A Political Junkie’s Chili

“B-Squared” sent the recipe that Lady Bird Johnson used for chili, Pedernales River Chili. That took me on a trip down Memory Lane …

I was born in and (mostly grew up in) Lubbock, Texas, home of Mac Davis and Buddy Holly. This was Lyndon Johnson’s Texas. My mother used Lady Bird Johnson’s “Pedernales River Chili” recipe, the recipe “B-Squared” sent.

Somehow I have been attracted to politics most of my life. In 1956 I was 9 years old. We lived on 43rd Street in Lubbock. I well remember being fascinated with and watching both the Democrat and Republican National Conventions on TV. Ike was nominated by the Republicans to run for his second term as President, and the Democrats offered up Adlai Stevenson for a second time to run against Ike. Keeping in mind that this was Lyndon Johnson’s Texas and that in Texas in those days, Republicans were few and far between, I liked Ike. It seems that even at the age of nine, I was developing a right rather than left wing …

Republicans were so scarce in Texas in those days that Reagan’s famous joke about a Republican campaigning in a Democrat area comes to mind. (Sorry, I can’t embed the video clip).

In 1959, my family moved to Denver, Colorado. I got a Denver Post paper route. In 1960, Lyndon Johnson became John Kennedy’s running mate. Johnson made a campaign appearance at the famous Cheyenne, Wyoming Frontier Days Rodeo. I had won a contest the Post had sponsored for getting new subscriptions and was rewarded with a trip to the Rodeo on the day Johnson was there. I wanted to get his autograph, even though (at the age of 13) I was for Nixon rather than Kennedy. I tried to walk in to the bleacher where Johnson was sitting, but the Secret Service wouldn’t let me in. So, I crawled up under the bleachers and wormed my way in and got Johnson’s autograph on my copy of the Rodeo schedule for the day.

In 1963 I read Barry Goldwater’s book, Conscience of a Conservative. That book set my political thinking and ever since, I have identified myself as being a Conservative more than a Republican.

When Goldwater ran for President in 1964, we were once again living in Lubbock. Although Texas was beginning to turn Republican, it was still Lyndon Johnson’s Texas. Nonetheless, I carried on a quixotic campaign for Goldwater – at age 17. My Dresden blue 1957 Ford had a Goldwater bumper sticker on each corner of the bumpers and I had a big Goldwater sign attached to the roof. I went door to door campaigning for Goldwater. I took money I made as a bagger after school at the Furr’s Supermarket on 50th Street and went to radio station KFYO and recorded my own radio spots for Goldwater. I was crestfallen when Goldwater lost – and furious at my parents when I learned they had voted for Johnson.

RMX-4283-4My Dresden blue ’57 Ford had Goldwater bumper stickers at all four corners of the bumpers
and a big Goldwater sign on the roof.

In 1968 I was attending West Texas State University in Canyon, just south of Amarillo. I supported Reagan’s 1968 bid for the Republican nomination, but went all-out for Nixon when he won over Reagan. At the age of 21, I ran the Nixon campaign in Randall County, Texas where Canyon is located. Nixon carried Randall County in 1968 and I was rewarded with a trip to Nixon’s inauguration. Although I supported Nixon and voted for him twice, I always viewed him with suspicion – not so much because of Watergate, but because he wasn’t a Conservative. He was a big government Republican and we can “thank” Nixon for giving us the monstrosity known as the Environmental Protection Agency.

When I was still living at home, and when my mother made Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili, she always made cornbread to go with it. She kept a Lodge cast iron skillet that she baked the cornbread in. The skillet was always seasoned with oil. She never washed it, she wiped it clean with paper towels after use and would re-season it with oil. Not understanding the reasoning behind the seasoning of that skillet, I thought I would do her a favor one day and I thoroughly washed the skillet. When she discovered what I had done, she was furious – and I truly thought she was going to throw that skillet at me! I washed the skillet twice: first time and last both at the same time!

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.45.10 AM My mother made corn bread in a Lodge cast iron skillet.
Note to self: NEVER do her a “favor” and wash this skillet.

With that, here is Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili:



Add yours →

  1. The Chili reads, HOT! But sounds good. I never was a Johnson fan, about that time I was leaning Right. As a kid I supported Adai, but liked the slogans ‘I like Ike’ and Clean house with Ike and Dick. I went with Stevensen because my best friends family supported him. My dad, a preacher NEVER discussed politics. At that church (Ike & Dicks time) it was a mountain church and the members all got along well but I remember church with one side Democrats and the other side Repubs. All wearing buttons, at that time the Democrats seemed to be for the poor man???? But Politics was not so mean then, there in the mts because they all had to get along after the election

    Yeah it seems you were very political, I never was really, but NOW the political wind SUCKS sometimes BLOWS!
    But I like the Ford and I DO understand the skillet problem!!!


  2. NEVER wash a iron skillet !
    Son has one and makes several wonderful dishes in it.
    I think Johnson wanted to be FDR but he started the handouts without working, just have another baby and started the huge welfare system that is completely broken thanks to all the liberal democrats.
    One Texas Rancher I just saw on TV said the Democrats want all the illegal votes while the Republicans want the cheap labor.
    We are doomed. Third world here we are !

    cheers, parsnip


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