Bonham -- The friendship of the Rayburn and Johnson families goes back more than a century to when Sam Rayburn and Sam Johnson, father of Lyndon Johnson, knew each other from their service in the Texas Legislature.
Even 52 years after the death of Speaker Rayburn and 41 years after the passing of LBJ, that friendship endures, as evidenced by a recent gift of a fascinating book from the treasured collection of Lady Bird Johnson to the Sam Rayburn Library Museum.
The title of the book is The Speaker's Agent and it was written by V.J. Young, who was the Fannin County Extension agent in the early 1950s. Rayburn had a keen interest in proper land management, just one of the many ways he was far ahead of his time, and consulted with Young on a number of agricultural issues.
Rayburn received a copy of the book in 1956 and sent this letter to Young.
I have received The Speaker's Agent. It is one of the best written books I've ever read -- it's luminous rather than voluminous.
The only fault with it is that you are too kind and fine with me, of which I fear I do not deserve. Anyhow, I want you to know that from the bottom of a grateful heart I thank you beyond my power of expression.
The copy of the book from Lady Bird Johnson's collection had originally been sent to Lyndon Johnson in 1956. LBJ would have been the majority leader in the U.S. Senate at that time and historians contrast the cooperation that enabled Johnson and Speaker Rayburn to ensure the success of President Dwight Eisenhower's foreign and domestic policies of with today's partisan grandstanding.
The copy of Young's book to LBJ bore the following inscription:
To Lyndon, a friend of all the people all the time, with every good wish of V.J. Young.
LBJ's copy of The Speaker's Agent was sent to Dr. Pat Taylor, a former Bonham High School graduate and now the Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Taylor has been a close friend of the Johnson family since 1965.
Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb had requested that Taylor present the book to the Sam Rayburn Library Museum.
"What an excellent opportunity to remind people of the connection between these two historic families," Taylor remarked.