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Letters from Billy Lee Following are several excerpts from letters written by former Observer associate editor, the late Bill Brammer. In the late 1950s, Brammer worked for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson. We include these excerpts for what they reveal about the lives of political insiders. The letters were addressed to Brammer’s wife at the time, Nadine. Nadine Eckhardt has graciously allowed the Observer to reprint these excerpts for this 30th anniversary issue. Washington, D. C. June 26, 1958 .. . Tell Ronnie that Harry and I have got old LBJ fired up about a Padre Island National Park. H. and I have become the Padre specialists, and the prospects look damn good. Have conferred with Congressman Joe Kilgore and John Young, and they are all for it. The Feds are for it, and now it remains to clear it with the State Parks Board. Harry and I suggested naming it “Ronnie Dugger National Park,” but we have somehow failed to generate any enthusiasm for this idea. If all goes well, however, we may be able to salvage the island for R. . . . Washington, D. C. March 1959 . . . Johnson passed Hawaii [for statehood] last week in an hour and 45 minutes. It took 50 years to get it there. Had a great bash of a staff meeting this morning that lasted four hours. All the regulars along with some hot-shot researcher I never met, Gerry Siegel, Walter Webb, Busby, etc. Usual wild plans about how he’s going to change the world. Hope he does it. . . . You probably heard about Jim Rowe taking LB at his word that he didn’t want to be President and is now actively working New York, N.Y. May 18, 1960 The Summit bust seems to have done more for Johnson and Stevenson than anything I can think of. . . . Otherwise, Kennedy was just about to sweep it all up. . . . Yesterday, Janeway [Brammer’s boss, economist Eliot Janeway] talked to Bill Douglas, Reuther and Humphrey, and I listened in. . . . In fact, he talked with them twice each. Douglas busy trying to talk Stevenson into going with Johnson, on promise of sec. state-ship, and I suggested to Janeway that he try to get LBJ to endorse Bill Douglas for President. . . . Wasn’t appreciated. Quoth 32 DECEMBER 14, 1984 Reuther: “You’d better tell your candidate to get off his ass and campaign or he’s gonna be left behind . . .” Janeway to Humphrey: “Hubert, there’s a lot of talk around that you’ve been bought out by Kennedy.” H. to J.: “Elyut, those dirty no good sons of bitches haven’t offered me a goddam cent.” CIA now reportedly stands for Caught in the Act. Dr. Glen P. Wilson’s latest pronouncement: “Christianity is not a basis for negotiation at the Summit.” Note from Broadway columnist: \(Village Broadlips is an erogenous zone you may not have yet explored.” Overhead hipsterisms: I ain’t been out of the Village since ’57. Except for time I drew overseas. Overseas where, man? Staten Island, but don’t hold it against me. All right. I always say travel never hurt nobody. I’m from Newark myself. The Midwest! I never been there yet. Maybe some day. Nothing but hicks man. Don’t bother. But, dad, it’s nature out there. You know, buffalos, rodeos, gunfights, Protestants. All that jazz I been reading about .. . We got to save the Village, man. Like I already save green stamps. What do I need villages for? .. . New York, N.Y. May 31, 1960 . . . You ask about the Johnson prospects . . . I dunno . . . They are better since the U-2 incident, of course. .. . Kennedy is hurt when people think of him standing up to the Russian K. And most of the pols up here agree that Stevenson spoke the truth about Ike and that he was crazy as hell for doing so. . . . Johnson seems to have straddled the public consciousness again on this one. . . I understand he had received tremendous ovations in Midwest, Far West, all last week when he hammered on theme of unity crap. LB is speaking in California tonight, due here Friday for New Jersey speech and some talk of his visiting Adam C. Powell’s church in Harlem on Sunday. . . . Right now they’re trying to hold off endorsements of Kennedy until LB can get some steam up. . . . Janeway on the phone to Reuther every day: the deal is Reuther promises no endorsement of anybody if Johnson can deliver on a version of the Johnson threatens no bill if Reuther lets Soapy Wms. endorse Kennedy this week. . . . Wagner wants to deliver NY for Johnson in exchange for 2nd place on ticket . . . Some talk building up for Bill Douglas as No. 2 man on Johnson ticket. . . . LB for him, everybody for him; Douglas would be key to liberal delegations in the East, but Douglas having trouble expressing his support of Johnson while he’s on the court. .. . All very confusing, and the convention only six weeks away. . . . As I say, there’s no way telling, but I hesitate to say LB is out of the ball game. Sometimes he seems the only one who’s really in it . . . Meanwhile, HumphreyJohnson-Symington people were hoping to get some mileage out of expose of Kennedy buying West Va. election. All set for revelations. Then Ed Foillard of Wash. Post goes to West Va., and comes back to state, with all prestige of Pulitzer Prize behind him, that there was no such thing . . . West Va. strictly kosher .. . Switch to Bobby Baker on phone, howling at Janeway, quoting Humphrey howls: “An yew know whut that goddam Foillard has got a sick baby, got one of them cerebral palsied babies . . . An’ we find out that Joe Kennedy done give million dollars last week to the goddam National Cerebral Palsied Association . . . How’s that for a highclass bribe?” . Washington, D. C. July 12, 1961 . . . Usual dreary Washington summer, except that the world crises seem even farther beyond solution, if possible, and all the bright young ivy leaguers who descended on the place in the spring are looking painfully disillusioned. There is a New Frontier joke going around about the woman who’d made three unsuccessful marriages and complained to her psychiatrist that her first husband was a writer and therefore impotent, her second was an outright homosexual, and the third the one she’d had such high hopes for was a nice young man who worked in the Kennedy Administration and who, on their wedding night, simply sat on the edge of the bed till dawn telling her about how good it was going to be. . . .