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Detours

Detours

Detours, the online magazine of the Illinois Humanities Council, seeks to explore major cultural issues (Time, Borders, Food, e.g.) through the lens of the humanities. Contributors include scholars, cultural historians, artists, journalists, and even a world-renowned chef! Happy reading!

About Detours

Detours Illinois Humanities Council Suite 1400 17 North State St. Chicago, IL 60602.3296 312.422.5580 Executive Editor Kristina A. Valaitis kav@prairie.org Sr. Editor, Content Development (former) Phoebe Stein Davis Current Detours contact Carlos Velzquez cav@prairie.org Detours is a publication of the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC). The Editors select a broad topic that each issue of the magazine will address and then solicit submissions. We do not accept unsolicited articles. The opinions expressed in Detours are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the IHC or of the NEH. Letters to the Editor are welcomed and may be posted.
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Food

Courtesy of USDA, photo by John Collie Location: Fort Kent, Maine / Date: August 1942

Vol. 5, Issue 1/ May 2003 This issue of Detours explores in detail how food defines and comforts us. In his article "Listen to that Scent! Travelling Tastes and Smells among Greek Immigrants," David Sutton explores the connection between memory and food culture, particularly among immigrants to the United States. Much along the same lines, in "Fair Shares for All," John Haney writes a food-themed tribute to his recently deceased father, tracing his memories of a what he calls a "working class" childhood in England back through meals of "stewed eels, condensed-milk sandwiches, and sausages shimmering with lard." Michael Washburn's Q&A with the legendary Charlie Trotter gives us an inside look at how this world-renowned chef thinks about the intersections between food, memory, and American culture. Laura Letinsky's photographs do with images what many of the articles here do with words. Her decidedly off-kilter still-lifes express the simultaneous celebration and nostalgia that food often produces. Take a look inside as the IHC celebrates food.

Editor's Letter
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. -- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825 Food is the most primitive form of comfort . -- Sheila Graham
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Historically, spring is a time to celebrate bursting blossoms and sprouting crops. Not coincidentally, April marks National Food Month in the United States. But for Illinoisans, the season can be a decidedly unbountiful affair -- cold, wet, and gray. Despite the longer days and warming temperatures, Illinosians always seem to see a spring snowfall. This year, weather forecasters and fans alike were not at all surprised when opening day at the ballparks in Chicago was snowed out. Perhaps because spring in Illinois has a rawness that won't let go, Illinoisans seek comfort at this time of the year by celebrating food. April kicks off the food festival season in Illinois, beginning with the Morel Mushroom Festival in Jonesboro, followed quickly by the Annual Chocolate Festival in Long Grove, the Pear Fest in Du Quoin, the Strawberry Festival in Omaha, the Flavors of Greece Festival in St. Charles, and the Washington Cherry Festival. Even with temps hovering just above freezing, farmer's markets pop up, from Carbondale to Chicago, from Alton to Aurora. These celebrations of food define the character of these Illinois towns and bring people together to share the bounty of their communities. This spring, the Illinois Humanities Council is also celebrating American food traditions. From May 2003 through February 2004 a travelling exhibit, "Key Ingredients: America by Food," will visit five Illinois communities. This exhibit is made possible through a partnership between the Illinois Humanities Council and the Smithsonian Institution's Traveling Exhibition Services. Bruce Kraig, President of the Culinary Historians of Chicago, is the scholar for this project, and the lecture he will give at the opening of each Illinois site of the exhibit is the first piece in this issue of Detours. Kraig explains how Illinois communities have defined themselves through food -- from the fare of early immigrant settlers, to the food we now buy predominantly from multinational corporations. The other articles in this issue of Detours explore in detail how food defines and comforts us. In his article "Listen to that Scent! Travelling Tastes and Smells among Greek Immigrants," David Sutton explores the connection between memory and food culture, particularly among immigrants to the United States. Much along the same lines, in "Fair Shares for All," John Haney writes a food-themed tribute to his recently deceased father, tracing his memories of a what he calls a "working class" childhood in England back through meals of "stewed eels, condensed-milk sandwiches, and sausages shimmering with lard." Michael Washburn's Q&A with the legendary Charlie Trotter gives us an inside look at how this world-renowned chef thinks about the intersections between food, memory, and American culture. Laura Letinsky's photographs do with images what many of the articles here do with words. Her decidedly off-kilter still-lifes express the simultaneous celebration and nostalgia that food often produces. Like a great meal, Detours is the product of the hard work and generosity of many people. First, I want to thank all the contributors for their wonderful articles. We want to thank Marinel Abreu at Conde Nast publications for the rights to re-print John Haney's "Fair Shares for All," which first appeared in the January 2003 issue of Gourmet magazine. We also want to thank Professor Laura Letinsky for granting us permission to reproduce photographs from her fascinating series, "Morning, and Melancholia," in this issue. Special thanks also to the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York for allowing us to link to their site. I want to extend a special thanks to Michael Washburn, the IHC's Public Information Assistant, for all his help on this issue of Detours. Michael's editorial expertise, his keen eye for artwork, and his tenacity in tracking down materials from contributors were invaluable. This issue would not be what it is without his assistance. By: Phoebe Stein Davis
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Fair Shares for All


John Haney

Photo Courtesy Laura L. Letinsky On those Sundays when he wasn't working an extra shift to keep up the mortgage payments on a house he'd never expected to own -- his mother actually called him a "traitor to the working class" when he announced that he was planning to become a homeowner -- my dad, a telegraphist by trade, did the prep work for Sunday dinner. (Dinner, for those unfamiliar with a fading British vernacular, is the meal referred to as lunch in superior circles; breakfast is breakfast both above and below stairs; and the feast known as dinner by those who hunt foxes is known as tea by those who race pigeons.) Within the bounds of a cuisine that pretty much consisted, in British working-class households during the 1950s and '60s, of meat and two veg followed by "sweet," or "afters," in the form of some kind of spongy pudding leaking strawberry jam into a lake of custard, my parents, Denis and Kitty, were excellent cooks. And they both considered the fact that we had enough to eat a direct reflection of the principle of "fair shares for all," first introduced into British politics in 1945 only to be demolished by repeated blows from an iron handbag four decades later. The absence of fair shares from my father's life prior to 1945 had been particularly acute. My paternal grandfather died when Denis was three years old, plunging Florence ("Flo") Haney into poverty -- and into the rougher parts of the East End, like Canning Town -- virtually overnight. Three of her four sons were sent to the Alexandra Orphanage, in North London, the fourth to an aunt and uncle who could afford to feed him. For the first few years, my father once recalled, the food at the orphanage was only a marginal improvement on the gruel immortalized by Dickens. "In the early days, when I was a little child, it was bloody awful," he said. "Just bread and marmalade for breakfast, sometimes cocoa instead, which came in a basin, and you ate it with a spoon. If you were lucky, there'd be some bits of bread in it. And on a plate beside that, there'd be marmalade again, maybe a dab of Marmite, a bit more bread and butter. And that was your breakfast. Unless you were spindly, like I was, in which case you'd be put on the porridge list." As the orphanage contingent trickled home at the age of 14 and found employment with the Commercial Cable Company, where their father had worked, life became a bit less desperate for Flo, who, in the wake of a short-lived relationship, was now a mother for the fifth time. Even so, circumstances still made moonlight flits and skimpy meals unavoidable. Food had to be stretched. Senile bread could be rejuvenated by immersion in milk. A slice of fresh bread packed an increased calorific punch when smeared with condensed milk. Or you could daub it with a farthing's worth of beef dripping and add a dash of salt. Any bread surviving this onslaught of frugality and resourcefulness became bread pudding. Spotted dick (suet pudding spiffed up with a couple of currants) was usually made on a Sunday and then rationed out to provide no-frills teas (that's dinners, remember) for a week. Saturdays saw Flo pushing the economic envelope with the purchase of eels, bought from the bucket and chopped up still squirming, or, in a very good week, rabbit, bought off the hook and skinned at home.
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This was food keyed to subsistence, to survival. In a down-at-heel corner of a dithering empire, it attracted no adjectives. Perversely, however, I came to develop such an affection for this utilitarian fare, which has very little to commend it nutritionally and absolutely nothing to commend it aesthetically, that from an early age I would sometimes actually feel shortchanged when, for instance, my mother handed me a bowl of peaches, sweet wafers, and ice cream. Why? Because what I really wanted at that moment was a slice of spotted dick. Or a wedge of my dad's take on canary pudding, which was about as simple as afters could get -- a deliciously yellow hemisphere of sweet sponge topped with a plop of treacle. Or maybe, instead of dessert, some bread and beef dripping. My discovery that in some circles an addiction to the lowlier comestibles is viewed as a character deficiency came at the age of 11, when I gained a place at a nearby grammar school. There, I quickly learned that I was being trained, despite my unquestionably plebeian background, to disguise myself as a member of the class (middle) into which a fair proportion of my companions in academic adversity had been born. Never again would I even dream of evincing in public a passion for condensed-milk sandwiches. Never again would I boast of the ecstasy occasioned in my ancestors by the sight of stewed eels encircling an archipelago of severely mashed spuds. My natural selectivity would go unremarked except within the confines of my own social subspecies; circumstances forced me to acknowledge the inadvisability of revealing myself, at an institution chartered by King Edward VI, to be the progeny of East Enders. For that's a stratum in which I was -- and, churlish though it may seem, still am -- thoroughly content to be classified. Oddly, some of my most vivid memories of the food I enjoyed when very young relate not to meals I devoured in my own home but to those dished up during ritual Saturday visits to my maternal grandparents and my aunt Jackie, who lived in a cavernous house in the northeast London borough of Redbridge. A major source of warmth for the entire building was the stove, from which my grandmother would triumphantly extract glistening platefuls of kippers, mackerel, and impossibly yellow haddock -- or, every other week or so, supremely portly hangers (sausages). The customary accompaniment to this steaming cascade was outsize slices of white bread (fondly referred to as doorsteps) slathered with margarine, along with multiple mugs of murderously hot and tooth-dissolvingly sweet tea necessitating numerous trips to the outside lavatory. An occasional highlight of these excursions to Redbridge was the narrative with which my sister and I were regaled during the afternoon by my grandfather, Harry Augustus Bush, a veteran of both world wars, sometime cavalryman and twice-torpedoed sailor. In between puffs on a Cuban cigar and sips of 80-proof rum, he'd give us a guided tour of a half century of hard times. For example...as a boy growing up in Limehouse, one of the poorest parts of the East End, he often scavenged family meals from the gutter when the street markets closed. Between the wars, he'd worked at a variety of jobs that my sister and I found bewilderingly unlikely-tap dancer, joumeyman butcher, ship's steward, docker. At about six o'clock, we'd take a break from the story of our grandfather's journey through conflict and its absences. The time had come to focus on food, whose arrival would be announced on what I called banger weekends by a crescendo of sizzling and popping signifying that the next hour would be spent disposing of sausage after sausage after sausage -- the Englishman's favorite form of pork. My grandmother would scoop the tubby tubes, as plump as the pig they came from and perfectly browned, straight from her enormous frying pan onto superheated plates. We'd hack at them while they were still almost too hot to eat, still shimmering with the lard in which they'd been cooked. The savory sauce we used as a condiment mixed splendidly with the golden yolk of the accompanying eggs. Relishing every last speck of grease, we mopped up the resulting runniness with yet more doorsteps. And then we'd have more doorsteps, this time painted with the supersalty
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yeast extract called Marmite, a substance guaranteed to disgust anyone who didn't acquire a taste for it within a few weeks of leaving the womb. (An American acquaintance of mine who once made the mistake of sampling a mere dot of the stuff pulled a face indicative of terminal perplexity, tried hard not to gag, and yelped, "This isn't food. It can't be. It just can't be.") At the end of a day at Harry's, my parents usually had a tough time dragging me out to our third -- hand car for the ride home-particularly on wintry sausage nights, when I'd be begging for one last warming banger as my father, cursing the cold beneath his breath, scraped the ice from the windshield with a copy of the Evening Standard and then struggled for a few tense minutes with the conveyance's refractory ignition. I'd remind myself that next Saturday night would be fish night, alright in its own way, and that two Saturdays from now I'd once again sit down to the best food, the very best food, in the world. In November 1998, I visited my father for what I realized, the moment I set down my suitcase and embraced him, would be the last time. (He and my mum had divorced in the late '70s.) Dad was all skin and dry bones, suffering, from a serious lung disease, and the effort of eating left him prostrate for an hour. His half-brotherbus driver, accomplished darts player, lifelong East Ender passed away two days earlier. I found Don's departure from this world particularly significant. I had always thought of him as an exceptionally forceful reminder of my father's side of the family, not least because -- unlike the rest of the Haney brothers, who moved to suburbs or to the country just as soon as they could in the years following the war -- Don chose to spend his entire life in the East End. He had once had his doubts about the durability of my allegiance to the class of which he was, so very indisputably, a fully paid up member. His misgivings in this regard may have originated in the fact that I went to university -- a family first -- and therefore might have come to consider myself a cut above the rest of the clan. In 1981, at his eldest daughter's engagement party, he came straight to the point and asked me if I thought I was "better than us" -- better than his family, his friends, his neighbors. This was one of the saddest questions I have ever been asked. Taking a shaky sip of the few drops of beer I'd managed not to spill from sheer surprise, I gave him the benefit of a very firm "No." Thus reassured, he bought me another pint. The party continued, and people belted out songs I'd first heard as a hysterically excited five-year-old at jubilantly crowded Christmas parties in Don's postage stamp of a living room in a tiny terraced house in a section of the East End known as the Isle of Dogs (in a part of the world that's now known as Docklands and bears little relation to the way it was, to the lives that were lived there, before money moved in). Frankly, I've never had that much fun at parties again. What do I see when I repeat my own memories to myself? Torrents of cigarette smoke, Sherry, and stout. The younger men in navy V-necks, the younger women in gray pencil skirts. The older men enormously beery in ill-fitting two-piece suits, waistbands suspendered to their sternums, constantly brushing fag ash from their crumpled synthetic ties. The older women in voluminous black dresses, trailing their daughters' hiccuping, half-naked babies and a couple of feet of imitation pearls. A kitchen table crammed with squadrons of cocktail sausages, hulking wedges of Cheddar, precipices of ham, mountains of mince pies, piles of piccalilli, stacks of thick-sliced bread, and a teapot capable of accommodating the Mad Hatter and every last one of his lunatic friends. All this, and infinite kindness. Such were some of the happiest times I knew as the constellations wheeled above the bedlam of my infancy. The visit with my father was preceded by a sojourn with my sister, Joy -- an artistic type and sometime vegan who plays the part of patient vegetarian whenever her unrepentantly carnivorous brother drops in -- and her
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husband, who were kind enough to pick me up at Heathrow. Traveling with little luggage other than a funeral suit, I asked to be escorted to the nearest concession offering what Brits of my background regard as a classic "Stoke-up." My sister's partiality (despite the general refinement of her tastes in food) to any chip (french fry) presenting itself for hasty ingestion made this a more reasonable request than the average purist might expect. Having received the fix I craved -- egg, sausage, bacon, baked beans, fried bread, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes -- I resigned myself to a couple of days of wholesomeness relieved only by solitary excursions to a caf near the bookstore where my sister works. Run by a Spanish socialist with a penchant for Che Guevara posters, it's a spotless hole-in-the-wall sporting a blackboard that speaks my language -- pork, pork, and more pork-with, in one instance, an amusingly Continental twist: a bacon sandwich that substitutes ciabatta for Wonderloaf. (This, I think, is about as far as British integration into Europe really needs to go.) Although I was genuinely grateful for the two excellent dinners my sister cooked for me -- fresh organic pasta with Swiss chard; moussaka with Puy lentils and eggplant -- I was basically looking forward to the culinary monstrosities awaiting me at my father's apartment. There, I knew, I could safely revert to being the viscerally pork-oriented tot who always found the traditional string of sausages the most alluring element of a Punch & Judy show. I wasn't disappointed. Lunch (dinner) on my first day at my father's was, oddly enough for a Sunday, a childhood midweek standard: sausages with onion gravy (meaning a viscous slurry of lifeless onions and irrigated Bisto), mashed potatoes containing an infusion of butter that even Fernand Point might have found excessive, and the soggy tinned legumes commonly referred to by generations of English school-children as cannonball peas. This deadweight of pork, starch, and distressed chlorophyll was followed by a ready-made treacle pudding disgorged from a plastic tub. The whole repast took my father more than an hour to prepare and cook as he moved at a snail's pace around his minuscule kitchen. And it tasted just as good to me as it had 40 years earlier, when Denis could put together the very same meal in a matter of minutes. The following day, he produced (on a Monday) the lunch that will always remind me of childhood winter Sundays -- chicken injected with a pound of butter, quartered potatoes roasted in the pan juices, carrot slices the size of silver dollars, and tepid broad beans as big as a bulldog's testicles. Tea (eggs, bacon, baked beans, and a hefty slice of two-day-old bread pudding with a bottom crust the consistency of cardboard) followed barely three hours later. My father then retired for the night, a little more breathless than usual. I sat alone, a little sadder than usual, pondering the prospect of Don's send-off. The surge of grief attendant upon this soliloquy was leavened (incongruously, inappropriately, and, for a Brit accustomed to three- to four-year intervals between trips home, perhaps understandably) with sporadic speculation as to what-apart from tea, Sherry, and stout-Don's widow, Aunt Rose, might be planning for the menu at the wake. Pickled onions, probably. Cocktail sausages, hopefully. A sausage roll or six. Pork pies. A hillock of ham...in which case...piccalilli. That wasn't quite how it worked out. After a tearful service in an unheated Anglican church overseen by an annoyingly upbeat lady vicar who was disturbingly forthcoming about her professional unwillingness to second-guess the nature of the afterlife, Don's remains were borne beneath a magnificent floral arrangement in the form of a dartboard to the City of London Cemetery. By the time we arrived back at Aunt Rose's, we were all emotionally exhausted and extremely cold. After settling my father, now speechless from fatigue, in an armchair next to his last surviving brother, Ray, I accepted a cup of tea from my cousin Diane. Next, I headed for the kitchen table, which, to my amazement, was groaning with six different kinds of quiche and not much else. Gone were the pickles and pork of yesteryear. I found this most depressing. My sister, on the other hand, was delighted. Her most recent confrontation with East End fare had been at Uncle Dave's funeral,
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where, in response to her inquiry as to the availability of something a vegetarian could safely swallow, she was told: "We've only got tomatoes. How about tomatoes? You're sure you don't want a nice bit of pork pie?" It quickly became apparent, however, that the kind of vegetable quiche allowed onto the Isle of Dogs bears no resemblance to its buttercup-complexioned cousins from Hampstead. "Diane," said Joy, "are any of these meatless?" (My sister had by now discerned that one of the quiches on offer was conspicuously sausage-laden.) "Oh dear," said Diane. "We've forgotten you again, haven't we. Let's have a look. This one. This one looks like cheese only. But you'll have to pick the bacon bits off the top." "Maybe I'll just have a cup of tea." "Milk and sugar?" "Er, no thanks." "What? Nothing?" "A slice of lemon would be nice if you've got any." "Oh dear. I'm afraid we don't." A few days later, I stumbled into a taxi to Heathrow at six in the morning with my wife, Pam, who had joined me later in the trip. My father, who had risen at four to begin making breakfast for us -- watery scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, marmalade (for Pam), Marmite (for me) -- waved good-bye from the kitchen window. It was the last time I saw him. The following May, my wife and I flew to London for my father's funeral. Pam, determined to wangle us an upgrade to business class on the strength of my bereavement, gave the British Airways ticketing clerk two passports and a sob story. Embarrassed, I immediately shuffled away with the carry-on luggage. (To someone with my social DNA, the mere thought of an upgrade from economy is tantamount to getting ideas above one's station. In 1995, I was offered a seat in business class at no extra charge on an underbooked flight to Britain and turned it down.) My wife's entreaties failed -- or so I thought until we were summoned forward to a much nicer part of the plane as the great machine began grumbling toward the runway. Once aloft, we speedily revealed our minimal acquaintance with the finer things in life, having to be shown by the flight attendant how to extract a video unit from beneath the armrest. Thus was humiliation added to grief. I was definitely ready for breakfast. Would the reality match the quality promised by the commercials? Well, almost. Everything was edible except the scrambled eggs, which were watery. As watery, in fact, as the scrambled eggs my father had cooked for me that Sunday morning six months earlier. My appetite fled. During the two days immediately preceding the funeral, Pam and Joy prepared a huge amount of forbiddingly healthful food for the prospective mourners. My brother-in-law scoured the suburbs for reasonably priced stemware. Armed with several bottles of Sancerre, I retreated to my sister's studio to pen a funeral oration. The wine disappeared, the speech got written, the funeral came and went. Disbelief and desperation grappled with the gratitude I felt for the love my father had always shown me. The day after the funeral, I forsook the Sancerre, if only temporarily, in favor of a wander through Crystal Palace Park, a constitutional of which, thanks to the wine, I was more in need than my companions in dejection were. It's an unusual place, containing as it does odds and ends of the landscaping and stonework relating to the enormous glass edifice that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 and burned down in 1936. On its fringe stands the fabled (in England, at any rate) Crystal Palace television-transmitter mast, a structure that quickened the pulse of every communications engineer of my father's generation. Also in the park is a lake
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whose banks are infested with statues representing early Victorian paleontology's best stab at the likely appearance of a number of prehistoric reptiles. Toward the end of my mildly hungover circumnavigation of this improbable environment that blends so very queerly apparitions ancient and modern, I came across a brightly painted van reeking of cheap meat and displaying a menu blackboard headed by the two words that mean more to me when conjoined than any others in the English language-"bacon" and "sandwiches." In response to my order, the proprietor hauled several ribbons of scrag end of porker from a stainless-steel trough loosely covered with a piece of grubby Polythene. Wearing as disproportionately toothy a grin as that of a ravenous tyrannosaur suddenly confronted with a dying pterodactyl, I looked on joyfully as the grill spat and smoked. A moment or two later -- it seemed an eternity -- I was handed a steaming heap of pig and squashy bread. To sever the rind as surgically as possible and thus prevent it from stretching and snapping and scattering spots of grease several feet in all directions, I bit down very hard. As I did so, a British Airways Concorde whistled overhead, shattering my concentration for a split second during which I felt as nervous as an antisocial caveman surprised by an intruder with a bigger and better club. Instinct then reasserted itself. I chomped on grimly. The park began to empty. Another sandwich, then another. Grief, greed, and the need for another shot of Sancerre achieved perfect equilibrium. It was time to head home for zucchini. Two years later, I returned to London for a nonfunereal visit with my sister. Time had turned out not to be a great healer, but I was determined to squeeze as much pleasure out of my trip as a continuing sense of loss might allow. Food, of course, would be foundational to this endeavor. Upon my arrival, Joy, guessing quite correctly that green tea and tempeh would not be at the top of my want list for the next few days, announced that a new and reputedly halfway decent caf The caf turned out to be so new that the cooking was taking place amid the residual debris of hasty construction. Undeterred by jet lag and the jury-rigged look of the joint, I skimmed the blackboard and promptly sprang at the counter as eagerly as a puppy distracted by offal, ordering two fried eggs, chips, bacon, baked beans, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, and fried bread. Plus a cup of tea, no milk, no sugar. This was a gluttonous amount of food for one person and a most un-British approach to tea. The proprietress barely flinched. The weather being warm, my sister suggested that we sit outside in the establishment's "garden," which turned out to be a square of cement with a pile of wood shavings in one corner, a handful of weeds in the other, and, in the middle, a single plastic table with a bent umbrella. Eden it wasn't. The food, however, was divine -- the eggs radiant, the chips uniformly golden, the bacon pleasingly pink and rimmed with an appropriate amount of fat, the beans properly steeped in their pallid tomato-flavored sauce, the sausages a scintillating shade of brown and speckled with a spot or two of mustard, the tinned skinned tomatoes a study in scarlet, the mushrooms ragged at the edges and oozing dark juices, the fried bread as crisp as a crouton. The tea was as bitter as hops. I was home again. (Joy made do with a couple of chips.) The week that followed was my idea of idyllic. Sadness was tempered by the fondest of memories, and my sister and I grew closer than ever. She admitted that it was only recently that she had begun to be able to think of Denis without bursting into tears. I owned up to feeling perpetually waterlogged. She fed me massive quantities of expertly prepared organic food and never complained when I disappeared to dispose of a sausage or two amid the sawdust. On the Monday on which I departed, we sat down in her cement-floored backyard to a lunch that we had put together as a fairly authoritative re-creation of the teas we had eaten as children on summer Sundays. My
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sister avoided the meat, of course, but appreciated the historical accuracy of the pile of cold baked ham and hatbox of a pork pie (with a hardboiled egg imprisoned at its core) that I purchased at the supermarket that morning. The fruits of the sty were accompanied by good crisp lettuce, quartered tomatoes, spring onions, cold new potatoes, and dollops of an organic mayonnaise that bore a striking resemblance, both in taste and in texture, to the "salad cream" without which no basic British salad was complete four decades ago. In between bites, I gazed at my sister's beautiful container garden and conjured the time and the place in which we had first enjoyed meals like this one. It's late on a summer Sunday afternoon in rural Essex, circa 1961. I'm looking at a small garden, plus vegetable patch, situated behind a modest semidetached house. There's a rabbit dozing in its hutch. Butterflies bask on a ramshackle rockery. A hedgehog is tottering through the daffodils. The family cat seems frightfully proud of the sparrow between its teeth. The local crow population is making its habitually raucous return to a stand of enormous elms. The bells of the Anglican churches are sounding for Evensong. (I'm not making any of this up.) In the neighboring gardens, similar sights, similar sounds. Cutlery clinking on cheap china. Teaspoons clonking in mugs full of sweet, milky tea. My sister and I are sitting on our back-door steps next to a tank full of tadpoles. My father is eating his tea in a rush before leaving for a night shift, hunched over his salad in shirt and tie. My mother asks if we want any more before she starts putting leftovers in the fridge. My sister, daydreaming, says nothing. And I hear myself saying, in a hopeful tone, "Bit more ham, please, Mum." And now Joy is asking me, almost inaudibly it seems, if I'd like a bit more to eat before the taxi to the airport arrives. What I'm hearing very clearly is ghosts, ghosts whose vanished voices have momentarily obscured the sounds emanating from what is, supposedly, the real world. Suddenly, the scent of cigar smoke and kippers overwhelms the fragrance of my sister's lavender. Maybe the healing has begun. I cut myself one last wedge of pork pie. Copyright 2003 Conde Nast Publications. All rights reserved. Originally published in Gourmet . Reprinted by permission. For more articles and great recipes from Gourmet please visit http://www.epicurious.com/ About this contributor John Haney, a sometime classical scholar, rock musician, and editor of juvenile nonfiction, has been Gourmet Magazine's copy chief since 2000.

