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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lincoln logs, marble and other building materials

So we came to Springfield because Joyce had never seen all the Lincoln things, and I felt it would make her a better person. Also, there is no clear-cut way to go from Wisconsin Dells to Land Between the Lakes, and this was as good a way as any. Besides, there’s nothing else to see in all that distance. Honestly, I looked and looked.

So the first thing out of our room, I fell and broke my arm, but cleverly, I had no clue this had happened. I tripped on a covered drain under the (lumpy) carpet in the hotel corridor, and thought I had just given myself a good whack. Well, I had. But not being much of a crybaby, I got up and we went on about our sightseeing business. Incidentally, the weather? Just sucked! Cold and raining yet again. Only good thing was, when it’s like that, the dogs can safely be left in a properly-ventilated car.

First stop was New Salem, or a reproduction of it, where Lincoln lived as a young man after he left home. It was, you know, one of those historical recreations, like a lot of the Ingalls-Wilder stuff.

Next stop was the tomb, because we were running late and that’s the most important thing. It was my third visit, and I doubt I’ll go again, but I felt very moved, as usual. I think he was smart and funny and a basically good, decent man. I doubt we’d have a union today without him. I mean, for a politician he was good. If you have any sense of history, and have not visited Lincoln’s tomb, go.

And his wife, Mary Todd, poor crazy thing, losing all those children. Like the Ingalls, there are no living Lincoln descendants. It makes you wonder how many families have totally died out.

Just go. Even if you visit no other Lincoln sites, go there. It is a very moving and dignified and appropriate resting place for the Ancient, as his staff used to call him. And read Gore Vidal’s Lincoln, too, if you haven’t already.

We went downtown next, to where they are recreating a chunk of Springfield as it was when he lived there, before he became president. Very pretty.

We didn’t go in; Joyce has had it with old houses, I think, and I’d already been twice. We walked around and looked at all the markers, though, and then went hunting for souvenirs. How can it be in all of downtown, historic, recreated Springfield, there is exactly ONE souvenir store? And it’s crappy. I got my keychain, though.

Then we went back to the hotel and I nursed my arm and became convinced it was dislocated. But there were no VA hospitals in range, so we decided to go on. After all, I reasoned, when the swelling went down, it would likely pop back into place. And I had plenty of pain pills, so we went to Cracker Barrel, because it’s consistent, and then we packed up for the next day on the road to Kentucky.

Trivia question: In which state was Lincoln born? You can go look it up.

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