To round out the weekend of legislators and legacies, we started at the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum. The Library is located on the grounds of the University of Texas at Austin, a scant distance from the Texas capitol, an appropriate sort of geographical as well as biographical tribute to a Texas politician and 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The Library “reopened” in late December 2012 following a yearlong renovation effort, and that effort paid off in terms of developing a contemporary look and feel for a large slice of Texas and US history.
The exhibits have been updated, modernized, and expanded to highlight more of LBJ’s presidency, particularizing on timely issues. One favorite new item was the “display” of several of LBJ’s private phone conversations the President – phones were interspersed through multiple exhibits, inviting visitors to “please hold for the President,” to listen in on conversations with anyone from other legislators to the press, pertinent to the exhibits. There were several theaters for short films…
dozens of pens used by LBJ to sign bills into law;
a talking LBJ mannequin;
the Oval Office…
and a favorite for poses: a cardboard LBJ giving the “Johnson Treatment.”
One small difference, discovered at the front door, is that the LBJ is no longer a free museum. However, the low cost of admission was well worth the updated exhibits. Even if you’ve been before, is definitely worth a return trip.
After several hours wandering the Library, we headed back to Huntsville, via the northern route, in order to stop for a late lunch at Meyer’s Texas BBQ in Elgin, Texas. Despite being a large group, there wasn’t a lot of talking until we had all wrapped up our lunches, which everyone agreed was well worth the wait.
It was a long weekend of touring the capitol, meeting with and getting an in-depth glimpse of a legislative office’s inner workings, touring LBJ’s multiple shrines, and experiencing Austin in a whole new way. But for the students, who range from graduating this May to just starting this year, it was an experience they agreed they won’t forget. During the return trip, we usually recap the excursion’s events and discuss lessons learned and favorite stops and sights, and this trip was no exception. For our regular readers, though, we thought that with eight students, compiling one list seemed an efficient way to present favorites:
The Johnson Treatment Audio Tapes: The photo backdrop in the LBJ Library gift shop was almost as big a hit as the audio tapes found throughout the museum.
The pens LBJ used to sign bills into law: The Great Society to be furthered by the next generation…
The Johnsons’ bedrooms: The Johnsons’ clothes of the day and closet space in the Texas White House was the point of much speculation.
It was a great trip. We had the chance to meet legislative staff and expand our networks; meet a very interesting artist; sample some good food; do a Segway Tour of Austin; and meet with SHSU alumni. We can’t wait for the next trip.
Saturday, we began our day with a drive from the state capital to Johnson City, Texas to visit the boyhood home of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. The home sits in a National Park in Johnson’s name and encompasses a good portion of the area. The home was modest looking but was a nice home for the early twentieth century. Created in the style of a “dog-trot” home, the house was well furnished and equipped with the newest technology and modern conveniences of the time: telephone, running water, and expensive furniture uncommon in households of the 1920s-30s.
Our group was fascinated with one of Mrs. Johnson’s key teaching tools, a Charles Allen Gilbert work titled, “All is Vanity.” This piece is an illusion she used to teach her pupils to look beyond the surface and see what’s really there, a lesson not lost on LBJ the politician.
Once our tour of the home was over, we loaded up and went to find the “Texas White House,” the Johnson family-owned ranch used by President Johnson during his tenure in the White House. Johnson spent 25% percent of his presidency at the ranch working with staff and officials on policy issues. Of note, the parking lot had been converted from a runway President Johnson used for his Lockheed VC-140 jet, jokingly called “Air Force One Half” due to its smaller size.
The house itself progressed over time. The original one-room home was made of native limestone, but was steadily expanded throughout the Johnsons’ ownership. They had an array of art and artifacts including a letter from Texas President Sam Houston to one of the Johnson’s ancestors. Intriguingly, it was written from Huntsville, Texas. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed in the home, so we could not document the letter.
Other interesting features of the home included evidence of President Johnson’s obsession with information. In both the living room and the bedroom, Johnson had three televisions set up, one for each network. He even ensured that his seat in the dining room had a direct line to the televisions in the living room. Lady Bird Johnson was said to only have control of one TV, in her sitting room, to watch her favorite western show, “Gunsmoke.” On the other hand, she got the best bedroom, so perhaps it was a draw. It was neat to see how the Johnsons lived while in Texas and to see the surroundings in which much domestic and foreign policy was discussed.