Illinois: The Key Ingredient of Modern America's Food


by Bruce Kraig

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Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society Food is central to culture. Culture is central to identity. -- "Key Ingredients" Exhibit Label Although the geographical center of the United States is 500 miles to the west, Illinois is the axis of the nation, the hub and vortex of all the wonderful and eccentric hullabaloo that comprises our sweet land of liberty --Clyde Brion Davis (1) Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist, poses the following question in several of his celebrated works: how do we know who we are? The question is not about metaphysics, religious belief, or even the modern preoccupation with "self actualization." It's about identity. And identity is powerfully formed by one's native environment, that is, culture. The characters in Pamuk's novels are embedded in specific times and places. The author describes the small details of their everyday lives, the places where they grew up and now live -- the streets and neighborhoods, cafes and work places, what they eat -- so to say that our identities are tied to where we come from. And histories at every level, from personal and family to social and political, play crucial roles: everything in life is a result of ongoing change (2). Or, as Abraham Lincoln put it: "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history." Cultures, of course, have their own identities. Otherwise how would people distinguish themselves, as they did in pre-World War II Illinois just east and south of St. Louis, as "Germans," or "Old English?" How did they know who they were? Not just by language--for German was spoken at home and especially in churches in those days--but through food. A sociological study of the region done in 1940-42 noted that beans, potatoes, and pork were the staples of almost all groups, but the use and preparation differed in the German and English groups. Germans clung to an "Old Country" tradition with many dishes unique to them: liverwurst, cottage cheese, many soups, rye bread, pickled vegetables, headcheese, and, the symbol of their differences, blood sausage. The English found this preparation disgusting, fit only for a group from which they remained separate. Food often has this effect on people: all of us can think of some repulsive dish common in another culture that causes us to see those who dine upon it with suspicion--or vice-versa (3). A "Key Ingredients" display label says it plainly: "Food is central to culture. Culture is central to identity." Food is one of the best ways for us to approach Orhan Pamuk's question: how do we know who we are, and the corollary, who we were, because without knowing the latter, we cannot know the former. "Key Ingredients" helps us discover something about our identities at all levels--national to local and family-www.prairie.org/book/export/html/83 11/95

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through what we eat, how we get it, how we prepare and eat it, and all the rituals that surround these everyday activities. And, by seeing all these things through time, we see how much or how little we have changed--into ourselves, as we know ourselves. "Key Ingredients" opens with an image of America the bountiful. It is bountiful, but as the displays of farm implements in many of our local museums show, only hard work made it so. The basic ways that human beings have obtained their food remain the same: gathering, planting and harvesting, animal rearing. Each of these methods has changed over time according to available technologies. The English settlers of New England or Virginia would hardly recognize our vast industrialized farms and the technology that works them. The farmers of the Illinois prairies who lived through most of the nineteenth century and who read such farm "improving" journals as The Prairie Farmer, certainly would have appreciated the wondrous machines of today's farms. But what 19th-century farm families might not understand is a new way of getting food: inventing it. Think about one of the greatest all-American invented foods, Jell-O. Delicious though it may be, about the only natural thing in Jell-O is sugar, and even that can be replaced by artificial sweeteners. Yet, our early 19thcentury ancestors would recognize modern jelled sweets as a descendant of their own gelatinized dishes. The phrase "Better Living Through Chemistry" means just that: traditional things made "better" (if convenience is better)...and a key part of our ideas of modern life. An American national dish, Jell-O is an ingredient of what some might consider an American cuisine. Whether there is or isn't such a thing as an American cuisine is a matter of opinion, but there is no doubt that American food and identities have been traditionally regional and local. "Key Ingredients" gives us a snapshot of some of these regions and localities. Of all the regions, the Midwest is probably the most difficult to define in terms of foodways. As one authority suggests: Despite the agricultural opulence of Midwestern agriculture, much of the region is industrial, which contributed to its early prosperity and to its growth by the many immigrants who supplied the labor for production. However you define the region, it's an area of good, hearty eating. Meat and potatoes. Meals of all-white food. More plain than fancy, given to substantial meat dishes, dumplings, home-baked breads, and pies. The land of casseroles and Jell-O salads. Much of this picture is stereotype, of course, especially in this time of global franchising [and considering significant ethnic communities]. In terms of traditional eating, however, there's enough truth to legitimate the image. In any case, regional foodways are not just a collection of recipes but also ideas about food, erroneous or not.(4) Does this sound like so many of Illinois' communities? Consider the people who settled this large and diverse state. In the north and center, many settlers hailed from the east and were mainly of English, Scottish, Irish, Scotch-Irish descent, with a sprinkling from western Germany and Holland. The southern part of the state attracted settlers from the Carolinas and Virginia who came down the Ohio via Kentucky and through southern Indiana. Abraham Lincoln's family was among them. And, of course, people whose origins lay in various parts of Africa settled in smaller numbers. Later in the 19th century immigrants came in strength, straight from northern and western Europe, from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, and many from various parts of Germany. Much of Illinois' traditional food came from such groups. Germans, particularly, had a powerful influence. Pork, for instance, was everywhere and prepared in many ways. Pigs came with Germans--pork and blood
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sausage were integral parts of their eating patterns. They also came with the southern migrants, the old Irish and Scotch-Irish folk who had long traditions of pork eating, if not a well-developed sausage culture. Milk and cheese were staples for Scandinavians, Germans, and the Dutch, and Illinois, like its neighbor to the north, has long been a producer of milk products. Joseph Kraft is one famous example. Sour, pickled foods were strongly Germanic, but cornbreads, corn dodgers, corn pones and many others came from the south. Of course, over time the traditions merged as families intermarried and changed old recipes. This was only the beginning. America is surely the world's greatest immigrant society, and Illinois, its towns and cities, has always been a destination for settlers...and their foodways. In the late 19th and throughout the 20th century immigrants poured into the state bringing their foods with them. Italians, Poles, Russians, Greeks, Ashkenazi Jews, and Chinese arrived; much later Southeast Asians, Middle Easterners, and especially Mexicans and Central Americans appeared. All came, settled, and ate as they always had, or at least tried to maintain traditional preparations. Ask citizens of Illinois towns and cities where they're from and they'll name a place--which for them has special meaning--and then their ethnic roots. The most wonderful things about the answers are the sense of place and heritage that people have and, second, how mixed people's ancestries are. The British Isles are often represented, with plenty of German, and then perhaps some French, Polish, Czech, Italian, African, Mexican, and many others. When the question is memory of family dishes, the answers are often traditional dishes eaten at home, at holiday times, at festivals, and they are often ethnic. Pasties in the northwestern part of the state, fish fries, homemade sausage, maybe enchiladas--the list is long. Marjel Roosevelt Beard, of Sparta, now 103 years old, says that he loves fish, catfish, preferably crispy-fried, because that's what he ate as a young boy fishing with his father. Food is memory and memory is culture. Illinois is a grand stew of ethnicities, not confined to the state's cities. And the mixture has changed foodways over time. Festivals and public dining places provide the signs. The most apparent might be West Chicago, whose population was once Irish and German but is now about fifty-percent Hispanic, mainly Mexican. Shops and restaurants in town bear Spanish names. The dishes served in dining places, coming from one of the world's greatest cuisines, Mexican, have changed food traditions in West Chicago and the surrounding region. Immigrant groups that arrived earlier merged their cuisines with the ones already in place. Herrin, near Carbondale, was home to Italian immigrants, mainly from Lombardy in the north. Every year the town has an Italian Fest, though the food served there is really a new and now familiar cuisine, Italian-American. Sesser, not far from Herrin, is another example from small-town Illinois. Eastern Orthodox Russians and Bulgarians came to work the coal mines. At holiday time, Orthodox women congregants create special foods "from the old country" for holidays, not for everyday dining. Many Illinois towns have "German" festivals, often Oktober Fests, but though visitors from Munich might recognize the sausage and beer, not much else in these celebrations would seem familiar. Barbecue is one of the best examples of ethnic mixing and change now incorporated into the hometown American diet. As you will see in "Key Ingredients", barbecue originated in the Caribbean, was brought to the continent by Spaniards, transformed by African-American cooks -- women, of course -- and then spread across to the west, where beef became the meat of choice. Barbecue, especially ribs, traveled north with African American immigrants from the South. Reportedly, the best barbecue places in southern Illinois are still operated by long-established African-American families, many of whom have ties to Tennessee, Memphis being the barbecued ribs capital of the world. Now barbecue has become a national ritual prepared on weekends in backyards by men regardless of ethnic origins. Though often toothsome, it's not much like the
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original. Whatever the ethnic origin, and despite the demands of an ever-quickening pace of life, our ideas of a meal usually have to do with family. The tradition of sitting down to a large, heavy supper with one's family in the early evening remains in our collective memory. The holiday meal, especially Thanksgiving, home cooked and served forth to the family gathered around the dining room table, is the nostalgic symbol of a probably fading tradition. If food is memory and is part of our identity, what are the lines of transmission? Ask home cooks where they learned their craft and many will say, "from my mother or grandmother." Here's an example: Maria Pettibone Spooner, who lived on Greenwood Avenue in Chicago at the turn of the Twentieth Century, kept a book of home recipes. The manuscript is in the Chicago Historical Society. The notebook is composed of handwritten recipes, some sent by friends and family members, and newspaper clippings containing recipes, and advice columns for women. In the book's center, amid the recipes, are two pages of doodles, small pictures, and alphabet letters. The legend reads, "Carrie Spooner, aged 11 6/3/04 daughter of F.E. Spooner." You can picture it now: Carrie, long hair down her back, wearing a frock with sash and bow on back, sitting in her mother's kitchen, in their good middle class home. Maybe she is helping, certainly learning. But her mind drifts to daydreaming on a warm day early in June of 1904. Would she have remembered that scene many years later, when her mother and that old life had passed? She might well have remembered the way her mother cooked and, who knows, might have even used some of the recipes. Food memories are conveyed both orally and in writing, through the culture of family as well as that of community. Yet not all transmission occurred solely within these forums, as "Key Ingredients" shows. Cooking techniques and recipes can be taught in school--there was a time when elementary school girls learned something about cooking in home economics classes, while boys learned how not to cut off their digits in shop classes. Nowadays, there are television channels devoted to cooking, though rarely home-style. Package recipes, newspapers, magazines and word of mouth from friends and neighbors have been sources for home cooks since the Nineteenth century. They still are, though modern recipes differ greatly from their forebears: what women's magazine would dare print a recipe calling for lard these days? That would be akin to summoning up Satan. Written materials are literally grist for the historian's research mill, and it is to varieties of printed and manuscript sources, among many others, that we look to reconstruct the past. In traditional families women cooked at home. Like Mrs. Spooner, they kept recipes. Some were written out in notebooks, some in card files, or they could be notes and comments made in the margins of printed cookbooks. Even if the recipes were printed, the changes and notations tell us about what each cook made, how, and perhaps why they personalized it, and thus something about what the family liked and what the cook liked to make. The same ideas translate to community or organizational cookbooks. There are thousands of them, and of the recipes in them perhaps 20 percent, more or less, are original. Many of these recipes come from printed cookbooks or newspaper articles, and a good number come from the back of the package, that is recipes developed by food manufacturers. Ever make Toll House cookies from the back of the chocolate chip package? Good recipe. It's not the provenance that matters, but why the contributor chose that recipe--they are usually among their favorites--and how they might have modified it. By carefully looking at these recipes, we catch a glimpse of women's thoughts and everyday lives and more. Each recipe in a book or manuscript is a piece of a larger historical story. That gets us to the second quote given at the top: Illinois as the axis (not of evil, we hope) and hub of the nation. Modern food -- by that I mean food production, processing, and transportation -- centers on Illinois. These are major reasons for Chicago's
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existence, and the source of growth for many of Illinois' towns and cities. The early Nineteenth century American settlers who arrived in the state did not come to be only subsistence farmers. Most knew what the marketplace was and intended to be entrepreneurs. Some would turn to business and trade, but most were farmers whose surpluses were destined for sale in local, regional, and urban markets. Illinois' rich agricultural potential attracted settlers, but the transportation systems developed to carry the huge food surpluses, actually built the state. Early towns were set near the rivers, great and small (900 streams run though the state, not to mention the adjacent sea-sized lake). Produce flowed down the rivers, and with the introduction of steamboats, up them, too. Farms spread out from these small centers, some forming smaller local and regional centers of government and commerce. In early years, horse and cattle-drawn wagons lumbering along rough prairie roads carried produce to the centers. Cattle plodded along the same routes, early versions of the storied western cattle drive. It is said that in the 1830s the enterprising people of Rice, a small hamlet near Pinckneyville, drove flocks of turkeys by claw and foot seventy miles to the St. Louis market. Canals were built and then came railroads. All the towns hosting "Key Ingredients" benefited and grew by rail. In 1900 Morrison was a station along the Central and Northwestern line; Macomb had the Chicago and Burlington and Quincy lines; three trunk lines passed through Mt. Vernon; Danville, a growing city, had five; and West Chicago was named so because of it's important rail link to the city to the east. Because each was a small-scale center and Illinois coal was abundant, raw materials for manufacturing could be brought in, processed, and sent out. Morrison produced refrigerators and stoves; Mt. Vernon also made stoves as well as railcars. At the turn of the 20th century, Danville hosted many factories and had six newspapers, three of them dailies. Macomb even had an interurban electric car line. Food production, however, was the core of non-urban Illinois' prosperity. Cash crops superseded all others: corn, beans--eventually soybeans--and wheat. Hogs and cattle raised on the abundant corn were shipped off to the "Hog Butcher of the World." They still are. There, in the great processing centers, food was turned to into commodities and finished products for national distribution. That is to say, food was industrialized, manipulated, packaged, and marketed. It was the beginning of our modern foodways and Illinois stands at the center of it all. Think about canned foods. Canning--in glass jars--was mainly a home task in the early Nineteenth century. By the Civil War a number of foods, meats especially, were packed in tin containers. As so often happens, war accelerated the growth of industry, canning one of them. With the invention of an automatic can soldering machine in 1891, the industry boomed. Though there were many smaller outfits, national brands produced by corporations such as Armour and Co., Campbell's, Heinz, Libby and others came to dominate the market. New self-serve supermarket chains -- Piggly Wiggly in 1919 Memphis the first--strengthened the national brands. Along with them came many a recipe. For instance, World War I era recipes from Armour told home cooks to make their casseroles with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Sound familiar? Our modern foodways descend from these pioneers. And Illinois was the central place where these changes took place. Today most of what we buy is produced by a handful of multinational corporations--Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds among them--and sold through supermarkets. Many of our everyday foods are highly processed--faster and more convenient for busy homemakers. I need not say more. As our food became centralized, so did manufacturing. Where are the wonderful Vernois gas stoves of Mt. Vernon? Or those from Morrison? Gone to large plants, and increasingly offshore.
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Nevertheless, Illinois agriculture is strong and the towns, which grew upon it, remain. So do their traditions. Even in the age of fast food outlets and mass-produced foods, the old ways are there. We see them in the community cookbooks, in community events--church and organizational suppers, at country fairs, at home, and even in the few really local restaurants that remain and flourish. If there is one symbol of the old and good ways, from homegrown products to women's work and art, it has to be that glory of American cookery, the pie. Time and space clamp iron hands upon a further encomium to the glories of American pie, so I'll end with Joe Hill's working man's vision: "Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." Endnotes 1. Davis, Clyde Brion. "Illinois." American Panorama: East of the Mississippi. Books for Libraries Press, 1960. 2. Pamuk, Orhan. The Black Book. Trans. Gneli Gn. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1994. 3. Bennett, John. "Food and Culture in Southern Illinois." American Sociological Review 7 (1942): 645-660. 4. Lockwood, Yvonne and William. "Midwest Food." Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming. 5. Lockwood, Yvonne R. and Anne R. Kaplan. "Upper Great Lakes Foodways." Smithsonian Folklife Cookbook. Ed by Katherine and Thomas Kirlin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. 172-211. A book by this contributor:
Cuisines of Hidden Mexico: A Culinary Journey to Guerrero and Michoacan

About this contributor Dr. Bruce Kraig is Professor Emeritus in History and Humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Professor Kraig has taught courses in history, prehistory, popular culture, the history of food, world cultures, and film and television documentaries. He has an international reputation as a food historian with special emphasis on the cultural significance of food and television programs in these fields. Prof. Kraig has published widely and has lectured on these subjects in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Australia and he is the writer-host of a national Public Television series on world cultures as seen through food and foodways. Currently he is Senior Editor of the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink and President of the Culinary Historians of Chicago.

Listen to that Scent!


David Sutton

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Photo Courtesy Laura L. Letinsky I begin with an anecdote--what my mentor Jim Fernandez would call a revelatory moment, though its insights were purely retrospective. It is the memory trace--with all the unreliability there implied--of a fragment of a conversation; the time was about 1989 when I was a graduate student under Jim's tutelage, the place the quadrangle behind the Reynolds Club at the University of Chicago. I remember Jim saying that what we need in anthropology are more ethnorgaphies of taste and of smell. I did not really take in the significance of what Jim was saying, coming as it was several years before such concepts as "the anthropology of the senses," so popular today. But more than the phrase, I remember the kinesthetics of Jim touching his index finger to his nose and his lips as he said this. It reminded me of what my father had once said in instructing me in the arts of cooking under the guise of my "helping him get dinner going," a repeated scenario during my teenage years. He recounted to me in Talmudic fashion how he had once heard a noted chef asking his student what was his most important cooking implement. After due consideration, the student replied, "the whisk." The chef shook his head, and eyes twinkling, said it was first, the nose, and then the tongue. What follows is an effort to make good those two apprenticeships, to bring together food, the senses, and memory in ethnographically productive ways. I argue in particular that Jim's concepts of "revitalization" and the "return to the whole," are useful in analyzing experiences of displacement in our transnational world, and, more specifically, the synesthetic experiences of food in the lives of migrant Greeks. Travelling Smells The reference to basil by Greek folklorist Ion Dragoumis provides a point of entry into my subject, the power of tangible everyday experiences to evoke the memories on which identities are formed. Dragoumis' aphorism was given substance by a comment passed on to me by a Eleana Yalouri, a PhD student in anthropology living in London, who was visited by a recent migrant from Greece. Smelling a pot of basil on her windowsill, he told her with evident longing "It really smells like Greece!" She noted that the ubiquitous leavening used for making bread contains and smells strongly of basil. That this is not an uncommon experience is further confirmed by Helen Zeese Papanikolas, in her account of Greek immigrants in the American West in the early years of the twentieth century. Papanikolas writes, "Basil plants grew in dusty cans on the window ledges of the restaurants and coffeehouses; men broke off sprigs to put in their lapels and from time to time brought them to their noses and breathed in the piquant scent. 'Ach, patridha, patridha,' [homeland, homeland] they said" (Papanikolas 156). That food--the tastes and smells of homeland--frequently accompanies people in their travels across national borders may be obvious to customs officers worldwide, but its significance has only begun to be explored by anthropologists. While there has been some interest in the way migrant food has transformed eating in the U.S. and other migrant destinations, less attention is given to the implications for identity of the food that migrants might bring with them, or have sent from home. Yet the recent increase in transnational migration has suggested the importance of cultural sites, localized cultural wholes which become points of identification for people displaced by migrations caused by larger global processes. Here I suggest that food might be analyzed as just such a cultural site, and is especially useful in understanding Greek experiences of displacement, fragmentation, and the reconstruction of wholeness.
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In using the concept of wholeness I am drawing on James Fernandez's ongoing work on the process of "returning to the whole," which he first discusses in the context of religious revitalization movements in West Africa. Bwiti, the revitalization movement among the Fang of Gabon where Fernandez worked, is seen as a response to the alienation and fragmentation brought on by "the agents of the colonial world and simply modern times" ("Bwiti" 562). In the face of these radical changes in their society, Fang use Bwiti to reintegrate the past and the present, to "recapture the totality of the old way of life" ("Bwiti" 9). Fernandez's approach is potentially applicable to many sorts of alienation, from that of victims of war, refugees, migrants, downsized workers, those caught in major political shifts, all those who in the midst of change are looking for firm ground under their feet. How is this "return to the whole" achieved? Fernandez describes the whole as a "state of relatedness--a kind of conviviality in experience" ("Persuasions" 191). He suggests some of the difficulties of imagining or experiencing the whole given the atomization and fragmentation of present-day Fang society. It is the sense that there is a lack of fit or of coherence between different domains of experience that leads to attempts to return to the whole. Returning to the whole requires a mutual tuning-in based on shared sensory experiences that are explicitly synesthetic (crossing sensory domains). "Hearing, seeing, touching, tasting--in primary groups, families, ethnic groups, fraternal or sororal associations, etc. If we don't have these things to begin with we have to somehow recreate them by an argument of images of some kind in which primary perceptions are evoked" (Fernandez, "Persuasions" 193). This is where revitalization comes in, the process by which a domain of experience which is experienced as fragmented or deprived is revalued by simply marking it for ritual participation: "The performance of a sequence of images revitalizes, in effect, and by simple iteration [repetition], a universe of domains, an acceptable cosmology of participation, a compelling whole" (Fernandez, "Persuasions" 203). While Fernandez focuses on elaborated ritual revitalizations, he also suggests more mundane venues for such processes. For instance, even teaching introductory anthropology is an attempt at revitalization through taking the students' too individuated awareness and, in some sense, returning them to the whole of human experience. Fernandez' final image is one of "returning to the depths" ("Persuasions" 211), an auspicious one for understanding the experience of Greeks from the island of Kalymnos, where I conducted my fieldwork. Kalymnos is an island in the Eastern Aegean which, until quite recently, relied on sponge diving for its livelihood. Sponge divers, prone to the crippling effects of the bends, can only temporarily regain use of their limbs and a sense of themselves as whole people by returning to the ocean depths where they contracted the disease. Fernandez's notion that wholeness requires a coherence of domains, a structural repetition, also resonates with the words of a Kalymnian schoolteacher to whom I described my project of studying food and memory: noting that the study of food evokes a "whole way of life not divided into pieces," he pointed to sea urchins as an example. When a Kalymnian desired them, he had to take the time to go and find them--one couldn't buy them at the store. In diving for sea urchins "you became a sponge diver in miniature," and in the process, you were enculturated into Kalymnian life. Here wholes already exist, but for migrants, I suggest, food is essential to counter tendencies toward fragmentation of experience. The experience of absence from one's home is culturally elaborated in Greece under the concept xenitia. Xenitia, or exile, has a long history of commentary in Greek oral tradition. In the context of heroic poetry, for example, xenitia means absence from the physical comforts of home. "The woman," writes Nancy Sultan, "will not be with her man in xenitia to cook his meals or serve his needs...[thus] he will experience hardship and isolation with his horse as his only companion. The analogy is to misery and death" (48). More generally in the modern Greek context xenitia is described as a condition of estrangement, absence, death, of loss of social
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relatedness, or loss of an ethic of care seen to characterize relations at home. It provokes a longing for home that is seen as a physical and spiritual pain, as George Frantzis describes for the Dodecanese migrants to Tarpon Springs, Florida: "The sun-drenched shores of Florida [are] verdant with pine-trees, orange trees, palms, beautiful tropical trees, and multi-colored fragrant flowers. All of them resemble and remind them of their islands. Nevertheless, and in spite of it all, their heart withers and the longing, for the wild beauty of these chunks of rocks where they were born is alive in them" (Frantzis 105). Here the sensual landscape of Florida serves as a painful reminder of the home they have left. More usually, however, migrants are moving to an urban environment where there is a more striking sense of disjunction. Thus the need to have some physical object carried along or sent as a tangible site for memory, as expressed by poet Y. Drosinis in the idea of carrying Greek earth with him in his travels: Now that I leave for foreign lands, and we will be parted for months, for years, let me take something also from you, ... Earth scented by the summer seasons, blessed earth, earth bearing fruit-the muscat vine, the yellow grain, the tender laurel, bitter olive... (Sederocanellis 230) Here it is agricultural soil (though elsewhere in the poem he speaks of "blood imbued" nationalist soil) which acts as a link to home. But food itself is more commonly sent to migrants, whether they have left a home village for a sponge diving expedition, for Athens, or for Europe, the U.S., or Australia. Such packages of food sent abroad are given the local word "pestellomata." According to Kalymnian folklorist Themelina Kapella, "pestellomata are a piece of homeland, carrying (kleinoun mesa tous) inside them its sun, its sea, its wonderful smells" (35). Kapella stresses the symbolic nature of this transfer in recounting the bitterness of a Kalymnian mother whose son had married an Athenian and moved to Athens. She is told by her daughter-inlaw not to send anything because "the refrigerator is full." As she notes, "in order to appreciate a pestelloma [pestelloma is singular and pestellomata is plural] you need to have lived in a place (topos) and to love it" (Kapella 39). Such packages sent within Greece often include fish pickled in rosemary and vinegar (often red mullet, available in Athens but at much inflated prices), locally produced cheese (mizithra), locally grown tangerines, and a variety of homemade sweets. Those sent farther abroad can include Kalymnian oregano, thyme, mountain tea, locally produced honey, figs, almonds, hard cheese, and dried dark bread rings (kouloures), all items which are particularly fragrant markers. The desire for such food is referred to by Kapella as a burning of the lips which comes from missing something deeply (36). Similarly a Kalymnian woman describes her brother's longing for a Kalymnian salted bivalve called spinalio, as his kaimo, (the noun form of the Greek "to burn," which translates as both "psychic pain" and "uncontrollable desire") which led him on his return to consume an entire bottle of the bivalve and become sick. Another story that a man told me concerned his son's time spent in the merchant marine, when, during a long and unhappy stint in England in the late 1970s, he bought a small vial of olive oil from a chemist's [pharmacist's] shop to sooth his desire for the taste and smell of it. At the time olive oil was not generally available for cooking in England. That this tiny vial would be satisfying seems surprising, but it relates to a local belief that if you smell a food cooking at someone's house and strongly desire it, you must at least taste a small piece or lick the remains (e.g., of lobster shells); failure to satisfy the desire might cause men's testicles to swell (na bouzefthouv) or pregnant women to lose their babies.
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In some cases it is not specifically Kalymnian food that is sent abroad. A man in his thirties who had migrated back and forth to Italy for schooling mentioned that his mother sent him all kinds of things, feta cheese, grape leaves, even flour, "as if they wouldn't have flour in Italy!" Another woman speaks of sending her daughter a sweet called foinikia, which when I asked if it was Kalymnian, she replied: "No it's Greek, but there are variations, whether you use oil or butter, almonds, and in any case it reminds her of Kalymnos." In speaking with Greek students studying at Oxford, food they received from home (either through the mail or brought by friends or family members on visits) fell into three categories: 1) olives, olive oil, meat (in one case, two whole goats for Easter), eggs and other products produced by family members on family land 2) baked goods associated with Easter and other festive times such as tsoureki and ftazimo, either prepared by family members or store-bought, 3) mass-produced Greek products such as Feta cheese. The first type of item produced immediate local knowledge: one woman, who had lived in London for ten years working in various jobs while taking courses in art and design (with hopes to become an icon painter), told me about the olive oil that her father makes from family trees in Crete, and explained that the olives were especially good for oil because they weren't watered, but raised only on rainwater. She said it had zero percent acidity, that it sometimes becomes more acidic if you let the olives fall off the tree, so her father used a stick to knock them off the tree. Furthermore, you must knock the olives off in a certain direction; otherwise they won't grow again. Aside from such local knowledge, sensory aspects of food sent from Greece are also stressed. Another woman, studying environmental planning who had been in England for five years contrasted the eggs sent from her father's farm with, what she characterized as, "plastic" eggs in England. Where the latter had a particularly unpleasant smell (mirizoun avgoulila), the eggs from Greece had a deep orange color to the yolks and an intense flavor. The second category had an obvious connection to Greek traditions, as well as to family, usually mothers, who had baked some of these items. This direct connection with the family through food takes place in less tangible ways as well. Currently, with the availability of Greek products in the United Kingdom and the United States (even on the internet!), one has the possibility of shopping and cooking many Greek dishes. If this makes packages of food from home somewhat less special, the contact through food remains. Elisabeth Papazoglou, a doctoral student in anthropology in Wales, notes that her mother invariably asks her what she is making for Sunday dinner: "She is satisfied when I tell her roast lamb, or other Sunday food. It symbolizes for her that I am doing OK." A Greek student of mine from Thessaloniki, Leonidas Vournelis, provides an even more striking example: his mother Georgia, in the course of their weekly conversation, told him that she had eaten a beet salad. Surprised, he said, "But, mama, you hate beet salad!" "Yes," she replied,"but you love it, and so I ate it and thought of you." The third category of sending mass produced Greek products was less common in the late 1990s. One man noted that in 1998 it was possible to get these same products at British supermarkets, so the only connection they had to Greece for him was the thought of his mother sending them. But others spoke of the importance of Feta at earlier periods of migration, when Greek Feta was not widely available. Dimitris Theodosopoulos, an anthropologist at St. Peter's College at Oxford, notes that new students who come from Greece wouldn't realize how much they were going to miss Feta. "When they would return to Greece for Christmas, they would really stock up, fill their suitcases and bags with feta in all different kinds of containers. One trip I came back from Greece with a 10-kilo tin of Feta cheese, which I preserved in brine....I would cut a little piece with my meal every night. It was like white gold to me," he said, laughing. Eating the Past What is the actual experience of such food events? As seen above, they are often experienced in terms of a burning desire which is satiated through a sensory experience evoking local knowledge, at the same time that a
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domain of experience that has fallen into disuse, in Fernandez's terms, is revalued. They often explicitly evoke a wholeness, or fullness in experience, as in the following letter from a woman living in Germany, written in local Kalymnian dialect, receiving a pestelloma from Kalymnos at the post office: "My joy was indescribable, I laughed and cried at the same time. I took the package, left the post-office, and in the street I felt like I was holding the whole world [in my arms]" (Kapella 36). The woman notes that she used the honey to make doughnuts (loukoumadhes) and her "insides were soothed" (ivarsamothika ta mesa, lit. they were embalmed). She contrasts this feeling to her experience of work in Germany with a few descriptive images: "we've made money, but we've moldered (iraxliasame) in the factories. We don't see outside and we're dying of cold...Thank you for the pestelloma" (Kapella 36). This gives a clear sense of one strategy for returning to the whole: through what Fernandez calls the shock of "recognition of a wider integrity of things" captured in the metaphor of the "whole world," but specifically triggered by memory of taste and smell. It is this memory that leads to the emotional affect described in the passage: simultaneous laughing and crying, and then a sense of soothing fullness. This sense of emotional and bodily plenitude is echoed in the following passage from Papanikolas, describing several Greek immigrant men, cousins who were working in Idaho in an endless task of clearing sagebrush to homestead: One night, working nervously, swearing obscenely, Louis made a pita. He could have waited for Sunday, gone the six miles to Pocatello, and had one of the Greek women who ran boarding houses make it for him, but he wanted it right then. Louis rolled out the pastry leaves, layered each sheet with butter and eggs mixed with crumbled feta. The helper gazed with tearful eyes, Yoryis avidly. That night they fell on their cots, satisfied (217). Once again, the terrible emotional overload of xenitia--exile in a foreign land--is temporarily relieved in the experience which demands and receives immediate satisfaction. And once again it is through the reconnection with a neglected aspect of life that it becomes revitalized. Implicitly the revitalization of one domain brings others with it, a point made by recent theorists of refugee displacement. For example, Carolyn Nordstrom describes the everyday and ritual practices of resistance to the destruction wrought on people's lives by war in Mozambique. Nordstrom concludes: "Worlds are destroyed in a war; they must be re-created. Not just worlds of home, family, community, and economy but worlds of definition, both personal and cultural" (147). As Fernandez describes, integrity is restored through a remembered coherence. This occurs because the food event evokes a whole world of family, agricultural associations, place names and other local knowledge. Even memories of water have this characteristic, as described by Papanikolas, for migrant Greeks, and once again illustrating the almost sacred power of invocation: The men talked constantly of the water in their part of Greece, which often had to be carried a long distance over rocky trails, how cold it was, a special taste, its curative qualities, how its fame was known throughout the province and people came from afar to drink it. They spoke the names of waters with reverence: Kefalovrissi--Head Springs, Palaios Platanos--Old Plane Tree, Mahi Topos--Slaughtering Place, Nifi Peplos--Bride's Veil, Nerolithi--Water Rock (167). Of course the role of food in everyday acts of revitalization was famously elaborated by novelist Marcel Proust in Remembrance of Things Past, in his description of eating the tea biscuit known as a madelaine. What is interesting to note is that Proust also very clearly invokes synecdoche, this same sense of the part which holds the key to re-vivifying a whole structure of associations:
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But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection (58, italics added). Of course Proust was not speaking of migration as I have been. But if the past "is a foreign country," then similar processes can be at work in temporal as in spatial or spatio-temporal displacement. And indeed Proust directs us once again to the power of sensory parts to return us to the whole, the unsubstantial fragment to reveal the vast structure. Like the memoriesdiscussed above, Proust also points us to the emotional charge of the moment of consumption for keying, involuntarily, these associative memories. I would also suggest another reason for the sense of fullness stressed in these descriptions: that there is an imagined community implied in the act of eating food from home while in exile, in the knowledge that others are eating the same food. This is not to deny that real communities are created as well: Dimitris Theodosopoulos notes how he would bring pieces of his 10-kilo Feta cheese to friends with whom he was sharing dinner and the joy evoked in the shared consumption of this "most valuable object." But even in this case of shared consumption, a wider community of homeland is being referenced in the act of eating food from home. Food, then, is one of the mundane reminders that keep national identity near the surface of daily life so that people do not forget their nationality, a particular threat to migrants facing pressures toward assimilation into a host country. Here things become interesting, because the processes I have been describing work at multiple, sometimes contradictory levels of identity--the family, personal or village history which only needs to be remembered, or reimagined, as well as at higher levels of imagining such as the nation. Just as people's identities shift levels in changing contexts such as migration, local products can take on shifting identifications as well. I have suggested that Feta cheese evokes a national "Greek" identity in migrant contexts. Within Greece Feta can shift between representing a "national" cheese (part of the diet of most Greeks and the single most-consumed cheese within Greece) and also having strong local associations (i.e., strong differentiating between Feta produced in different parts of Greece). The same man who shared Feta with other "Greeks" also had very localized memories of buying Feta as a child from the small shop in his neighborhood: how it was kept in large cans of brine, and the shop-owner had a "magical way of dipping his knife in the brine and simultaneously spearing and cutting the Feta." Another interesting example was provoked in March of 1999 on the Modern Greek Studies Association Electronic Bulletin Board by an article in a college newspaper by an American student complaining about the anti-American politics of her Greek roommate, whom she refers to by the pseudonym "Feta." Here a smelly cheese comes to stand for an entire national identity as well, but in the negative context of ethnic slurs, rather than the positive one of ethnic identifications. So does food represent Greece or simply one's own village or family? The word "homeland" (patridha) is, in fact, ambiguous in Greek, and can be used to refer to both local and national homes, one's village or one's country. The power of scent is not fixed to specific references then, but can take on many levels of identity, which normally don't contradict one another. However, local and national experiences are not always congruent. A Greek couple living in England recount, half-jokingly, their fights over bean soup (fassoladha), which the woman believes is properly made with tomatoes (kokkini), and the man equally vociferously insists cannot be made with them. As the woman put it, "call it something else: call it some French recipe for making beans, and I'll eat it. Just don't call it authentic fassoladha, and don't call it Greek!" The man noted that they no
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longer made fassoladha, and that it was only when his partner was away, and perhaps his sister (also living in England) was over for dinner, that he enjoyed this dish. Here it is the fact that he comes from the Peloponnese region and she from Thessaloniki that makes for the clash in attempting to make their local experience stand for national identity. And although local divergences in cooking, dress, and custom are part of life within Greece as well, I would suggest that they become more intensified in the migrant context, where cooking is not simply an everyday practice, but an attempt to synesthetically reconstruct and remember, to return to that whole world of home, which is subjectively experienced both locally and nationally, if not at other levels as well. So, given this, perhaps those Americans traveling in foreign lands who find themselves reaching for the occasional hamburger shouldn't feel so guilty. They are simply following the injunction that I heard repeated often on Kalymnos: faei, yia na thimasai, "eat, in order to remember!"
Works Cited --Dragoumis, Ion. Greek Civilization. Athens, 1914. --Fernandez, James. Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa. P rinceton: P rinceton UP , 1982. --P ersuasions and P erformances: The P lay of Tropes In Culture. P rinceton: P rinceton UP , 1986. --Frantzis, George. Strangers in Ithaca: The Story of the Spongers of Tarpon Springs. St. P etersburg, FL: Great Outdoors P ublishing, 1962. --Kahn, Miriam. Always Hungry, Never Greedy: Food and the Expression of Gender in a Melanasian Society. P rospect Heights, IL: Waveland P ress, 1994. --Kapella, Themelina. Kalymnian Echoes. Athens, 1981. --Nordstrom, Carolyn. "War on the Fronts Lines." --Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival. Eds. Carolyn Nordstrom and Antonius Robben. Berkeley: University of California P ress, 1995. --P apanikolas, Helen Zeese. Amalia-Yeiorgos. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah P ress, 1987. --P roust, Marcel. Remeberance of Things P ast. Trans. C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. New York: P enguin, 1957. --Sederocanellis, Anne. Spanning a Century: A Greek-American Odyssey. New York: Vantage P ress, 1995. --Sultan, Nancy. Exile and the P oetics of Loss in the Greek Tradition. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

