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Dreams of a Lady (2013)

Scott Christopherson

Sound | 2013

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  •  Sid Fly describes how he met Lady Bird Johnson through his cousin Liz Carpenter 
  •  Sid Fly recounts his continuing relationship with Lady Bird, beginning the first time he played at the LBJ Ranch 
  •  Sid Fly speaks to Lady Bird’s wildflower beautification projects and the song it inspired 
  •  Footage of Lady Bird speaking about natural beauty 
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  • About the video
  • St. Edward's Documentary P... St. Edward's Documentary Project
  • Liz Carpenter Liz Carpenter
  • Lady Bird Johnson Lady Bird Johnson
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This student film uses archival footage from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image to tell the story of musician Sid Fly’s longstanding relationship with Lady Bird Johnson. The filmmaker, Beth Fly, selected images from the archive of Lady Bird and her beloved Texas landscapes and paired it with audio of her uncle, Sid Fly, describing his introduction and continuing relationship with the former First Lady. Sid Fly is an Austin musician whose cousin, Liz Carpenter, was the close friend and Press Secretary to Lady Bird Johnson. Carpenter introduced her cousin to Lady Bird in 1982 at the LBJ Ranch, and Lady Bird later asked Sid to return to the Ranch to perform. Fly experienced Lady Bird’s Texas hospitality and continued to play for her for 25 years up until her death. Sid Fly provides both the narration and the songs included in the film. Footage in this film comes from the Richard Eisenhour and LBJ Library collections.
The films in this collection are a result of a partnership between St. Edward’s University and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image to produce documentary student films. Students in Scott Christopherson’s Documentary Production class were  assigned to create a 3-5 minute film using archival footage from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) website with an emphasis on creating story arcs. Using four films from TAMI, the students could choose to narrate the clips using a personal story or memory from childhood; explore what it means to be a Texan or living in Texas (focusing on one or two aspects of Texas Culture); interpret the footage using a series of audio interviews that somehow correlate to the images; explore what is means to be Latino or Chicano in Texas; or create sound effects, narration, and a story for the images.
Liz Carpenter was a writer, feminist, media advisor, and high-ranking White House staff member during the LBJ administration. Mary Elizabeth Sutherland was born in Salado, Texas in 1920, and spent most of her childhood in Austin. She met her husband, Les Carpenter, while working on her high school newspaper. The two worked together on the University of Texas paper, as well, and were married in 1944. In 1942, Carpenter began covering the White House and Congress for Austin's newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, and after their wedding, Liz and Les moved to Washington D.C. and launched the Carpenter News Bureau. She and Les worked devotedly, only taking time off for the births of their children, Scott and Christy. Carpenter continued working as a reporter until joining Lyndon B. Johnson's campaign for Vice President in 1960, traveling as a press spokeswoman until after the election when she became the first female Executive Assistant to the Vice President. Upon LBJ's succession to the presidency, Carpenter was promoted to Press Secretary to the First Lady, the first woman to hold that position. Carpenter is known for her quick wit and humor, and it came through in speeches she wrote for both Lady Bird and President Johnson. After LBJ's term, Carpenter devoted her time to writing and working for the National Women's Political Caucus, of which she was a founder, and working with ERAmerica to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. She later served for Presidents Ford, Carter, and Clinton on women's issues, education, and serving the senior population. Les died suddenly in 1974, and Liz returned to Austin in 1976, citing her love of family and love of Texas. She wrote Getting Better All the Time in 1986, Unplanned Parenthood in 1994, Start With a Laugh in 2000, and Presidential Humor in 2006, as well as many articles and lectures. Carpenter was given many awards throughout her life, including being named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in the 1980s. Two awards are named in her honor - The Liz Carpenter Lectureship at the University of Texas and the Liz Carpenter Award for the best scholarly book on the history of women and Texas. Carpenter died in Austin in March of 2010.
Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas on December 22, 1912. Lady Bird, the nickname given by nursemaid Alice Tittle, attended high school in Marshall and junior college at Dallas’ St. Mary’s Episcopal College for Women. In 1933 through 1934, she received a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. 
Mutual friends introduced Lady Bird to congressional aide and rising political star, Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ proposed on the couple’s first date and the two were married a month later on November 17, 1934. Lady Bird financed her husband’s first congressional campaign for Austin’s Tenth District using a portion of her maternal inheritance. During World War II, Lady Bird ran the congressional office while LBJ served in the US Navy.  In 1943, Lady Bird purchased Austin Radio station KTBC. The station proved an integral part of the LBJ Holding Company and became the main source of the Johnson family’s fortune. 
LBJ’s political career gained momentum in the post war years, and in 1960, he became Vice President to John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. As first lady, Lady Bird initiated the Society for a More Beautiful National Capitol and worked with the American Association of Nurserymen to promote the planting of wildflowers along highways. In 1964, the first lady traveled through eight southern states aboard her train, “The Lady Bird Special,” to foster support for LBJ’s presidential re-election and the Civil Rights Act. She was influential in promoting the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, referred to as “Lady Bird’s Bill,” and the Head Start program .
Following the death of LBJ in 1973, Lady Bird turned her attention to Austin. The Town Lake Beautification Project transformed Austin’s downtown lake, renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007, into a useable recreation area. On December 22, 1982, Lady Bird and Helen Hays founded the National Wildflower Research Center outside of Austin. The Wildflower Center was established to increase awareness and research for North American flora.  During her lifetime, the former first lady received the highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1988. Lady Bird died of natural causes on July 11, 2007, survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren, and  ten great-grandchildren.