And the winner of the LBJ unlook-alike contest: Col. Tom Parker

Mystery man at 1959 LBJ Ranch barbecue is finally tagged.


You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historical images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.

The vote has been counted, and it looks as if we have a winner.

As you might recall, we posted a picture taken in 1959 during a barbecue at the LBJ Ranch. Nobody dissented that the central triad at the table were former President Harry. S. Truman, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and singer Eddy Arnold.

But who is the mystery man in the Resistol Open Road hat standing behind Truman? A museum caption incorrectly identified him as Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The established candidates, suggested earlier by readers, included Sam Houston Johnson (LBJ’s brother), Congressman J.J. “Jake” Pickle, U.S. Sen. Price Daniel and Arnold’s manager, Col. Tom Parker.

Reader Robert Howell added a choice: “I believe the man in the hat is Judge James ‘Jim’ Denton. He served on the Amarillo Court of Appeals and later the Texas Supreme Court.”

Beverly Tudor chimed in: “Looks like Gov. Allan Shivers.”

Jetty Sutton of Kyle: “Is it possible that the man is (Gov.) Coke Stevenson?”

James McKnight: “I still think the mystery man may be my uncle, James H. ‘Buster’ Compton, who lived in Georgetown. He wore a hat like the one pictured.”

We received several more nods for Pickle, but the most votes were cast for Col. Parker.

Gary David Givens delivered the coup de grâce: “There is a photo of him in Wikimedia wearing the exact same type of tie.”

In fact, a red-and-blue-patterned silk tie owned and worn by Parker — an exact match to the one in the photo — is currently for sale on icollector.com.

Postscript: Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson complimented us on identifying the brand of the hat. Patterson received as a gift a Resistol Open Road that once belonged to Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

“It’s still in the original LBJ Ranch branded box,” he says. “I can’t wear it because it’s a 6 7/8.”

UPDATE: In the original story, Eddy Arnold’s first name was misspelled.



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