About this contributor Dr. David Sutton is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University. He is the author of Memories Cast in Stone (Oxford, 1998) and Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory (Oxford, 2001). He has conducted research on the Greek island of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean Sea for the past twelve years and also recently began to explore questions of food, nostalgia, and identity in United States popular culture, as evidenced in such movies as The Godfather. Or as Clemenza put it: "Leave the gun...Take the Cannoli."

Morning and Melancholia

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Laura Letinsky has exhibited her color photographs in numerous venues including the series, Venus Inferred at The Museum of Modern Art, NY, Casino Luxembourg, The Nederlands Foto Institute, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Her series of still life photographs, Morning and Melancholia has been shown at Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY, Copia, Napa Valley, and Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto. More recent and upcoming exhibitions
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include, Time Was Away, Art Institute of Chicago, I did not remember I had forgotten, Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, as well as upcoming shows at The Renaissance Society, Chicago, and Shine Gallery, London. Her work is collected by LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and San Francisco Museum of Art. Publications include Eating Architecture, MIT Press, 2003, Blink, Phaidon Press, 2002, Venus Inferred, University of Chicago Press, 2000. She is represented by Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York. Letinsky received her B.F.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1986 and her MFA from Yale University 1991. She has taught at Benningon College, the Yale-Norfolk summer program, and the University of Washington. Currently Letinsky is Associate Professor at the University of Chicago. Her photographic work has received support from the Illinois Arts Council (2002), the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation (2000), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1999), and the Canada and the Manitoba Arts Council (1987, 88 & 89). http://www.houkgallery.com/letinsky03/letinsky1.html

Q & A: Chewing the Fat with Charlie Trotter


Michael Washburn

"It's like the way Miles Davis would play 'Stella by Starlight' for three years, but every time it sounded different. In a sense it's a different song, but you can recognize its genesis from the idea of the original composition. That's what I mean when I say that I create food like music." --Charlie Trotter With his eponymous restaurant in Chicago's Near North Side, Chef Charlie Trotter has cemented the city's reputation as a gastronomical hot spot. Recently, Detours Assistant Editor Michael Washburn spoke with Trotter about his life and work. Trotter offers wide-ranging insights into the role of his restaurant in the community, America's food traditions, and his improvisational cooking technique. In your opinion, what is the relationship between Americans and their culinary/food traditions? What relationship? I'm kidding. The relationship harks back to the country's ethnic origins, to the pockets of different people in different cities in various parts of the country. In the beginning they exclusively ate the food that grandmother fed them from Ireland or Sicily, but now we have system where it is much more of a hodgepodge, a fusion. People are fluent in their understanding that "tonight I'll have Chinese food, tomorrow I'll have Italian food." And you can find all of these things in the mall. We have a funny relationship with food. How do you see Charlie Trotter's in light of this? Do you see the restaurant and your cuisine as rooted in this type of American tradition or as a dynamic departure from American tradition? I get my version of food by studying the most refined cuisines in the world that pair well with wine. Our cuisine
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is rooted in the Western European tradition, but my own interests are more Asian and minimalist; I incorporate those elements. So from one recognizable standpoint the food I prepare has its genesis in the Western European tradition. But I approach it with an Asian minimalist aesthetic that includes such things as pristine seafood--raw or barely cooked--and small portions. That said, I've never worked in a French restaurant. Isn't that the American way? Who the hell knows what I'm doing. If I'm going to be successful, the food needs to appeal to an extremely sophisticated diner and a lay diner simultaneously, the way great music may work. Connoisseurs and lay-people will have different experiences, but I want to create an overall dining experience that can be appreciated by those distinct types of people. That said, I like to prepare food that, on any given day, I'd like myself. Food that I am so excited about that I can't wait to serve; food that makes me beside myself with glee, so caught up in the emotional and intellectual experience that I want to produce. In doing research for this interview I noticed that dialogue plays an important part in how you conceive of your work. Dialogue exists between food and wine, between the restaurant and the community in which it is embedded, and even between the chef and the recipe. How do you see Charlie Trotter's engaged in dialogue with its surrounding community? Chicago? Illinois in general? I think Charlie Trotter's is several things. We're very much entrenched and embedded in the local community, but what we do is laid out on an international stage. Over fifty percent of our visitors are from outside of Chicago. They come from all over the world, literally making a trip in order to visit the restaurant. People will orchestrate a four-day trip with the restaurant as its primary reason. But we will always be a local restaurant because we are in Chicago and we take pride in being a Chicago entity. We are immersed in charitable and philanthropic work. We host a Culinary Education Program three nights a week and have Chicago Public School students attend. They tour the restaurant, have a meal, and then hear from some staff members about how they try to pursue excellence. Then we go around the room and field questions from the students. It has nothing to do with recruiting, but it's to show what passion, intensity, humility, and teamwork are about. You see yellow school buses vying for parking space with stretch limousines and students tumbling out of the door giddy with excitement. Very few restaurants charge $200 per person and then have a special program for high school students. That is a large part of the restaurant's community engagement: we hope to affect some change and be a part of the community. And would you say that food also serves as a way for cultures to engage each other in dialogue? Absolutely, food does that. People seeking out more information about food and learning more about it is a wonderful way to learn about cultures. Geography? Economy? How things develop in a country? I can study the food of South America and learn all of the above. It's a great way to introduce yourself into a community. You recently caused quite a stir by announcing your imminent retirement and saying that you were dealing with an intellectual void. You obviously haven't sheathed the knife yet. How have you managed to satisfy your intellectual cravings? I still sometimes have the feeling "what else is there?" I enjoy what I do, but many of the great books are unread still. When can I get to them? I just try to juggle my time and try to find time to devote to the life of the mind. I also have to deal with the responsibility of employing 100 people. If I closed the restaurant, a lot of talented, hard working people would be out of luck. I have to look at it that way and weigh those things against each other. So to combine work with the life of the mind, who would be on your "most desired dinner guests in
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history" list? Dostoevsky. He's my favorite writer. It would be fascinating to serve him food. I might put Nietzsche on that list. I might put someone like Werner Herzog on the list. There are lots of possibilities; maybe some of the great chefs. You have stated that you would eventually like to do away with menus at Charlie Trotter's, only providing them after the meal as a "souvenir" of one's dining experience. Other pieces in this issue of Detours dwell on the capacity for food to evoke strong memories and even serve as a way to compose one's identity. What do you think is required for a meal to become an experience that generates such strong memory impressions? Well, there are different kinds of dining experiences. Sometimes you just want comfort food, the food you grew up eating--the Proustian meal, whether a madeleine or your mother's chicken noodle soup. On the other hand, food in certain restaurants serves as a catalyst for change. Those restaurants are challenging and on a different level, and their influence trickles down. A certain chef does something and it is experienced indirectly later, giving an experience that is truly striking and truly memorable. I think we're the latter type of restaurant. Our version of comfort food is "Trotter's to Go," our take-out place. We're living in a time when people don't have time to cook or they don't want to cook. We have our first cooking-illiterate generation coming up. But even these people know more about food than ever before, they are fluent in a number of cuisines and they demand quality. So "Trotter's to Go" is home meal replacement for those people that don't have time but they want to get the same quality, care, and attention to detail. You've been a vocal skeptic of genetically modified food. How do you think using these items as key ingredients affects our relationship with our tables? That is one of those subjects I have mixed feelings about. It's not so cut-and-dry as saying "all genetically modified food is bad." I think if we are doing things to grow food that is more nutritious and more economical and it allows us to feed people that can't feed themselves then there might be something noble in it. But splicing arctic char genes and strawberries to extend the season is a different story. There are consequences we are not sure of yet. You've often stated that you cook in a manner similar to jazz improvisation. What do you mean by this? If you are working within the parameters of a "composition," how much fidelity must you have to that composition? None and a lot at the same time. You have to have a disciplined understanding of what the music is, what the cuisine is, of what goes together and what doesn't. I have to have an understanding of a classical repertoire. From there I can depart and work in the moment to do something on a whim. You can prepare 40 dishes from six ingredients. It's like the way Miles Davis would play "Stella by Starlight" for three years, but every time it sounded different. In a sense it's a different song, but you can recognize its genesis from the idea of the original composition. That's what I mean when I say that I create food like music. Do you remember the first thing you ever cooked? I think the first thing I did was more along the lines of baking. Then later on I got more involved. I had a
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cookbook containing recipes from great literature--children's literature. I think "Mad Hatter Meatballs" was my first signature dish when I was 12. But I was far from becoming a chef; I had no dreams or ambitions to be a chef. www.charlietrotters.com

Humor

Groucho Marx-publicity still 1930 Courtesy of Groucho Marx Productions and Mr. Robert Finkelstein (photo manipulated)

Vol. 4, Issue 1/ April 2002 When the Illinois Humanities Council staff selected humor as the topic for this newest issue of Detours last summer, it seemed a timely topic. Late night talk show hosts were regularly skewering George Bush, and for most Americans Britney Spears was the most appalling thing around. Of course, after September 11th, our choice of topics felt naive and inappropriate. Even humor seemed a luxury -- a throwback to a much earlier time. But as Mark Twain reminds us, humor is not only a natural response to tragedy, but it often grows out of sorrow. However, anyone who saw David Letterman's show the week after the attacks will never forget how hard it was for him to go on at the personal request of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Certainly, being funny has been difficult since the terrorist attacks. With this in mind, we explained to our Detours contributors that their articles didn't need to be funny, but rather we asked them to explore humor as a genre or topic. The result is an issue that delves into a diversity of humor-related topics -- from Illinois humor to dark comedy to social satire. Cartoonist Nicole Hollander and playwright Rebecca Gilman offer some wonderfully personal
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reflections on how humor can respond to the shifting world views in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Editor's Letter
"The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow." --Mark Twain When the Illinois Humanities Council staff selected humor as the topic for this newest issue of Detours last summer, it seemed a timely topic. Late night talk show hosts were regularly skewering George Bush, and for most Americans Britney Spears was the most appalling thing around. Of course, after September 11th, our choice of topics felt naive and inappropriate. Even humor seemed a luxury -- a throwback to a much earlier time. A few short minutes on September 11th seemed to propel us eons away from the world we knew before. But as Mark Twain reminds us above, humor is not only a natural response to tragedy, but it often grows out of sorrow. However, anyone who saw David Letterman's show the week after the attacks will never forget how hard it was for him to go on at the personal request of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Certainly, being funny has been difficult since the terrorist attacks. With this in mind, we explained to our Detours contributors that their articles didn't need to be funny, but rather we asked them to explore humor as a genre or topic. The result is an issue that delves into a diversity of humor-related topics -- from Illinois humor to dark comedy to social satire. Cartoonist Nicole Hollander and playwright Rebecca Gilman offer some wonderfully personal reflections on how humor can respond to the shifting world views in the wake of the terrorist attacks. The larger question for us, of course, is what role the humanities themselves can play in the wake of September 11. Bruce Cole, the newly appointed Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, explained it well in the Washington Post : "We [the NEH] are here because democracy does demand wisdom. Our democracy will be as good as our citizens. Our citizens will engage best when they know who we are, where they come from, what our institutions and freedoms are." This goal of engaging citizens in democracy is at the heart of many Illinois Humanities Council programs. This year, the IHC has devoted one of our "True Learning, True Teaching" seminars for Illinois K-12 teachers to the study of Islam entitled, "Islam the Fundamentals", this seminar considered the historical context of Islam. In much the same way, the IHC's library discussion program, "Choices for the 21st Century: Defining Our Role in a Changing World," engages citizens and communities in open dialogue about issues such as conflict resolution, terrorism, and the global economy. In April 2002, high school students debated just these issues on the floor of the State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois at the culmination of a year-long program called "Capitol Forum on America's Future," a program that provides interactive curriculum units for high school social studies teachers and their students. This program is offered in partnership with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. We want to thank Ivan R. Dee for permission to excerpt materials from Bernard Sahlins' new book, Days and Nights at Second City. We also wish to thank Groucho Marx Productions and Robert Finkelstein for permission to reproduce our cover image, which first appeared as part of an exhibition mounted at the Spertus Museum Chicago entitled, "Let There be Laugher! Jewish Humor in America." Phoebe Stein Davis
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Senior Editor, Detours Director of Public Affairs, Illinois Humanities Council

