Lady Bird Johnson

I’ve been out of it in Africa and learned yesterday that Lady Bird Johnson died. So forgive me for this late post about my fond memory of one of the most gracious women I’ve ever met. In 1973 I was working at a restaurant in Austin called Kaltman’s. The owner was Mary Kaltman, the food coordinator for the White House during the Johnson administration. I trained alongside her chef, Harrison, who had been behind the line at the Driskill Hotel for many years. Then one day, Mary tagged me to cater a luncheon Lady Bird was hosting at the Johnson Library. I showed up and busily began making seafood crepes and fruit salad with poppy seed dressing. Lady Bird was in the kitchen almost the whole time. She wanted to know what I was studying and who my boyfriend was. Then her guests arrived. My waiter came back in the kitchen after seating the group and said, “It’s a bunch of Supreme Court guys!” Out went the food. In came empty plates — and former controversial Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas. “That’s the best damn seafood I’ve ever had,” he said as he slapped me on the back. I gave him the recipe and later got a thank-you note from his wife. Thankfully, that led to many more lunches with Lady Bird. That’s all, folks.

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