Everything you ever wanted to know about LBJ’s shower habits — and far, far more:
LBJ, well, he comes off as a monster. He harassed residence staff for years to construct him a specialized shower to replicate the one he had at his private Washington home, with “water charging out of multiple nozzles in every direction with needlelike intensity and a hugely powerful force.”
“One nozzle was pointed directly at the president’s penis, which he nicknamed ‘Jumbo.’ Another shot right up his rear,” Brower writes. Johnson, who traveled with his own special shower nozzle, wanted the water pressure at the White House to be “the equivalent of a fire hose, and he wanted a simple switch to change the temperature from hot to cold immediately. Never warm.”
Johnson harangued the staff when they explained to him that they would have to lay new pipe, install multiple new pumps and increase the size of the water lines to the White House to create this shower contraption.
“If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you can certainly fix the bathroom any way I want it!” Johnson yelled at the staff, according to Brower.
Reds Arrington, the plumbing foreman at the White House, spent five years trying to perfect the project, and at one point was hospitalized with a nervous breakdown. The staff went through five different replacement shower models. LBJ eventually got something like what he wanted, sort of. The water temperature was so hot that the steam it emitted “regularly set off the fire alarm,” Brower writes.
Near the end of his presidency, LBJ told Arrington that the shower was his “delight.”
Not long after, Nixon took over the White House. He took one look at LBJ’s elaborate shower setup and muttered, “Get rid of this stuff.”
Heh. And don’t get Johnson started on the topic of trousers, either:
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(Found via Mark Hemingway, who tweets, “Every time I think I can’t be surprised by learning more about LBJ…”)