"If it plays in Peoria": A Short History of Humor in Illinois


James Krohe Jr. There is no such thing as Illinois humor. This is not to say that Illinoisans don't have a sense of humor. But there is no style of humor that is uniquely Illinoisan, no body of jokes directed at the state per se, no tradition of performance that owes to, and conveys, the peculiar placeness of Illinois. In humor as in so much else, Illinois is two places, each with its own style of humor. There is what might be called Downstate Illinois humor--bucolic in origins and reference, most naturally expressed in parable told over the cracker barrel or the stove--and Chicago humor, whose natural idiom is the wisecrack delivered across a bar in a saloon. No Illinoisan was more adept at Downstate humor than Abraham Lincoln. Humor was a crucial element in both the public and the private man; his law partner William Herndon reports reliably that Lincoln was known as a jokester and storyteller around central Illinois well before he was known as a lawyer or politician. He did not tell funny stories for the sake of fun but to make a point, and thus favored tales with what Herndon called "the necessary ingredients of mirth and moral." Lincoln's skill with a story in the courtroom and the tavern and on the campaign trail, was unusual among his fellows only in degree. Regrettably, only a few of Lincoln's stories are in print. They could be ribald and rude, and no wonder, as the atmosphere at country inns and political rallies, even county courtrooms, was not unlike that of a comedy club today, complete with the drunken hecklers. The President's early biographers, out of concern for the President's reputation or their own, did not record such stories as they were recalled by his audiences. Accounts that do survive suggest that Lincoln's sense of humor was of his time and place--sly and self-deprecating, dry in tone and stoic in temperament. That voice found expression in Lincoln's response to a crowd after having been accused in debate by Stephen Douglas of being two-faced. "I leave it to my audience," he said. "If I had another face, do you think I'd wear this one?" Happily that voice did not die with Lincoln. It enlivened the county histories written around the turn of the 20th century, for example, a generation after Lincoln. Typical is the Lee County history that chronicled the saga of the Rosbrook boys in the days before Progress had come to Lee County in the form of good roads. Local farmers, they'd spent three days scything hay, which they loaded onto a wagon for the trip into a nearby town, where they planned to sell it on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, they get bogged down in a slough on the way, and are forced to unload the hay, pull out the now-lighter wagon, and reload their hay. By the time they got to town most potential buyers had left, and they got but 75 cents for their load. Our anonymous historian remarked that when the Rosbrooks started for home at 4 PM, "their conversation touched but lightly on patriotism. Indeed, as it is now remembered, they considered Washington's act in saving the country rather insignificant, and in regard to their locality, wholly unnecessary." Downstate humor has its roots in the soil, and where Illinoisans remain close to the soil the humor survives. (A good thing too; a farmer getting less than two dollars a bushel for his corn had best be able to laugh.) The spring of 2000 lacked the warmth and the wetness that corn seeds need to sprout, which prompted one
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Downstate farmer to explain to a state crop statistician why he and his neighbors had gotten such an early start on their corn planting. It says on the bag to store in a cool, dry place, the farmer pointed out, so he put it in the ground. That would scarcely qualify as a joke in Chicago, one suspects. But it is foolish to draw too firm a line between Chicago humor and Downstate humor. To the extent that early Chicago humor was largely Irish humor, and to the extent that the Irish were people not far from the soil, they brought a kindred sensibility to their experience of life in Illinois, however different that experience might have been from the state's farmers. Only the tricky rendering of the Irish accent in print would have kept Lincoln's pals at New Salem from getting the humor in this exchange (reported by Bridgeport's Finley Peter Dunne) when the defiant Mr. Donahue learned he had been bested by his wife and daughter over the buying of a piano. "I'll be masther iv me own house." "Ye will so," said Mr. Dooley. "But don't say it too loud; di' fam'ly may hear ye." Illinois Humor Illinois humor thus is merely humor in the Midwestern style set in Illinois or about Illinois. Illinois humor, like its weather or its cuisine, is indistinguishable from that of the Midwest of which it is so representative a part. This sort of jape could have appeared in any Midwest newspaper during the rationing days of WWII; this one appeared in the Arenzville Tattler: Saw a sign in a small rester restur, I mean Cafe, the other day: T-Bone ------- 30 (If you want meat on it, come in and dicker) One hardly hears an "Illinois" joke that is not a farmer joke--or a redneck joke or a hillbilly joke or rube joke, or any of the ruder ethnic variants--with an Illinois license plate stuck on it. They ring true enough most of the time. But Illinois is changing, and the jokes don't always keep up. Here's one, from the World Wide Web: "You know you're from Illinois if your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway." In those great swaths of rural Illinois being undone by urban sprawl, you'd get a bigger laugh with this: "You know you're from Illinois if your idea of a traffic jam is a tractor waiting to pass ten cars on the highway." Illinois jokes may be rare as palm trees in Pike County but there are plenty of jokes about things Illinoisan. There are Cubs jokes and Chicago jokes, for example, and a few that are both. ("The Chicago Cubs are like Rush Street--a lot of singles, but no action"--Joe Garagiola.) Both the city and the ball club have what the state as a whole lacks as a target for jests, namely a specific identity with traits peculiar to it. Springfield has long been the butt of jokes, perhaps because the capital is a city to which state government types are exiled as a condition of their careers; their resentment at being taken away from the comforts of home gets expressed in dismissive humor. A veteran bureaucrat, for instance, advises that if you find you have but two weeks to live, spend it in Springfield -- "it'll seem like a lifetime." A popular T-shirt sold by a local bookshop bears a portrait of the late President with the legend, "They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Springfield." Springfield patriots have grown deaf to such insults, which they've been hearing for well over a century. In Paul Angle's history of early Springfield we find this story, which was a favorite of Lincoln's:
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One day a meek-looking man applied to Thompson Campbell who, as Secretary of State, had custody of the State House, for permission to deliver a series of lectures in the Hall of the House of Representatives. "May I ask," said Campbell, "what is to be the subject of your lectures?" "Certainly," was the solemn reply, "they are on the second coming of our Lord." "It's no use," said Campbell, "if you will take my advice you will not waste your time in this city. It is my private opinion that if the Lord has been in Springfield once, he will not come the second time." The tall tale and the boast figure perennially in Illinois humor, especially in the folklore of southern Illinois. Another southerner--Chicago alderman "Bathhouse John" Coughlin, who ruled the old First Ward south of the Loop--also mastered the idiom. Donald Tingley thought well enough of this anecdote to include it in his 1980 history, The Structuring of a State. The 1908 Democratic Party's national convention was held in Denver, where Coughlin had a summer house. According to the Tribune, tour guide Coughlin explained to his guests: Colorado is the most important geographical division of the known world outside of the first ward of Chicago.... While there is nothing to compare with the variety of climate experience between the torrid regions of the 22nd Street and the rarified heights that occupy the Municipal Voters League, still Colorado has some high altitudes that are picturesque in their own crude way. Such flights are now rare, alas. Town boosters have not lost their talent for extravagant praise, but the new boasts lack the old poetry. Political Humor Bathhouse John was hardly the only politician to use humor to beguile a crowd. One could argue that politicians were Illinois's first stand-up comics. "Big Bill" Thompson, Mayor of Chicago for three terms between 1915 and 1931, would have made a first-rate showman instead of a third-rate mayor; a history of the General Assembly based on the jokes that have been told by and about its members would be more fun than the usual histories, and not much less instructive. Many politicians have had wicked senses of humor but they prudently put most of their barbs off the record. Politicians use humor the same ways non-elected Illinoisans do--to deflect humor directed at them, or to wound an enemy, or (as Lincoln did) to make a point. The last tradition is by now a bit threadbare, but occasionally an Illinoisan pol has sought to emulate Lincoln and not just praise him. Everett Dirksen, Pekin's gift to the U.S. Senate, is one. Lamenting the federal government's tendency to overspend, Dirksen made a remark that has been repeated thousands of times, sometimes accurately: "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." Too much humor in a politician is considered unbecoming, some voters confusing humor with frivolousness. The quips and scripted lines that brightened Adlai E. Stevenson's campaigns for governor and President were thought by some to betray a lack of seriousness. (The Chicago Tribune called him "Adlai, the Side Splitter.") Biographer Porter McKeever gives an example of the Stevenson style on the stump. "At one whistle-stop where an echo kept repeating back his words, he told the crowd, 'I think what I am saying is worth listening to, but it's certainly not worth listening to twice.'" At Notre Dame University, when a young mother, red-faced at futile efforts to quiet her crying baby, arose from one of the front rows to leave, he interrupted himself to say, "Please don't be embarrassed. I agree with you, if not with my opponent, that it is time for a change." These days, Illinois politicians must worry about a failed joke being replayed a hundred times in the TV news, and so tend not to make any. Because of that, most of the better jokes from political leaders in recent years have been unintentional. The master of the inadvertent jest was Richard J. Daley, whose malapropisms are
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legend. (One example of many: "The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder," uttered in response to the 1968 Democratic national convention riots.) Purists will complain that while this sort of remark is funny it isn't humor, and we have to agree. Literary Humor Stump humor is necessarily aimed fairly low, so as not to sail over the heads of voters (or reporters). Humor directed as the reading public can be pitched higher. Illinois has produced quite a number of literary humorists expert in every genre from the newspaper column to the satiric novel. Chicagoan Edward Tanner, the novelist who, as Patrick Dennis, gave the world Auntie Mame, has been called the Noel Coward of camp. We Called It Music, Eddie Condon's memoir of the early days of jazz in Chicago and other places, was not a humor book per se but it is wickedly funny. Condon was as famous for his wisecracks as he was for his guitar playing. Critics have ranked Walnut native Don Marquis as a humorist only a bit below Twain. His columns in New York City newspapers in the early decades of the 20th century featured several recurring characters that became household names in the 1920s and 1930s, most memorably archy the cockroach and mehitabel the cat. He was a humorist's humorist, a favorite of such masters as E.B. White. Of the 35 writers enshrined on the frieze of the State Library in Springfield, however, only two are honest-togoodness humorists--George Ade (born in 1866) and Finley Peter Dunne (born in 1867). (Lincoln's name is also on the frieze, but while he used humor, humor was not the point of his stories. Ring Lardner also is there, but while capable of writing some very funny stories, he too was not a humorist per se.) Indiana-born George Ade composed hundreds of vignettes of everyday Chicago in the 1890s in such newspapers as the Morning News and Record. Colloquial in tone and mildly satiric, these tales featured the antics of ordinary people such as office worker Artie and shoeshineman Pink Marsh. These tales were collected and published in book form, as were a series of loose adaptations of Aesop's fables as told in the Midwestern slang of the day; all were hugely popular. Chicago newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne wrote in the vernacular too, in his case the accented English of the Irish working class who frequented the fictional Bridgeport saloon of his literary alter ego, Mr. Dooley. Consistent with his calling, Dooley was a philosopher whose monologues constitute an unequalled body of social reportage and criticism and were collected in several books. For all their differences, much unites Ade and Dunne. For one thing, both wrote about small towns. For another (as the Cambridge History of English and American Literature put it) Ade's humor "bears the same relation toward social things that Mr. Dooley's political vein bears toward national politics." The two authors took vernacular speech--the rural Midwest in Ade's case, Chicago Irish in the case of Dunne -- and gave it literary form. They thus served as translators of their people for a wider world, much the way comics who came out of the Yiddish clubs of the 1950s translated the world of the Catskills and the synagogue for whitebread Americans sitting at home watching TV. Alas, these masters might as well have written on the walls of caves, so unlikely is it that modern readers will have run across their work. In 1947 an editor recalled one of the many humorous adages coined by Ade a generation previously and asked, "Who has not heard 'Early to bed and early to rise' and 'You'll meet very few important people?'" A half-century later, the answer is, hardly anyone. As for Dunne's work, the humor of these dispatches is, sadly, inaccessible to later generations that find standard English, much less dialect, to be an intolerable inconvenience while reading. The originator of the Ade-ian humorous vignette may no longer be read, but versions of it reappear across
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Illinois. The form was recognizable in some of the urban fables of long-time Chicago columnist Mike Royko. In its more bucolic guise it persists in the work of local columnists, usually working for small-town weeklies, whose reports on local doings--humorous, vernacular, affectionate--are Ade-ian in everything except perhaps literary polish. One such is Ken Bradbury, a veteran teacher at Triopia High School in Concord, in rural Morgan County, who is the chronicler (under the name of Freida Maria Crump) of the imagined village of Coonridge, Illinois. The George Ade of the upscale suburbs is Peter DeVries. Perhaps Illinois's pre-eminent modern literary humorist, DeVries was born in 1910 in Chicago. After odd jobbing during the Depression, DeVries ended up an editor at the famous Poetry magazine in 1938; after four years he ended up at the New Yorker, where he found fame. Before he died in 1993 he published some two dozen novels. One, Tunnel of Love (1954), earned him praise as "something of a national humorist laureate." DeVries in his prime was compared to Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, and Evelyn Waugh (the early, funny Waugh). Unusual for such funny works, he wrote his novels in a highly intellectual or at least mental style that relied on puns, goofy aphorisms, and word games. DeVries set some of his stories in his home state--the hero, more or less, of Consenting Adults is Ted Peachum of the fictional Pocock, Illinois--but the real setting for his stories was the treacherous landscape of the suburban mind. His persistent themes were the difficulties of marriage and of religion, which pose similar dilemmas to the faithful. Cartoonists The roster of Illinois humorists includes an impressive number of cartoonists. By "cartoonist" we do not mean editorial cartoonists, who use humor to make what are ultimately polemical points. Nor do we include the practitioners of the newer art of the comic novel. (Chicago has connections to two acknowledged masters of this new genre in the persons of Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes.) When we say "cartoonist," we mean the author of comic strips and drawings. Chicago in the decades bracketing 1900 had as many newspapers as it has television stations today. Cartoonists flocked to the city the way pickpockets flock to state fairs. Frank Willard, born in 1893 and raised in Anna at the other end of Illinois, apprenticed at the old Chicago Herald in the pre-World War I years; Willard found fame in New York City with the "Moon Mullins" comic strip, which at its peak appeared in 250 newspapers read by 15 million people. H.T. Webster, the cartoonist-creator of Caspar Milquetoast, also spent his early years in Chicago before moving to New York City. Cartoonist Edgar "Abe" Martin was the author of "Boots and Her Buddies", a popular newspaper strip in the early 1900s detailing the exploits of a popular coed and her classmates in a fictional college town based closely on Monmouth, Illinois and Monmouth College, Martin's alma mater. Another strip of that ilk that is more familiar to today's readers is "Blondie," a strip created by Chicago-born Murat Bernard "Chic" Young. Young grew up in St. Louis; after graduating from high school, he returned to his native Chicago where he attended night classes at the Art Institute before leaving in 1921 for Cleveland and then New York to do strips for the Newspaper Enterprises Association (NEA). One of them, "Blondie" (1930) became perhaps the most successful comic strip of all time. (When the U.S. Postal Service wanted a cartoon character to grace a new postage stamp commemorating the 1995 centennial of the American newspaper comic strip, it chose "Blondie.") And while he gave up drawing early in his career, Walt Disney deserves mention for his innovations in the art form of the animated cartoon. Disney was born in Chicago, and after a youth in Kansas came back to study at McKinley High School and (at night) at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
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Helen E. Hokinson graduated from Mendota High School in 1913, and went on to publish some 1,700 cartoons in the New Yorker, usually featuring befuddled dowager-types. (Typical Hokinson woman at a club meeting: "I just want to say that I'm perfectly willing to serve as treasurer, provided every penny doesn't have to come out exactly even.") Another notable magazine cartoonist was E. Simms Campbell, the first AfricanAmerican cartoonist and illustrator to receive national recognition in mainstream publications. St. Louisan Campbell moved to Chicago as a teenager when his mother died. Like many black artists in the city, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the few art schools in the U.S. that admitted black students. He left Chicago, eventually landing in New York City, where he was hired by Esquire, where his first byline appeared in 1933. In addition to illustrations--he created the magazine's mascot, among other assignments--he did cartoons. (Campbell's all-white harems are examples of what one critic called "working in whiteface.") Upon leaving Esquire, he became the first black cartoonist to be nationally syndicated. Among contemporary humorists who draw, several Illinois artists stand out. Chicago Tribune cartoonist Jeff MacNelly died in 2000 at 53. Best known as an editorial cartoonist--he won the Pulitzer Prize for work in that genre in 1972, 1978, and 1985--MacNelly also illustrated humorist Dave Barry's syndicated column and wrote the daily comic " Shoe" beginning in 1977; the latter made working at a newspaper seem much funnier than it is, which is one reason why it appeared in more than 1,000 newspapers. Among the more highly regarded among mainstream practitioners is Pat Brady, who lives in Sycamore. Several times nominated as "Cartoonist of the Year" by the National Cartoonists Society, Brady is the author of the syndicated strip "Rose is Rose," a sort of Peanuts for the 1990s which chronicles the exploits of the Gumbo family in more than 600 newspapers. Nicole Hollander is the author of "Sylvia," which in 1979 introduced the world to the bathtub philosopher who first pointed out that a world without men would feature "No crime and lots of happy, fat women." Hollander is one of the still-few women whose work graces the newspaper comic pages. She grew up in Chicago, returning there to live after studying art at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. More than a dozen collections of "Sylvia" strips have been published, along with dolls and calendars and, in 1991, a musical play, Sylvia's Real Good Advice, which Hollander co-wrote. Brady and Hollander are unusual in that they maintain national careers from the Chicago area, unlike so many of their predecessors at the drawing table, who trained or apprenticed in Chicago but had to move to New York to make their livings. Another contemporary cartoonist who stayed put is Lynda Barry, author of the "Ernie Pook" comic strip and the novel-turned-play The Good Times Are Killing Me. Barry was born in a small Wisconsin town. She got her start in Chicago in the late 1970s when the Chicago Reader began picking up her cartoons. Her audience is now national, made up of fans of "alternative" cartooning that is not always about jokes, indeed often isn't meant to be funny. Comics and Comedians: The Radio Era Illinois nurtured the man who was, arguably, the Lincoln of comedy--radio and TV star Jack Benny. Benny was an innovator of comedy formats; The Jack Benny Program on radio--sketch comedy with a repertory company that poked fun at pop culture--was the forerunner of "Saturday Night Live" in everything but manners. Unlike the Illinois comics of later generations, Benny did not write his own material; he was however a performer with brilliant timing and taste. It was Benny who elicited from Ed Wynn that essential distinction between a comedian "meaning a man [like Benny] who says things funny, as opposed to a comic, who says funny things." Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago in 1894 but grew up in Waukegan, where his father owned a
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saloon and later a dry-goods store. He began playing the violin for money at 15, in the pit orchestra of a local theater; his habit of skipping afternoon classes to make matinee curtains caused his school to expel him at 17. After a few years on the vaudeville circuit as a violinist, Benny discovered he could make people laugh--also in Illinois, as it happened, at the nearby Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1918 where, as a Navy enlistee, he wowed 'em in a base revue. To say that Jack Benny is Waukegan's favorite son is to say not nearly enough. Benny was perhaps the only reason the world ever heard of Waukegan; his hometown figured in a few of his radio shows, and he broadcast his show from there in 1939. In gratitude the town planted a Jack Benny elm beside the city hall, opened a Jack Benny Center for the Arts located on Jack Benny Drive in Bowen Park, and commissioned a statue of him for the restored Genesee Theatre downtown. Of all these gestures, the one that reportedly meant the most to Benny was naming a new junior high school for him in 1961. The schools' athletic teams are nicknamed the 39ers. Chicago was the birthplace of another star of the 1930s and '40s--rather two stars, in the persons of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (born Bergren) and his dummy companion Charlie McCarthy. Bergen was born in 1903 in Chicago, where his Swedish parents had a retail dairy; Charlie McCarthy had Chicago parentage too, having been modeled upon a tough Irish newsboy Bergen knew. Like many boys Bergen was fascinated by sleight-of-hand tricks and sleight-of-voice tricks alike; he was tutored in the latter by traveling ventriloquist Harry Lester. Bergen began to work his way part through college at Northwestern University, but learned more doing a magic/ventriloquism act at parties, and left school for vaudeville. Greater Chicago in those days was rich ground for early performers in vaudeville. The Marx family, for example, moved to Chicago from New York in late 1909 or so, looking for a place they could subject new audiences to what had become tired routines. They lived at 4512 Grand Boulevard (now King Drive) and performed as the Four Nightingales and the Six Mascots before becoming what the world knows as the Marx Brothers. It was at Chicago's Windsor Theater, in 1914, that the group debuted one of their seminal early shows, and the filmed version of their touring show Animal Crackers, now a classic, had it national premiere in Chicago in 1930. The world owes Peoria for James Edward Jordan and Marian (Driscoll) Jordan, the real-life husband-andwife team who starred in that classic radio comedy series of the 1930s and '40s, Fibber McGee & Molly. "Fibber" was born on a farm five miles west of Peoria. In Peoria he attended St. Mark's Grade School and later the Spaulding Institute. A singer, he met his future Molly in Marian Driscoll while he was singing in the choir of St. John's Church. Peoria offered no future on the stage, so Jordan ventured to Chicago, where he secured his first stage job. Marian was a native Peorian who also was raised in the church. She was an avid performer of the sort that keep local amateur theatricals cast; she studied voice, violin and piano at Runnell's School of Music in Peoria. The couple wed in Peoria, after which the Jordans made a stab at vaudeville and, more successfully, organized their own touring concert company which enabled them to see the inside of most of the "opera houses" and church churches in the Midwest. The Jordans faced a dreary professional future until they got their break in Chicago in 1925 on a song program, which led to a modest career as sketch comedians. Skilled voice actors, the pair found their perfect comic personae in Fibber McGee and Molly. The radio series that recounted their adventures debuted in 1935. It struck a chord with all the spiritual Peorians out there in radioland--of which there were a lot then as now; the show remained a radio staple in one form or another until 1959.
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Another of Peoria's gifts to the fledgling radio business was Charles Correll, who was Andy in the popular Amos 'n' Andy radio series. Correll was born and raised in Peoria. A jack-of-all-building-trades during the day, Correll apprenticed as an entertainer at night and on weekends, performing in song and dance contests, local theatricals, and playing piano in movie houses before going on the road as a show producer, where he met partner Freeman Gosden. Their show (originally conceived as a comic strip adapted to broadcasting) originated on Chicago's WMAQ in 1928. By running until 1960 on various networks it became the longestrunning radio program in broadcast history and one of the most popular; Amos 'n' Andy's national audience in the 1930s was estimated at 40 million, in a country that then had about 130 million people. Correll's white man's take on blackness offends many people these days because of its presumption if not its crudity. The mere mention of the shows induces a cringe of the kind feminists feel watching "I Love Lucy". As a result, sadly, Correll's gifts for characterization and voices are underestimated. Stand Up Comics New media--recording, films, and especially television--opened opportunities for a new generation of Illinois satirists, clowns, and comics after World War II. Steve Allen grew up partly in Chicago, with his Irish in-laws, with whom his vaudevillian mother left him while she was on the road. It was there, he explained later, that he honed his skills at repartee that stood him in such good stead as the host of the original "Tonight Show," where he virtually invented the late-night talk show. Another TV pioneer was "Lonesome" George Gobel, whose award-winning variety shows were a staple of the broadcast lineups in the 1950s and '60s. Gobel was born in Chicago in 1920. The first room he worked was his father's grocery, where he imitated the customers; at 11 he made his debut singing (accompanying himself on guitar) on Chicago radio, on the WLS Barn Dance, and had a bit part of the old "Tom Mix Show." His leisurely delivery led many revved-up city folks to mistake him as slow-witted. Gobel once complained of being misunderstood as a yokel, saying that he was "really a city boy at heart." But there was always a hint of country in Gobel. His apprenticeship was not the big city vaudeville circuit but radio stations in places like Chattanooga and St. Louis. On screen he was the comic embodiment of the de-ethnicized white small-town American washed up on the nation's cities and their suburbs by a rising tide of postwar affluence. The new world they lived in left Gobel no less dazzled than the rest. (In 1954 an admiring Gobel said, "If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight.") Yokels were not what the critics thought of when they first heard the work of The Second City troupe. An offshoot of a University of Chicago theater group, Second City began offering improvisational comedy with a satirical edge in a Wells Street club in 1959 and was still going strong 32 years later. Second City did for a new generation of satirically-inclined actors and writers--the familiar Chicago wise guy with a college education--what vaudeville had done for their punch-line-oriented forebears. It gave bright but inexperienced talents a place to hone their skills--a place, in short, to be bad. Through the 1970s, Second City helped produce some of the era's best-known club comedians and comedic actors. A partial list includes Alan Arkin, Ed Asner, Shelley Berman (who invented the style of comedy that Bob Newhart would later perfect), Barbara Harris, Linda Lavin, Mike Nichols, Elaine May (the last two forever famous as Nichols & May), Paul Mazursky, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara (the last two best known as the team of Stiller & Meara), Paul Sand, Joan Rivers, Avery Schreiber, David Steinberg, Robert Klein, Fred Willard, Peter Boyle, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, and Bill Murray. Among Chicago institutions of learning, only the University of Chicago can boast of such accomplished alumni.
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While Second City was improvising a different future of American comedy on Wells Street, two other local performers were expanding the possibilities of stand-up comedy. Bob Newhart was born in Chicago in 1928. After Army service he came back to the city to work as an accountant and then as an advertising copywriter. Unease at the corporate culture plus vague theatrical ambitions coalesced in the routines that filled the record album "The About this contributor James Krohe Jr. has been a critic and commentator on things Illinoisan for more than 25 years. He is writing the Illinois Humanities Council's new guide to Illinois history and culture, Seeing Illinois.

Q&A: Laughing with Playwright Rebecca Gilman


Phoebe Stein Davis Detours Senior Editor Phoebe Stein Davis asked award-winning playwright Rebecca Gilman to reflect on the role humor plays in her work -- productions that treat the most serious and dark topics, from racism to murder and stalking. Gilman offers unique insight into her plays and also into the place for humor in today's theater and society. Your plays have been called "provocative," "progressive," and "issue-oriented." Do you think these words accurately describe your work? Would you also call your plays "funny"? I think the first two plays of mine to receive any attention -- Spinning Into Butter and Boy Gets Girl -- could be described as issue-oriented plays. I started with a theme with both of those plays whereas I usually start with characters or situations. I don't think any of my other plays are issue-oriented, really, but once people get an idea about you as a writer it's hard to shake that. I do like to think of myself as a "provocateur." And I mean that in a completely French sense, in that I like to wear berets and smoke Gitannes and parade around my apartment lip-synching to Yves Montand records. And some of my plays are funny, I think, but others are just downright depressing. I try to alternate. Do you consciously use humor in your work? I do try to include humor in most of what I write. What usually happens though, is that the bits I think are hilarious meet with dead silence from the audience, while the parts I think are extremely poignant and profound cause the audience to laugh so hard they fall out of their chairs. I used to be bothered by this but what I found was that a lot of the laughter came from the audience's identifying with the characters. It was kind laughter, for a lack of a better way to put it. But I still laugh at the parts I find funny and actors in my plays always tell me they know when I'm out there, because I'm the only one laughing at my own jokes. What role does humor play in your exploration of such dark topics as racism, stalking, poverty, and murder? I subscribe to the Mary Poppins "spoonful of sugar" philosophy of playwriting. I think that a lot of the subjects I explore could make for some pretty relentless drama and while there's certainly a place for relentless drama I
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think that audiences simply get worn out if they're not given some room to breath. I think the proper amount of laughter can diffuse the tension in a play and allow the audience to sort of sit back and get ready for the next idea or conflict. In my play Spinning Into Butter, which deals with racism on a small college campus in Vermont, I tried to strike a balance between a comedy of manners and a serious exploration of white racism. But I worked very hard to make sure that the comedy wasn't simply a diversion -- that the ideas of the play were still being explored, although satirically. I think that the subject matter actually allowed for that. In my play The Glory of Living, however, which tells the story of a young woman who becomes a killer at the behest of her abusive husband, there's nothing funny going on. So a lot depends on the material. Would you consider your plays "black/dark comedy"? How do you define that term? My plays have been described as dark, and funny (and vapid and incompetent, but we won't go into that) but in spite of that I don't think they're black comedies. I would say a black comedy starts with a dark subject and tries to make it comedic whereas I seem to go at it from the opposite direction. I usually set out to write a comedy and it quickly becomes tragic. I've twice tried to write romantic comedies and the one turned into a play about stalking and the other turned into a play about prostitution and shattered dreams. So. Don't know what that says about me. Do you see a role for humor in theater today? Is this a vein that has been mined/or is being mined in contemporary theater? Absolutely I see a role for humor today. First of all I'm not one of those beret-wearing, Gitannes-smoking, Yves-Montand-lip-synching artistes who think that if it's not existential it's crap. I love a good comedy as much as the next guy and I see nothing wrong with entertainment for entertainment's sake. But the comedies I love best are ones that are smart and insightful and that poke fun at sacred cows. I get a huge kick out of the Moss Hart/George S. Kaufman comedies like You Can't Take it With You or The Man Who Came to Dinner. Or Kaufman and Marc Connelly's Beggar on Horseback. These were the plays I read in high school and they were very funny but they also had heart. When you look at the theatre landscape today you see a lot of variety and that's good for everyone. It's good for the audiences to have a choice, and it's good for artists because it means that there's room for all of us. This past fall on Broadway you could see Proof or The Tale of the Allergist's Wife; and there were revivals of Hedda Gabler and Noises Off opening within a few weeks of each other. This says to me that theatre is healthy and that producers are willing to back a lot of different plays in different genres instead of everyone looking for the next Urinetown. Beyond a cathartic purpose, what role do you see humor playing for us in today's society post 9/11? I would never underestimate how important it is to be able to lose yourself in laughter. A few days after the terrorists attacks on New York and Washington, my partner Charles and I went to the video store with the express purpose of finding something to take our minds off of the tragedies unfolding on the news and we came home with "Caddyshack." Not high art but boy, I tell you, watching Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray made us feel better for a couple of hours. I wouldn't say that we escaped anything, but we felt better for a couple of hours and if that's what comedy can offer people then that's a huge and important thing. But what I just said, Preston Sturges said tons better in his movie "Sullivan's Travels." If you haven't seen it you should go
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out and rent it right now. What makes you laugh? That scene in Caddyshack when Rodney Dangerfield is out on the golf course, and he says, "Screw it, let's dance!" and he cranks up the radio in his golf bag and they all get down to Journey's "Any Way You Want It." Rebecca Gilman is a playwright whose plays include Blue Surge, Spinning Into Butter, The Glory of Living and Boy Gets Girl. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a proud member of The Clowny Collective, a playwrights collective dedicated to producing original works in alternative spaces.

