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My Book-Mrs. Paddington and the Silver Mousetraps

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Mailbox Gail Hennessey

The official U.S. time - snapshot

To Tell the Truth


Lady Bird Johnson

Gail Skroback Hennessey
* With permission from Mark Goodson Productions

Host: Today's guest is Lady Bird Johnson. Only one of the three on the panel is the REAL Lady Bird Johnson. The other two are impostors. Your job is to listen carefully to the information presented and decide which of the three guests is the REAL Lady Bird Johnson. Let's begin by meeting our guests.

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
Hi, y'all. I am Lady Bird Johnson.

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
My real name is Claudia Taylor Johnson. It is very nice to be here today.

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
Greetings to you and thanks for inviting me. My name is Lady Bird Johnson.

Let's begin by reading this short summary on Lady Bird Johnson.

I, Claudia Taylor Johnson, known as Lady Bird, was born in 1912, in Karnack,Texas. Some say the name was appropriate as I was always concerned about nature and conserving the environment. In fact, some call me one of Washington's first environmentalists!

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated,in 1963, my husband, Lyndon, became the President of the United States. It was a very sad time for the nation and I tried my best to ease a very painful time in our nation's history.

I was concerned with making Washington, DC, a more beautiful capital and started a beautification program for the entire country. I was dedicated to the conservation of our country's natural beauty. I worked to plant more flowers along highways and to ban ugly billboards and junkyards along our nation's highways. I also worked to support my husband's war-on poverty program, especially Head Start for preschool children.

During the 1965 inauguration ceremony, I held the Bible for Lyndon to place his hand while saying the Presidential oath of office. It became a tradition for which all other First Ladies have continued. As First Lady, I visited many countries in southeast Asia including Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

I am called one of the most politically effective First Ladies of the 20th century. My husband, Lyndon once said of me, "I listen to her more than to any person I know." When I made the suggestion that Lydon not run for reelection in 1968, he listened to my advice and we went back home to Texas.

I continued to plant Indian blankets, Indian paintbrushes, bluebells, purple horsemint,and bluebonnets at our ranch. I started the National Wildflower Research Center in the 1980s where wildflowers can be studied, collected and preserved. When asked why I did this, I responded that it was a way of "paying rent for the space I have taken up in this highly interesting world."

I died in 2007.

Lady Bird Johnson

Panelist 1:
When you were born, it is said that your nurse, Alice Tittle said,"She's as purty as a lady bird". A lady bird is a colorful and lively beetle that grew in the area. Others say you got your nickname from your dad, who recited the nursery rhyme, "Lady Bird, Lady Bird, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children will burn."You didn't really like the name Lady Bird, preferring your given name of Claudia, but unfortunately, for you, the name Lady Bird stuck. Could you share a memories of your childhood?

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
Well, I lost my mom when I was just a little girl. It was difficult. No one talked about her. I felt very alone and learned to keep things inside. An early lesson learned was to learn to rely on myself.

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
I spent much time by myself. I enjoyed paddling in the bayous, liking the silence, the cypress trees, and the spanish moss. I'd even see an alligator once in a while. I called the bayous, a "place of dreams".

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
Someone told me a story about my mom, walking barefoot, in a white dress, holding a bouquet of bluebonnets in her hand going to meet my father who was coming down the road. Whenever I would see bluebonnets, I would feel loved and thought of my mother. Selected the state flower of Texas, I worked to get the government of Texas to seed bluebonnets (and other wildflowers) throughout the state's highways. Today, when many Texans see these spring flowers in bloom, especially the bluebonnets,they think of me.

Panelists 2:
Even as a child, nature was very important to you. As a young girl, you would have a ceremony each spring,welcoming the daffodils to your family's garden.You said that flowers were your friends and actually named the first daffodil each spring,"Queen". Any other memories of your childhood?

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
After my mother died, my father, a merchant, would take me to work with him. When I'd get tired, he'd put me to sleep on a cot in a room with coffins! My father realized I needed someone to care for me and asked my Aunt Effie to come stay with us.

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
When I was eleven, I went with my Aunt, Effie, to Battle Creek, Michigan. It was my first trip out of the south. I saw fireworks being used to celebrate the 4th of July, something we only did at Christmas time, in Texas.

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
I asked my aunt on this same trip to Michigan if I could go for an airplane ride. A female pilot had flown over head and landed in a nearby field. It was the first time I'd ever seen an airplane! She said no so I gathered up my own $2.50, and decided to ask the woman if she'd take me up in her airplane. It was a thrilling adventure.

Panelist 3: What kind of a student were you, Lady Bird?

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
I was an average student but preferred reading fashion magazines to reading about ancient history and doing mathematics. My aunt Effie and my dad had a difficult time getting me to do my homework since I spend lots of time texting my friends on my IPhone.

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
I was a great student and loved reading and classical music. In fact I had mostly As in school and finished high school at the age of 15. Not liking public speaking, I dreaded the fact that I might be valedictorian or salutatorian since the two top student had to give speeches at graduation. I was happy when I came in 3rd academically, my senior year, and thrilled my friend, Emma,came in first.

