San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 9th, 2009
LBJ museum seeks ‘props’ for Cotulla school exhibit

SUBMITTED REPORT

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos is seeking school memorabilia from the late 1920s that might be used to augment an exhibit that will be opening there later this month.

According to Scott Jordan, the museum’s director, the exhibit will feature two mannequins wearing typical late 1920s boys’ and girls’ school clothing that were recreated last summer by graduate historical costuming student Camee Waterson. The mannequins will be posed in an unusual 1920s two-seat school desk donated to the museum by Dr. Gwen Smith of San Marcos. He would like to have an old black board or slates and other items that might have been used in a rural school in the late 1920s.

In 1928, a young Lyndon Baines Johnson interrupted his studies at Southwest Texas State Teachers College to accept a fulltime teaching position in the South Texas town of Cotulla. Although his motivation was to earn enough money so he could finish his education, his experience teaching the poverty-stricken fifth and sixth graders at the Welhousen Mexican School in Cotulla had a lasting impact on his life.

When he returned to his alma mater to sign the Higher Education Act of 1965, President Johnson recalled how his school year in Cotulla affected his commitment to expanding educational opportunities to all students. He said, “I shall never forget the faces of the boys and girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”

Waterson patterned the clothing she made for the LBJ Museum of San Marcos after those worn by the youngsters who attended Welhausen School as shown in photographs. She made the shirt for a 10-year-old boy and dress for a 12-year-old girl while she was taking a break from her studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Jordan said he would welcome school items on a loan or permanent acquisition basis. For more information, call Jordan at (512) 353-3300 or e-mail him at director@lbjmuseum.com.

— FROM THE LBJ MUSEUM OF SAN MARCOS/PAT MURDOCK

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