On January 25, 1970, the Annual Congressional Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building was a great success due to Chairman Celia Hare Martin. There were fresh grapefruit juice from the Rio Grande Valley and a beautiful arrangement of fruits and vegetables graced the table tops.
Texans rounded out their year by honoring outstanding Texas authors. Liz Carpenter shared microphone duties with President Elizabeth Hutchinson for a very entertaining Sunday afternoon. The Texas Agriculture Department, represented by Commissioner John C. White, flew tons of food to Washington for “a taste of Texas” luncheon at the Statler Hilton on March 22, 1970, and the cooking was supervised by Neiman Marcus’ Helen Corbitt. The new Cherry Blossom Princess, Miss Gaffney Young, was honored and given a charm in appreciation for representing Texas.
President Hutchinson presented a $1,210 check for the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin to, Major Charles Robb, who accepted it on behalf of the Family. The gift was set aside in 1965 as an expression of the Society’s admiration and affection for President Johnson, who served as President of the Society in 1953. It was announced that the Executive Board, by unanimous vote on March 16, set aside $1,000 and directed the appointment of a Committee to plan a suitable memorial to President Eisenhower, a life member of the Society and first native Texan to serve as President of the United States. To conclude the program, newly-elected President Wayne Gibbens read the plaque of appreciation to outgoing President Elizabeth Hutchinson.
1970-71 was a fun-filled year under the Presidency of Wayne Gibbens who commuted between Austin and Washington to keep things moving. Mrs. Richard Agnich and Mrs. Abraham Kazen, Entertainment Co-Chairmen, started the year off with a highly successful annual barbecue held June 20th, 1970 at Carderock Springs. With Barbecue Chairmen Mr. & Mrs. Milton Jobe, they planned an afternoon with a Mexican flavor for the 560 guests. Each guest received a souvenir sombrero from the dance troupe, Folklorica Cuicuil from Victoria, Texas, under the sponsorship of Congressman John Young. Good food, western music, an abundance of interesting prizes and unusually pleasant weather all helped to make the afternoon fun for all.
The University Club provided the elegant setting for the Wine Tasting Party given by the Texas State Society on October 21, 1970. The 205 guests were introduced to a fine white aperitif followed by five wines, especially selected for the occasion by a trusted connoisseur. The guests were also offered four kinds of cheese to savor with the wine as- well as delicious French sourdough bread flown in for the party from New York. President Wayne Gibbens came up from Austin to take part in the festive evening which appropriately climaxed with the breaking out of champagne.
A very special occasion in the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum marked the Annual Congressional Reception on January 24, 1971. The National Collection of Fine Arts, which includes some of the Nation’s finest paintings and sculpture, unveiled at this reception a heroic marble figure of Lady Macbeth, the last work sculpted by Elisabet Ney before her death in 1907. The Texas sculptor is best known for her statues of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, which stand in Statuary Hall of the U. S. Capitol and in the entrance to the Texas Capitol. Representative Jake Pickle, who was instrumental in having the statue put on display, introduced Mrs. J. W. Rutland, Curator Emeritus of the Elisabeth Ney Gallery, who had flown from Austin especially for the occasion. Newly-elected Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Representative William Archer and their wives were also specially honored. Coffee, punch, cookies and tarts were served as the members of the Texas delegation and their wives greeted the guests.
The Spring Luncheon under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Michael Burns was held on March 21, 1971, at the Sheraton Park Hotel in special honor of Texas’ two Cabinet ranking officers, the Honorable John Connally, Secretary of the Treasury, and the Honorable George Bush, Ambassador to the United Nations. Miss Phyllis George, Denton, Texas’ own Miss America 1971, charmed one and all with her lovely appearance, spontaneously friendly words and a piano rendition of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops.” Mr. Gene Fondren, father of the 1971 Texas Cherry Blossom Queen, Brenda, presented tokens of her appreciation to the girls who were to serve on the Texas float. Her sister, Beverly, accepted for her the gold seal charm presented by the Texas State Society.