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
I'd rather spend time outside with nature than in school. My teachers said I was a daydreamer and I guess they were correct. I often daydreamed about nature and getting home to canoe in my bayou.Sadly, I wasn't a very good student.

Panelist 4:
You were a strong advocate for civil rights and woman's rights. As a young girl, a group of white men accused a black man of a crime and without a trial, the men shot the man in the back, as he tried to get away from the mob. You were very upset and thought such actions should be stopped. Later in life, you insisted that your receptions be racially integrated during a time when many objected to such behavior. You were actually spat upon by segregation protesters and you were hit with a picket sign by a republican heckler at an airport appearance. Any other memories you'd like to share with us?

Lady Bird Johnson
1: I owned a Texas Radio Station and, during visits back to Texas, I'd host a talk show where people could call in and discuss flowers. I remember that Lyndon wasn't much of a nature lover and shared the story of his walking through a large patch of poison ivy at the ranch, one summer. Not realizing what he had done, he quickly broke out in a rash from head to toe. He had a speech to give the next day and was covered with pink calamine lotion to ease the discomfort. What a sight. Fortunately, the television was broadcast in black and white! I felt I needed to educate people(and Lyndon)to recognizing poison ivy and created posters that were placed in all our nation's post offices.

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
A farmer was plowing his beautiful wildflower fields and I climbed onto a bared-wire fence waving trying to get his attention. I finally stood in front of his tractor to get him to stop. I asked him why he was cutting done the beautiful fields of wildflowers.He said he needed to plant hay to earn money. I offered him a deal. I said I'd pay him for his wildflower seeds and he didn’t mow the field down. Nature's beauty was important to me. Like the saying says,"Take time to smell the flowers!"

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
I was very much effected by Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon, back in 1969. After Lyndon's term ended, we returned to Texas to our ranch to live. I went to NASA's headquarters in Houston, Texas, and said I wanted to enroll in the astronaut program. I wanted to become the first woman in space. I also thought I could take my bluebonnets and other wildflowers into space to do experiments to see how they would live in a non-gravity environment. Unfortunately, I was told I was too old to be an astronaut.

Panelist 5:
What was it like living in Washington, DC, when your husband, Lyndon B. Johnson was president?

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
All the parties, all the famous people, it was a grand time. I was especially excited when the stars of the movies Twilight came to the White House for a summer Texan style barbecue. I have to admit that I loved reading those vampire books! Would you believe the stars asked for their burgers extra rare?

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
When we came to Washington, DC, I was horrified to see dirty parks, dirty streets,weeds everywhere and a polluted Potomac River. I wanted to make a change and felt the nation's capital should be a place of beauty.

Lady Bird Johnson 3:
Living in the White House is really amazing. People wait on you all the time, no matter what time of day. I'm afraid I had a sweet tooth and would sometimes ask the chef to whip me up homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream with real whipped cream at 2 in the morning!

Panelist 6: You once said,"
Where flowers bloom so does hope," and "The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid." You also said,"The First Lady is an unpaid public servant elected by one person-her husband." Any other thoughts to share with us today?

Lady Bird Johnson 1:
My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Lady Bird Johnson 2:
I once said,"It is important for a child to plant a seed, to water it nourish it tend to it, watch it grow, and when he does, and when she does, they themselves will grow into great citizens."

Lady Bird Johnson 3:"
"If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all."

It is now time for the panelists and members of our audience to decide who is the REAL Lady Bird Johnson. Please vote for number 1, number 2 or number 3. Alright, the votes have been cast.... Will the REAL Lady Bird Johnson, please stand up?

Additional Information:
As students read the play, consider pausing between one or more of the
panelists' questions to review the information students have heard. Invite
opinions about which guest may be the real Lady Bird Johnson, encouraging students to share their reasoning along with their responses. Remind the class that only the real guest must always tell the truth.
Time for the REAL Lady Bird Johnson To Please Stand Up!
Once all the votes have been cast, establish that_______
is the real Lady Bird Johnson. Then review the play, making sure that students are aware of these facts from each section of the play:

Panelists #1 and #2: All responses are correct.
Although Lady Bird DID own a Texas Radio station, the rest is not true.
In the movie, Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump said the quote about chocolates.
Actually, President Ronald Reagan once made the comment about redwood trees.

Discussion Questions:
1. Would you have liked Lady Bird Johnson for a friend? Explain why or why not.
2. What is something about Lady Bird Johnson you found most interesting?
3. What would be three areas which you'd give top priorities if you were First Lady(or President) of the United States.
4. When did you suspect ______were impostors? Why?

1. Write a diary entry as if you were Lady Bird Johnson and tell about a memory you had about something that happened to you.
2. Plant some wildflowers on the grounds of your school or community.
3. Draw a picture of a wildflower and write three facts about it on your drawing.

Additional Resources:
The Look-It-Up Book of First Ladies by S.A.Kramer(J 920 KRAMER)
Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt, Harper Collins, 2005(JB Johnson A)

Websites on Lady Bird Johnson:
Lady Bird by Jan Jarboe Russell(973.923)
* Always check websites before having students use them.