President Johnson: Hello?
Secretary: Governor Ellington on 9-0
Governor Buford Ellington: Mr. President, we would suggest Secretary Freeman of Agriculture.
President Johnson: Wait a minute. Let me write these down here. Let me call Marvin [Watson] and see if he can get on here.
A 14-second pause ensues.
President Johnson: Marvin will be on in just a minute
Governor Buford Ellington: All right, sir. There are no deaths down there.
President Johnson: Told me one.
Governor Buford Ellington: Well, it wasn’t from the storm though.
President Johnson: It wasn’t?
Governor Buford Ellington: No sir, according to our reports.
President Johnson: All right, you got your pencil there Marvin and take notes. [unclear] Governor Freeman. [with Watson acknowledging throughout]
Governor Buford Ellington: Bureau of Public Roads, [Federal Highway Administrator] Rex Whitton; Public Health Service Dr. [Luther] Terry [Surgeon General, Publich Health Service] or Dr. [James] Hundley, H-U-N-D-L-E-Y [Assistant Surgeon General for Operations]; Corps of Engineers Major General Jackson—that’s the man that works with us on that. American Red Cross [President] General [James F.] Collins or [Vice President] Robert F. Shea always accompanies us. Small Business [Administration], Gene Foley. Now it’s a big damage down there to sugar cane crops and other crops it might be well to take with us Secretary [Labor Willard] Wirtz∇. That would be all that would be involved in any of the recovery.
President Johnson: You?
Governor Buford Ellington: Oh yes. A fact of business that I’d like to have about three from my shop.
President Johnson: All right, who?
Governor Buford Ellington: Bob Phillips, Dryden, and myself.
President Johnson: Who is Phillips?
Governor Buford Ellington: Phillips is head of the disaster program over here. He runs it. Mr. President, do you figuring on going this afternoon?
President Johnson: Yeah
Governor Buford Ellington: You still got heavy rain down there, I understand. I’d have to recheck on that or let your pilots check on that because I doubt from what we got about an hour ago you’ll be able to see anything. I actually don’t think this warrants a trip, but you’re the boss.
President Johnson: Well I . . . Here’s my problem, damnit, when I ask a man to do something I want him to do it. [Governor Ellington acknowledging throughout] And I’ve been asking Russell Long all year, and he’s had a lot of things he didn’t want to do at all, and he’s an emotional [two seconds deleted in accordance with the deed of gift].
Governor Buford Ellington: [Laughs] That’s what I think. I’ve talked to him
President Johnson: Today?
Governor Buford Ellington: Yeah, I’ve been in touch with his office all day. [Unclear.]
President Johnson: Well, he . . . I told him if I couldn’t go it I’d send Governor Ellington. He said I don’t want anybody to go but you, and by God I want you to go! [Ellington laughs heartily] And Hale Boggs is the same way and he wants me to go. And [Louisiana Congressman] Ed Willis is [unclear] . . . and they’re kinda . . . they got trouble with school plans, and they’re segregationists, and they feel like nobody cares about them, and they voted against us and they feel like they’re kind on the outside. I feel about them like a 17-year-old girl; I want them to know they’re loved. And . . . I have to pet Luci [Baines Johnson] sometimes when I damn sure don’t want to because I don’t want her to run away from home.
Governor Buford Ellington: [Laughs] Well, you let us know what you want done.
President Johnson: How does it feel to be an old long whiskered grandpa?
Governor Buford Ellington: It feels pretty good Mr. President. You won’t be sorry.
President Johnson: You’re going to . . . What you’re going to do is cut down your work schedule
Governor Buford Ellington: [laughs] I could cut it down and still be doing plenty.
President Johnson: How you going to teach her to talk over the phone?
Governor Buford Ellington: [laughs] I don’t know. It’s the only time I’ll ever see them.
President Johnson: I call up . . . I call up old [Courtenay] Lynda Valenti every night and try to teach her on the phone. She just grins and won’t talk. Have you ever seen that Lynda?
Governor Buford Ellington: Yes, I was there when she was born.
President Johnson: I mean this . . . my little Lynda Valenti. Courtenay Valenti.
Governor Buford Ellington: Oh yes, of course I do
President Johnson: Well I hope yours is as cute as she is. She’s—
Governor Buford Ellington: You know I named her Melinda.
President Johnson: No, I didn’t know that.
Governor Buford Ellington: Yes sir.
President Johnson: Well wonderful.
Governor Buford Ellington: I say I did. My daughter did. I didn’t have nothing to do with it.
President Johnson: Well wonderful, wonderful. How’s your . . . Is your daughter alright?
Governor Buford Ellington: Wonderful doing fine
President Johnson: That’s good.
Governor Buford Ellington: Doing great.
President Johnson: Well, we’ll decide this thing. We’ll check our pilot’s reports.
Governor Buford Ellington: Well, I’d be sure and check that weather out good because our last report there were heavy rains [unclear]
President Johnson: Where would we want to go, New Orleans…
Governor Buford Ellington: Baton Rouge, yes, sir. That it.
President Johnson: AndBaton Rouge.Want to ask him anything Marvin? [Watson hangs up.]
I love those shirts. I told them they got to put a half an inch on the pockets and a button in the center, so I can hold my glasses in them.
Governor Buford Ellington: Well they told me to hold them up for you [unclear].
President Johnson: They are just because I don’t want anyone to know it. But just between you and me I’m going on rather an intensive diet.
Governor Buford Ellington: Well don’t let it upset your nerves now. Hell.
President Johnson: Well it does, and you can’t do anything about it.
Ellington: [laughing heartily] I know what I mean.
President Johnson: It does. But I’ve lost 13 pounds
Governor Buford Ellington: Well, I told them to hold up until I know further and I told them about the cuffs and about the pocket
President Johnson: Well that’s good. Thank you my friend I’ll call you back soon as I know.
They then say good-bye.
Citation #8848, WH6509.03. LBJ Library