Augusta Chronicle file

Augusta’s grip on LBJ apparently hurt

Oct 25, 2014

By Bill Kirby
Originally published in The Augusta Chronicle on October 25, 2014

What happened to his hand?

That is a small mystery about President Lyndon Johnson's Oct. 26, 1964, visit to Augusta. Sometime between arriving at Bush Field that Monday afternoon and later walking out to great a large crowd in front of the Municipal Building on Greene Street, Johnson acquired a large bandage on the palm of his left hand.

It can be seen clearly in many photos as he waves to the crowd, yet no news accounts of the time explain it, nor do his presidential diaries reveal it.

In fact, the diary entry for that day is not on file at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.

But other diary entries offer a clue, and it's a good one.

"During campaigning," archives specialist Alexis Percle wrote in a Friday e-mail, "President Johnson’s hands would often become sore from shaking hands so often and with so many people.

“I looked at the dates around the time he went to Augusta in the Daily Diary to see if there was any mention of injuries to his hands and found several mentions of him having sore hands," she wrote.

"In particular, on Oct. 31, the Daily Diary mentions him having a Band-Aid on his hands due to them being tender. "The other dates I found, which mention him having sore hands are Oct. 24 and Oct. 27."

So we might speculate that Lyndon Johnson, one of the physically largest presidents in American history, who grew up in the rough Texas Hill Country and still loved to ranch and ride, had a soft spot.

And when campaigning, he’d offer it to you, even if it hurt a bit.