Once we finished our tour of the home, we ate lunch at East Main Grill in Johnson City, choosing from a selection of sandwiches. We used this time to discuss what he had learned that morning and what we were going to do for the rest of the day, as well as a short rest before hitting the road again!
At the entrance to the Benini Studio and Sculpture Ranch we were greeted at the gate by the awe-inspiring “Marathon,” a massive Texas longhorn designed with three types of steel.
This sculpture was a true indication of what to expect. The six-mile trek to Benini’s actual studio was in itself an adventure, winding through Texas hill country, passing various sculptures. One included parts of a Walgreens’ sign entitled “He Kept Telling His God ‘Give Me A Sign’.” At the studio we were greeted by Lorraine Benini, the artist’s wife and business partner, who was a gracious hostess.
After a quick overview of the workings of the 140-acre property, she let us explore the art gallery at our leisure.
A recurring theme in Benini’s work, predominantly his sculptures, was exploiting available materials and transforming it to art, an object to prompt conversation and unveil the object’s true meaning.
Benini was kind enough to give us insight in to his work process and also offer a few wise words. He explained that his art was “controlled chaos,” but he truly prided himself with his “masterful and unique” ability to mix colors unlike any other artist.
One of the lessons that really hit home was his suggestion that life, like artistic inspiration, will force you to adapt, and accepting that fact will serve you well—whether as an artist in the Hill Country or as a legislator in the Texas Capitol.
A quick fifty-five mile drive later we found ourselves zipping up and down the streets of Austin on a “Haunted” Segway tour.
When we weren’t racing up and down the sidewalks, we were being terrified, or at least mildly agitated, by the different ghost stories spawned by tragic events in Austin’s history. One story told by our tour guide highlighted the tale of a suicide in the Driskill Hotel, a tragedy that has prompted tales of hauntings and ghostly sightings.
We brought the day to an end with an amazing dinner at Kerbey Lane Cafe, where we met with SHSU alum Blake Roach, who is employed in the office of Attorney General Greg Abbott. Blake gave us a more informal perspective of the career path many of us are pursuing. He explained how both the Junior Fellows, predecessor to the LEAP Center, and his attitude allowed him to make necessary connections to get ahead in his career. Blake’s words brought home the theme of the trip: to get ahead, you have to work hard, make connections, and develop professional skills.
Joycelyn Ovalle–On Saturday morning we met up with SHSU alum Will Phillips, a former Junior Fellow and POLS graduate, and headed to Johnson City, the home of former president Lyndon Baines Johnson. Our first stop was his humble, yet peculiar, “Boyhood Home”. We were guided through the home by a National Park Ranger, who offered insightful tales of LBJ as a boy. When the future President was in middle school, for example, he was referred to as “First Base Johnson” for his baseball skills, but he didn’t really enjoy baseball.
He played to make contacts, a political player more than a sports fan. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a local politician. The two of them would often go to the Texas Capitol together and, by the age of 11, LBJ was claiming he would one day be President. He was correct.
As President, Johnson often referred to himself as the son of a “poor dirt tenant farmer,” but his childhood home suggests otherwise. The family owned a telephone and a gas stove, items that weren’t in many early twentieth century homes. As we continued to explore the works of President LBJ, we moved away from his “Boyhood Home” and transferred into the home of the president – “The Texas White House”. We made a stop at the Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park and we spent our afternoon enjoying the weather, admiring his ranch, and learning about his works as a president and his last days as a Texan. The Johnson’s residence was filled with historical artifacts and well preserved personal items.
From his flamboyant convertibles to his shoes and shorts, there is no doubt that “The Texas White House” truly resembled President LBJ.
It was extensive and distinguishable from the outside, but welcoming and refined from the inside. Another note worthy artifact was a framed letter hanging in the Johnson’s living room. As Bearkats, everyone wanted to see it, particularly because it was sent from our hero, Sam Houston and was written from Huntsville, Texas in 1838.
After building up hunger from the walk around the LBJ Ranch, we stopped at a popular Johnson City restaurant in the heart of town called the East Main Grill. It is an exquisite southern restaurant providing delicious arrays of soup, salads, and sandwiches. While all of the food items sound fantastic, there was definitely one that stood out from the rest. The Ultimate Grill Cheese sandwich consisted of fresh apples, tomatoes, swiss, cheddar, and gorgonzola cheese. Only a few students were smart enough to try it, and they were not disappointed.
