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A Barbecue in Blanco Throughout the Observer’s 20th anniversary year, we will from time to time be reprinting Observer stories from yesteryear. We here present a piece by one of our more distinguished alumni. Ed. By Willie Morris Aug. 5, 1960 Blanco West of Austin and across the Balcones Fault the land suddenly rolls and tumbles, with scraggly mesquite and rich young cedars, faint blue hills, and occasional patches of hard rock enclosed by green fields. This is neither West nor South. It seems almost neutral ground. In the tiny courthouse-square town of Blanco, across a main street shared with the highway, a banner declared: “Lyndon Johnson, A Leader to Lead the Nation.” The town was deserted; only the banner was there to note Lyndon Johnson Day in Blanco County. Beyond town, however, the celebration had already started. The Texas highway marker pointing to the state park bore a portrait of the Senator, decorated in red and white crepe. A smell of barbecue drifted down from the hillside, and so did some very loud western rhythms. It was a perfect evening for rallying. There was a breeze, in the sky two jets left faint orange trailers that dipped toward a half-moon, then slowly vanished. Two Mexican bands were going strong, one dressed in straw sombreros, the other in fancy embroidered tuxedoes. Down near the banks of the Blanco River, people in shirt sleeves, blue jeans, and western hats stood in line for the barbecue. Negro chefs dipped into the pits and forked out the meat that went on the fires a full day before. Light bulbs dangled on long strings and were reflected in the river beyond. People hoisted signs saying Fredericksburg \(a traditionally Stonewall, home of LBJ, invites you to its centennial Sept. 10. A chartered bus carried a banner proclaiming “Maverick County for Kennedy and Johnson,” and another said “Webb County, JFK and LBJ.” With a flourish the Blanco High School band, heavy on its brass, struck up a march number. From .down the road came a group of mounted cowhands, and Johnson himself, with Ladybird and Gov. and Mrs. Price Daniel, followed in a white Ford. Lead cowboys carried the Texas and American flags. “We don’t have no formal name,” one of them leaned down from the saddle to tell a TV cameraman. “Just call us the county cavalcade.” “Nah,” another said, “make that ‘Neighbors for Lyndon.”‘ Someone shouted, “There’s the man I’m looking for,” as Johnson, in a brown suit and boots, looking tan and very healthy, weaved his way through the crowd. A few kids continued to play on swings and sliding board, paying no heed. The senator and his party retired to the picnic pavillion to eat barbecue. “Why Max Starcke, how are you?” Mrs. Johnson said, clasping a hand in the crowd. An organist played music while Johnson signed autographs, ate supper, shook hands with Sen. Ralph Yarborough, and talked with Percy Brigham, a banker from Blanco, sitting on his right. Cactus Pryor, in charge of entertainment, on the rostrum just outside, sang to the tune “Beautiful, Beautiful Texas”: Fort Worth is famous for cattle, To some folks Fort Worth is swell, Fort Worth is famous for cattle, To some folks it’s famous for smell. AFTER a stint by the Geezinslaw Brothers, Johnson, Daniel, and the rest moved up to the speakers’ platform. Mayor Wayne Smith of Blanco remarked, “I never seen so many people in my life. I didn’t eat any supper I was so scared about what I was gonna say.” He called the Kennedy-Johnson ticket a “kangaroo ticket, one with all its strength in the hind legs.” Smith said about 5,000 people had turned up for the festivities, 1,000 more than the population of all Blanco County. Also on the stand with the Johnsons and Daniels were Yarborough, Mrs. H. H. Weinert, national committeewoman; Byron Skelton, national committeeman; Congressman Homer Thornberry; J. Ed Connally, chairman of the state Democratic committee; Rep. Henry Fletcher; Austin mayor Tom Miller; Clint Murchison, Fort Worth oilman; and others. Thornberry, dressed in a sports shirt, stood up to say, “Those of you who’ve known him and his family should be proud to be able to make this contribution to the government of this nation and the world in time of crisis.” He said he would support the Johnson-Kennedy ticket. Bob McKinney, the emcee, introduced Yarborough by. praising the newsletter he sends out. “We’re always pleased to hear what he’s doing,” he said. “This is out in the Hill Country where people believe in pedigrees,” Yarborough began. San Jacinto and Baylor University are two great names in Texas history, he said. Johnson has a good pedigree, “going straight back to San Jacinto and Baylor.” He said there is something unusual about this hill country. In the hundred miles around Austin and San Antonio, Jack Hayes and Big Foot Wallace “laid down the tradition of the Texas Rangers.” It is a country of “men with a bark,” fighting against adverse nature. Little wonder, he said, the area has given America so many great men. January 17, 19 75 19