Interview SummaryLynda Robb, eldest daughter of Lyndon Johnson, begins the interview by discussing her earliest memories of Bess Abell. Robb remembers when Bess' father Earle Clements filled in for her father as Senate Majority Leader when he suffered a heart attack in 1955. Robb describes the houses she lived in throughout Washington, D.C. as a child. Robb recalls what job responsibilities Bess had as her mother Lady Bird Johnson's secretary. Robb discusses why her father placed such an emphasis on women's appearances. Bess' personality is discussed, as well as her overall role when Lyndon Johnson was vice president. Bess' participation in the 1960 Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign is explored. Robb considers how Bess helped her with fashion choices as a teenager. Robb recalls the assassination of John F. Kennedy from her perspective. Robb describes social events held at the LBJ Ranch while her father was vice president. John F. Kennedy's assassination from Bess' vantage point is also mentioned. Robb discusses the 1963 holiday season, which was soon after Kennedy's assassination. Robb shares her early memories of living in the White House. Robb describes a costume party that she hosted at the White House just before the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Robb also discusses White House social aides and how they were selected. Differences in social customs throughout the years in terms of guest lists are considered. Additionally, Robb talks of an adult sleepover she attended with Bess. Robb remembers how she met her husband. Robb evaluates how Bess treated the White House social aides. Robb reflects upon issues with White House guest lists and seating arrangements during the Johnson administration. Bess' role in helping the Johnsons navigate the social customs of the White House is explored. Robb then describes the working relationship between Bess Abell and Liz Carpenter. Robb, the interviewer, and Tyler Abell also look through pictures from the White House costume party. To conclude the interview, Robb recalls social events that she hosted at the White House.
Interview KeywordBess Abell Earle Clements Lyndon Johnson Lady Bird Johnson Luci Johnson Tyler Abell Social secretary Vice president President White House Fashion John F. Kennedy Jackie Kennedy Assassination Costume party Social aides Events Sleepover Chuck Robb Guest lists Katie Louchheim Seating arrangements Liz Carpenter
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Interview UsageInterviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Robb, Lynda Johnson Interview by Donald A. Ritchie. 11 Oct. 2019. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Robb, L.J. (2019, October 11). Interview by D. A. Ritchie. Bess Abell Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Robb, Lynda Johnson, interview by Donald A. Ritchie. October 11, 2019, Bess Abell Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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