Following lunch, we made our way down to the Benini Studio and Sculpture Ranch, which is owned by the Italian artist Benini. Driving through the Hill Country of Texas, you could not help but appreciate the natural brush terrain it’s known for. Sculptures are placed throughout the property, and they become more elaborate as you approach his studio. While the sculptures were impressive, Benini is best known for his painting. His ability to blend colors to create depth and shades without the use of an airbrush is what sets him apart from his contemporaries, and it was a pleasure (and an adventure) to meet and explore the mind of Benini.
He talked about his childhood growing up in Italy during a time of turmoil. With political unrest, war, and problems with his father, Benini began to copy things, and this turned into his art. He spoke freely about his life experiences and gave us a tour of his studio, the place where he imagines and creates his pieces of art.
It was a rare experience, and we were all appreciative of the opportunity and the ability to not only see his art, but to learn more about it and the processes he used to create it.
But the art did not end at his gallery; his whole ranch was filled with trails leading to different sculptures, a hand cropping out of the hillside; a massive drum set (with drums!) beside a pond; a glass figure looking over the beautiful hill country. It was an intriguing and educational afternoon.
Our evening events concluded with a night out under the Austin sky. The Leap Students ventured on a haunted Segway tour in downtown Austin. We had the opportunity to ride around the Texas State Capital, through the streets of downtown Austin and various city attractions. Our group had to quickly learn how to master the Segway, learn how to go up and down hills and most importantly how to brake! Throughout the tour the guide told 3 ghost stories based off of local downtown buildings. The first was told at The Driskill, which the guide said is “the fifth most haunted building in America”. The second story was told near the Speak Easy, and was a tale of two young girls who died in an elevator. The last story was told at the west wing of the Texas State Capital, where it is said a former governor shot his wife and her ghost haunts the apartment in the capital. The Segway Tour was both fun and educational as well as a neat way to view Austin.
The final stop of our night was at Kerbey Lane Café. We met up with Sam Houston State Alumni Blake Roach, who is living in Austin and works for Attorney General Gregg Abbot. The Leap Students had the opportunity to both pick his brain about his successes while enjoying a wonderful meal.
Ashley Richardson and Constance Gabel–Our second full day in Austin tackled three large subjects: LBJ, Arts, and Austin which are somewhat connected. Joining us for this trifecta was Will Phillips, an SHSU alum from Austin, who had been to some of these stops previously.
Our first stop included the LBJ boyhood home and the LBJ Ranch, giving us insight into the more private life of the former President. At the boyhood home, a modest-sized structure (but large for the time), we heard how LBJ would sneak out his window, crawl under the house, and sit beneath the room that his father and other local politicos would gather in to discuss politics. LBJ’s political ways—and his subterfuge—began at an early age.
The LBJ Ranch, or the “Texas White House,” was a snapshot of a different era. The home, clearly ruled by Lady Bird, was just as she left it, from the yellow Formica counter tops to LBJ’s three televisions (one for each network), to Lady Bird’s closet, which was filled with pantsuits of green and other unlikely colors. We toured the home, amazed by the preservation.
We also saw the Johnson family grave site which includes the graves of LBJ and Lady Bird and the “Air Force One Half,” the smaller version of Air Force One, which LBJ used to travel between the ranch and the DC White House.
One of the things we learned at the LBJ venues was his support for the arts, particularly inhis creation of the National Endowment for the Arts. In that spirit, we piled into the van and navigated the Hill Country to the Benini Sculpture Ranch. Unbeknownst to us, Professor Yawn set up a chance to meet the artist, who gave us access to his inner sanctum—a private tour of his studio—as well as an earful of his beliefs on politics, religion, and sex, all offered without much prompting.
The conversation, as well as the man’s art, was thought provoking and eye opening.
We each had favorite pieces from the tour. For Constance, it was Andante….
For Ashley, there were two: the Heartcatcher and the Stars Giver.
And lots of other works:
On a larger scale, both LBJ and the arts are part of the Austin scene. The LBJ Presidential Library is located in Austin and the arts are everywhere, in the form of architecture, public art, music, and private galleries. We had the chance to explore some of those on a night-time Segway Tour that lasted some 2.5 hours.
We capped off the night at Kerby Lane Café, where we met with Blake Roach, an SHSU alum who now works for Attorney General Greg Abbott. The food was good, the conversation was nice, and we were able to warm up before resting up for tomorrow, our last day in Austin.
On our final day, our travel day, we still got some sight-seeing in. Although we had spent considerable time in Norman, we had focused our energies on the University of Oklahoma campus. Today, we visited the downtown area, where we checked out some of the public art…
…which included more aviation themed work.
