View from our window
We arrived at the ranch on Thursday, Jan 30th and were welcomed right away by the ranger staff. Ranger Dennis Turay made a special point to stop by to see if we needed anything. We told him we were anxious to go to work but he insisted that we enjoy the weekend first then see him Monday morning. We did ask him for some reading material though and over that weekend we went on as many different ranger's tours as we could. We felt guilty sitting here and not giving something in return.
Right away we were trained in handling the busses. The bus is two units in one --- the bus and a trailer. All totaled they carry 59 passengers. The tour route is about ten miles long starting at the State Park Visitor center then crossing the bridge into the National Park which includes the LBJ birthplace, the first school he attended, the family cemetery which is where LBJ is laid to rest, his grandfather's house, the Texas White House and the working part of the ranch. The driver is the tour giver so we had to prepare a talk and co-ordinate it with our choice of the audio tapes available. The tapes we like to play are the ones where the President or Mrs. Johnson speak. Each tour takes one and one half hours to complete and there are two stops along the way. The first stop is the birthplace. Our passengers can take the short walk to the house and a ranger/volunteer gives a short introduction to the house. Giving this introduction is another of our jobs here. During the busy season (March and April), we understand that tour busses run every fifteen minutes all day long so the person at the birthplace will keep busy too.
Ron and I both like the busses best. Because you are with the group for the length of the tour, you get to know them just a little bit. It is fun to point out our home and its lovely setting and share about volunteering for the parks.
The busses are very old (12-20 years) and are always breaking down though. On our first day to work, after we were trained, we each were scheduled to drive busses. It was a busy day with three tours each. Ron got quite a initiation. He had all sorts of problems with his bus and the tape player on his first tour. They brought him a replacement bus and just as he was starting that tour he asked if All could hear him. The people in the trailer could not because the microphone was broke. He had to start his tour without a microphone until a ranger brought him a replacement. The bus mechanics are true magicians and do everything they can to keep each bus working. I had the power steering go out on my bus one day just as I was turning off the main road to cross the bridge. I thought I would never get it turned --- took all my strength. I radioed my problem and they had another bus there right away so my passengers and I could change busses. It is all part of the fun.
We have worked with great rangers each time we volunteered but there is something special here --- perhaps it is because it is more laid back here in the Hill Country. After all this isn't one of the high tourist places like Yosemite. But it's not so laid back that things don't get done. We had uniforms and keys in no time plus all the materials and support one could ask for. The tourists here are great too. Because of it's historic nature, people come not to be entertained but because they are interested.
In the next issue, I will try to introduce you to some of the rangers
here as well as give you a little more insight into the man that LBJ was.
Better yet --- come on down and see us. We'll give you a first class tour.
As soon as we got settled at the ranch, we made an
We plan to have the book to the printers by April 1 (April Fool’s Day??)
And have been promised a three to four week delivery. We will mail out
advance order forms the day we hand it to the printer. If you get your
orders in right away, you'll have a copy of this long-awaited book before
we leave for England on May 26th. Watch for your notice early in April.
A Tucson Luxury Resort
Over two years ago, we were hiking up to the top of Guadalupe Mountain in western Texas, and during a rest break stopped to talk to a hiker who was heading down the trail. In the short conversation that followed, he found out we were full-timers and that we were heading to Arizona. He enthusiastically suggested that we camp at the Voyager campground in Tucson. He gave us a little overview of the place, and I made a mental note to go there someday. I don't remember what specific things he said, but I did remember the name.
We didn't end up near Tucson that time or the next year either, but on our way to Texas from California, we made a special trip to check out this campground.
He was right. It is the absolute best place we have ever stayed. I mean if you are looking for level, landscaped, wide sites with good hookups and a million things to do, this is the place. After Ron registered in the office, he returned to the motorhome and exclaimed that the office was like a hotel lobby. He went on to describe the three teller-type windows in the plush lounge. An escort led us to our site and made sure we lined up properly (it was so easy---a pull through---and I didn't have to get out of the motorhome to help). Didn't have to use any boards to level either, so we were all set-up in no time.
