Thursday, February 12, 2009
Four Score And Seven
I don't know about you, but the world is my oyster when I come across a bargain. On a mission to find bottled water for the office, I was wandering around one of those big warehouse-type stores that sell groceries, appliances, cheap clothes, office supplies and the like and discovered the book section! I was able to get the paperback version of A Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin for less than half-price! Having a degree in history, I usually like to get books of this ilk in the hardbound version as I tend to refer to them more often than I do a piece of fiction. But, this book has been on my Must Be Read List for quite some time now, and I've never gotten around to ordering it from the library or purchasing at the bookstore. (I also indulged a bit and purchased Ina Garten's new cookbook, Back to Basics at a fairly substantial savings. That made me feel a little guilty, but I'll make it up by cutting back on something else - perhaps the red wine drinking over the next couple of weeks. That should make me feel sufficiently saint-like, as well as restore myself to my own good graces). I was born and grew up in Illinois, and Abraham Lincoln was the hero of every school girl or boy of my generation. I'm not sure how things work now, but back then, it was almost impossible to get through elementary school without a class trip to Springfield to visit Lincoln's tomb. Abraham Lincoln was especially appealing to me, because my sister shared a birthday with him (the month and day - not the year) and she was a huge fan. For the first 8 years of my life, my family lived on the southwest side of Chicago in a two-story brownstone in front of which stood a huge and seemingly ancient tree. One afternoon, my sister placed her hand reverently on its craggy trunk and told me that Abraham Lincoln stood underneath the canopy of that very tree when he delivered the Gettysburg Address! I was 4 at the time and looked up to her as the repository of everything worth knowing in this, or any other, life. She was 7, and as if to confirm her expertise on the subject, actually owned the original copy of that famous speech. Owned, mind you. Written in Honest Abe's lovely script - by his very hand. It was printed on paper that was yellow and crackly, with a sheen that resembled very old parchment. Further, it came with it's own cardboard tube, decorated with gold flourishes and a silk tassel, for storage when it wasn't being displayed to awestruck siblings and playmates. Any doubts about its authenticity were, of course, out of the question. Eventually, there came a time when I realized my sister was, shall we say, mistaken, about our front yard tree's historical connection to Abraham Lincoln. Nevertheless, I find that when she speaks, I still listen. Today, Abraham Lincoln turns 200 years old, and my sister turns somewhat less. Happy Birthday to both my heros.