Most interesting, though, was the statue of James Garner, the star of Rockford Files and Maverick, who grew up in Norman, Oklahoma.
Another highlight was, strange as it sounds, was getting to see a train go by…
The real highlight of the day, however, was in Denison, Texas, where we visited the birth-home of Dwight Eisenhower.
Eisenhower was born here in 1890, and he would be the last President to be born in the 19th century. His father worked for the railroad, which passed by about thirty yards in front of the house.
The site is run by the Department of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and we had a knowledgeable tour guide to take us through the home.
Our visit was made all the more appropriate with the arrival of Veterans Day.
The last day was also a day for reflecting on the trip and the different things we did. Heading home, we canvassed the group for our favorite activities, which are presented below.
1) Abraham Lincoln (Cowboy Hall of Fame and OU Law School)
2) Land Run Monument (OKC)
3) Capitol Artwork (OKC)
1) OU Campus, for OPSA and OU Law School
2) Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum
3) Segway Tour
1) Southern Politics, by Scott Buchanan
2) Public Opinion, Drug Use, and Depedence, Lauren Reinke
3) Affordable Health Care, Isaac Lutz
We were very impressed with Oklahoma City, Norman, and the people we met on the trip. We’d especially like to thank the organizers of the Oklahoma Political Science Association, who were very helpful to us.
The Sam Houston Memorial Museum hosted its 4th Annual Amateur Photography Contest last week, attracting approximately 200 visitors to the Walker Educator Center. The record number of guests were able to peruse a record number of submissions—more than 300 in all—while also enjoying the opportunity to win prizes offered by Museum staff.
The event was the brainchild of Museum Curator of Exhibits Casey Roon, who initiated the contest in 2010. The goal was to showcase community talent, while bringing the community together.
Among the many individuals brought together included students from the Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP), who volunteered to help at this wonderful community-building project. “The Museum hosts various exhibits throughout the year, but my favorite is the Amateur Photo Contest,” observed Ariel Traub, “and the photographs were stunning!”
As with previous years, the photographs were grouped into multiple categories but, as Marketing Coordinator Megan Buro notes, “Casey has done a great job of keeping the contest fresh and different. This year included new categories and the photographs were fantastic.” In all, there were eight categories: (1) Faces, (2) B&W, (3) Old, (4) Action, (5) Flora & Fauna, (6) Travel, (7) New, and (8) Food. There were also the “Curator’s Choice” selections and, of course, the big prize: “Best in Show.”
The winners included:
Denise Camp Kya
Cari McGown Whatcha Sayin?
Sarah Lane Jane
Ashley Dobos American Poverty
Scott McCarley School Dance
Cari McGown I See the Moon, the Moon Sees Me
Steven Mateo V8 Soft
Sam Beard In Eliza’s Kitchen
Ramses Leon Cuban Butterfly
Erin Rogers Nature’s Grace
Keenan Jones Untitled
Sam Beard Going for the Steer
Flora & Fauna
Anne King Green
(tie) Cari Mc Gown Good Morning Lady
(tie) Sarah Lane Lone
(tie) Elisabeth Williams Frog’s New Home
(tie) David Knuth Low Tide
Beth Gray Tickets Please
Lori Sanders Stone Soldiers
Scott McCarley Train to Bandra
Anne King Charlotte
Mike Whatley New Day
Sam Beard Spring Flowers
Denise Camp Yellow Peppers
Lori Sanders Sweet Tea
Jacqueline Davis For the Love of Caffeine
Selected for the top two photographs in the exhibit were:
Reserve: Beth Gray Tickets Please Best in Show: Denise Camp Kya
Among the many submissions—and winners!—was the Chair of the Friends of the SHMM, Scott McCarley. His “Train to Bandra” and “School Dance” both placed in the top three in the “Travel” and “B&W” categories.
“It’s great to be able to participate in one of the Museum’s many fine exhibits and programs that are open to the public,” noted McCarley. “We hope that the Museum gets this level of support for all of its exhibits.”
Students associated with Sam Houston’s LEAP Center volunteered at the Wynne Home’s newest art exhibit featuring the work of Charles Jones. The exhibit, “The Art of Woodcut, Artist Books, and Portraits,” features large pieces that highlight Jones’s inspirations, including Kurt Vonnegut, Eudora Welty, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as the art work he has done for books including the award-winning “Chopper Blues.”
Jones, who is an SHSU alum, was on hand to deliver remarks describing his career and his work.