Representative Graham Purcell presented the Richardson High School Concert Choir and their small group, the Lighter Side, which delighted the guests with their songs. President Wayne Gibbens gave members a brief and amusing glimpse of life in Austin and a special word of tribute to John H. Young, who handled many of the day to day details for him and the Texas State Society. Two By-laws changes were proposed and passed. An increase of $.50 in membership dues was voted to cover increased costs of mailings. A change in the application procedure was voted, requiring that the applicant give the names of two active members as references rather than requiring their signatures on the application form. The meeting closed with the presentation of a plaque of appreciation to the outgoing President Gibbens by the newly-elected President, Kika de la Garza.
The first event of the administration of the New Society President, Congressman “Kika” de la Garza, was the Annual Picnic, held on June 12, 1971 at Smokey Glen Farm in Maryland. In spite of threatening weather, over seven hundred people turned out for the promised chicken supper. Everyone was given a fifty pound sack of Rio Grande Valley onions and a goodie bag composed of grapefruit and orange juice from the Valley, processed Mexican food from El Paso, as well as other items from across the State. There were games and entertainment to please young and old alike. One of the highlights was a baseball game between the office staffs of Senators Tower and Bentsen.
In the evening of November 13, 1971, the Texas State Society held a Mexican dinner in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building, complete with music of mariachis, tiny Paper Mache faces with sombreros on the tables, tequila sours, and a full choice of Mexican food. The delicious food was brought to Washington by the El Chico restaurants. The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frank Cuellar, and Vice President, Willie Jack Cuellar, attended. Liquid refreshments were provided by the Texas Brewers Institute and the makers of world renowned tequila, Tequila Sauza, S.A., Mexico, headed by Mr. Don Francisco. Favors and decorations were also provided by Tequila Sauza, S.A. An overflow crowd reveled in South-of-the Border gaiety. Society President de la Garza was the ebullient host, lending his warm personality, most of his congressional staff, and his entire family to making the party a festive occasion.
The Society’s Annual Reception for the Delegation was held at the Cannon House Office Building on January 23, 1971. The President of the State Society was also the Chairman of the Texas Delegation. The Annual Texas State Society Brunch was held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on March 19, 1972. The Society presented the Eisenhower Bust by sculptor Felix de Weldon to the Kennedy Center for the Eisenhower Theater. This dedication was the culmination of an effort undertaken by the Society during the 1969-70 administration of President Elizabeth Hutchinson. The invocation was given by the Reverend Edward L. R. Elson, Chaplain of the United States Senate. Following remarks by Mr. de Weldon, the bust was unveiled, dedicated, and presented by Senators Lloyd Bentsen and John Tower, Secretary of the Treasury John Connally, and Society President de la Garza. Mrs. Julie Nixon Eisenhower accepted the statue on behalf of Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and other family members. She shared with the audience a note from her father, President Richard M. Nixon, which read: “Yours is a fitting tribute and justifiable expression of pride in a great son of Texas, who, by his accomplishments, belongs to the world.” Following the ceremony, a reception and brunch were held at the Kennedy Center’s North Gallery. A fashion show was presented with costumes made from Rio Grande Valley fruits and vegetables, fashioned for use at the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta in Mission. It was followed by the presentation of the Cherry Blossom Princess, Elaine Casey. Those in attendance were also treated to a concert of the Cardinals Singers from Beaumont’s Lamar University.
Luther Holcomb was elected President for 1972-73. The opening function of the Society for 1972-73 was the annual barbecue on June 18 at Smokey Glen Farm in nearby Maryland. In spite of a little rain, over 900 people turned out for the family affair. Thanks to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Levee singers provided some very special Texas style entertainment, which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. A special word of thanks went to Jim Langdon, Kelle Snyder, and the various congressional offices that worked so hard to make the barbecue a success.