Selection from Days and Nights at the Second City


Bernard Sahlins

Allen Ginsberg had read his poem "Howl" in October 1955, and The Second City was part of the expression of a growing anti-establishment sentiment. The sixties, the rebellious sixties, were dawning as a counter to the conformist fifties, and questions were being asked. As usual, literature led the way. Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ginsberg; Bellow, Roth, and Glass; Mailer, Eldridge Cleaver, and Norman O. Brown. In comedy, the careers of Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, and Mort Sahl were beginning to be noticed beyond the counterculture. To put Eisenhower and Nixon on stage, indeed to do anything topical, to smash icons, to discuss the events of the day from the points of view of well-acted characters, was deliciously new and terribly exciting for young audiences. We were often treated to the phenomenon of open-mouthed young people, hanging about forever after each show, bedazzled by hearing their concerns expressed on stage. One of the joys of the review form is its immediacy. A straight play can take years between its conception and its appearance before the public. With a review scene, an idea conceived in the morning can be seen on the stage that night. And one can capture the sometimes ephemeral visit of the zeitgeist, reflecting the preoccupations of the actors and the audiences at a given moment in time. The review form is flexible and can stretch to receive even the most abstract of concepts. A certain amount of oppression is good for comedy. The firmer the taboo, the more excitement when it's violated-like Eve's apple made more delicious by being forbidden. But unlike the Beats, unlike Bruce, we represented the respectable, the acceptable face of dissent. We were neither hostile nor in a rage. We did not
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separate ourselves from the mainstream. Our irony was gentled by the fact that we included ourselves among its targets. We soon stopped trying to save the world in favor of laughing at it. We did not preach the apocalypse. Our audiences laughed the laugh of recognition. We were, of course, political liberals. And we took our easy shots at the Ku Klux Klan, at Nixon, at racism. But we also recognized that the proper target of a satirist is himself and the members of his own class, their shibboleths, beliefs, and dogmas. The worthiest scenes exposed our own culpability in the face of such issues as racial prejudice and injustice. Another reason for our success was not artistic but financial. Mostly through sheer dumb luck we had stumbled on a form, and a formula, that made for economic advantages unusual in the theatre. We had a lower cost base than even a storefront theatre. With no set, with a couple hundred dollars' worth of costume elements, with a small cast, with one musician and a stage "crew" consisting of one combination light, sound, and stage management person, we were lean. There were other savings. We rehearsed a new show with the same cast that played the old one. We earned extra revenue from serving drinks. We never advertised.* These factors enabled us to keep our prices down. In a business notorious for being transient, we survived and even flourished with a relatively small theatre. But the chief reasons for our survival, aside from our favorable business setup, were the intelligent actors, highly skilled at both writing and acting, guided by the genius of Paul Sills. Plus the fact that not one of us, including our savvy, loyal waitresses, wanted anything other than a good, uncompromising show. Because we had a bar and served at tables, people often characterized us as a nightclub. To them I would explain that we were a theatre that served drinks, not a bar that put on a show. That is the sum of it. We appeared at the right time with a great format, a viable financial venture, a great director, and marvelous actors. Although we were and still are known as political satirists, the fact is that politics was but a fraction of the subjects we considered. We often disappointed those who held the idea that we should be more heavily engaged in social critiques. But irony was our metier. We applied it to the family, to courting, to work and the workplace. We parodied Mozart and Superman. We sang songs about nature. We were young people talking to young people. And it didn't hurt that we were inexpensive. We felt from the beginning that our competition was not other theatres but movies, and we always tried to be within a few dollars of the price of a movie ticket. With all that, it was an actor's medium, and it was Paul Sills who held us all to the highest standards of acting. After a couple of months it became apparent that we were indeed a success. And while it is true that every actor, every director, writer, producer in the theatre expects a miracle each time out, there coexists a pessimism that accepts the many failures. "I must complain," said Swift, "that the cards are ill-shuffled till I have a good hand." And in this business good hands are rare. No wonder so few, if they do triumph, avoid the perils and pitfalls created by success. I don't mean the obvious discomfort of having one's privacy constantly invaded.* I mean the quietly insidious ways in which the promise of success can affect the work at hand. Guilt, hope, fear, desire: these form a dangerous concoction. As I look back on twenty-five years of The Second City, I see clearly that our deepest problems came from our successes, starting with my co-founders, Paul and Howard.
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Howard was a free spirit, chafing at any long-term commitments. His departure was amicable and, as I see now, inevitable. Paul had a more complex reaction. In a most subtle way it was difficult for him to deal with success. In the theatre a production is always a group achievement. Thus, oddly, theatrical success is a leveler. In the theatre the director and some of the actors may have been stars going into a production or may become stars as a result of a production, but custom and indeed reality impose a "we're all in this together" attitude which mandates that success be shared. It wasn't that Paul was greedy or nonsharing; far from it. But somehow success was noisy, disturbing his muse. Two months after our opening, it looked like we would survive, but Paul's inquietude that had propelled us to this point did not fade. Paul paled at he thought of endlessly doing shows in a single style. The telltale signs of his restlessness were evident. Already he was talking of the Story Theatre form that he eventually staged on Broadway and for television. This was the first of many times that I found myself trying to keep things together. At that point, if Paul went, we all went. I had a sneaky solution. In some of our earlier incarnations we had worked with an impossibly talented, impossibly demanding gentleman named Del Close. I sent for Del some six months after we opened. Sensing that Paul was alarmed, even panicky, at the prospect of doing show after show, I thought it might be helpful to have Del Close around if we needed a director. We had worked with Del in the past and had found this acerbic, quick-tongued, excessive man to be a genius, a dark genius- from Kansas yet. When he wasn't astounding audiences with intelligent wit, he was drinking, drugging, and destroying himself. He was the quintessential beatnik-Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ginsberg rolled into one. Del, who died in the year in which this book was written, and I had a longstanding, sometimes good-natured argument about the use and abuse of improvisation. He found in it a magical, transcendent quality that resulted in a unique stage expression. I saw it as a technique, a stage tool like mime or fencing. He maintained that it was indeed an art form, deserving to be elevated to presentational status. I felt that to do so was a self-indulgence, that improvisation elevated to a form of presentation failed most of the time, that any scene could benefit from editing, concision, and shaping. Del devoted the last years of his life to teaching and inspiring a small, devoted band of committed improvisers. It was a guru-disciple relationship that bred fervent devotees to improvisation as an almost mystical form of theatrical magic. On the night before Del died, there was a party in the basement recreation room of his hospital. Dozens of people were there to pay their respects in what was really an affecting celebration, sort of a wake with the central figure alive and present. The party was only slightly marred by the Druid ceremony that closed the evening (Del was a witch). Del himself, white-haired and white-bearded but with impish grin intact, sat there with air tubes and IVs snaking around his wheelchair, clearly enjoying it all. When I approached to pay my respects, he wagged a finger at me and half-bellowed, "It is an art form," and then went into what I thought was a long chuckle. I said, "Del, for tonight it is an art form." Where upon someone said, "You're standing on his air tube." It was like a bad Second City improvisation. I hastily slid away and all was well again. The next day Del died, having willed his skull to the Goodman Theatre to be used in the gravedigger's scene in Hamlet. Now that I look back on it, I think my bringing in Del might have been a shameless sort of manipulation. But it worked. Del was the spur to Paul's competitive nature. Paul directed another show. Later Del joined the
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company as an actor, escaped briefly to San Francisco, and then returned to direct. Actors loved him in what I called their "let's eat babies together, send up our parents, and do drugs" mode. Eventually, his excesses were unsupportable. Also rejoining us from previous ventures soon after we opened was Sheldon Patinkin. Sheldon, twenty-four years old at the time, was a prodigy. A talented pianist (he had steered us through a production of the ThreePenny Opera when he was nineteen) and opera lover, and widely read, Sheldon, in addition to being an achiever, was also the group's Jewish mother and its priest. He listened to confessions, took no sides, was always available and generous with his sympathy. I hired Sheldon as general manager and general assistant to everybody. Early in 1961 Sheldon was supplanted-no, augmented-as the Jewish mother of us all by the real article. Joyce Sloane joined us, at first selling benefit performances to small organizations, then taking on a general role as associate producer, a role she filled for me for twenty-five years. Joyce is calm, infinitely loving, and generous as a saint. Hundreds of actors have appeared on Second City stages over its forty some years, and I swear that Joyce keeps in touch with all of them, remembers their birthdays and their children's names, follows their careers, visits them in New York or California or Toronto, calls, writes, and sends presents. She is universally loved. No small part of her job was to heal the wounded feelings often left by Paul or myself. Nor are Joyce's maternal ministrations confined to The Second City. The entire Chicago theatre community basks in her beneficence. This, then, is how it was at the start: Howard, Paul, myself, Joyce, Sheldon, Del, a successful show. It was a good beginning, but we had no presentment of how quickly our lives were to change. Days and Nights at the Second City By Bernard Sahlins Edited by Ivan R. Dee About this contributor Bernard Sahlins was born in Chicago and studied at the University of Chicago before he turned to the theatre. He has won the Sergel Prize for playwriting and several Joseph Jefferson Awards for directing, and has produced television specials for HBO, Granada Television, and CBS.

Sylvia
Nicole Hollander

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We've all been traumatized by the events of September 11. We worried about anthrax. We fear another terrorist attack. We've got a lot on our minds. Who can blame us, if like the woman in my cartoon we're too preoccupied to notice our civil liberties are in danger? Why not let John Ashcroft define our democracy? And why not repeat our past mistakes.... let's put all young Muslim men in desert camps and apologize later. The challenge of this cartoon was to be oblique and humorous about a serious issue. I set it in the style of the '40s detective story... complete with a curvy dame in trouble. She throws herself on the mercy of the Lonely Detective, friend of those who have no friends, a man fatally attracted to redheads and lost causes. His client is distraught. She's turned the house upside down searching for her civil liberties, but they're gone. She fears they've been stolen. Can he get them back for her? It's his kind of case, a long shot with no fee in sight, and the cops will probably knock him around in the process... but he's used to that. It's part of the job. About this contributor Nicole Hollander is the creator of the syndicated cartoon strip Sylvia, which appears in many newspapers, but not really as many as she would like. If you can help, she would appreciate it and so would the cats.

Borders

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"Americas Sire Novi Orbis Nova Descripto" Photo Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago

Vol. 3, Issue 1/ December 2000 The latest edition of the American Heritage Dictionary tells us that the word "border" has eight different definitions (four different meanings as a noun and four more meanings as a verb). In response to the polysemy of the term "borders," we cast a wide net for this issue. Although the pieces included here do not touch on every possible definition of "borders," they explore the term as it applies to a wide variety of physical (and less tangible) boundaries--local, national, international, real, imagined, and ever-shifting. Our inclusion of the online Border Studies exhibition from the Texas Humanities Resource Center also introduces the idea of cyberspace as a "borderless" region, ripe for exploration through the humanities.

Editor's Letter
To be honest, when I explained in a summer staff meeting that we had chosen to focus on "borders" for this issue of Detours and we began to brainstorm in the office about possible articles or contributors, I was initially met with a resounding silence from an otherwise very chatty group. In retrospect, this is not surprising. After all, the latest edition of the American Heritage Dictionary tells us that the word "border" has eight different definitions (four different meanings as a noun and four more meanings as a verb). I began to ask myself: were we asking our contributors to write about life on the edges? About "a decorative strip around the edge of something, such as fabric"? About the decorative shrubs at the outskirts of their gardens? Or perhaps about the boundaries that separate geographical areas or political districts? Or perhaps we were asking them to explore what it means for one body of land to lie adjacent to another (i.e., "Canada borders the United States"). Or were we asking contributors to reflect on what it means for something to be approaching a certain characteristic (i.e., "an act that borders on heroism")? Were we, one staff person asked, including an essay on the explosion of the corporate megastore that takes up many city blocks in Chicago and
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the surrounding suburbs? (A new Borders Books & Music opened its doors this month a few blocks from our offices). In response to the polysemy of the term "borders," we cast a wide net for this issue. Although the pieces included here do not touch on every possible definition of "borders," they explore the term as it applies to a wide variety of physical (and less tangible) boundarieslocal, national, international, real, imagined, and evershifting. Our inclusion of the on-line Border Studies exhibition from the Texas Humanities Resource Center also introduces the idea of cyberspace as a "borderless" region, ripe for exploration through the humanities. Despite the difficulty of grappling with the wide spectrum of meanings for "borders" in order to produce an issue focused on the topic, "borders" is in many ways the perfect topic for exploration by the Illinois Humanities Council. Through our public humanities programs, the Illinois Humanities Council is committed to dialogues about literature, history, the law, and art history, etc. that expand the boundaries of our thinking. We are also committed to breaking down the boundaries (economic, geographical, cultural) that often keep all Illinoisans from participating in such dialogues. We want to thank the editors at W.W. Norton for permission to excerpt materials from Earl Shorris' forthcoming collection, In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature (edited with Dr. Miguel Leon-Portilla). We also wish to thank the Newberry Library for permission to use images from their collection of antique maps and Pat Morris at the Newberry for his assistance in locating these images among their vast collection. We are also thankful to photographer J.Q. Jacobs for the images from his website of mesoamerican stone sculpture. The image of the Xochipilli statue from Mr. Jacobs' website was re-printed with permission from the National Museum of Anthropology and History, Mexico City. We are also grateful to the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale for permission to reproduce the images of the glaciation lines in Illinois and a photograph from the Ned Trovillion Collection in the Special Collections of the Morris Library. Phoebe Stein Davis Senior Editor, Detours Communications Officer, Illinois Humanities Council

Border Studies: A Website Exhibit Produced by the Texas Humanities Resource Center
Frances Leonard The Border is a given of life in Texas, and this is because Texas has not always been Texas. The boundary line was first drawn in 1836, during the Texas Revolution, and redrawn farther south in 1848, in accord with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the War of the Yanqui Invasionor the Mexican War, as people north of the border name it. But the Border is not merely a line; it is a place, where Mexicans and Texans have lived together for upwards of 150 years. It is a region that people pass through to come north or go south, carrying their linguistic and social habits with them. These aspects of culture meet, mix, blend, and magnify as they are shared by more and more people. As one travels south through Texas, one hears less English, more Spanishor, to the horror
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of proper Spanish-speaking peoples, a mixture of the two languages in one sentence, one phrase, one word. This is the Border vocalized. To repeat, the Border is a given of life in Texas, and the Texas Council for the Humanities has placed a high priority on humanities programs and resources that deal with the Mexican heritage of Texas. But Mexican heritage does not mean recent history, any more than it means that the Border is a line that follows the Rio Grande from El Paso to Brownsville. This heritage goes back more than 3,000 years, and it takes in peoples and languages unknown to us. Thus, the TCH has supported such projects as "Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries" and "Unknown Mexico," which stay south of the present borderline. In addition, the Council has supported exhibits and films on the Mexican War, exhibits and public programs on the mapping of Texas and the Southwest, and exhibits and programs on Latino literature in the United States. All of these are part of the Mexican heritage of Texas. And all of these are the subjects of photo-and-text panel exhibits circulated for public programs by the Texas Humanities Resource Center. The website, is an outgrowth of THRC's collection of exhibits. Specifically, it is the end result of a long process of investigating how these exhibits could relate to forms of electronic media that were emerging as the 1990s began. Through a planning grant from NEH, staff concluded that the exhibits could be "repurposed" to digital format. But for what purpose? The emergence of the Internet as a medium for transmitting images as well as words provided the answer. Border Studies is a collection of eight exhibits that relate to the Texas-U.S. Southwest-Mexican border, plus one exhibit that focuses on the Canadian/U.S. border. As distant as it may seem, the Canadian border offers a wonderful perspective for interpreting the U.S./Mexican border, and one of the goals in pairing the two exhibits, "Border Studies" and "Between Friends," was to encourage a thoughtful comparison of the two zones. (The term "Border Studies" names both the collection of nine exhibits and one singular exhibit in the collection; perhaps this duplication is confusing, but it seemed unavoidable as the collection was developed.) Each exhibit in the collection is accompanied by an essay, by learning activities and teacher's guides, and by references to other websites of outstanding relevance. In addition, there are interactive games to accompany many of the exhibits. At present, and perhaps forever, the website is a work in progress. In addition to the Border Studies collection, Humanities Interactive will house eight (or more) additional collections of exhibits on varied themes, and each collection will offer a comparable variety of corollary materials. Putting an exhibit on the Internet means that one is reaching new and oftentimes unidentifiable audiences, perhaps at times when a typical humanities program has to close down for the night. It means, too, that one is using new formats and rethinking traditional procedures of communicating with the public. It is an exciting adventure to be involved with the evolving nature of public humanities programming. About this contributor Frances M. Leonard is director of the Texas Humanities Resource Center and project director of the Humanities-Interactive.org digitizing project. She has been on the staff of the Texas Council for the Humanities since 1978.

Border Studies: Re-mapping the Humanities


Paul Jay
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If most of us were asked which academic disciplines make up "the humanities" at U.S. colleges and universities, we'd probably reel off a list that included History, English, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science, and Psychology. We wouldn't be wrong, since these disciplines (or departments) still form the core of a humanities education at most of our colleges and universities. However, such a list doesn't take account of an important sea-change in American higher education, one that has seen the borders between these various disciplines blur, and new interdisciplinary programs and disciplines emerge. Over the last couple of decades, the humanities in the United States has taken on a new and exciting configuration, in which programs like Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Urban Studies, African American, Chicano and Asian studies have begun to play an increasingly prominent role alongside traditional disciplines. While these programs have grown out of work initially begun in older departments, they have increasingly defined themselves as independent disciplines. Their existence underscores the fact that the humanities is a fluid, changing field of study, one that continually responds to social, cultural, scientific and political transformations. One of the most interesting new fields to emerge in the humanities in recent years is the one my own work has gravitated toward, Border Studies. Taken in its earliest and most limited sense, Border Studies refers to the study of culture and society along the U.S./ Mexican border. Teaching and research in Border Studies programs (the number of which has proliferated in recent years) is often conducted by scholars trained in traditional humanities disciplines. What ties all of this work together is a focus that is both geographic and cultural, geographic in the sense that work in the field of Border Studies has traditionally focused on social and political life in the region along the U.S./Mexican border (particularly the Southwest) and cultural in the sense that it has paid particular attention to the cross-cultural, hybrid nature of everything from music, clothing and food to literature, architecture, language and film in the region. One thing that connects this work is a focus on the complicated and politically charged nature of identity in the region. While location and ethnic background have always played a role in shaping personal identity and the social and political community of people throughout the U.S., in the borderlands of the U.S. Southwest these shaping forces have come into play with particular power and complexity. Here, both identity and community are burdened with a complicated political history involving Spanish Conquistadors, native peoples from Mexico and the Pueblo tribes of what is now Arizona and New Mexico, Anglo American settlers from the east, the clash of native, Catholic, and Protestant spiritual traditions, and the presence of an important African American population. Much of the work taking place in Border Studies programs throughout the U.S. is interdisciplinary in the best sense of the word, fueled by a range of scholars and teachers with backgrounds in political science, sociology, anthropology, history and literary studies. The University of Texas at El Paso, for example, houses the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies. Established in 1961, it is located in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Jurez, Mexico. Also in the El Paso/Ciudad area is The Border Studies Program managed by Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Both of these programs allow for the exploration of cross-border relationships (literary, social, political, and legal) shaping the culture of the borderlands. Other important interdisciplinary programs devoted to border studies include The Mexican American Studies Department at San Diego State University, the Chicano Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, The Stanford Center for Chicano Research, and the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies Program at Rutgers University, which focuses its attention on "the diverse political, social and cultural histories of the Spanish-speaking societies of the Caribbean as well as Latino communities in the United States." As these programs indicate, Border Studies is an expanding and flourishing field in the humanities, and as the Hispanic population of the U.S. continues to grow, programs such as these will no doubt proliferate. While the field of Border Studies developed within traditional humanities disciplines and then broadened
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beyond them into separate programs like the ones I listed above, it has also had a transforming impact on how we conceive of those traditional disciplines. Increasingly, insights from Border Studies scholars are influencing work in a variety of disciplines, including political science, sociology, history and anthropology. One dramatic example is my own field of American literary studies. Prior to the development of Border Studies, American literary historians tended to ignore the importance of U.S. border regions to the development of a distinctly American literary tradition. Conventional historical narratives tracked the roots of American literature out of Puritan settlements in the northeast, and later and more generally, New England and New York. In this narrative, American literature was grounded in the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather, the frontier novels of James Fenimore Cooper, and the poetry and prose of Emerson, Hawthorne and Whitman. These roots, of course, were overwhelmingly British and Protestant. The work of Border Studies critics like Gloria Anzalda and Jose David Saldvar, however, stresses an important counter-tradition that parallels and in some instances predates this dominant myth about America's literary origins. This narrative focuses on the literature of Spanish/Catholic conquest in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, on the importance of Mayan, Yaqui, Aztec and Pueblo oral traditions in the region, and on early Hispanic writing in Texas and New Mexico, all of which had a profound impact on the history of American literature. In the wake of Border Studies, it is now much easier to see that the history of U.S. literature is more complex and complicated than earlier accounts suggested, that it unfolded simultaneously from both sides of the continent, from the Northeast to the West, and from the Southwest to the East and Northeast. This revised historical narrative has reinvigorated the study of American literature, which now pays much closer attention to how U.S. literature has evolved within the context of a complex intermixing of Anglo-American traditions with others rooted in native, Hispanic, Latin, and African American cultures. Although in its initial stages, the field of Border Studies focused attention on the multiplicity of cultural influences that contribute to life along the U.S./Mexican border, scholars and students in the field have more recently turned their attention to border zones outside this limited geographical region. They have moved beyond a literal approach to the concept of borders (determined by attention to national borders) in favor of a more flexible one that defines a "border zone" as any area where two or more cultures exist in sustained contact and interchange with one another. In this context, the term "border" is defined broadly to encompass any community or social space in which forms of Hispanic and Anglo American culture meet and intermix. Oscar Martinez, Professor of History at the University of Arizona, explains in "Human Interaction in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands," that "Border culture is most vibrant in the core zone of the borderlands, or the strip of territory where the border cities are situated. Beyond this area, there is a secondary domain where border culture is strongly felt; important cities in the Texas-Mexico region include San Antonio, Houston, Monterrey, and Saltillo. . . . The impact of the border diminishes in the interior of each nation, but selected spheres of influence are readily apparent. For example, in the United States, places like Denver and Chicago have large Mexican American populations who maintain steady contact with the borderlands. An important part of that contact is carried on by migrants who constantly travel between Mexico and the interior United States." For the reasons Martinez outlines, the concept of "border zones" has come to be applied to communities beyond the U.S. Southwest. Such communities typically develop in urban areas like Chicago, of course, where heavily Hispanic neighborhoods like Little Village, Pilsen, and Humboldt Park are giving the city a more
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hybrid, multicultural character. As Ray Hutchinson, from the Department of Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has observed, "as early as 1960 Chicago emerged as the third-largest Mexican city in the United States, ranking only behind Los Angeles and San Antonio in the number of Mexican-origin persons. By 1970 the Mexican-origin population in Chicago exceeded that of the every state except California and Texas." In effect, this vibrant Hispanic community in Chicago has created an interior border zone far from the more literal one in the Southwest. Earlier, I made the distinction between geographical and cultural ways of conceiving of Border Studies. A border can be defined geographically, but it can also be thought of as a cultural space that cuts across national, state, and even city borders. If we draw on the more expansive notion of the term "border" used by many Border Studies scholars, one that defines a "border zone" as a space between, a liminal place of intercultural contact and hybridization where people from very different cultural and historical backgrounds improvise everything from identities to art forms, foods and political alliances, then places like Chicago become of great interest to people working in Border Studies programs. In the arts alone, Chicago contributes richly to border literatures and the arts. Two of the most well known writers associated with border literature, Sandra Cisneros and Ana Castillo, are from Chicago and write about the city in their award-winning books. Chicago is also home to the Mexican Fine Arts Center, one of the country's preeminent museums and cultural centers devoted to Hispanic and inter-American art. The city is also home to the Latino Chicago Theatre Company, one of the most important Hispanic theater groups outside the Southwest. This newer, expanded approach to Border Studies has begun to open up new urban centers like Chicago's Hispanic communities (and the border zones that immediately surround them) to perspectives drawn from Border Studies. Scholars and students taking this more expansive approach to Border Studies have helped develop a set of innovative and exciting approaches to the study of cross-cultural encounters that have not only transformed our approach to the history of the U.S. borderlands and its urban centers, but which have also influenced interdisciplinary work on the Caribbean, Latin America, Canada, and a host of postcolonial nations around the world. It seems likely, then, that the future of Border Studies lies as much in this expanded cultural approach to the topic as it does in a more traditional geographic focus on the U.S. Southwest. With the our Spanishspeaking population increasing dramatically in the U.S., and with the trend toward interdisciplinary and crosscultural research and teaching expanding each year, it is clear that Border Studies will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the humanities at colleges and universities from the U.S. Southwest to its Midwestern heartland. (For more information on Border Studies visit Paul Jay's Website, "Border Studies: A Website Devoted to Literature and Cultures in the Americas". It contains links to the programs discussed in this essay, and to a broad range of online resources devoted to Border Studies.) About this contributor Paul Jay is a Professor of English at Loyola University in Chicago. He teaches and writes about new approaches to studying American and British literature in a cross-cultural and globalized context.