Stanley Lea was also featured at the opening. Lea’s works are featured in the sales gallery and include works that date back to the 1970s. Lea’s works can be found in museums across the United States (including the Smithsonian) and many SHSU students and faculty have seen the works in theGaertner Performing Arts Center.
The Wynne Home Arts Center promotes arts in Huntsville, Texas and in East Texas, showcasing four major exhibits each year in the Lela Mae Brown Gallery, work from local artists in the Sales Gallery, and provides 40-45 art classes annually.
The LEAP Center at Sam Houston State University promotes Law, Engagement, And Politics. As part of the Center’s engagement function, students volunteer for government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other worthy causes.
Nancy Gaertner from the Friends of the Wynne led the volunteer event, with five students from the LEAP Center assisting.
Having concluded my first trip with the L.E.A.P program, I must say I’ve already started looking ahead to the next. On this trip I was exposed to a part of Dallas I’d never seen before and I learned an extensive amount of information pertinent to a future career in politics.
The trip revolved around the New Politics Forum, set up to introduce students to different careers in politics, to network with other students and those already in the career field. My favorite panel was the last, the “Alumni Panel” made up of recent SMU alumni who have gone onto successful careers in politics. I liked this panel in particular because they most described what it takes to be successful and gave specific examples of how they’ve gotten opportunities. My favorite speaker was the keynote, State Senator Royce West.
Though he is a Democrat and I may not agree with him on all matters of policy, I liked his speech best. As he I watched him speak impromptu, using different public speaking skills, I learned firsthand how a politician communicates.
While our trip was centered on the NPF while in Dallas we visited multiple sites in the city, my favorite stop of which was the George W. Bush Library. While Bush isn’t my favorite president and I didn’t agree with all his policies, I very much respect him both personally and as the president who shaped my youth. Walking thru the exhibit in the library and seeing images of 9/11 will forever give me chills.
In conclusion, as we wrap up the trip and I look back on the past three days, I can already look ahead to a future that has been positively influenced by this weekend.
Tessa Fendley: Day 3
The third and final day of the L.E.A.P program trip to Dallas seemed to pass by in a blur. We toured downtown Dallas on Segways, seeing a lot of different historical sites. Two of the more notable ones were the Dallas City Hall and Pioneer Plaza“cattle run.” We learned that City Hall was constructed so as to provide shade to the people working in the offices and to pedestrians below. Pioneer Plaza, built by Robert Summers, consists of copper sculptures of a larger-than-life herd of longhorn cattle. Commissioned by the City of Dallas, it is a stunning sight.
We then ate at what was my favorite place of the entire trip, Twisted Root. This wonderful eatery offered a variety of unusual burger options, including kangaroo, ostrich, and buffalo. I chose the vegetarian black bean burger, covered in onions, cheese, and pickles. To accompany my burger, I ordered fried pickles and French fries, which I enjoyed covered in their variety of homemade sauces.
Our last stop before finally heading back home was a small café. We each ordered a variety of cookies and coffee. I got a sandy pecan, a pecan delight, and a chocolate covered praline, all accompanied by a delicious coffee and an original Coke.
This experience in Dallas is something that I will never forget. The Sixth Floor Museum, the NPF Conference, the Segway tour, and the delicious food were all great ways to kick off my freshman year of college, along with making connections with people that I hope to see again.
Ariel Traub: Day 3
As our trip came to a close, I looked back on all of the amazing things we experienced and the great opportunities that we had. While we did much on this trip, my favorite experience was the Segway tour.
We departed the hotel early and headed to downtown Dallas to Nation Tours. We arrived at a large empty building with several Segways lined up along a wall, greeted by a very happy and upbeat tour guide, Doug, who showed us how to properly use the Segway (after handing out helmets).
We ventured outside where we each practiced on the Segway in order to ensure we could handle riding on our own. A few of us had a rocky start but, after all, it was our first time. Once we all got the hang of riding the Segway, the real fun began. We started the historical tour of Downtown Dallas at 9:30am. It was a full and fun experience, plus we got to see a giant eyeball, really!
I even got to eat at a food truck during our tour. There were no Segway accidents or civilian casualties – all the inexperienced Segway drivers made it through the two-hour-plus trip, although some of us did almost get hit while trying to take a picture in the middle of the street.
I had a great time in Dallas with the L.E.A.P. program and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have attended the NPF Careers in Politics Conference. It is great that Sam Houston State University helps students achieve academic success and provide such great opportunities to build their futures.