The Annual State Society Congressional Reception was held January 21, 1973 in the Ways and Means Hearing Room in the Longworth Building. A brilliant, crisp winter day brought a turnout of over 700 persons, including visitors in town for the inaugural festivities. Nationally known TV news personality Bob Schieffer was master of ceremonies, introducing the members of the Texas Delegation. Mrs. Ardon B. Judd, Jr. served as chairman of the function.
On March 4, 1973 the Society had its Annual Meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel. George Bush, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Robert Strauss, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee were honored. Never before had Texans headed up either of the nations’ major political parties, let alone chair both par-ties at the same time. Dan Rather, CBS White House Correspondent and a native of Texas, served as master of ceremonies. Brig. Gen. Ernest R. Reid of Irving, Texas arranged for the U.S. Marine Honor Guard and Band of Quantico to open the program. Dan Rather called attention to the fact that President Johnson had served as President of the Society during 1954 and 1955. He then called for a silent tribute. Dr. George R. Davis, Pastor, National City Christian Church and long time spiritual advisor and friend of President Johnson, offered the invocation. Miss Penny Tower offered remarks as the 1973 Cherry Blossom Princess. The Chairman of this event was Mrs. James M. Collins.
During 1972-73, Mrs. Willard Deason served as chairman of the membership committee responsible for the Society’s 1973 Directory. Mrs. Abraham Kazen was elected President for 1973-74. Under Mrs. Kazen, and the guidance of her Entertainment Chairman, Mrs. Betty Caraway, the annual picnic was held at Carderock, Maryland. Featured, in addition to the country music, barbecue and fixin’s, was the baseball game between the Texas Towers and Bentsen’s Bullets. A special attraction was the door prize drawing by the 1973 Texas – Bluebonnet Queen, Miss Linda Crooker of Houston. Over 800 Texans attended.
On October 13, 1973, in the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building, more than 800 Texans turned out for a genuine Mexican dinner. Everything in sight was made in Texas by Texans, at El Chico’s of Dallas, and flown in especially for the Society. Mexican decorations created a real “South-of-the-Border” atmosphere.
On October 28, 1973, the Governing Board of the National Conference of State Societies awarded the Texas State Society a certificate of “Honorable Mention-Outstanding State Society.”
The Caucus Room of the Cannon Building was the scene of the annual Congressional Reception (‘Merienda”) for the Texas Delegation on January 27, 1974. The convivial Hispano-American flavor of South Texas once again prevailed to the delight of all who took home the edible decorations from the Rio Grande Valley—ruby red grapefruit and fresh vegetables. Another highlight was the style show featuring Qiana designer clothes.
The Annual Meeting of the Society, on March 24, 1974, drew a large crowd that filled the Blue Room of the Shoreham Hotel for brunch. The honoree was Mr. Jack Valenti, former Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, and currently the President of the Motion Picture Association of America. Distinguished guests included the Honorable and Mrs. Leon Jaworski of Houston. A lively, topical program was insured by emcee Liz Carpenter, who conducted her own version of an Academy Award presentation, custom-tailored for the Society. The decorative flair of Connie Kazen was again evident with the tables decked out in hand-painted statuettes of all-time movie greats. On this festive occasion it was announced that Miss Linda Crooker of Houston would represent the Society as its Princess for the 1974 Cherry Blossom Festival.
The Honorable Bill Archer was elected President for 1974-75. He selected Juanita Roberts as Entertainment Chairperson. The year’s events got underway on June 16, 1974 (Father’s Day) with the annual picnic at Smokey Glen Farm in Maryland. Thanks to the fine work of Al Erwin, Director of the State of Texas Office of State/Federal Relations, the over 900 members attending the picnic were treated to a fun-filled afternoon of barbecue, softball, bingo-and just all-around good Texas fun.
Not to be out-done by the barbecue’s success, Mexican Dinner Chairman Bob Vinson put on an affair on November 16, 1974 that brought tears to the eyes of the staunchest of Texans. Some said it was the strength of El Palacio Restaurant’s picante sauce-but the general consensus among the 500 or so members attending said it was the overall Texas companionship and flavor of the evening.