When Ron registered he was given a newsletter of all that was going on the next two weeks. There were 30 pages and each page was crammed full of all that was available. Just the basic listing of each day's schedule took three pages.
The activities begin as early as 7 a.m. and go on until evening. Every hour on the hour and half hour there are at least one and as many as 10 different activities happening at once. Here is the list for just one Monday; 7 a.m.---yoga; 8 a.m. yoga, co-ed exercises, tennis (inter play), beginning stained glass; 9 a.m. beginning ceramics, aquacise, stenciling, bridge lessons, clogging (beginning), volleyball, shuffleboard (open play), silvercraft (open shop), lapidary (open shop); 10 a.m. clogging (easy), camcorder lessons, Spanish, zipper sand art; 11 a.m. clogging (easy to intermediate), tennis (ladies doubles); NOON clogging (int); 1 p.m. square dancing workshop, computer class, shuffleboard (open play), canasta, Nimblefingers, wood shop (open shop), stained glass, silvercraft (open shop), lapidary (open shop), oil painting, silver craft; 3 p.m. square dancers hoedown, volleyball; 6 p.m. clock class, silvercraft (beg), stained glass (open shop); 7 p.m. party bridge, poker, nickel bingo, woodshop training; 7:30 square dancing. Add to this all the special breakfasts, dinners, concerts, programs and. . LOTS going on.
There are over 1,000 full hookup sites and the daily rate was $20. We stayed 10 days and got the weekly rate of $122 for the week and our 10 percent Good Sam discount on the remaining days. Oh, it was worth it. The daily and weekly rates include electricity. Those who go for a month at a time must pay electricity but get a nice monthly rate of $369. The annual rate is $1,848, and again you must pay electricity. It gets cool in the evenings and hot in the summer so heaters and air conditioners are necessary.
This park is privately owned by local professional people and not financed. They have paid as they added and improved the park and they are still expanding. That is pretty important if you are thinking about long term parking. A number of park models (small mobile homes) are available, and many park residents have a home elsewhere (usually up north) but spend the entire winter at the Voyager. They have a huge lot for RV storage. Those who come for the winter to stay in their park model often drive an RV down---enjoying a leisurely drive and sightseeing then store the RV until time to go home. Again, going home is another adventure. What a life!!
The Voyager is so complete that one never needs to leave the park. They have a post office, restaurant, and convenience market. We tried all three. The market is well stocked, and the restaurant served delicious food. They both have specials all the time---just like “downtown.”
As far as sports things, they have everything except a golf course (they do have a putting green and golf driving nets). Two pools, two jacuzzies, sauna, exercise room, volleyball, badminton and tennis courts, shuffleboard, horseshoes, basketball, miniature golf, croquet, table tennis and billiards complete the list. Add to that all the craft and game rooms plus the huge ballroom and you have quite a complex.
Every morning while there, we joined many others who go for their morning walks. We like to walk a 15 minute mile and were able to walk for one hour (four miles) going up and down the rows of RVs and park models and never walked the same road twice.
We attended the non-denominational church service in the ballroom on Sunday morning. There were over 300 in attendance and the service was very enjoyable. Everyone arrives 30 minutes before the service starts for hymn singing. They have a talented organist plus a piano player, and their choir, which is 50 members strong, gave me goose bumps when they sang the anthem.
It just made my heart sing to see so many senior citizens enjoying life to the fullest. Everyone is so active, happy, and young looking. We had fun. I finally got my fill of bridge for a while. If we were there for a month, I wouldn't play every day like we did.
Check out this place if you're in southern Arizona. It is just off I-10 at exit 270 (Kolb Road).
The downtown/campus area of Tempe (Arizona State University) is quaint with beautiful landscaping and sidewalk cafes.
Well it's time for the millionaires to report to Spring training. Please join me in boycotting any products that they endorse. The players and the owners are ruining the game.
We visited a dealer RV show in Tuscon and they practically kept us prisoner while trying to sell us a new motor home. You can tell there's a recession on.
