Sam Johnson went to Austin on business one day–his home was about 50 miles west of Austin–and came back with a radio that was the talk of the town. He had paid $150 for the device. When his neighbors heard about the purchase, one commented, "Sam must have slipped a cog between his ears," or something like that, and others nodded. In those times, when most folks in the hills were struggling to wrest a mere living from the hard-scrabble soil, 150 bucks was Big Money. We're talking 1925.
Not only did Sam pay the big bucks; when he wanted to listen to the radio, he had to remove the battery from his Model T Ford and hook it up to the radio for power. Then, when the listening ended, he would unhook the battery and tote it back to the car.
But Sam knew what he was doing. An educator and six-term Texas legislator, Sam knew the value of communication, especially when it was fast and factual. That high-falutin' radio offered a direct line to events and information throughout the vast world beyond the caliche dust of Johnson City.
Sam and his wife, Rebekah, who was descended from the prominent Baines family of Blanco, had a stringbean son, their first-born, who showed a remarkable talent early in boyhood for grasping and even debating "civics," as the subject was called. It embraced politics, social problems, government actions, and citizens' responsibilities. The couple especially wanted that son, named Lyndon Baines, as well as their other children, to have the benefit of actually hearing presidential speeches and debates involving political and public leaders.
When an important speech was scheduled for broadcast, Sam and Rebekah invited friends and their families to their home to hear and discuss it. After the speech was over, the young 'uns were divided by age into two debating teams. They were expected to discuss and argue various points of view on the broadcast topic. Lyndon was the star.
From the May 2005 issue.