Friday, April 15, 2016

Who's Who: Lyndon Johnson

During Pope Paul VI's 1965 visit to the United States this president met him in New York City [Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 30].

Johnson was president during Pope Paul VI's 1965 visit to the United States. As such, the notes found in the desk of a New York advertising executive assume Johnson will still be president for when the next pope's visit and the notes speculate on what could transpire. Johnson and Paul VI would meet again: briefly in December 1967 in Vatican City.

The notes also wonder what sort of gifts the two could give each other: cowboy boots, salt shakers shaped like domed buildings from their native land (that is, Saint Peter's Basilica and the United States Capitol), or a Byzantine icon of the president? Oddly enough Johnson had a penchant for strange papal presents: his gifts to the pope in 1965 included a silver-framed, autographed photograph of himself and, two years later, at their next meeting at the Vatican, Johnson presented the pontiff with a foot-high bust of himself.

There's a byzantine icon spoof of LBJ in a half-page illustration by Marilyn Fitschen, showing the president as a saint and surrounded by symbols of his background and presidency. "John took such delight in my drawings," she says, "that he didn't even notice that I inverted Johnson's initials in the upper-left. Yes, it should read LBJ, although Dale said I should lie and say I meant to represent ‘Long John Bellairs’. Pretty weak."

LBJ got some more leg-time in the book, as he was believed to be a "brass automaton" by mystic Hamish Runcet [104]. One wonders if Runcet ever received one of the presidential busts, too.

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