The new Bounder motor home would be great for full-timing with its storage features and hook-ups, even though it's outside color schemes aren't attractive. Their price range is very reasonable.
I love it here on the ranch. I bet that my blood pressure has dropped ten points. Ask me about Herefords.
Did you know that the late Vice-president Hubert Humphrey used to call the cow piles here "Republican platforms"?
By now my friend Chuck Fisher is probably getting over the Rose Bowl, only to be upset by the basketball team (?).
Note to nephew Tom who says that it is my fault U of M lost in the Rose
Bowl (see letters). Tommy, I didn't play in the game -- I only watched
Jewel is part of LBJ hisory
Several of the rangers working at the LBJ National Historic Park are local folks who have worked at the Park since its inception. A few have even closer ties to the former president. Jewell Scott is one of those. She was secretary to the president in his retirement and her first husband Dale, was his ranch foreman. But wait!!! I am getting ahead of myself.
Jewell was born on a ranch in West Texas and knew Dale Malacheck most
of her life. They lived in the same community - just eight miles apart,
attended the same church and high school. Even though she was six when
she started school, she was able to graduate at 15 (Texas schools only
went to the 11th grade) because she got pushed ahead a few times. When
she got to a grade and would have been the only student, the teacher pushed
her up to a grade where there were
She and Dale were married in April of 1950. She was 16 and he 19. Dale was just finishing his junior year at Texas A & M so they moved there (north of Houston) for his senior year. After graduation they were on their way to a job on a ranch in Montana, but stopped off at another ranch in North Dakota. They fell in love with that ranch, the people, and the area so stayed there instead. Until their daughter was born, Jewell used what she had learned from her family's ranch and 4-H and worked right along with Dale in the ranch operations.
From N. Dakota, they went to a ranch in Minnesota for one and one half years. Dale had a winning string of Hereford cattle there and took them to shows everywhere. In 1954, they moved to Montana to work for Ralph Fair a Texas oil man who owned two ranches - one in Texas (Fair Oaks) and one in Montana (Fair View). At Fair View, Dale worked with Black Angus cattle and again had a winning string.
In 1957, they went back to Texas working for the same man but at his famous Fair Oaks ranch. Jewell said, "It was one of the nicest ones in Texas, at that time. The main house had 41 rooms and when sold years later, the yard was turned into a golf course."
While working at this ranch, Dale heard that there was an opening at the LBJ Ranch, applied and got the job. Some thought Dale and Jewell were crazy for leaving such a successful ranch to go to the rather small LBJ ranch. Johnson was vice president at the time.
The whole community of Stonewall had a farewell party for the foreman who was leaving and at the same time had a welcome party for the Malachecks. Jewell remembers the advice Deanne (the wife of the foreman who was leaving) gave her. "You have to watch out for one thing. He'll [LBJ] have you down there [the big house] canning black eyed peas and sewing on his pants." Jewell adds, " She was right. I ended up doing his mending and canning."
At the time they were hired, LBJ had 50 mother cows. Dale wanted to raise sheep too so LBJ and Dale formed the LYNDALE Company. LBJ furnished the money and Dale furnished the labor. They soon added goats to the ranch too.
Most ranch foremen are provided with a house and this job was no different. Dale, Jewell and their three children (their fourth was born while at the LBJ ranch) lived a stones throw from the big house. LBJ really loved his ranch and wanted it to be the best it could be so every time he was in Texas, he spent a lot of time with Dale. And he put Jewell to work making curtains for the guest houses on the ranch among other things. She wasn't on the payroll but didn't mind. As a reward for all the extra things they did, LBJ invited Jewell to go to Washington with other family members and friends over the Memorial Day weekend in 1962. Dale and another man had to drive a horse to Tennessee first then met the rest of the party in DC. Jewell was so impressed with everything especially when Vice President Johnson took the group into the Oval Office. He told Jewell to sit in President Kennedy's chair and he took her picture. He said, "This will probably be the only opportunity to sit in a president's chair." He also encouraged the girls to go and see their representative. They did, but when he apologized for being too busy to take them around and show them the workings of government, Jewell said, "That's ok, we're staying with Vice President Johnson anyway." Suddenly the representative had a lot of time and did show them around.