Chicago's Neighborhood Borders


Dominic Pacyga

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Neighborhoods are concrete places. They are bound in space with borders, real or imagined. Almost instinctively one knows when one is in one's neighborhood. It has borders. Borders that are widely agreed upon, but flexible. Somehow residents know when they are in their neighborhoods, when they belong. They know that just the other side of the street or boulevard or railroad track lays somebody else's neighborhood, peopled by someone else. Their place has a different name, a different story. While neighborhoods are concrete places marked in Chicago's geography, they are also places that make sense, or at least did at one time, economically, socially, and even symbolically. Chicago came to maturity as a streetcar city and many of its neighborhoods are holdovers from that reality. Streetcar and railroad tracks crisscrossed Chicago leaving boundaries and borders in their wake. Other boundaries were erected as a result of political decisions, but these proved to be not only artificial, but also hardly permanent. Congressional districts, wards, school districts, parish boundaries, even police districts and telephone area codes all changed over time. Still Chicagoans identified neighborhoods with names such as Merigold, Slag Valley, Bucktown, and Marquette Park with a regularity that transcended domination by one ethnic group or another and even time. Residents began to see these borders as real and permanent. In Chicago there are over two hundred such places. Most often they are small and they function almost like small towns. There are seventy-seven community areas, but these are almost all artificial constructs that contain two or more neighborhoods. Residents often ignore them and don't even know their name. How many inhabitants of Pilsen know they officially live on the Lower West Side? Most citizens of Canaryville and Back of the Yards on the city's South Side hardly recognize the name New City and would never say they live with each other in the same neighborhood. Sometimes they use the old suburban name of Town of Lake, but this too is receding into memory. The old stockyards separated Back of the Yards and Canaryville despite the fact that sociologists in the 1920s and the takers of today's census say they live in the same geographical space. The stockyards have divided the two areas since 1865, and even though the "yards" are gone they remain a boundary both real and imagined. To the north of Canaryville, just across Pershing Road lies Bridgeport. Once the street (then simply called 39th Street) was lined with industry, especially packinghouses, creating an urban border, but after they disappeared this simple street remains a frontier between these two rival districts. Even within various neighborhoods other borders quickly emerged. In the 1950s and 1960s in Back of the Yards West 47th Street was such a frontier. Polish American and other East European ethnic youth identified with one side of the busy street or another. To the north stood the parish of Sacred Heart catering primarily to Polish Americans. To the south of 47th Street stood the parish of St. Joseph also catering to families of the same ethnic group. These and other Catholic parishes in Back of the Yards had their own borders, often fiercely defended. They marked geographical space or sometimes simply ethno-cultural space. In some cases social class space were marked by these invisible parish boundaries. If you were Polish and lived north of 47th Street you attended Sacred Heart, but Lithuanians living on the same blocks attended Holy Cross just around the corner. Mexicans on those same blocks went to Mass at "La Capilla" officially called the Vicariate of St. Mary on Ashland Avenue. Furthermore, neighborhood kids identified with either Davis Square Park on 44th Street or Cornell Square on 51st Street. Sometimes in high school these artificial boundaries disappeared as neighborhood teenagers ended up going to the same institution. Of course borders could always be crossed, sometimes causing great strife, but crossed nonetheless. Racial borders were the most rigid. African Americans crossing a viaduct or a railroad track that separated them from whites often met violence or at least knew they were not in "their" neighborhood. This was true even if the census takers said that both sides of the dividing line were in the same community area. The divisions
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between white ethnic groups were often more permeable. Many an inter-ethnic marriage took place in Back of the Yards. Often those couples might belong to a territorial parish such as St. Rose of Lima on 48th and Ashland where mixed ethnicity predominated as the original Irish parishioners left the neighborhood. Over time Polish names and Mexican names mixed with others as ethnic lines blurred. Maybe the most important reality about neighborhood borders is that they change and shift. At times this is the result of ethnic and racial groups moving across the cityscape. On other occasions change is imposed from an outside agency like the federal, state, or city governments. When the expressway system cut across the city in the late 1950s and 1960s it changed some borders, obliterated some districts, and at least changed the geographic orientation of others. Important landmarks that once marked neighborhoods disappeared. The Fuller Park community area is still on the map, but the neighborhood largely disappeared when fourteen lanes of asphalt, now moving cars and trucks with a rapid transit line running through its center, splattered across the middle of it. This neighborhood, once called by the local sobriquet of "Between the Tracks" simply ceased to exist. To the north the Kennedy Expressway removed hundreds of families from West Town and the once predominantly Polish Catholic parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Most residents simply moved farther north towards Niles and other suburbs. Today perhaps seventy percent of all Polish Americans live in the suburbs. Demographic shifts often result in border shifts. Sometimes borders shift and so do names. The name Wicker Park encompasses a much larger area than it did just thirty years ago, including the old Polish neighborhood turned Latino neighborhood turning Yuppie neighborhood around St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. New names such as East Village and River North have appeared across the cityscape as real estate developers christen old neighborhoods with new names in order to attract upscale residents. The city map shifts and changes with time. Borders were meant to be crossed and redrawn. It is all part of the growing process. About this contributor Dominic Pacyga, Ph.D, teaches history at Columbia College in Chicago. He has authored or coauthored four books on Chicago's history. Currently Pacyga is serving as guest curator for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago Bungalow exhibit scheduled to open in Septermber 2001. He is also working on a study of Chicago in the 1950s.

The Borders of Southern Illinois


Kay Rippelmeyer-Tippy On any map of the United States our land is etched distinctly in the center; it is particularly demarcated on topographical maps, appearing as the southern tip of a jagged spear point. Our eastern and western borders are cut from our neighbor states, Missouri and Kentucky, by the two mightiest rivers of the country. Ours is "the land between the rivers," where the Ohio winds its way southwest to join the Mississippi. We claim not nearly the entire southern half of the state in defining our identity, but just the southernmost part of Illinois, the one eighth or one tenth of the land which escaped the scraping of the Illinoisan glacier, the one that pushed farthest south during the Ice Age, but didn't quite reach where we live. Our land is left carved with cliffs and canyons, rocky streams, caves and waterfalls. Here the northeastern reaches of the limestone Missouri Ozarks meet the westernmost upthrusts of the sandstone Shawnee Hills in rugged terrain and
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earthquake-prone fault lines. We don't have the rock bottom rivers of Missouri or the sandy beaches of a great lake, but southern Illinois is a lovely, exciting place to watch nature's hands playing freely all seasons. This land was bypassed by the first generations of westward moving settlers, as river traffic carried pioneers around the flood and mosquito-prone bottomlands to go further west from St. Louis. Progress bypassed southern Illinois for decades as well, as the upland southerners who did eventually settle in the hardwood hills were left as a regional historian described them "to stew in their own juices." As a result, our culture is entirely different than that of the great flat prairies and large farms of central Illinois. Less than 5% of present day Illinoisans have ever visited our region (70% of Illinois' population is in Chicago and surrounding suburbs). We are St. Louis Cardinal fans and know northerners by their Cubs hats. Southern Illinois is nationally known for its rich Woodland and Mississippian archaeological sites, 18th century European river fortifications, 19th century riverboat glory, mining labor and gang warfare of the 1920s and prohibition era, and for the Shawnee National Forest, a glorious spread of regenerated hardwood splendor that extends river to river. Great flocks of migrating waterfowl fly over us on the birds' version of the autobahn, the Mississippi flyway. Northerners come down to hunt geese, white tailed deer and wild turkey. Locals walk slowly through the forests in the spring and fall, hands folded behind their backs, scouting for tasty morels, precious ginseng and other roots. This is "the other Illinois," scenic but poor, a land of multi-layered deciduous forests, peach and apple orchards, black riverbottom soils, lakes and bluffs. Our history is that of hardscrabble families whose fortunes good and bad have been intimately tied to the changing uses and exploitation of the trees, land, and waterways. As a result, an unusually high proportion of native southern Illinoisans have a genuine sense of place. The land itself is a solace and a wisdom we turn to. Some of us are secretly glad to hear our tourism boosters bemoan the truth of our hot humid summers and the five foot rattlesnakes in the woods. Never be a recreational center. That's fine; we like our privacy. Even as humble people living in modest houses on hilltops surrounded by forests, we clearly know how golden is the silence that surrounds us, how wonderful are our pitch black moonless nights and how brightly shines the stars. Often grateful to have been bypassed by progress, a great many of us are more sustained by our relationships with each season than with a healthy bank account. A large number of us prefer interaction with trees or wildlife to people. Our place is not a perfect place; August, when the snakes go "white-eyed," can usually be avoided without much regret and there's too little snow for reliable winter recreation. But in our place's shining times, October and April and May, we are hard pressed to leave even for a weekend. We wouldn't miss a minute of it, and we feel ourselves at the heart of creation. Note: this piece first appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Orion and is re-printed here with permission from the author. About this contributor Kay Rippelmeyer-Tippy is a native of Valmeyer (Monroe County), IL, who has been researching and writing about southern Illinois history for the last twenty-five years from her home near Pomona in the Shawnee National Forest where she hunts turkey, ginseng, and morels. As a regional historian, she seeks an understanding of life from the bedrock to the migrating songbirds in treetops and all that's geographic, historic, and fascinating in-between. Of particular interest to her is the history of the regions's native Americans and first European travelers, riverwork, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Depression era, the German and Irish settlers, religious history, and natural history. She
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also recently joined the staff of the Illinois Humanities Council as the Program Liason for Southern and South Central Illinois.

The New Geography of Mesoamerica


Earl Shorris The Mesoamerican cradle exists now only in stone and contemplation. The great helmeted heads, the werejaguar babies are most of what remains. What the Olmecs said and how they said it, with what sounds, tones, stops, we shall probably never know. We know only that they began and that they did not limit their influence to the flatlands between the great rivers at the side of the Caribbean Sea. There was Olmec influence in the world of Teotihuacan and Tula to the northwest of the cradle and then the Maya to the south. The great city/state of the Mexica in the high plateau came late in the evolution of the culture, but not last, for it spread everywhere, to the four cardinal directions, in works of war and trade. Then the Spaniards came, and there was a moment when the culture that sprang from the Olmec cradle could have entered its grave. But the Mesoamerican ethos survived. It contracted, and then began to spread again. After the Spanish invasion Mesoamerican culture moved north into the states that had been Yaqui, Raramurl', and Paquime' territory. Along the Rio Bravo, to point out just one place, the people the Spaniards had named Manso, meaning docile, hunter/gatherers of the northern highlands, slowly adopted the culture that flowed north from Tenochtitlan. The northern villages themselves were reconfigured in the style of the central plateau. The zocalo [central square] of Tenochtitlan appeared in El Paso del Norte. The diet of the hunter/gatherers grew more sophisticated, and the gods of the north came more and more to resemble the gods who were born or discovered by the Olmecs who lived in what is now the state of Tabasco. Some of the change came as a result of the northward migration of the people from the more densely populated south and some was brought by the Spaniards who had become "Mexicanized." The cake of cornmeal filled with meat, vegetables, fish or fruit took its Nahuatl name, "tamal," to villages from Chihuahua to Colorado and California. With the continuing northward migration of indigenous people and people of mixed Spanish, indigenous and sometimes African ancestry, Mesoamerican culture began to mix with the northern European culture that dominated so thoroughly in the early centuries of what is now the United States. As the combination of Spanish, African and indigenous origins had produced the mestizaje, sometimes still described as "la raza cosmica," the cosmic race, in Mexico, the continuing northward migration produced a new mestizaje in the United States. As the northern boundary of Mesoamerican culture reached to Canada and beyond, spread by railroad workers, migrants, people fleeing the Revolution of 1910, the name of Mesoamerican culture bearers underwent a series of changes: Mexican, Mexican-American, Latin American, and Chicano, the latter perhaps the most politically aware and active incarnation. The Chicano concept was defined in his column in the Los Angeles Times by Ruben Salazar, a journalist who was born in Chihuahua and murdered by Sheriff's deputies in East Los Angeles. In his definition Salazar spoke of the Chicano as one who was aware of his indigenous heritage and who defended it.
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When Salazar wrote the column in 1970, it was largely politically active young people and a few scholars who were concerned with the Mesoamerican heritage of Mexicans and people of Mexican descent in the United States. For many people of the older generation their Spanish heritage was more desirable. They did not want to be considered "Indians," and perhaps with good reason, for no group of human beings in the United States had suffered more at the hands of the government than those who were called "Indians." The Chicanos were a new generation; one might best describe them as culturally courageous. They were neither ashamed nor fearful of their indigenous ancestors. Instead, they sought strength in their cultural patrimony. However, separation from Mexico and the effects of Mexico's ambivalent attitude toward its indigenous people (an alternate homage to pre-hispanic times and a continued discrimination and impoverishment now), complicated the nature of the northward spread of Mesoamerican culture. Some Chicanos began to speak of the southwestern United States as Aztlan, the place of origin of the people who moved south into Mexico and adopted the Mesoamerican ethos. Others preferred to abandon the Mesoamerican ethos in favor of European culture. Cultural migration, of course, is an individual decision now in the Americas. Toltec troops will not move north into the United States as they once moved south into the lands of the Maya. Nonetheless, the Mesoamerican ethos affects the ethos of the United States and particularly that of people of Mexican national origin, just as the Toltec ethos affected the Maya. The nature of the spread of Mesoamerican culture northward will depend to a large extent upon what is available. If the culture is limited largely to the repasts provided by fast food restaurants spiced with smatterings of the intellectual achievements of Mesoamerica, it will have been an unfortunate journey. Many Chicanos and others of Mexican descent who do not use that appellation have begun to seek out the deeper values of Mesoamerica in the art and literature that originated in the cradle of the Olmecs. Until now, a single source of Mesoamerican literature from Palenque to the present has not been available in English, and much of the literature has not been available in English in any form. While a single book cannot be more than a small part of the Mesoamerican wave that rolls north, it is the hope of the authors that this collection of works may help to enrich and beautify that wave, both for English readers of Mexican descent and for those who read it to enjoy the experience of communicating with one of the world's great original cultures. Note: This essay is a version of Earl Shorris's foreword to In the Language of Kings, an anthology of Mesoamerican literature edited by Mr. Shorris and Dr. Miguel Leon-Portilla (Emeritus Professor of History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, former Mexican Ambassador to UNESCO, historian of the City of Mexico, and author of Aztec Thought and Culture, Broken Spears, and many other books). This volume is forthcoming from W.W. Norton. Excerpted from In the Language of Kings by Earl Shorris. Copyright 2001 by Earl Shorris. With Permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. About this contributor Earl Shorris was educated at the University of Chicago and served in the U.S. Air Force. He is a
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novelist, contributing editor for Harper's magazine, and the Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Clemente Course in the Humanities, now associated with Bard College (Odyssey Project). His fictional publications include: In the Yucatan (W.W. Norton 2000); Ofay, The Boots of the Virgin, and Under the Fifth Sun: A Novel of Pancho Villa. His non-fictional publications include: Riches for the Poor: The Clement Course in the Humanities(W.W. Norton 2000), The Death of the Great Spirit, Latinos: A Biography of the People (new edition Spring 2001), A Nation of Salesman: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture, and New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy.

The Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

Tophat allegedly owned by Abraham Lincoln (c 1860): Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society

Vol. 2, Issue 1/ February 1999 In launching our magazine, we decided to take on big ideas; and "The Legacy of Abraham Lincoln," as a subject is almost as daunting as our first one, "Time." Lincoln has become a touchstone for just about any question one can think of, according to James McPherson, "quoting him as important as quoting the Bible." Focusing on the 16th president for our February 1999 issue is especially appropriate for the IHC. This year is our 25th anniversary and, as the state humanities council of the "Land of Lincoln," we are celebrating the importance of Illinois heritage.

Editor's Letter
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Welcome to the second issue of Detours, the online magazine of the Illinois Humanities Council. In launching our magazine, we decided to take on big ideas; and "The Legacy of Abraham Lincoln," as a subject is almost as daunting as our first one, "Time." Lincoln has become a touchstone for just about any question one can think of, according to James McPherson, "quoting him as important as quoting the Bible." Focusing on the 16th president for our February 1999 issue is especially appropriate for the IHC. This year is our 25th anniversary and, as the state humanities council of the "Land of Lincoln," we are celebrating the importance of Illinois heritage. Ironically, it may be harder for Illinoisans to pay attention to Lincoln. Lincoln, in all his variety, is buried in Illinois under the great stone monument at Oak Ridge Cemetery, just outside Springfield. But he is also buried under the weight of the "Lincoln plaques, markers, statues, and namesakes (towns, colleges, motels . . .so ubiquitous as to render the actual man of flesh and blood invisible)," as Dan Guillory has suggested in his essay, "Living with Lincoln." In this issue of Detours, Kim Bauer, historical research specialist for the Henry Horner Lincoln Collection at the Illinois State Historical Library, has written about some of the Lincoln statues in Illinois. There is the weight of scholarship, too. In surveying the literature, it is hard to imagine that any more can be written about Lincoln; but there have been new discoveries. Scholars have turned increasingly to aspects of his life before he became President. For example, The Documentary History of the Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, 1836-1861, known as The Lincoln Legal Papers, will be the definitive resource on Lincolns legal career. This project has uncovered many manuscripts in county courthouses in Illinois. This material will soon to be available on CD-ROM G. Cullom Davis, the director of this project, has been kind enough to share excerpts from an address he delivered as President of the Association for Documentary Editing in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 1998. As a scholar, Davis has truly "lived with Lincoln." These excerpts, titled "Popular Legacies of Abraham Lincoln," give us a refreshing insiders look at the Lincoln industry, the state of Lincoln scholarship and Lincolns influence on popular culture. According to Richard Norton Smith, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, it would be a mistake to think that presidents in our own century were the first to be concerned with image. Lincoln was an excellent politician and campaigner--a Great Communicator as well as the Great Emancipator. Smith's article is drawn from the speech he delivered as the 1998 Governor's Lecture in the Humanities at the Executive Mansion in Springfield, IL. We thank everyone who contributed to this issue of Detours. And we extend our deepest appreciation to the Chicago Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Library for their generous assistance in finding photographs and for allowing us to use them here. Kristina A. Valaitis Executive Editor, Detours Executive Director, Illinois Humanities Council

Abraham Lincoln and the Perpetual Campaign


Richard Norton-Smith
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Photo of Lincoln's pocket watch courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.I have declared before a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it exists." --Letter to John L. Scripps (June 23, 1858) "If A. can prove, however conclusively that he may, of right, enslave B. why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally that he may enslave A? You say A. is white and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellectual superior to your own." --Fragment on Slavery (c. 1854)

