History

Before June there was Vivian: The ‘Johnny Loves Vivian’ Bench in San Antonio

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Before “The Man in Black” was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, he was a young man in love strolling down the beautiful River Walk in San Antonio with the woman he loved in those days, Vivian Liberto. Johnny Cash and Liberto were sweethearts in love before getting married in 1954.

As they sat on a cedar bench along the banks of the River Walk one beautiful afternoon, Cash pulled out a pocket knife and engraved “Johnny Loves Vivian” into the bench. On display today at the B. Naylor Morton Research and Collections Center, the bench serves as a reminder of the once upon a time love story between the two lovebirds.

Johnny Loves Vivian Bench

Photo: Flickr/NOWCastSA

Although difficult to make out the carving today, signs at the exhibit point to where the inscription was and translate it for you.

Johnny Cash and Vivian gave a wonderful portrayal of a couple in love with four beautiful daughters. The addictions to drugs and alcohol, along with Cash’s rising career, and many affairs proved to be too much for the marriage to survive. They divorced after 13 years.

Johnny Loves Vivian Bench

Photo: Flickr/NOWCastSA

The famous song “I Walk the Line,” was dedicated to Vivian. The song’s title also served as the title for a biopic of Cash’s life.

Year’s later, it is said Vivian came upon the bench again while in San Antonio. Imagine her bittersweet surprise to discover, running her fingers along the wood, that the inscription was still there.

Her attempts to buy the bench from the city were rejected, and instead, they donated the bench to the B. Naylor Morton Research and Collections Center. No matter how you feel about Johnny Cash, one thing is for sure, he was a hopeless romantic who unknowingly created a lasting legacy of an important moment for him and his bride to be.