In the fall of 1963, LBJ moved the ranch operations away from the big house and built Dale and Jewell a new house near the new barn. Johnson was so pleased with the house he built for these loyal workers and good friends, that he said he was going to bring JFK by to see the place after the trip to Dallas. The house was only a month old on November 23rd and Jewell had been up all night sewing the new curtains so the house would look nice when President Kennedy came. We all know the rest of that story. He never came. Things came to a halt here as everyone sat glued to the TV in the kitchen of the main house. And even though Johnson didn't come back to the ranch until after Christmas, security tightened right up. She said, "We were not to go to the bathroom without telling someone. There were phones [business service radios] everywhere - in every car." There were secret service men everywhere too.
One can talk to Jewell for hours upon hours and never get bored. You can get a first hand picture of what life here at the LBJ ranch was like during the Vice Presidential and Presidential years. She has had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people and some staff members like Liz Carpenter have stayed at her house when visiting the ranch. Pierre Sallinger, Barbara Walters, Beth Abel and Jane Thomas are some of the press people who spent a little time at her house.
And when ever President Johnson was home here at the ranch, Dale and Jewell were guests for dinner too. Jewell smiled and said," We were the entertainment. LBJ wanted Dale to tell about ranching." She fondly remembers some of the special guests; Kissenger, John Swearington (Standard Oil of Indiana), Clint Murcheson (Dallas Cowboys owner), and Nelson and Happy Rockefeller. They were often included in the golf outings too and casually mentions the time she golfed with Bob Hope.
Dale had been diagnosed as having diabetes when he was 28 years old and the disease worsened as time went on. "To the people here on the ranch, he [LBJ] was very special," said Jewell. "If anyone was sick, he really cared and paid the bills." He sent Dale to the Mayo clinic and found the best doctors to help him. When it became evident that Dale wouldn't live to a ripe old age, Jewell asked LBJ how she would support herself. He showed his love and concern later by giving them life estate in their house on the ranch.
Just before LBJ left office in Jan of 1969, he and Mrs. Johnson, donated 500 acres of the 2,000 acre ranch to the National Park service and saw to it that several of his people were made park rangers. Since the ranch operations were part of the park, Dale and Jewell became rangers. Dale's job was a full time position but Jewell only worked part time and became President Johnson's secretary here at the ranch and also worked for Lady Bird to fill in the rest of the time.
As LBJ's own health deteriorated, he counted on his friends at the ranch too. Whenever Lady Bird was out of town, he would spend the night at the Malachecks house. He didn't want to be alone.
After retirement, the Johnsons spent each February in Mexico. On Jan 22nd 1973, Jewell was running errands for LBJ - picking up dry cleaning etc and had just returned to the ranch as LBJ suffered his third and fatal heart attack. Mrs Johnson was in Austin. The president's pilot, secret service, and Jewell flew to San Antonio with LBJ where he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Later Jewell and Dale flew to Washington with the family and were among those who took their turn standing guard at the Rotunda.
After being in Intensive care for five months, Dale died in 1985. By then Jewell had been working full time for the park service for 12 years. Three years ago, she married Bill Scott - who was a park ranger also.
When asked what she remembers most about LBJ, she says, "His generosity and words of wisdom --- like I asked him once --- what should I do [about raising the kids]? He said, `Give your kids as much education as they will take, then sit in the front row and clap.'"
We went on one of Jewell's bus tours and she never mentions her closeness
with the family. To those on the bus, she is just another ranger
doing a good job. Part of the tour goes right past her house and
she talks of the Malachecks as if they were someone else. But at
the end of the tour, she does say that she is "the former ranch forman's
This 'N That
I sure missed writing this newsletter last month. But with the book actually getting done, I will take advantage of these extra days and not do another newsletter until May (May/June issue). We will be in England from May 26th until June 24th so I should have an exciting July issue full of the details of our family visit and all of the adventures as we bicycle around Eastern England. The English people are so charming so we will try to introduce you to a few. From the July issue on, I will probably go back to monthly issues. Would you like that?
