LBJ Declairs WAR ON POVERTY In 1964

Gene Walls

Williamsport, United States

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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”

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