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Great Operators

Some of the stuff we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

Texans made big news 50 years ago this month. First, voters decided LBJ would not be turned out of the White House, re-electing him by a landslide. Then, surgeon Michael DeBakey performed the world’s first successful coronary bypass surgery, a procedure that’s still saving lives. Finally, be careful where you put your roots down.

Light Bulb Johnson Shined

When President Lyndon B. Johnson moved into the White House, he was bothered by the size of the electric bill, according to U.S. News & World Report. So he took to turning off lights in unused rooms, which earned him the nickname Light Bulb Johnson.

Barry Goldwater, LBJ’s opponent in the 1964 presidential election, incorporated that nickname into his campaign, producing pins that said, “Turn Out Light Bulb Johnson.”

On Election Day 50 years ago, however, it was lights out for Goldwater. LBJ collected 61.1 percent of the popular vote, claiming one of the biggest landslide victories in presidential election history.

Pioneering Heart Surgery

Houston surgeon Michael DeBakey and his team performed the world’s first successful coronary bypass graft surgery on November 23, 1964. Fifty years later, bypass surgery is the most common type of heart surgery, with more than 230,000 people undergoing the procedure in the United States each year, according to the Texas Heart Institute.

DeBakey’s pioneering surgical procedures in bypassing blocked arteries in the neck, legs and heart have been performed on millions of patients around the world. By the time he stopped his regular surgical schedule, when he was in his 80s, he had performed more than 60,000 operations.

When he died in 2008 at the age of 99, The New York Times headline described DeBakey as a “rebuilder of hearts.”

Don’t Go Out on a Limb

If you plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day, which in Texas is the first Friday in November, do two things before you dig a hole: Look up and call out.

If there are power lines overhead, choose another spot to plant your sapling. Even trees that don’t grow tall can be in the way if they are in a utility easement. Tall-growing trees with a mature height of greater than 40 feet should be planted at least 50 feet away from lines to avoid future pruning, according to A mature height of less than 25 feet is recommended if planting nearer to lines.

The call you should make is to 811, a free utility locator service. If you don’t call, and you and accidentally hit an underground utility line, not only could you be liable for any damage that ensues, you could be hurt or even killed.

National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times.