looks like Tonto.’”

-Liz Carpenter reminisces at the “Legacy of the Sixties” symposium held at the LBJ Library and Museum May 12-14, 1999. LBJ Library photograph C1616-17.

Liz Carpenter drafts these remarks for President Johnson to read when Air Force One lands at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Liz Carpenter drafts these remarks for President Johnson to read when Air Force One lands at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

June 22, 1963.  In the morning LBJ and JFK together meet with civil rights leaders, including Dr. King, but from there their paths diverge. President Kennedy prepares to leave for Berlin—where he’ll make a very famous speech—while LBJ heads to a wedding of a Congressman’s daughter in the Carpenters’ station wagon. Ah, the Vice Presidency!
Above: LBJ’s Daily Diary.

June 22, 1963.  In the morning LBJ and JFK together meet with civil rights leaders, including Dr. King, but from there their paths diverge. President Kennedy prepares to leave for Berlin—where he’ll make a very famous speech—while LBJ heads to a wedding of a Congressman’s daughter in the Carpenters’ station wagon. Ah, the Vice Presidency!

Above: LBJ’s Daily Diary.

Liz [Carpenter] was just as much my friend and my fellow worker as she was Lyndon’s. But Lyndon was—she was strong enough, and tough enough to stand up to Lyndon, and he was honest enough, and realistic enough, to know that she had so much to offer, even if she was sometimes abrasive. Even if she sometimes wanted him to do something that he was just too exhausted to do, or that didn’t come natural for him to do. And he usually did it, and he might roar at her, but he always loved her and admired her, and me too. And very much laughed with her.

Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson Oral History Interview XLIV, p. 14. LBJ Library.

September 1960. Liz Carpenter, above, and Bill Moyers join the Johnsons as LBJ campaigns across Texas and points beyond.
LBJ Library Photo Archives #60-11-78.

September 1960. Liz Carpenter, above, and Bill Moyers join the Johnsons as LBJ campaigns across Texas and points beyond.

LBJ Library Photo Archives #60-11-78.

LBJ’s 1948 campaign was covered by a pair of Carpenters: Liz and Leslie. Liz was an Austin native who had majored in journalism at UT-Austin—like a certain other famous woman we could mention—where she had been the first woman elected student body vice president. 
In 1948 she was only 6 years out of college, and she and her husband Leslie were both reporting on the Senate race for Texas newspapers.
It was the beginning of a long and productive association with the Johnsons. We will see much more of her as we move along—lucky for us!
The LBJ Library photo above is Liz at her desk in the White House, in 1966. Public domain.

LBJ’s 1948 campaign was covered by a pair of Carpenters: Liz and Leslie. Liz was an Austin native who had majored in journalism at UT-Austin—like a certain other famous woman we could mention—where she had been the first woman elected student body vice president. 

In 1948 she was only 6 years out of college, and she and her husband Leslie were both reporting on the Senate race for Texas newspapers.

It was the beginning of a long and productive association with the Johnsons. We will see much more of her as we move along—lucky for us!

The LBJ Library photo above is Liz at her desk in the White House, in 1966. Public domain.