Jennifer Flores: Day 3
Unfortunately today was the last day of our trip to Dallas, but the fun wasn’t over… We woke up early for a morning Segway tour around the Dallas downtown. It was my first time on a Segway, but after I found my balance, it turned out to be one of the most fun forms of transportation on which I’ve been! The tour allowed us to explore many of Dallas’s historic sites and modern spaces. I especially enjoyed the Segway tour because it really gave me an up close and personal tour of city, allowing me to experience Dallas in whole new way.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, Twisted Root Burger Co., which might just be my new favorite restaurant! They have everything a burger lover craves, and they make their own tasty root beer. I had the buffalo burger with fried green beans and would recommend that to everyone.
Our next stop was the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
The museum tells the chronological story of President George Bush’s life and his years of presidency. Artifacts, photographs, and videos details the president’s challenges of global war on terror, education reform, a financial crisis, and the efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS abroad. I was very touched by the piece of steel from the World Trade Center that now hangs in display; it is a part of the museum that triggers emotions for everyone that remembers 9/11/01.
The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics was my first trip with the L.E.A.P program and it was truly more than I thought it would be. Our trip not only offered an historical learning adventure but we also gained networking experiencing at the NPF seminar. We had the pleasure of meeting Texas Representatives Rafael Anchia and Kenneth Sheets and Texas Senator Royce West. It was a great way to get to know fellow SHSU classmates and make lasting friendships, and I’m looking forward to future events with L.E.A.P.
Coby Steele: Day 3
We woke up to a nice cool morning on our last day in Dallas and set off for an early morning tour through downtown Dallas (on Segways). Having grown up not far from Dallas, I was surprised at how much I did not know about the city I had visited when I was younger. We saw fascinating parks around the city, historic sites like the Old Red Courthouse and the JFK Memorial, and Dealey Plaza, the site of JFK’s assassination, where some of us had a scare with Dallas traffic while taking pictures.
After lunch (at the Twisted Root Burger Company, featured on The Food Network), we returned to the SMU campus, this time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. The library hosted many artifacts used and presented to President and Laura Bush during their time in the White House and trips abroad. The exhibits were laid out along a timeline starting at President Bush’s first campaign for the presidency. Through the exhibits we were able to step back through the major events that shaped the country at that time as well as hear President Bush’s explanations that led to his decisions. Hearing him explain in his own words his reasons for getting involved in the AIDS fight in Africa, the 2008 economic crisis and, most interestingly, the Iraq War, was the part I found most interesting, and it brought for me more understanding as to what was going on in the country’s executive office during those tumultuous years.
We arrived in Huntsville around 7:30pm, concluding a successful and educational trip. I learned a lot about a city near which I had grown up as well as ideas for a successful career in my chosen field.
Brian King: Day 3
The third and final day of our trip began with a Segway tour of downtown Dallas. Before we could begin, our tour guide gave us a crash course (no pun intended) on how to properly maneuver the Segway. Since this would be my first experience on a Segway, I looked forward to it being the tour of my hometown.
On the tour, my favorite buildings were the Old Red Museum and the Adolphus Hotel. The architecture (Romanesque style) and stone material (made of red sandstone and blue granite) of the Old Red Museum were the main components that caught my attention. Originally, the Old Red Museum operated as the Dallas County Courthouse. I really admired the distinct roof of the Adolphus Hotel, influenced by French architectural design (known as “Beaux-Arts” architecture) and also designed by Adolphus Busch (fun fact: founder of the Anheuser-Busch company). This building was known for some time as the tallest in the state of Texas. We also saw the Thanksgiving Chapel, designed by Philip Johnson (who also did the JFK Memorial)…
We stopped for lunch in the Deep Ellum District at Twisted Root Burger Co. After lunch, we visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of SMU. The museum was very informative of not only Bush’s personal life, but more importantly, what made his character distinct from the other honorable gentlemen who have held the highest elected position in the United States of America.
The Bush Presidential Library was very interactive and engaging with various activities describing how the Bush Administration tackled social and global issues within the realms of domestic and foreign affairs. A distinct part of the Bush Presidential Library I really enjoyed was the father-son statue of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, just outside of the museum. To me, the statue represented two men of faith and noble character.
In all, I really enjoyed gaining insight from various actors in the field of politics: congressmen, political reporters, attorneys, and more. This was a great event for students to gain knowledge of what it takes to get into politics, as well as what to expect within the political field. I look forward to SHSU’s L.E.A.P. program preparing future graduates this type of opportunity.