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LBJ Declairs WAR ON POVERTY In 1964 by Gene Walls

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LBJ Declairs WAR ON POVERTY In 1964 by 

This was the first time in my life that photography became important to me. I borrowed my mother’s Ansco box camera and went downtown alone to hear our President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, give a speech in Cumberland, Maryland.

Unfortunately, this was as close to the President as I could get, and there was no such thing as a telephoto lens available for mom’s ancient camera. That’s LBJ standing behind the microphones, in the center of the frame.

Secret Service In Action

The Allegany High School Marching Band payed “Hail To The Chief”

Lynda Bird Johnson Waving To The Crowd

The President proclaimed his War on Poverty at 9:15 a.m. on May 7th, 1964. This was the very first stop of a two-day tour through the Appalachian States of the USA. The President was accompanied by his older daughter, Lynda Bird and many of his Cabinet members. In his opening remarks, he first greeted and thanked Cumberland’s Mayor, Earl D. Chaney, and his wife.

The President then greeted Thomas B. Finan, Attorney General, Senators Daniel B. Brewster and J. Glenn Beall and Representatives Carlton R. Sickles and Charles Mathias, Jr.

The President then introduced all of the Cabinet members that were in his entourage:

Secretary Orville Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture.

Secretary Celebrezze, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Secretary of Labor, Willard Wirtz.

The Under Secretary of Commerce, representing Secretary Hodges, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.

The Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, Mr. Robert Weaver.

He also introduced the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, who was traveling with the President on this tour, Mr. Aubrey Wagner.

His main themes were “The War On Poverty In Appalachia” and “Beautify America”.

This is where billboards along all interstate highways became strictly restricted, (except the one picturing a young male “hippie” that read “Beautify America …Get a Haircut!”)

I wasn’t even a teenager at the time, but I remember the event (and the speech) like it just happened yesterday. Oh, those formative years…

I guess we poor Appalachian citizens were all “saved” that day…


These photos were all taken by me on May 7, 1964, in front of City Hall in Cumberland, MD. A 1948 Ansco “Shur Shot” box camera was used to capture these photographs on Kodak 120 B&W film. Film processing was done at the local drug store, of course.

Your comments are always welcome! Constructive criticism is appreciated.

© 2010 Gene Walls

All copyright and reproduction rights are retained by the artist. Artwork may not be reproduced or altered by any process without the express written permission of the artist. A copyright watermark is embedded within the image to guarantee successful prosecution, in the event of any violation.

FEATURED in “Days Gone By”

Hello, My name is Gene. I live in the Susquehanna river valley (West Branch), in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania. I strive to produce photographic images that are simply “true” to the subject, usually with minimal post processing. If something is beautiful or interesting enough to deserve a viewer’s attention, it justifies being captured just as it is …or as close to reality as possible.

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  • Wanda Raines
    Wanda Rainesover 4 years ago

    How wonderful that you caught a piece of history.

  • Thank you so much, Wanda! I was very excited about it at the time.

    All my best,


    – Gene Walls

  • DonDavisUK
    DonDavisUKover 4 years ago

    Brilliant capture Gene. History in the making. Don.

  • Thank you very kindly, Don! It’s just a little slice of 60’s Americana for the history “geeks”.

    Best wishes,


    – Gene Walls

  • John Schneider
    John Schneiderover 4 years ago

    What a great piece of history, well done! John

  • Thanks, John! This is where the ol’ photography bug started growing in me.

    All my best,


    – Gene Walls

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47over 4 years ago

    An interesting slice of the past. Hell, no; we won’t go….

  • Thanks a bunch, Sheila!

    Hell, yes …I did go ..but it wasn’t my idea!

    A poor law-abiding kid with a low “lottery” number didn’t have many acceptable choices in those days. A real life-changer…

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Robert C Richmond
    Robert C Richmondover 4 years ago

    Always fun to see personal glimpses. Well done.

  • Thanks, Bob! It was my first time behind the lens.

    Best regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Joseph Rieg
    Joseph Riegover 4 years ago

    Super history shot, Gene. I pulled number 32! Finally enlisted a bit later.

  • Thanks, Joseph! The LBJ visit was a very interesting event for a 12 year old country boy in western Maryland. My interest in photography really began on that day.

    My birthday lottery number was 102, but that was plenty low enough to get me inducted into the Army. I don’t remember what the cut-off number was, but it was above 102, for sure.

    Best regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • oulgundog
    oulgundogover 4 years ago

  • Totally my pleasure! Thank you!

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Trish Woodford
    Trish Woodfordover 4 years ago

    What a fabulous piece of history Gene :))

  • Thank you so kindly, Trish! Much appreciated!

    Best wishes,


    – Gene Walls

  • jazzdevil
    jazzdevilover 4 years ago

  • Thank you very, very much for this wonderful honor! I really appreciate having my first ever photo featured in “Days Gone By”!

    Most gratefully,


    – Gene Walls

  • jules572
    jules572over 4 years ago

    Wonderful captured time capsule of events Gene. CONGRATULATIONS!!! on your feature…Jules

  • Thank you so kindly, Jules!

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

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