The Congressional Reception on January 26, 1975, drew over 450 Society members, and over half of the Texas Congressional Delegation. The Senate Caucus Room proved to be a popular location for the event. The capacity crowd that filled the Presidential Ballroom of the Statler Hilton for the Annual Meeting had Priscilla Thompson to thank for a memorable luncheon. Highlight of the event was Cactus Pryor,-who in the guise of Sir Gilbert Peake, President of the Texas Society of London, England—victimized and entertained those attending. Distinguished guests for the luncheon included representatives from the Embassies of Great Britain, France, Spain and Mexico.
Special entertainment was also provided by the Stratford Spartannaires drill team from Stratford High School in Houston. Madalynn (Lynn) Thompson was named the Society’s 1975 Cherry Blossom Princess. Robert E. Waldron was elected President for 1975-76. The opening event of the administration of the new Society President was the annual picnic at Smokey Glen Farm of June 15, 1975. The arrangements for the occasion were made by the Chairmen—Ken Durr and Hack Hanks—and a great time was had by all. Especially enjoyable was a performance by the “Up with People Troupe,” which was arranged by the Society’s President.
In August, the Society participated in the dedication of the Lyndon B. Johnson Grove. President Ford, Vice President Rockefeller, Secretary of the Interior Kleppe, and many other dignitaries joined Lady Bird Johnson and the Johnson family at the ceremony. The fall event was a Mexican dinner held in the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building and arranged by Beth Oliver. Mexican food was provided by El Palacio of McLean. The master of ceremonies, Congressman Kika de la Garza, enlivened the occasion during presentation of numerous door prizes. The group especially enjoyed the dancing of a couple from the Vic Daumit dance studio. A dance, followed by a midnight breakfast, was held at the Wax Museum on February 21, 1976. Everyone enjoyed the exhibits and dance arrangements made by Susan Perry.
The Annual Meeting and brunch was held at the Statler Hilton on Sunday, April 11, 1976. The Society honored George Bush, former Ambassador to our mission in China and director of the CIA. Miss Kim Oliver was recognized as the Texas Cherry Blossom Princess and was presented the traditional gold charm. The meeting closed with the presentation by Col. George Oliver, on behalf of newly-elected Society President Congressman Richard C. White, of a certificate of appreciation to outgoing President Waldron.
1976-77 was a successful year under the leadership of Congressman White. At the beginning of the year a private finance drive, spearheaded by Ardon Judd, brought the Society treasury to solvency, where it remained. The annual barbecue was held in June at Smokey Glen Farm and was chaired by Jack Hanks. The delicious food, bingo and square dancing were enjoyed by more than 800 Texans in attendance.
In October, Ted Stautberg chaired the Oktoberfest at the German Embassy. Music was provided by the Oom Pa Pa Band of New Braunfels and German cuisine was featured. The event was a sellout.
The January reception was well-attended by Texans who journeyed to the Nation’s Capitol to celebrate the Inauguration and by Texans living in the Washington, D.C. area. Under the direction of Odessa, Texas native Nelda Lee Pool, art by various Texas painters was exhibited throughout the Ways and Means Room in the Longworth House Office Building. Specially honored at the reception were Governor Dolph Briscoe, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, and the many congressmen and others who made up the receiving line. Roy Fausset was the Chairman of this event, attended by a crowd of over 1500.
During the year Priscilla Thompson edited and had published an artful revised Bicentennial directory of the Texas State Society, in loose-leaf form. In addition, President Richard White inaugurated a newsletter to the membership, published Quarterly, and containing news of Texans in Washington as well as coming events.
