FROM the moment they began their journey to the nation's capital on December 2, 1931, Kleberg introduced Lyndon to material comforts and men of influence he had never known before. Sharing a stateroom with his "chief" and taking meals in the dining car, Lyndon had his first taste of Pullman travel aboard the Bluebonnet, a sleek streamliner operating between Houston and Washington, D.C. It was "a wonderful trip . . . on one of the best trains in the U.S.," he wrote a former student in Houston. In the capital they stayed at the Mayflower on Connecticut Avenue in a carpeted $13-a-day room with twin beds. Their stay at " Washington's finest hotel," drinking early morning coffee delivered by room service, and riding cabs from the hotel to the House Office Building cost Kleberg over three times Lyndon's weekly salary at the Sam Houston High School.
During their first few days in town, Lyndon met several Texas political celebrities, including Congressman John Nance Garner, a dominant Washington figure who was about to become Speaker of the House, and Senator Morris Sheppard. Lyndon and Kleberg spent over an hour with Garner, a self-contained man with "cold blue eyes and tight small mouth" who some predicted would become a Texas Coolidge. Lyndon "just listened--something hard for me to do--but quite proper for secretaries." They met Sheppard at the Occidental, "an exclusive Washington eating place," which advertised, "Where Statesmen Dine."1
Lyndon's taste of the good life, however, was soon over. After four days at the Mayflower, he began looking for a place to live. On Monday morning, December 7, he watched from the House gallery as Garner was elected Speaker and the Texas delegation let loose with ear-splitting war whoops and cowboy yells at the opening session of the 72nd Congress. Robert M. Jackson, an aide to another Texas congressman, remembered how "this long, tall young man came in and sat about two