Thank you, Lady Bird
Pat's parents were fairly typical of the Texas upper-middle class of the era. In his younger days, the Old Soldier had run a little wild, parting ways with Texas A&M University over rules infractions and then bouncing around through miscellaneous jobs, including a stint as a rodeo cowboy. After the war, when he settled down, he was still stoic and tough.
It was his wife who provided the civilizing influence, and even a hefty dose of glamour. She had stunning good looks and a strong fashion sense, and she was active in women's activities such as the Junior League. She helped to found the McAllen Public Library.
In photos from that era, the two look like figures from the golden age of Hollywood – she was statuesque and graceful, while he was a little more rugged. No matter where they were or what they were doing – going on a cruise on a freighter, fishing on a tuna boat, traveling in Europe or South America – they were always properly dressed. They made quite the pair.
A more famous Texas couple from that era were Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. He was the tough deal-maker in the Senate, the strong leader of the country, who once got into trouble for being rough on his dogs. She, meanwhile, promoted beauty, including that of the natural world. Even before the two rose to national fame, she saw a need for Texas to make its highways beautiful. Her efforts led to the state Department of Transportation planting and encouraging wildflowers along the highways.
This time of year, spring comes to Texas. The winter Texans migrate back to Minnesota or Colorado or whatever other cold place they took refuge from over the past few months, and the wildflowers burst into bloom, aided this year by greater than average rainfall. The most famous of the flowers are probably the bluebonnets, which symbolize the whole flowers-along-the-highways project. However, there are many more sorts of flowers out there, in all different colors – red, yellow, white, pink, lavender, violet, in addition to the indigo bluebonnets. It's like looking at a carpet with multicolored swirls and patterns.
On our way home from South Texas, we stopped along the road between Three Rivers and San Antonio to photograph the profusion of colors. One thing we discovered that is not part of the experience if you just drive past: These flowers smell sweet, too.