Let me express my appreciation to Governor Edgar and to the Illinois Humanities Council for the opportunity to address this subject, in this place, and before this audience. As the final such lecture of the Edgar governorship, this evening may carry something of a bittersweet quality. Yet any such feelings should be far outweighed by the collective pride that the Council and its supporters can take in combating the historical illiteracy that amounts to a cultural amnesia. From one distinguished Illinoisan whose campaign days are, by his own choice, drawing near to their close, I turn to another for whom virtually every waking hour represented a campaign of sorts, an unceasing pursuit, not only of power and position, but also of coherence and selffulfillment. In addressing what I call Abraham Lincoln's perpetual campaign, and in return for your hospitality, the least I can do is keep in mind Lincoln's own description of a long-winded lawyer whose chief distinction it was to compress the fewest thoughts into the most words of anyone in Springfield. Only those of you who call this city home know whether, as the poet Vachel Lindsay assured us early in this century, Mr. Lincoln walks your streets at midnight. If he does, his restlessness may well have literary origins. For while he may or may not stalk the neighborhoods in which he received his political baptism, he most certainly haunts the imagination of Americans for whom the sixteenth president remains at once the most universally recognizable and yet mysterious of figures. The task that confronts any Lincoln student is both daunting and exhilarating. Rare indeed is the writer who enters the Lincoln force field without being changed in some lasting way. I am no exception to this rule. So at the outset let me deny the rumor that I grew my beard in response to your kind
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speaking invitation. Actually, a little girl in upstate New York wrote me a letter suggesting that I would look better with whiskers. With his characteristic blend of shrewdness and spontaneity, Lincoln was not above deprecating his own physical appearance, especially if it allowed him to one-up the formidable Stephen A. Douglas. On one occasion after Judge Douglas had called him two-faced, Lincoln more than rose to the challenge. "I leave it to the audience," he drawled. "If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?" Small wonder that Douglas should complain of his perennial rival that every one of Lincoln's jokes "seems like a whack upon my back." Of course, humor can serve many purposes, on and off the campaign trail. For the politician it is both sword and shield, a weapon to turn on one's opponent, and a defense against those who might otherwise come too close or probe too deeply. Humor can also be employed to deflate pretense. Take the case of Lincoln's Springfield law partner, William Herndon. As effusive as his colleague was secretive, Herndon was given to rhetorical purple patches like his fulsome description of Niagara Falls delivered just a few days after Lincoln had chanced to see the great cataract with his own eyes. Herndon in full flight could be something of a natural wonder himself, and he pulled out all the stops to convey the visual splendors of the foaming torrent, the roar of the rapids and the sublime majesty of a rainbow permanently suspended above the Niagara gorge. Exhausting his vocabulary of praise, the younger man at length asked what about the experience had made the deepest impression on Lincoln. "The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls," said Lincoln, "was, where in the world did all that water come from?" Nearly two centuries after his birth, during which he has inspired at last count over 5,000 books and countless articles, monographs, high-flown eloquence and eminently forgettable convention oratory, we still ask of this human Niagara, "Where did all that water come from?" As rich as Lincoln scholarship may be, it pales beside the man who generated it. For if he wasn't two faced, Abraham Lincoln did not necessarily wear the same face before every audience. Of all the Lincoln stories, none seems to me so metaphorically revealing as the eerie encounter Lincoln had with himself on election night 1860. Worn out from the campaign and suspense of vote counting, the President-elect went home to rest. From his bed he saw a bureau with a swinging mirror, and in it his own reflection. "My face I noticed had two separate and distinct images," Lincoln would recall. "One of the faces a little paler. . . than the other, I got up and the thing melted away. My wife thought it was a sign that I was to be elected to another term, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I shouldn't see life through the last term." The story foreshadows the terrible price exacted for Lincoln's political self-realization. More than that, it hints at Herndon's later description of his friend as "a man totally swallowed up in his ambitions." In truth, the man in the mirror was many men, the dual images reflective of one who combined opposites with astonishing ease. "What is conservatism?" candidate Lincoln had asked early in 1860. "Is it not adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried?" Yet just two years later, amid the smoke and steel of civil war, Lincoln sounded a radically different note when he told Congress, "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." The man who declared "the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor, or dishonor, to the
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latest generation," was as contradictory in his personality as in his politics. For Abraham Lincoln, life itself was a fiery trial, whose ultimate reward was the good opinion of his fellow citizens, and the chance to be honorably remembered to the latest generation. Law may have been his livelihood, but politics was his life. Needless to say, the idea of a scheming, politically consumed Lincoln hardly squares with Carl Sandburg's dreamy idealist who halts in the middle of the road to rescue a pig stuck in the mud, or the upright store clerk who walks miles to return a few cents to an inadvertently shortchanged customer. The critic Edmund Wilson declared in the 1930's that Sandburg was the worst thing to happen to Lincoln since John Wilkes Booth. I wouldn't go that far, but I would caution readers that the great prairie poet, a florid stylist and fierce egalitarian, wrote biography that often reads like autobiography. Moreover, he had a clear agenda in crafting his mythic Lincoln as a sort of Paul Bunyan in a stovepipe hat. It was his intention, wrote Sandburg, "to take Lincoln away from the religious bigots and the professional politicians and restore him to the common people." Sandburg's Lincoln is summoned by destiny, not unlike his youthful hero George Washington, that other presidential icon with whom he reappears out of the historical mists each February to sell us appliances and used cars before quietly submitting to the dead hand of textbook history. Ironically, Lincoln himself would be the first to recognize the value of Sandburg's literary mausoleum. As a boy he devoured Parson Weems' sugary biography of the nation's first president--cherry tree, dollar hurled across the Rappahannock and all--blissfully unaware that no man in America was less likely to throw money away than the tightfisted father of his country. Conceding that Washington could hardly be so faultless as portrayed, Lincoln demonstrated his own profound grasp of historical mythology when he argued, "It makes human nature better to believe that one human being was perfect, that human perfection is conceivable." Yet on another occasion Lincoln rejected anything less than literal fact, saying "history is not history unless it is the truth." No small part of what I call Lincoln's perpetual campaign involved his dogged pursuit of the secular immortality bestowed upon Washington and the founding generation. As a young state legislator adapting their nationalistic creed to the frontier, Lincoln's ambitions were already in evidence. Having spearheaded a successful campaign to endow Illinois with publicly funded roads, canals and railways, Lincoln voiced the hope that future generations might venerate him as a prairie-bred Dewitt Clinton. Of course, comparisons with the father of the Erie Canal would hardly fuel the cottage industry that even now leads thoughtful scholars such as Douglas Wilson and Michael Burlingame to mine seemingly inexhaustible veins of Lincoln lore. To them, and to long recognized Lincolnians like David Herbert Donald, and especially Stephen Oates, I am indebted for much of what follows. It is not enough for the historian to grub for facts; he must then imagine those facts into a credible imitation of a life as it is being lived, so that we can know a man on his own terms and in his own times ... So return for a moment to the second floor bedroom of the Lincoln house amidst the beery jubilation of Republican Springfield in November, 1860. We have already noted two faces in the mirror, ghostly images taunting Lincoln then and mesmerizing Lincoln students ever since. Who is the blurry apparition in the looking glass? The double likeness suggests a man of many moods, finely balanced between extremes. The mirror reflects a calculating fatalist, a melancholy comic, a longsuffering husband and negligent spouse. What else does it show us? The Great Emancipator of legend, or the racist caricature drawn by some academics in our own time? The teller of vulgar stories, or the author of imperishable prose? The champion of popular self-determination, or the incipient dictator trumpeting human rights while suspending individual liberties? Is the man in the mirror the most assertive chief executive in
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American history, or the essentially passive figure captured in Professor Donald's bestselling biography published in 1995? "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me," Donald quotes Lincoln as telling an irate Kentuckian angry at the President for reneging on his pledge not to make war on slavery. What an artful dodge! "Don't blame me - blame events." That Lincoln could shed his skin without losing his soul should hardly come as a surprise. For this master politician had long since perfected the art of self-concealment. In some ways he is hiding still. In the popular mind, for example, he is forever enshrined as the unlettered genius who came out of the wilderness to vindicate self-government in a world where kings and despots still held sway. The reality is more complicated. Lincoln spent a lifetime, not so much celebrating his origins as escaping them. It wasn't the $8 a month flatboatman to whom his political philosophy paid tribute, but a system of government that offered him and other common laborers the chance to be uncommon, to work their way to respectable self-sufficiency and a smattering of culture. In retrospect it seems clear that Carl Sandburg enjoyed Lincoln's youthful privation far more than did the subject of his biography. There was no romance to be woven from his childhood, Lincoln told his 1860 campaign biographer John L. Scripps. In an oft-quoted disclaimer, the candidate insisted that his early years in Kentucky and Indiana amounted to nothing more than "the short and simple annals of the poor." One soon learns that with the sphinx-like Lincoln, however, few things are short and nothing is simple. In that same autobiographical fragment the Republican nominee belittled his father's meager educational attainments and all but ignored his mother. Lincoln had been conspicuously absent from Thomas Lincoln's funeral in 1851, at the start of a decade during which he rose to the pinnacle of the Illinois legal profession, with a $5,000 annual income that was triple the governor's salary. But if his bank balance was healthy, on the subject of his rustic upbringing Lincoln had long since drained his emotional account. His burning need for recognition was hammered on the forge of adversity. Lincoln's earliest memories revolved around dreary farm labor from which Weems' idealized portrait of George Washington crossing the Delaware had offered an enterprising and imaginative boy momentary respite. Young Lincoln confided to a country schoolteacher his intention to be a public man. The Pilgrim's Progress and Aesop's Fables, supplemented by the crabbed erudition of Coke and Blackstone, the poetry of Robert Burns and the mental gymnastics of rural debating societies, all fed the dreams of an aspiring lawyer and politician. Together they set the stage for Lincoln's tireless effort to prove himself - and to improve himself - while simultaneously vindicating the ideas of social mobility and individual dignity contained in the Declaration of Independence. For Lincoln, Shakespeare offered much more than entertainment. Along with the King James Bible, the Bard helped him master the language with a spare eloquence that has never been equaled. He displayed a special fondness for Shakespearean tragedies, none more so than Richard II, with its lugubrious invitation to sit upon the ground and tell the sad story of the death of kings. Over the years Lincoln scholars have spilled barrels of ink hoping to trace his persistent melancholy to its source. His depression stemmed from the death of his mother when he was but nine years old, it has been argued, its shattering impact reinforced by the loss of a much loved sister a few years later, and the cruel fate visited upon Ann Rutledge in 1835. Other theories attribute his emotional fragility to acute embarrassment over his ungainly appearance and social ineptitude, or to neglect in childhood even chronic constipation for which Lincoln liberally dosed himself with Blue Mass pills purchased from a Springfield druggist.
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More recently it has been suggested that Lincoln's family was genetically predisposed to depression. Apparently his father had been known to walk Kentucky fields loudly talking to himself of God's providence much as his famous son would be observed on the Illinois legal circuit babbling what one lawyer and bunkmate called "the wildest and most incoherent nonsense." Lincoln seemed as preoccupied with insanity as with death. In his late thirties a visit to the haunts of his Indiana youth inspired a poem about a boyhood friend who had lost his mind. "A human form with reason fled, while wretched life remains," wrote Lincoln in harrowing recollection. Did Abraham Lincoln fear the loss of his own sanity? According to Stephen Oates, it was precisely such dread that explains his refusal to indulge in alcohol or surrender to passion. Americans, he told a Springfield audience in 1842, must place their reliance on "reason, cold, calculating, impassioned reason." The quest for self-control became a integral part of his perpetual campaign. But for the politician some things are beyond control. Not even the most rigid self-discipline can assure the outcome of an election, or move voters to see moral imperatives obscured by self-interest, greed, or prejudice. There is no single explanation for Lincoln's moody silences or abrupt emotional withdrawals. But the most credible of causes, it seems to me, is simply this: the yawning gulf between his aspirations and his expectations. He could master himself, but not the electorate. Both idealist and pragmatist, Lincoln had chosen the one profession that guaranteed fame and misery in equal measure. To Billy Herndon he once confessed that his mother was the illegitimate offspring of an unnamed Virginia aristocrat. Then he swore his law partner to secrecy. The vow died with Lincoln. As a result, next to Sandburg, it is Herndon's Lincoln - henpecked, greedy for office, suicidally depressed, and no friend to organized religion - who still dominates the scholarly horizon more than a century after Herndon's grab bag of personal observation, second-hand gossip, and historical hearsay first appeared to challenge the saintly image of a martyred president. Herndon's Lincoln is both tender and ruthless, furtive and transparent. He is a severely logical attorney, who rarely travels the legal circuit without a well thumbed copy of Euclid to ponder before a midnight fire. But he is also a superstitious child of the frontier, relating premonitions of a terrible fate awaiting him. Truth be told, Herndon's Lincoln fears death less than obscurity. To Joshua Speed, probably the closest thing to an intimate friend he ever had, the aspiring politician said in 1841 that he would be perfectly willing to die then and there. "But I have an inexpressible desire to live," he added, at least "till I can be assured that the world is a little better for my having lived in it." Another close associate, Ward Hill Lamon, heard Lincoln confide White House aspirations almost as soon as the two men met. "He never rested in the race he had determined to run," Lamon wrote long afterward. "He was ever ready to be honored; he struggled incessantly for place." Launching his first campaign for the legislature at the age of 23, Lincoln embarked upon a cycle familiar to every politician who relies on the electorate for his self-esteem as well as his livelihood. Democracy is a fickle employer, and those who look to the ballot box for justification mistake transient popularity for a king's cure. So why run such a risk? For Lincoln, whose enormous drive was matched by a brooding pessimism, victory at the polls promised current reputation and future remembrance. Just as Winston Churchill relied on incessant labor and a combative personality to ward off what he called his "black dog," so the painfully self-conscious Lincoln sought immersion in a cause or campaign larger than himself. It cannot be said that the young candidate, a leathery skinned giant with a floating left eye and size 14 feet, cut a prepossessing figure on the campaign trail. "He wore a mixed jeans coat," recalled one voter, "clawhammer
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style, short in the sleeves, and bobtail - in fact, it was so short in the back that he could not sit on it - flax and tow linen pantaloons and a straw hat." Enhancing the comical effect were several Lincoln anecdotes shrewdly unfurled to disarm hostile members of the audience. A master of political symbolism, Lincoln reached out to working class voters suspicious of his conservative economic policies. He once addressed a Springfield crowd estimated at 15,000 while standing in a farm wagon. On another occasion he burnished his mass appeal by saluting the honest laborer who digs coal at about seventy cents a day "while the president digs abstractions at about seventy dollars a day." Yet no amount of well-timed wit or strategic cleverness could banish the petty slights and banal treacheries of the political arena. "Now if you should hear anyone say that Lincoln doesn't want to go to Congress," he confided to a friend in 1843, "I wish you ... would tell him you have reason to believe he is mistaken. The truth is, I would like to go very much." When the prize went instead to a Whig rival, Lincoln made little effort to hide his bitterness. Three years later he was again climbing the greasy pole. His Democratic opponent was Peter Cartwright, an itinerant Methodist preacher who looked out from a makeshift pulpit one morning to discover his adversary in attendance at an emotionally charged camp meeting. Sensing a literally heaven-sent opportunity to embarrass Lincoln whose unorthodox views had branded him in some quarters as little better than an infidel, Cartwright invited all within the sound of his voice who hoped to taste the delights of heaven to stand. A healthy portion of the crowd rose to its feet, but not Lincoln. The evangelist next called upon all those who wished to avoid the eternal hellfire of damnation to rise, an appeal which, not surprisingly, elicited virtual unanimity. Still Lincoln held back. Seizing the moment, the Reverend Cartwright observed that while many in the room had signified their desire to go to heaven, and practically all had conveyed their dread of hell, only Mr. Lincoln had failed to respond to either request. "May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln, where are you going?" Slowly Lincoln rose to his full height, until he towered over the rest of the assembly. "Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going," he said. "I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress." And so he did, though not without first admitting to his old friend Joshua Speed that winning the election in November, 1846 "has not pleased me as much as I expected." It was a complaint made familiar through repetition. A decade earlier, as a freshman member of the Illinois legislature, his depressed state had moved one colleague to ask bluntly what was wrong with his friend. Lincoln's reply conveyed the dilemma of a man walking an emotional treadmill, for whom a life in politics expressed both the will to succeed and the disillusionment with success as measured by roll calls, patronage jobs, and artificially generated controversy. "All the rest of you have something to look forward to," said a dejected Lincoln, "and all are glad to get home, and will have something to do when you get there. But it isn't so with me. I am going home ... without a thing in the world." His spirits did not rise even if his political standing did. As Whig floor leader in the Illinois house, Lincoln called himself "the most miserable man living." Promotion to the national legislative offered only fleeting rewards. While in Congress he opposed the Mexican War as an unjust conflict waged for slaveholders by a compliant Polk Administration, and earned vilification for his antiwar efforts. Denied re-election in 1848, Lincoln joined the ranks of unemployed lawmakers who lobbied the new Whig president, Zachary Taylor, for the spoils of victory. Logical as ever, Lincoln prepared a list of eleven perfectly sound reasons why Taylor should appoint him Commissioner of the General Land Office, a sinecure paying $3,000 a year. Taylor was unpersuaded. As a consolation prize Lincoln was offered the territorial governorship of Oregon, which he turned down, a politically adroit move he blamed on a wife whose desire for rank dwarfed even his own.
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His willingness to feed at the public trough gave poignancy to Lincoln's later dealings with the hoard of placeseekers who infested his White House. Transforming misery through humor, in 1863 he declared himself well pleased to have contracted a mild form of typhoid fever since, as he expressed it, "now at last I have something I can give everyone." But all that was in the unfathomed future. And in the meanwhile, there was posterity to ruin an ambitious man's sleep. "It isn't a pleasant thing to think that when we die that is the last of us," a youthful Lincoln had remarked to a friend during his New Salem days. Had he died in 1849, or even five years later, Following his first unsuccessful campaign for the United States Senate, Lincoln would be little noted nor long remembered today. Whatever else they held in store, events would spare him that fate. Instead, they would bury Lincoln the man in a shroud of democratic mythmaking and self-sacrificing nobility. It would be more accurate to say of the middle-aged Lincoln that the thing he was most willing to sacrifice was private life. Certainly his intense struggle with Stephen A. Douglas contained elements of jealousy as well as high-minded principle. While Lincoln might enjoy a laugh at Douglas' expense, for most of his career he was unable to defeat him at the polls. This gave rise to feelings of envy and personal resentment, even worthlessness. In a private memorandum composed in 1856, two years before the epic contest in which both candidates rehearsed arguments that would recur in the next presidential campaign, Lincoln couldn't help but contrast the glittering achievements of his Democratic rival with his own, far more modest reputation. "With me," he wrote bitterly, "the race of ambition has been a failure - a flat failure. With him it has been one of splendid success." Neither courtroom eminence, newfound prosperity, nor a growing family were sufficient to quench his thirst for distinction. On the contrary: the Quaker brown Lincoln residence at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets may well be considered the original House Divided. Billy Herndon exaggerated the shrewish qualities of Mary Lincoln, with whom he enjoyed - if that is the word - a relationship of unconcealed mutual antipathy. Yet there are too many contemporary accounts that have Mary striking her husband with a stick of wood, hurling hot coffee in his face, or driving him to take refuge on an extra long couch in the offices of Lincoln and Herndon to be dismissed as mere neighborhood gossip. This is not to say that Lincoln was an easy man to live with. When he wasn't away on the legal circuit for weeks at a time, he could be found lying on the floor in a newspaper induced trance, or answering the door in his shirt sleeves, or absentmindedly pulling a wagon down the street, heedless of the screaming child who had fallen out. At first blush, the Lincolns appeared as ill-matched as sandpaper and silk. On closer examination, their admittedly turbulent marriage confirms the old adage that opposites attract. Like a pair of high-spirited horses yoked in harness, they had to pull together if the coach of state was not to be upset. Mary's quicksilver temper should not obscure the genuine love she felt for her husband, nor the pride she took in his accomplishments. Indeed, just as it has been said that without Nancy Reagan there would have been no President Reagan, so it can be argued that at a time when few others saw him as a man of destiny, Mary sustained Lincoln's belief in himself and in his mission. "There are no accidents in my philosophy," Lincoln explained to a friend. "The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from finite to the infinite." Occasionally even the infinite required a little strategic planning to disgorge its secrets. Lincoln's 1858 loss to Douglas left him temporarily dispirited, but the fires of ambition were far from banked. By now an old hand at covering his tracks, Lincoln publicly downgraded his chances for the White House. To various associates he expressed hopes for another shot at the Senate or an appointment as Attorney General in a
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Republican administration. He portrayed himself as strictly a favorite son candidate around whom fractious Illinois Republicans might coalesce, even as he raised his profile by making speeches in six Midwestern states. In February, 1860 he journeyed to New York to deliver the rousing Cooper Union address that would introduce the dark horse from Illinois to skeptical eastern audiences. Before leaving Springfield, Lincoln invited Joseph Medill and Charles Ray of the Chicago Tribune to examine his proposed text. As would-be kingmakers, the newspapermen urged numerous changes to the manuscript, then sat back to bask in the glow of their celebrated pupil. In the event, Lincoln took New York by storm, without incorporating a single "improvement" suggested by his Chicago brain trust. "Old Abe must have lost out of the car window all our previous notes," said Ray. Medill knew better, telling his partner, "This must have been one of his waggish jokes." A grassroots campaign needed an appropriately populist symbol. Honest Abe the Railsplitter sounded much better than Calculating Abe the Railroad Lawyer. With this in mind, at the state convention of his party held in Decatur in the spring of 1860, Lincoln supporters unveiled an inspired bit of political theater. By careful prearrangement the candidate's cousin, John Hanks, came forward carrying a pair of two weathered fence rails allegedly split by his illustrious kinsman. Modestly Lincoln said that he could not positively identify the rails as being his handiwork, finally relenting long enough to acknowledge the possibility. To dispel any lingering doubts, Lincoln brightly added, "I have split a great many better looking ones." Not since 1840, when William Henry Harrison's Whig supporters had transformed their Virginia - born grandee into a popular hero enamored of log cabins and hard cider, had the Dick Morrises of their day engineered a more potent conversion. Democrats, none too happy to have their thunder stolen, lampooned Lincoln as the Prince of Rails. The Chicago Herald a leading Democratic organ, declared with mock solemnity that at the age of 18 the Republican candidate had routinely split 76,000 rails a day. The image-making didn't end there. Campaign biographer Scripps, not content to have his hero repay a farmer for a damaged book with three days hard labor, described a youthful Lincoln whose intellectual curiosity had led him to Plutarch's Lives. This charming tale had but one deficiency - it had been made up out of whole cloth by a writer who just assumed, as he put it in a post-election letter to the victorious candidate, that Lincoln was familiar with the erudite volume. "If you have not," wrote Scripps embarrassedly, "you must read it at once to make my statement good." Scripps received no formal reply, but the Library of Congress did, in the form of a White House request to borrow Plutarch's Lives. If a supporter exaggerated his virtues, then Lincoln would do his best not to make a liar out of him. In other ways, the man who took the oath of office before the West Front of the Capitol in March, 1861 was scarcely recognizable to his political cronies back home. Standing at last atop the summit of American politics, a divided soul confronting a disintegrating nation, Lincoln had a transcendent cause to ennoble his gamesmanship. Even before his election, his yearning for advancement had been elevated, if not altogether purified, through a growing involvement with the antislavery movement. Logic told him that it was hypocritical for a nation that professed its love of liberty to keep millions of human beings in chains. Another kind of logic - the compelling logic of the battlefield - would bring him around to the view that a war over states rights must ultimately be fought for human rights. Still, enough calculation and raw desire for power remained to enable Lincoln to run rings around his
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Democratic opponent in the 1864 election, the plodding martinet George B. McClellan. Even now he sought validation as well as votes. Yet as much as he changed America, America had changed him even more. The war had fused the disparate elements of Lincoln's personality and outlook into a character of astonishing force and subtlety. Honoring his pledge to do nothing in malice, for the most part he was able to laugh off the harsh attacks directed his way by less magnanimous men in his own party. When radical Republicans in Congress publicly assailed his reconstruction policies, the president said he was reminded of a no doubt mythical old acquaintance, "who, having a son of a scientific turn, brought him a microscope. The boy went around, experimenting with his glass upon everything ... One day, at the dinner table, his father took up a piece of cheese. 'Don't eat that father,' said the boy, 'it is full of wrigglers.' 'My son,' replied the old gentleman, taking a huge bite, 'let' em wriggle; I can stand it if they can.'" To say that Lincoln grew in office is to underestimate his true achievement. Long before his fateful visit to Ford's Theater, his life had become a parable of sacrifice, not success. In his growing spirituality, Lincoln did not, like some modern-day politicians, presume to know God's agenda. Still less did he arrogate to himself the role of national theologian. "It's been my experience," he once mused aloud, "that folks who have no vices have generally few virtues." Nevertheless, his death on Good Friday struck powerful chords among his contemporaries. Even now, 133 years after his funeral train made its mournful trek across the Illinois prairie, he remains as vital a part of America's future as he is a venerated relic of our past. Like all of you, I am deeply mindful of the history that has been made in this city and in this house. Nearly half a century has passed since another Illinois governor, Adlai Stevenson, electrified his countrymen by declaring that it was more important to tell the truth than to win an election. In accepting his party's 1952 presidential nomination, Governor Stevenson eloquently assessed the twentieth century, "the bloodiest, most turbulent of the Christian era," at its mid-point. Today, as we approach the end of that century scarred by war and stained by oppression, the world looks to America for a new birth of freedom - the very prescription made by Lincoln on the field at Gettysburg. If the Railsplittler retains an undiminished power to move, inspire, and occasionally shame us, perhaps it is because in his perpetual campaign we can see reflected back many of our own ambitions, uncertainties, and drives. Out of his fiery trial emerged the soldier of freedom for whom preserving the Union supplied both a unity of purpose and a ticket to that secular immortality he had first glimpsed as a boy spellbound by Weems' life of Washington. Thus the man in the mirror ensured that he would be remembered and revered as the leader who marshaled the English language and his own matchless talent for manipulating men and events to keep the United States united. Few campaigns have been so richly rewarded. About this contributor Richard Norton-Smith is currently the director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library and has written several books. His most recent book, The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, was the recipient of the prestigious Goldsmith Prize awarded by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Smith delivered this paper during the 1998 Governor's Lecture in the Humanities in Springfield, Illinois. The IHC wishes to thank him for permission to publish it here.

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Lincoln in Fiction
Lesley Lathrop-Vitu

Photo of Lincoln courtesy of the Illinois Historical LibraryThe following list of fictional works based on, or featuring, Abraham Lincoln's life was compiled by Lesley Lathrop-Vitu. While every attempt has been made to create a complete and accurate list, there may be some works that have been missed. Please e-mail suggestions to the IHC. 1867 The forest Boy By Z.A. Mudge 1870 The Ballad of Abraham Lincoln By Bayard Taylor 1882 The Pioneer Boy and How He Became President: The Story of The Life of Abraham Lincoln By William Makepeace Thayer 1883 Abraham Lincoln, The Backwoods Boy By Horatio Alger 1900 On The Wings of Occasions By Joel Chandler Harris 1906 The Perfect Tribute By Mary Raymond Shipman andrews 1908 The Toy Shop: A Romantic Story of Lincoln The Man By Margarita Gerry 1909 Father Abraham By Ida M. Tarbell 1910 The Graysons: A Story of Abraham Lincoln By Edward Eggleston 1913 The Southerner, A Romance of The Real Lincoln By Thomas Dixon 1918 A Man for The Ages: A Story of The Builders of Democracy By Irving Bacheller 1920 A Man of The People: A Drama of Abraham Lincoln By Thomas Dixon 1921 The Boy Scout's Life of Lincoln By Ida Tarbell 1924 The Shepherd of The People: Abraham Lincoln, A Novel By Sidney Herbert Burchell In The Footsteps of Lincoln By Ida Tarbell 1925 Father Abraham By Irving Bacheller 1926 Little Abe Lincoln By Bernie Babcock 1927 forever Free: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln By Honor Willsie Morrow 1928 The Father By Katharine Holland Brown Better Angels By Richard Henry Little 1929 Lincoln's Mary and The Babies By Bernie Babcock 1930 The Last Full Measure By Honor Willsie Morrow 1934 The Lincoln Stories of Honor Morrow: Containing Dearer Than All, Benefits forgot and The
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Lost Speech of Lincoln By Honor Willsie Morrow 1935 Lincoln, Le Grand Pionnier By Ernest Breuil Great Captain By Honor Willsie Morrow 1937 Sut Lovingood Travels With Old Abe Lincoln By George Washington Harris 1940 Reprieve By Ralph Bradford for Us The Living By Bruce Lancaster 1942 A Recruit for Abe Lincoln By Maribelle Cormack 1945 Henry's Lincoln By Louise A. Neyhart Abe Lincoln of Pigeon Creek: A Novel By William Edward Wilson 1947 Martin and Abraham Lincoln: Based On A True Incident By Catherine Cate Coblentz Abraham Lincoln: His Life, Work, and Character. An Anthology of History and Biography, Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Belles-Lettres. By Edward Wagenknecht House Divided By Ben Ames Williams 1949 Vinnie Ream and Mr. Lincoln By Freeman H. Hubbard Comes An Echo On The Breeze By Edward James Ryan 1951 The Lost Years: A Biographical Fantasy By Oscar Lewis 1952 The Story of Abraham Lincoln By Nina Brown Baker 1953 Abraham Lincoln By Jeannette Nolan 1954 The Soul of Ann Rutledge: The True Story of Abraham Lincoln's First Love By Bernie Babcock The River Road: A Story of Abraham Lincoln By Meridel Le Sueur Love Is Eternal: A Novel About Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln By Irving Stone 1955 The Boy On Lincoln's Lap By Jerrold Beim The Buffalo Trace By Virginia Louise Snider Eifert When Lincoln Went To Gettysburg By Adele Gutman Nathan Mary Florence: The Little Girl Who Know Abraham Lincoln By Kathleen S. Tiffany 1956 Out of The Wilderness: Young Abe Lincoln Grows Up By Virginia Louise Snider Eifert Christmas for Tad: A Story of Mary and Abraham Lincoln By Helen Toppin Miller 1958 With A Task Before Me: Abraham Lincoln Leaves Springfield By Virginia Louise Snider Eifert 1959 Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance By Frances Cavanah New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln In The White House By Virginia Louise Snider Eifert Abe Lincoln, Frontier Boy By Augusta Stevenson 1960 A Distant Trumpet By Paul Horgan 1961 Citizen of New Salem By Paul Horgan 1962 My Cousin Abe By Aileen Lucia Fisher 1967 Arrival: 12:30, The Baltimore Plot Against Lincoln By Alan Hynd 1968 Summer Journey South By Walter Carnahan 1971 Abe Lincoln and The River Robbers By Lavere anderson Abe Lincoln's Beard By Jan Wahl 1976 Gettysburg: Tad Lincoln's Story By F.N. Monjo 1978 Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers By Burke Davis 1979 The Cosgrove Report By George J. A. O'toole The Lincoln Diddle By Barbara Steward 1981 Lincoln's Mothers By Dorothy Clarke Wilson 1984 Lincoln By Gore Vidal 1987 Saving The President: What If Lincoln Had Lived By Barbara Brenner
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Arguing With Historians: Essays On The Historical and The Unhistorical By Richard Nelson Current Freedom By William Safire 1988 When Lilacs Bloom Again: A Novel Based On The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln By Henry K. Dugarm No Longer Sings The Brown Thrush By Mary Blair Immel 1989 A Court for Owls: A Novel By Richard Adicks 1992 False Profits By David H. Everson 1993 A Bullet for Lincoln: A Novel By Benjamin King 1994 Henry and Clara By Thomas Mallon 1996 Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers By Karen B. Winnick 1997 An Acquaintance With Darkness By Ann Rinaldi 1998 From Log Cabin To White House With Abraham Lincoln By Deborah Hedstrom Booth: A Novel By David Robertson Grace's Letter To Lincoln By Connie Roop

Lincoln in Films
Facets Multimedia

Photo of Lincoln courtesy of the Illinois Historical LibraryThe following list of films was compiled by Facets Multimedia, Inc., 1517 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL. 60614. For information on video sales, rentals, our film schedule, classes and other events, visit their website. Films designated with an asterisk (*) are notable films or films by a notable director.

1910 Abraham Lincoln's Clemency - D: Theodore Wharton 1912 Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - D: J. Stuart Blackton & James Young 1914 Lincoln, The Lover - D: Thomas Ince 1915 The Battle Cry of Peace - D: William J. Ferguson *The Birth of A Nation - D: D.W. Griffith 1916 The Crisis - D: Colin Campbell 1917 Her Country's Call - D: Lloyd Ingraham
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1918 Birth of A Race - D: Emmett J. Scott Madam Who - D: Reginald Barker My Own United States - D: John W. Noble 1920 The Copperhead - D: Charles Maigne The Land of Opportunity 1921 The Highest Law - D: Ralph Ince 1922 The Heart of Lincoln - D: Francis ford 1924 Abraham Lincoln ("The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln") - D: Phil Rosen Barbara Frietchie - D: Lambert Hillyer *The Iron Horse - D: John ford The No-Gun Man - D: Harry Garson 1925 The Man Without A Country - D: Rowland V. Lee 1926 Hands Up! - D: Clarence G. Badger 1927 The Heart of Maryland - D: Lloyd Bacon 1928 Court Martial - D: George B. Seitz 1930 *Abraham Lincoln - D: D.W. Griffith 1932 The Phantom President - D: Norman Taurog 1934 Are We Civilized? - D: Edwin Carewe 1935 *The Littlest Rebel - D: David Butler The Perfect Tribute - D: Edward Sloman 1936 Hearts In Bondage - D: Lew Ayres *The Plainsmen - D: Cecil B. Demille *The Prisoner of Shark Island - D: John ford Trailin' West - D: Noel M. Smith 1937 Courage of The West - D: Joseph H. Lewis John Ericsson--The Victor At Hampton Roads - D: Gustaf Edgren (Sweden) Victoria The Great - D: Herbert Wilcox Welles Fargo - D: Frank Lloyd Western Gold - D: Howard Bretherton 1938 The Lone Ranger - D: John English & William Whitney of Human Hearts - D: Clarence Brown 1939 Lincoln In The White House - D: William C. Mcgann *Young Mr. Lincoln - D: John ford 1940 *Abe Lincoln In Illinois - D: John Cromwell Hi-Yo Silver - D: John English & William Witney *Virginia City - D: Michael Curtiz 1945 Abbott & Costello In Hollywood - D: S. Sylvan Simon 1951 *The Tall Target - D: Anthony Mann 1953 San Antone - D: Joseph Kane 1955 The Face of Lincoln 1957 Abe Lincoln In Illinois 1962 How The West Was Won - D: John ford & Henry Hathaway 1971 The Great Man's Whiskers - D: Philip Leacock 1976 Captains and The Kings - Made for Television - D: Douglas Heyes & Allen Resiner The Faking of The President - D: Alan Abel & Jeanne Abel
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The Last of Mrs. Lincoln - D: George Schaeffer 1977 The Lincoln Conspiracy - D: James L. Conway 1982 The Blue and The Gray - Made for Television - D: andrew V. Mclaglen 1985 *North and South - Made for Television - D: Richard T. Heffron 1986 Dream West - Made for Television- D: Dick Lowry North and South II - Made for Television - D: Kevin Connor 1988 *Lincoln ("Gore Vidal's Lincoln") - Made for Television- D: Lamont Johnson Two Idiots In Hollywood - D: Stephen Tobolowsky 1989 The Big Picture - D: Christopher Guest 1990 *The Civil War - Documentary, Made for Television - D: Ken Burns 1991 Ironclads - Made for Television - D: Delbert Mann The Perfect Tribute - Made for Television - D: Jack Bender Lincoln - Made for Television - D: Peter W. Kunhardt 1995 Tad - Made for Television - D: Robert C. Thompson 1998 The Day Lincoln Was Shot - Made for Television - D: John Gray The Men who Played Lincoln Some of the more prominent actors who have played Lincoln include: F. Murray Abraham ("Dream West," 1986), John Carradine ("of Human Hearts," 1938), Henry Fonda ("Young Mr. Lincoln," 1939), Hal Holbrook ("North and South,"1985, and "North and South II," 1986), Kris Kristofferson ("Tad," 1995), Raymond Massey ("Abe Lincoln in Illinois," 1940, and "How the West Was Won," 1962), Gregory Peck ("The Blue and the Gray," 1982), Jason Robards ("The Perfect Tribute," 1991), Sam Waterston ("Lincoln," 1988, and, in voice only, "The Civil War," 1990), Dennis Weaver ("The Great Man's Whiskers," 1971). There were a few actors, however, who virtually made a cottage industry out of playing the former President. Frank McGlynn Sr. played Lincoln no fewer than seven times between 1934 and 1937, while George A. Billings, Benjamin Chapin and actor-director Ralph Ince each took on the role four times during the silent era.

