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Mary LaskerMary Lasker
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of people that night.

Well, he said to me, “When are you coming down here?” and I said, “I'm coming to the funeral tomorrow.” He said no more and we said good-bye.

The next afternoon when I arrived in Washington imagine my surprise when he was on the phone saying, “Would you come for dinner?” I said, “I will come if I can bring Mrs. Mahoney,” and Florence and I went there. There was a small group of people: Homer Thornberry, a former Congressman who has now been made a Judge; Jim Wright, a Congressman from Ft. Worth, and his wife; Abe Fortas and his wife; the son of Governor Connolly; Lucy Beines Johnson, and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. I sat next to the President and he talked in a general way to the table.

After dinner he said to me, “Is it true that you've gotten the budget for the National Institutes of Health up to a billion dollars?” and I said, “Well, yes.” He said, “Well, you ought to be out 10 percent.” This absolutely threw the fear of God into me because I don't know whether he meant it or not, and I knew that he was working on the budget. I'm scared to find out whether he meant it or not.

Then I said to him, “Listen, there's something I'm very serious about and that I want you to consider. Will you sponsor the change of the name of the National Cultural Center to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and will you see that the Congress gives the money for it?” Abe Fortas was standing with us and he said to Abe, “Get me something on this

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