The annual business meeting and brunch was held in March at the Capital Hilton Hotel. Chairman Don Womack rounded up the entertaining Friendship Fire Company to sing, and Honorable John White, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, was the featured speaker. Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson was recognized as the first Outstanding Texan, selected by a panel of judges from a number of nominees. An Amendment to Article of the Constitution was proposed and approved to allow annual dues to be fixed by the Executive Board. This change was to permit the Executive Board to set the dues to cover the actual costs of running the Society. Miss Sharon Archer was recognized as the Texas Cherry Blossom Princess and received the traditional gold charm. Outgoing President White was presented a Certificate of Appreciation for his service by the newly- elected President, Col. George S. Oliver.
The year 1977-1978 started with a highly successful barbecue at Smokey Glen Farm on Father’s Day, June 19, 1977. The weatherman provided a perfect day, the food was excellent, the beer plentiful, and the companionship was everything a Texan could want. A show was put on by the Bandeleras from Northbrook High School in Houston. Credit and the thanks of the 900 attendees went to John Cope and Joan Studer, who chaired the event.
On August 27 a brief ceremony, followed by a picnic, was held at the LBJ Grove to honor the late President and fellow Texas. Approximately 100 persons, including Mrs. Charles Robb (Lynda Johnson), participated in the occasion. Members of the Society were invited to attend the commissioning of the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Texas on September 10, 1977 at Norfolk, Virginia. A sizeable contingent attended this event and the reception which followed. Governor Briscoe and Congressman George Mahon addressed the members.
In October, Bob Waldron and Molly Shulman “honchoed” a Mexican Fiesta at the Pan American Building of the Organization of American States. Some 750 Texans and guests joined the Mexican Ambassadors to the United States and the OAS in an evening of fellowship and South-of-the-Border food.
In January 1978, the Annual Congressional Reception moved from Capitol Hill to the newly opened Neiman-Marcus store in suburban Washington. Marta Ross and Janet Howard were in charge, and approximately 500 turned out to honor the Texas delegation. Miss Sandra Hall, daughter of 1st District Congressman Sam B. Hall, Jr. and Mrs. Hall served as the Society’s 1978 Cherry Blossom Princess.
Thanks to the hard work of Betty Mann and Barbara Burris, the Annual Meeting in April proved to be the capstone of a very successful year for the Texas State Society. Some 350 Texans and friends gathered at the Mayflower to honor our retiring Members of Congress. The Dean of the Delegation (and Dean of the House of Representatives) George Mahon of Lubbock, Bob Poage of Waco, “Tiger” Teague of College Station, and Omar Burleson of Anson attended. Master of ceremonies, Walter Rogers, offered stories old and new.
Charles E. Walker served as president of the Texas State Society in 1978-79. Under his leadership, the officers, executive board and committee members charted “New Directions” for the Society. The changes were designed to foster fellowship for both the older and younger sets of Texans in Washington, at reasonable cost to members – not easy in inflationary times.
The Annual Picnic remained the leading family event, and the sterling committee work of John and Margaret Dalton made the gathering at Smokey Glen on June 18, 1978 a resounding success, with some 1200 on hand. Mike Naeve again arranged for a simple ceremony at the LBJ Grove to commemorate the late President’s birthday. And in November, the first “Country Stomp” rocked the rafters of the Mount Vernon College gym, as 500 Texans and friends partook of Tuscon Cantina’s excellent Tex-Mex, consumed cases of Pearl beer, and danced into the morning hours to the country rock of Delbert McClinton and his Second Wind. Howard Fenton, Ross Stoddard, John Studer, and Carolyn Ek deserved the lion’s share of the credit for planning and carrying out the event.
With the discontinuance of the increasingly expensive Annual Brunch, the Congressional Reception-held in the Cannon Caucus Room on February 14, 1979—became the final event of the Society’s year. It was well attended and well catered with Delegation Dean Jack Brooks introducing Texas Members of Congress.
Alison Hightower, daughter of Congressman and Mrs. Jack Hightower, represented the Society as its 1979 Cherry Blossom Festival Princess.
The Society ended the year with membership up—especially among younger people—and in sound financial condition. Members generally agreed that the “New Directions” were most appropriate and had been effectively achieved.