On our way to Texas, we visited the Saguaro National Monument near Tucson. Big Cactus!!! They are as big as trees.
We enjoyed a nice visit with Uncle George and Aunt Audrey at their home in Mesa, Arizona. Took them out dancing again and had fun. A lot of the houses in their area have those Saguaro cacti in their yards --- like some people have trees. Interesting!!
Come March 31, we will have been on the road for three years. I just can't imagine any other way of life and hope we never have to quit. I have changed my views on some things though. I am ready for a microwave oven and could use a bigger house but don't want to make any changes yet. Can you tell we were looking at motor homes recently?
Here on the LBJ Ranch, we have learned all about Hereford cattle. There are lots of calves around at this time of year and they are so adorable. We see the Vet a lot too. Even saw the evidence of a C Section on a mother cow.
Do you remember the Rydings? We featured them in "Interesting People" last year at this time. Don Ryding's brother was Ron's minister when he was growing up and we met them in Hot Springs Arkansas and again in Johnson City Texas, last year. It is a long story but we are happy to be their neighbors for a while. When they leave the middle of March, we will miss them.
The Rydings have been here since November so they were able to help us find our way around. Don and Liz waited until we came then went out and bought a nice new computer and printer and had me help set up some programs on it. Seems I am getting lots of experience in this area. I was able to warn them of the agony of losing precious data too.
We are eagerly looking forward to the visit of Ron's mom next week. When she found out we were going to be here, she enrolled in an Elder Hostel meeting in Austin, Texas. The whole group comes out here for a tour on Thursday the 5th and we are scheduled to be the tour guides (thanks to Ranger Sally Armstrong). After the Elder Hostel, we are taking a few days off. We will be taking Mrs Hofmeister to stay with us at several of the Coast to Coast Resorts nearby. We will be able to report on those places as well as some exciting touring spots in San Antonio, Fredricksburg and Austin. We might even take her to Luckenbach.
Shortly after we arrived at the ranch, we were able to see the one man play "Lyndon" which was playing in Austin. What a job Lawrence Luckenbill did portraying the 36th president of the U.S. Can you imagine being the only actor on stage for the length of the play?
I am so excited about finally getting our tickets for England. It was three years ago that we took our bicycles and visited Jim and Sue (before babies) then biked across England, Wales and Ireland. It was an incredible trip. We had planned to bike from England to Scotland this trip but have decided to bike around the Eastern part of the country instead. It is the most beautiful there anyway and we hear that Scotland can be quite chilly. As it is we are going a whole month earlier than we wanted, but air fares for summer travel were out of sight. As long as we left in May, we got a break.
Of course the real highlight of the trip will be to get to know my two grandsons a little. I have only been with Kristopher for a total of perhaps eight hours of his whole life. I hope he knows who I am. I think that Air Force base there is closing so maybe they will get sent state side before another year is out.
Ranger Dennis Turay is known as the "singing supervisor" because he is always singing. He is such a joy to be around. He sings a good morning greeting as you walk in the door and often makes requests in song.
I Discovered that ranger Sally Armstrong and her husband spend five years as full-timers when he retired from the military. She is from up-state New York and choose this place to settle down. I've got to talk to her more about the full-timing they did.
Besides our "Interesting Person" this issue, there are several others employed here who were here when LBJ was around. Libby is one of those and now works as curator.
Just before we got here, all the volunteers were invited to Mrs. Johnson's house for dinner. I hope we get a chance to meet her before we leave.
We are awaiting the birth of all the wildflowers here. I will
take lots of color pictures and try to describe them aptly in the next
1. What president is honored with his birthplace, boyhood home, ranch, his grand-parents' ranch, the "vacation White House," and his grave, all in one national historical park in the Texas hill country?
2. Name the only National Park Service area in Illinois. It is a historic site associated with a president.
3. Name the four Presidents of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
4. A number of presidents of the United States are honored by national park historic sites. Name the only one honored with a national park.
1. Lyndon B. Johnson
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