Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

3
Student and Teacher

IN deciding to go to college Lyndon took on a substantial challenge. Although tuition, books, room, and board at Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos, where he intended to go, cost only about $40 a month, he didn't have the money. His father, who was losing his job and still in debt, could not pay his way, and Lyndon, who had almost no savings, was refused a loan at the Johnson City bank, where Sam had exhausted his credit. But like other poor youngsters in south-central Texas, who were the principal students at San Marcos, Lyndon scraped together enough money to attend. Rebekah or Sam, who had met Cecil Evans, the school's president, in Austin, arranged for Lyndon to have a twenty cents an hour, $8-a-month job on the campus clean-up squad collecting trash, removing weeds, and picking up rocks. Lyndon then persuaded Percy T. Brigham, who once worked as a law clerk for Rebekah's father and was the president of the Blanco bank, to lend him $75. Supplemented by another $25 from home, he had enough cash to meet the expenses of one term. 1

But financing his education was just one of his problems. He also needed to satisfy the school's admission standards, and then discipline himself to do college-level work. Three years after graduation from high school, where he had never been diligent about his studies, he had reason to doubt himself. In frustration over Lyndon's refusals to enter college, Sam had told him that he didn't "have sense enough to take a college education." Sam's words now echoed in his mind. 2

Yet his ambition to earn a college degree and make something special of his life outweighed his fears. The way he traveled from Johnson City to San Marcos reflected his determination to get ahead on his own. He refused his father's offer to drive him and hitchhiked. But instead of standing on the side of the highway thumbing a ride, he got "right out in the middle of the road," where a car would have to stop or risk hitting

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