Lady Bird Johnson passed away yesterday.

I heard the news on my way to the beach. The “Please don’t be a Litterbug” song erupted spontaneously. My kids thought once again, that I had lost it………………….

In trying to explain to them what it meant, I realized just how much Lady Bird had influence my entire perspective on my place in this universe and my duty to this planet. It was subtle and by today’s standards, most jaded youngsters would say WTF. But when this came out, it was probably the first time that television was used as a tool to change or modify behavior.

As I reflect today, that very commercial is probably why I was templated to become the responsible environmentalist that I am today. Those who littered, were portrayed as being callous, selfish, and unpatriotic. As kids, we sang the song to each other, and when provoked, we summoned from the darkest, deepest reaches of our suppressed unconsciousness, the worst and most horrible epitaph we could think of: a litterbug.

Having always thought that I was responsible for my decisions and was the one who made all conscious choices in my lifetime, it was somewhat devastating for me to realize that I was but a product of early experiment of an early Manchurian Candidate type of programming.

Here is how it worked. It started with litter, moved on to DDT and Silent Spring, from there to clean air and clean water, then on to endangered species, then the eradication of rain forests, and from there to global warming, and now to the support of electricity from Wind, (I am also cheap)…………And all this from a television commercial.……….

I remember a teacher commenting that Lady Bird was not as pretty as Jackie had been. And that she lacked Jackie’s grace. But Lady Byrd’s legacy, at least to this young man and those with which he hung around, was far more lasting.

God bless you, Lady Bird Johnson. Rest in peace…….