At a dinner honoring forty-nine Nobel laureates, President Kennedy looked around and pronounced that this was the “most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
That Thomas Jefferson was brilliant is undeniable. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He founded the University of Virginia. He was a renowned horticulturalist, botanist, and architect. He was an accomplished inventor, designing the Lazy Susan, a folding chair, and a pedometer, though he refused to pursue a patent on any of them.
That Thomas Jefferson dined alone is more suspect. Continue reading
In 1934, a day after meeting her, Lyndon Johnson, a 26-year old congressional aide, asked Lady Bird Taylor to marry him. A few months later, Taylor yielded to Johnson’s pressure, and the two were married. Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House and a long-time friend to Johnson, later told him that marrying Lady Bird was the wisest decision he ever made.
Indeed, Lady Bird Johnson was a quick study. She graduated from high school at the age of 15, and the University of Texas at 20, finishing in the top 10 of her class. She stayed another year at Texas, earning a journalism degree. In 1943, with her husband (now a Congressman) off at war, Johnson used her inheritance to buy a small Austin radio station. In a matter of years, she transformed the debt-ridden radio station into a media empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars. According to one biographer, Lady Bird was the only first lady to have built and sustained a fortune with her own money.
Her business acumen extended into the legislative arena as well. When President Kennedy won Texas in the presidential election, Continue reading
Today, the Nation welcomed its 44th President. Like most, I had to watch the Inauguration from a distance. But since I could not make the trip to Washington, I decided to see how I might otherwise get a taste of this historic event.
In looking for ideas, I read that the Ritz-Carlton Hotels had decided to forgo putting mints on its guests’ pillows. In place of the mints, the Ritz-Carlton catered to its Inauguration visitors by serving them the First Lady’s Shortbread Cookies. These cookies, Continue reading