Monday, July 16, 2007

As Pretty as a Lady Bird

Sometimes, somehow, a first lady can really make a difference
by Charlie Leck

I have direct evidence. Lady Bird Johnson made a difference right here in Minneapolis and all around Minnesota. I’ll be forever grateful to her. And so, on this day when she is laid to rest I want to offer my personal salute and I want to wave goodbye to her.

Thanks, Lady Bird, you came on up here to Minnesota and told us our city could be prettier. You looked it over and said flat-out that we needed more flowers, more fountains, more sculpture and more color.

Then you went and found some money for us by prodding Congress and we were able to build the pretty mall that runs right through the heart of our downtown area. I can’t tell you how many hours how many people have enjoyed on that mall. There are lots of outdoor cafés there now, Lady Bird. They wouldn’t be there had you not encouraged us to get prettier and be more livable.

And yes, before I let you go, let me tell you that highways all over my state are more beautiful because of you. Again, you got those tightwads in Congress to loosen up the purse-strings a little bit and spend some money to allow our nation to beautify its highways. Now, instead of billboards we can see beautiful wild flowers and lovely blooming shrubs everywhere.

It was contagious, Lady Bird. Pretty soon even the small cities and towns were sprucing things up. Flower gardens started appearing all over the place. People figured out how to build attractive fountains and artists produced some really creative outdoor art for our parks and sidewalks – and even our shopping malls.

I took a walk this morning down the main shopping street of one our pretty villages out here on Lake Minnetonka. Lady Bird, it would have taken your breath away had you seen all the pretty flowers. I stopped at a place that could serve me a croissant and a café au lait as I watched the sailboats out on the lake. I sat outside in the beautiful sunshine and thought of you, Lady Bird, and figured I had to write this little thank you note and to say goodbye. Sleep well.

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