Lincoln on the Web


Lesley Lathrop-Vitu Below are just a few of the many links to Abraham Lincoln sites on the WWW. Many of these sites include links to other sites. This list was compiled by Lesley Lathrop-Vitu. (Note: This list was compiled by Lesley Lathrop-Vitu. The IHC is not responsible for content on external sites.) Abraham Lincoln Association Lincoln Bicentennial 1809-2009
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Lincoln Library Lincoln Papers Library of Congress The History Place The Lincoln Museum Abraham Lincoln Online

Lincoln's Locks: The Relics of a Secular Saint


Lesley Lathrop-Vitu

All photos courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.*

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and bearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." --First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1861)

"The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same actPlainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty." --Address at the Sanitary Fair, Baltimore (April 18, 1864) TELL SOMEONE, as I did, that you are going to poke through the hair clippings and blood-stained artifacts
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of a dead president and the most likely reaction you will get is: "Eewww!" For many, the thought of coming into direct contact with detached body parts - let alone the post-mortem fluids - of another has as much appeal as clearing months-old leftovers out of the refrigerator. However, those who collect and work with these relics believe that they aren't morbid at all. Fascination with relics of the dead has been part of civilization for thousands of years. As long ago as the 5th century, Augustine of Hippo wrote, "If a father's coat or ring, or anything else of that kind, is so much more cherished by his children,... in no way are the bodies themselves to be despised, which are much more intimately and closely united to us than any garment; for they belong to man's very nature." Of all our modern-day heroes, it is perhaps Abraham Lincoln whose relics and artifacts hold the greatest sway over the affection of the vast majority. His place in the hearts and minds of Americans was apparent barely a generation after his assassination, when a gang of counterfeiters and grave robbers led by "Big Jim" Kinealy plotted to steal his body for a ransom of $200,000, a hefty sum of money in those days. Fortunately, they didn't succeed. But the fact that they recognized the lengths to which this country would go to preserve the almost-sacred body of its martyred president speaks volumes. Today there are collectors, both public and private, whose archives include personal artifacts from Lincoln's murder. The souvenirs of his autopsy are preserved at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. And the Library of Congress' American Treasures exhibit houses several items from the assassination, including the contents of his pockets at the time he was shot. The Chicago Historical Society has an extensive collection of Lincoln material. Although not on display, their archives include numerous boxes of assassination relics - a sleeve from the undershirt he was wearing at the time, hair clippings, pieces from the death towel, swatches from Mary Todd's dress and the dress of Clara Harris, who accompanied the Lincolns to the theatre. Far from gruesome, it is a powerful and moving experience to hold in your hand the handkerchief he was carrying at the time, to see up close the dark brown stains that cover nearly half the square of once-white fabric. One expects these things to be different, somehow, perhaps to feel heavier than normal, or to emit the sweet smell of perfume long ago associated with the relics of Christian saints. But they don't. And there are hair clippings, too. One of them is in a frame, long strands tied with a neat little bow and bearing an inscription announcing its original owner. Another is haphazardly folded into a makeshift envelope, stuffed inside another, larger envelope, with no legend at all. Some of the hair is long, some short; and parts of it are clumped together by some substance, maybe blood, but more likely hair oil. The difference in presentation between the one item and the other is striking. But all these things meant something important to those who possessed and took care of them over the years. One item, fragments of the drapery that hung in the East Room while the President's body lay in state awaiting the funeral, was especially moving. Carefully mounted on a small piece of board, the white drapery was accompanied by a touching letter from the woman who donated it. In the letter she describes how she came to have it, that a relative had been one of the young men charged with guarding the slain president's body and that he had taken the drapery as a personal memento. She describes how inspiring it had been to her family, how much they cherished it over the years, and how she hoped that the historical society would hold it in the same high regard. THE NOTION THAT individuals could embody and reveal ideal qualities for others has its roots in the classical tradition of the ancient world. The Greco-Roman world held that social and political problems could
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be expressed and rectified by the elite of society. The monotheistic religions which developed in the Mediterranean world, Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, adopted this concept and added an emphasis on the role of the saint as the nexus of a precise point of contact between God and man. Through the extraordinary circumstances surrounding their lives and deaths the saints seemed to make real the potential of humanity. The saints, their relics, and their shrines served as moral exemplars for the religious communities of Late Antiquity. During the Middle Ages, the veneration and trade of relics became a kind of lodestar for Christian religious observance. The most significant of events at any church or cathedral was the installation of its relics. So great was the demand for relics that theft and fraud became big business during the Central Middle Ages, and in the thirteenth century the Catholic Church addressed the issue by requiring that "newly discovered" relics be authenticated by the local bishop, or even the Pope himself. The collection and preservation of relics and other memorabilia from Abraham Lincoln's life began almost immediately after he died. Termed "Lincolniana" by those familiar with it, by the end of the nineteenth century it had become a substantial cottage industry. A few wealthy collectors dominated the trade and were known as the Big Five. The circle included Judge Daniel Fish of Minneapolis, William H. Lambert of Philadelphia, Charles W. McLellan, a former member of the Confederate army who later settled in New York, Judd Steward of Plainfield, New Jersey, and Joseph B. Oakleaf of Moline, Illinois. Together they amassed thousands of pieces, many of which were later sold at auction or donated to libraries and museums. Many of these items were simple letters or other documents penned by the late president himself. But a small percentage came straight from - or in direct contact with - Abraham Lincoln's body. They included everything from clippings of hair, to the bloody handkerchief he was carrying when he was shot, to the bed sheets upon which the president had died. In today's world of collecting, Lincoln relics are hot items. Artifacts from the 16th president consistently fetch the highest bids. Whereas a letter from Albert Einstein in which he first mentioned his theory of relativity sells for $395,000, and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington about establishing the Constitution of the United States goes for around $525,000, Abraham Lincoln's handwritten letter to Grace Bedell - the little girl who suggested that he grow a beard - has changed hands for as much as $850,000. Trade in Lincoln and Lincoln-era artifacts has even gone digital with several of the Internet auction sites hosting a brisk trade. It is now well-known that on the evening of April 14, 1865, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were attending a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., when the president was shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth. Two doctors, Dr. Charles A. Leale and Dr. Charles S. Taft, who were present at the theatre, rushed to the president's box and tried desperately to save his life. Dr. Taft, attempting to access the bullet wound, cut away a small patch of Lincoln's hair and held on to it throughout the night as the president lay dying first at Ford's Theatre and then later at the Petersen house. After Lincoln finally passed away on the morning of the 15th, Taft approached Mary Todd and tried to give her the lock of her dead husband's hair, but she refused telling him that he should keep it as a gift for trying to save the president's life. Those strands of hair passed through many hands in subsequent generations. Several of them were even set into a ring and given as a gift to President Theodore Roosevelt. About 130 years later, ten of the strands became available through a reputable East Coast memorabilia dealer; and collector, Michael Braun, of Chimacum, Washington, leapt at the opportunity to buy them. A longtime collector with an extensive Civil War collection, he paid $3,500 for the Lincoln relic and it is an item he treasures above all others. Braun says there are two reasons why people collect this kind of thing: first, to
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preserve a memory of someone or something significant; and second, to effect an emotion by getting closer to a person. Relics, he believes, aren't at all morbid, and he enjoys taking the strands of hair to area schools to show children "something that was literally a part of someone important." He says the piece makes him feel like a "custodian of history." Braun doesn't regard the Lincoln artifact as just another item in his extensive collection. Although he regularly buys and sells memorabilia, the Lincoln relic is something he will never part with. He plans to leave it to family members after he's gone. Braun says he wanted the item because of what Abraham Lincoln stood for and what he went through in his life. "Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of what everyone should aspire to." THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE AGES, people traveled hundreds - even thousands - of miles to venerate holy relics and worship at the shrines of martyred saints. Santiago de Compostella, Spain, and Jerusalem were two of the most hallowed destinations, but there were many such sites scattered throughout Western Europe. Believed to be places where extraordinary visions could be seen or miraculous healing summoned, pilgrimage sites received a multitude of medieval Christians. In our own time, there continue to be stories of divine healings and holy visions that may, or may not, lend themselves to simple explanations. From Lourdes in France, to Fatima, north of Lisbon, Portugal, to the small town of Knock in Ireland, these places attract thousands of religious pilgrims every year. But there are also secular "shrines" which draw masses of visitors, each, in some way, hoping to connect with the heroes of the past. Museums, memorials, and historical societies house collections, sometimes small, sometimes vast, of Lincolniana. That many of these collections are considered shrines by their visitors is evidenced from the mild uproar that took place when the Chicago Historical Society dismantled an exhibit devoted exclusively to Lincoln in favor of its current "A House Divided" exhibit, which depicts Lincoln in the much larger context of slavery and the Civil War. Eric Foner, a co-curator of the exhibit, said in a 1990 interview with the Illinois Humanities Council that "the old Lincoln Gallery was sort of a church, basically. People came in to worship Lincoln".[and it had] almost this religious aspect -- Lincoln's top hat, Lincoln's this or that, objects which had no real historical significance, but nonetheless were associated with Lincoln." Fortunately for those of us who wish to see Lincoln artifacts, many collectors bequeath their collections to museums. Dr. Weldon Petz, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, recently donated almost 40,000 items to the Plymouth Historical Museum. He began his collection in the 1940s while performing with the big bands in New York, although his fascination with the man began when he was a boy of 8. He says that Lincoln was a person with whom he was "absolutely fascinated," and he was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Lincoln biographer, Carl Sandburg. With a collection that size, he says he would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. But some items did have special significance. One was a coronet that a relative had played at the dedication of Gettysburg Cemetery. Another was a peach pit in the shape of Lincoln's head and face. Carved by a man serving time in prison, Dr. Petz was struck by the fact that someone going through such a difficult time had carved the image of Lincoln. He kept the carving when he donated most of his collection to the museum. He says that it was important to him that others, especially children, be able to see the artifacts and that he knows they are being well-taken care of. "It's satisfying to have them in a museum where other people can enjoy them." IF AMERICA IS A RELIGION, then Abraham Lincoln is its patron saint. Every generation since his assassination has reinterpreted and reevaluated his deeds and words. Whether one believes he was Honest
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Abe, the Great Emancipator, or just an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, one cannot deny the influence he has had - both personally and commercially - on the many who have owned, touched, and viewed the relics and artifacts of the man himself. Before a recent trip to Washington D.C, a friend of mine asked if it is possible to climb onto Abraham Lincoln's lap at the Lincoln Memorial. In fact, it isn't. Not only is the statue too tall and elevated too high, but there is also a rope surrounding it and ever-watchful guards nearby. However, the question illustrates what a lot of people wish they could do. To many, he represents wisdom and patience; he is the "Father Abraham" immortalized in the books of Ida Tarbell and Irving Bacheller. The designers of the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial seem to have had an awareness of the public's wish to be close to its fallen heroes. The site includes a semi-life-sized statue of the much-loved president sitting in a chair with his dog at his feet. Thus, it is possible to stand next to him, to put your arm around him, and, yes, even to sit on his knee. However, as if to demonstrate the old entertainment-industry maxim that one should never appear with children or animals, more hands reached out to touch Fala than FDR on the day I was there. With the recent discovery of genetic proof that Thomas Jefferson fathered several children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, the relics of legendary figures and heroes may soon take on a new significance. Already it has debunked the late Anna Anderson Manahan's claim that she was really Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas and his wife, Alexandra. Today researchers are evaluating the role that genetic testing and other high-tech procedures may play in determining several longstanding historical mysteries. Did, for example, Emily Dickinson carry on a love affair with her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Dickinson? Could a lock of Beethoven's hair reveal the mysterious identity of his so-called "Immortal Beloved"? And could Lincoln have contracted syphilis as a young riverboat worker, as some have speculated? None of these technological uses for relics, however, explain their significance for the many Lincoln collectors. Nor do they account for the multitude of people who visit Lincoln memorials and exhibits. A few days after President Lincoln died, a memorialist in the New York Times wrote, "A nation's jewels are the virtues of its illustrious dead. Its cities may crumble, its masterpieces of industry and art may moulden into nothingness; but these are heirlooms that defy time." Relics of the dead can remind us that human virtue does exist. One man who has a handwritten letter from Lincoln to Seward hanging near the entrance to his home recently told me, "I look at it each day and think of its author." I suspect that most of us would respond in the same way. Particularly in this era of cynicism and irreverence, we see the relic, think of the man to whom it belonged, and are inspired by the possibility of what one person can become.
*Left to Right: Mary Todd Lincoln's cape, which she wore to Ford's Theater on the evening of the assassination; Framed lock of Lincoln's hair; (bottom) Blood-stained handkerchief Abraham Lincoln was carrying at the time he was shot; Drapery fragments from the East Room of the White House where Abraham Lincoln's body was held for viewing.

Popular Legacies of Abraham Lincoln


G. Cullom Davis

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The Lincoln Festival;: Photo by Vicki Woodard"Every man is said to have is peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far shall I succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed." --Letter to the people of Sangamon County upon announcing his candidacy to the Illinois General Assembly (March 9, 1832) "Both [sides] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of others men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged." --Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865) The Abraham Lincoln Industry The magnitude of Lincoln's unique place in American popular culture led the late Ralph Newman many years ago to speak of "The Abraham Lincoln Industry," noting the innumerable cities, institutions and companies bearing his name. Robert Johannsen, the biographer of Stephen A. Douglas, noted its global impact when he described Lincoln as "one of America's ... great export commodities." A recent and comprehensive survey of the 16th president's enduring place in popular culture is Jefferson scholar Merrill Peterson's fine book, Lincoln in American Memory. What these and many others observers have documented is the pervasive and deeply imbedded stature of Lincoln as our national hero and icon. According to Peterson, he enjoys such eminence because his life and work exemplified five central elements of the American experience: nationalism, humanity, democracy, Americanism and individualism. The evidence of this unrivaled position takes many forms. First there are the dozens of organizations and institutions exclusively devoted to promulgating his memory. Perhaps the most telling example is a trade group, the Association of Lincoln Presenters, which consists of more than 100 bearded impersonators who earn a living by appearing at pageants, schools and conventions. Their own annual meeting has become a news photographer's dream, with dozens of Lincoln look-a-likes parading for the camera. One especially eager member arrives in an automobile that has been remodeled to resemble a mobile log cabin. Another measure is the plenitude of Lincoln museums, galleries, historic sites and manuscript dealers, collectively too numerous and far-flung to count. Dealers and collectors know that Lincoln relics bring top dollar. Five years ago I was the incredulous middleman (too naive to demand a 10% finder's fee) for the sale at auction of a simple letter that Lincoln wrote in 1860 to a friend of his son Robert. A curator at Christie's had estimated that this touching but inconsequential manuscript might bring as much as $150,000, but when the auction gavel fell the bid was $780,000. One year earlier it took $1.5 million to buy an early draft of the "House Divided" speech, and nearly that much to acquire a mere 75 word fragment from Lincoln's draft of the second inaugural address.
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Busily informing their avid readers are more than a dozen Lincoln-centered periodicals. There are newsletters like the Fort Jefferson Lyceum, the Lincoln Ledger, Lincoln Legacy, Lincolnian, Lincoln Letters, Lincoln News National, our own Lincoln Legal Briefs, and even the Surratt Society Newsletter. The more substantive periodicals include Lincoln Lore, The Lincoln Herald, the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, The Railsplitter and the Journal of the Lincoln Assassination. When it comes to books about Lincoln, the latest count tallied over 17,000 titles, which Merrill Peterson was prompted to label "a vast redundancy." Books in Print identifies well over 100 Lincoln titles currently available, and of the 11 major biographies written before 1960, seven are currently in print, with two more editions forthcoming. The nine volume Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln remained in print for 40 years and sold 40,000 copies, two records bound to inspire envy and humility among all of us. Even at a hefty $75 price, the two volume "Library of America" edition of selected speeches and writing was a Book of the Month Club selection. Without question, the popular appetite for reading about Lincoln is voracious, which prompted the humorist James Thurber years ago to propose stringent government regulation of this genre. He further suggested imposing a $50,000 fine for writing a Lincoln biography without a permit. One final dimension of this cultural phenomenon is our national habit of idolizing and mythologizing, or what Merrill Peterson calls the "apotheosis" of Lincoln. His martyrdom on a Good Friday launched this cult (literally with a bang), and it has gone unabated for 133 years. It is a fact, for example, that until fairly recently Illinois state highway signs directed tourists to the "Lincoln Shrines." This fall one organization is sponsoring a "pilgrimage" to Lincoln sites in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Somewhat less reverential but considerably more expensive is the forthcoming eight-day Smithsonian excursion, called "In the Footsteps of Lincoln," and costing $5,000 per person. Feeding off of this hero-worship habit is a parallel and evidently irresistible urge, among public officials in particular, to invoke Lincoln as their philosophical lodestar for partisan beliefs. Fifty years ago Lincoln scholar David Donald aptly called this "Getting Right with Lincoln," i.e., associating one's views with the saintly 16th president. Republicans naturally had the exclusive franchise on this potent weapon until the 1930s, when Franklin D. Roosevelt seized the mantle. Since then Lincoln's sanction has been a bipartisan asset, thereby making it all the more elastic and contentious. LBJ, for example, invoked Lincoln in support of U.S. policy in Vietnam, and Governor Mario Cuomo enlisted him in the war on poverty. Ronald Reagan went a bit too far at the 1992 Republican National Convention, when he quoted Lincoln's legendary "Ten Cannots" as holy writ for his appeal to get government off our backs. Unfortunately his source was spurious; the "Ten Cannots" is in fact an old canard that never came from the lips or pen of our martyred hero. Lincoln for the Sages Now, as the Lincoln bicentennial looms, there is ample evidence that Lincoln belongs as much to the sages as to the ages. The "scholar squirrels" as Gore Vidal has caustically dubbed us, are largely in command of the Lincoln industry. The manifestations of that conquest take various forms that warrant elaboration. Lincoln scholarship, in brief, has become at century's end richly diversified and scattered among many disciplines more open than ever to interpretive and evidentiary disputes, singularly susceptible to intramural fights and factional alignments, more alert than ever to untapped and unconventional sources, and demonstrably if subtly influential on the image of Lincoln that suffuses our popular culture. Together these separate strands constitute an authentic if at times perverse Lincoln renaissance. Scores of historians represent the core of this dynamic activity. Just in the past five years there have appeared
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at least nine serious new biographies. More specialized monographs and articles surface frequently on such diverse subjects as Lincoln's native American policy, his law practice, the wartime arbitrary arrests, the Ann Rutledge legend, his religious beliefs, the mail he received, his assassination, and even the size of his toes. Added to this are several anthologies and a cascade of reissued out-of-print works. Opportunities abound for testing one's ideas before an audience of peers. There are four annual conferences: the Abraham Lincoln Symposium, the Lincoln Institute Symposium, the Lincoln Colloquium and the Lincoln Forum, plus frequent ad hoc gatherings. Scholars in this same group have been busy discovering, editing and publishing volumes of long-neglected documentary sources. There are recent and excellent works on Lincoln's sayings as recalled by others, the interviews that both John G. Nicolay and William Herndon collected about him, John Hay's diary, the writings of John Wilkes Booth, and the wartime newspaper dispatches of Noah Brooks. Forthcoming are a complete edition of The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, a compilation of his court martial actions, and others. But this is only the epicenter of Lincoln scholarship. Like the force of gravity itself, Lincoln seems to irresistibly pique the interest of practitioners in other and even remote fields. Beyond Clio's walls are literary scholars like Garry Wills, Robert Bray, and Douglas Wilson, novelists like Shelby Foote and Gore Vidal, language maven William Safire, anthropologists, clinical psychologists molecular biologists, and others. Moreover, the computer age is just beginning to revolutionize research on and access to Lincoln. Among its applications are the CD-ROM edition of his legal papers, the digitization of his printed works into a massive concordance, several commercial CD-ROMS, computer "morphing" of his head and hands for analytical purposes, software that purports to detect plagiarism, and a Library of Congress project to place 15,000 documents from its own holdings on the Internet, as "Mr Lincoln's Virtual Library." Such varied offerings pose a serious challenge to the ordinary Lincoln specialist. Increasingly we find ourselves called upon to render informed opinions on technical matters we never covered in graduate school. The conscientious historian must be a polymath, as conversant with textual deconstruction, DNA analysis, graphology, content analysis, and computerization, as with the historical method. Equally perilous are the modern interpretive arguments that divide the professors of Lincolnology. Did Lincoln suffer from Marfan Syndrome, or perhaps venereal disease, or even spousal abuse? Was he in fact author of the famous widow Bixby letter? Did he trample civil liberties under wartime pressure? Is a purported sixth holograph copy of the Gettysburg Address genuine? Was Mary Todd pregnant with their first child when Lincoln hastily agreed to marry her? These and other knotty controversies are mealtime conversation topics at Lincoln gatherings and fodder for an insatiable press. This contentiousness often leads to outright feuds and angry factions. Sadly, Lincoln's plea for "malice toward none; charity for all" has had no more effect upon the scholar squirrels than it had upon Reconstruction. Nearly ten years ago our guild was torn apart over charges that Stephen B. Oates had mildly plagiarized an earlier biography for his own popular study. Beginning as an intramural professional dispute, it quickly escalated into a public battle, with press releases, ad hominem attacks and official inquiries. The professional division of the American Historical Association twice commissioned studies, leading both times to cautiously worded reports that both sides could invoke. As a central figure in the dispute's early stages, I can testify to the rancor and ill will it generated. Recriminations erupted again in 1995, this time over a contested election for president of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Once again your genial, mild-mannered speaker was at the storm's center, being the successful
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challenger in what critics called a palace coup, and defenders a leadership crisis. The venerable ALA, founded in 1909 and headquartered in Springfield, has a distinguished record of promoting scholarship through its journal and publishing basic Lincoln sources like the Collected Works. It is also, however, like slavery, a "peculiar institution," with an unwieldy 42-member board consisting of Springfield aristocrats, Lincoln buffs and tradesmen, civic leaders, and scholars. Shaken by the unseemly public feud, the ALA has sought to mend fences, enlist new leaders and reinvigorate its record of service. During the 1990s, for some reason, the search for new Lincoln sources has been more intense and fruitful than at any time in the past fifty years or more. Our own six-year painstaking search located 100,000 document pertaining to Lincoln's law practice, including several hundred new items in his handwriting. Thomas and Beverly Lowry have devoted their retirement years to patiently inspecting and cataloging 80,000 Civil War court martial cases at the National Archives, and early this year they announced the discovery of 600 Lincoln signatures and/or notations. Michael Burlingame, a prolific member of the scholar squirrels, has specialized in uncovering long ignored tertiary and reminiscence sources. He has published some of these materials and is using others for his forthcoming multi-volume biography. One reported discovery, the so-called Hoffman daguerreotype, bears special mention. Robert and Joan Hoffman announced this acquisition four years ago, claiming scientific proof that it was the earliest (1843) image of young Abe Lincoln. Supporting their claim was a plausible provenance and the testimony of a physician, forensic anthropologist, photographic historian, and specialist in biomedical computer morphing. Both at that time and in recent months this story has been widely noted in the press. Many Lincoln experts rejected the claim, and a vascular specialist concurred after comparing the vein pattern on the subject's right hand with known Lincoln photographs. Christie's decided to auction this controversial artifact as "Portrait of a Young Gentleman, Believed to be Abraham Lincoln." Bid estimates stretched as high as $1 million and as low as $5, in effect leaving it to the market to determine authenticity. On October 6 the market spoke, with a $150,000 bid that was too low to satisfy the owners. In my opinion they should have taken the money and disappeared. Publicity about manuscript discoveries and record-breaking auction prices may help explain a parallel and unpleasant development of this decade, the rising incidence of alleged forgeries, hoaxes and thefts. Several years ago a prominent Lincoln collector announced that he had acquired the second page of a sixth holograph copy of the Gettysburg Address. Immediately sides formed supporting and rejecting the claim, then the talk subsided, leading many to doubt the document's authenticity. Another suspect manuscript is the purported oral history reminiscences of Mariah Vance, a laundress for the Lincoln family in the 1850s. The owner and editors spent nearly 20 years seeking a prestigious publisher for this intimate portrait of domestic turmoil, first under the title "Mistah Abe" and later "A House Divided." Failing in that, they did release it in two hefty volumes from Hastings House in 1995, called Lincoln's Unknown Private Life. Judging from today's obsession with peephole politics, choosing that title three years ago was an act of great prescience, but that has not satisfied reviewers, who generally have dismissed the memoir as a fraud. In the course of our massive search for Lincoln legal documents in 88 county courthouses and scores of other repositories, we took pains to carefully recruit and train researchers, and to establish credibility with circuit clerks and curators. It therefore was a deep shock one year ago to discover that some of the documents we had identified and photocopied for our files later surfaced at auction and dealer sales. Further, our worst suspicions were confirmed last winter, when authorities charged a former staff member, Sean Brown. Since
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then he has pleaded guilty in two separate court trials to stealing hundreds of documents written by contemporaries of Lincoln, plus at least two written by Lincoln. Brown awaits sentencing later this fall. There is an exquisite but painful irony in this affair. It was our training that qualified Brown to identify valuable records, and our hard-earned stature that gained him easy access to places we already had visited. On the other hand, it was our own meticulous record keeping that enabled us and then criminal investigators to detect the theft and identify the guilty party. My colleagues can attest to the sense of embarrassment and betrayal we feel. Incidentally, the October 1998 issue of Chicago Magazine featured a profile of Brown labeled, "The Man Who Stole Lincoln." Escape from History: Lincoln Populi Finally, what impact, if any, has the Lincoln renaissance by scholars had upon the broader public and their absorption with the Lincoln industry? Has contemporary American popular culture been measurably influenced by the writing and ranting of the professors of Lincolnology? A definitive and comprehensive answer is not possible, but there are some intriguing if scattered signs that say yes. They strongly suggest that our serious work has a way of indirectly creeping into the media mainstream, for good or ill. Book sales are a typical but inconclusive measure. Among the scores of new and reissued titles this decade, many have sold respectably and several were book club selections. Only one deserves special mention, David Donald's 1995 biography, Lincoln. A career-culminating synthesis by the twice Pulitzer Prize winning author, it has enjoyed good reviews and sales of over 300,000 copies, impressive for a 700-page, $35 tome. One must turn to less conventional and more indirect sources for a fuller answer. By themselves they may be minor revelations, but collectively they make a point. It is a fact, for example, that Lincoln specialists are frequently sought as consultants and talking heads for Civil War and presidential documentaries on television. C-SPAN enjoyed favorable reviews and high ratings for an ambitious series that re-enacted the LincolnDouglas debates and included scholarly commentary. Similarly, popular tours of Civil War battle sites as well as the forthcoming Smithsonian excursion to the Land of Lincoln now boast expert historians as guest lecturers. Scholars like James McPherson, John Simon, Harold Holzer and Douglas Wilson ensure that tour guests get history that is accurate and unvarnished. Last year's hit movie, "Saving Private Ryan," tells a World War II story, but its vital plot device, related by General George C. Marshall, is none other than the legendary widow Bixby letter. True, Steven Spielberg did not interrupt his script with a discourse on Lincoln's disputed authorship, but who can say whether earlier press accounts of this controversy may have fired the film maker's imagination? Even the tabloid supermarket press likes Lincoln. Several years ago, just after Michael Burlingame's psychobiography had portrayed Lincoln as the victim of spousal abuse, one paper teased readers with the headline "Wicked Witch of the White House." Those persons expecting an expose of Hilary Rodham Clinton discovered instead Burlingame's case against Mary Todd. Five years ago Weekly World caught readers' attention with a front page headline, "Abraham Lincoln's Corpse Revived." The report was of secret experiments by doctors at Walter Reed Hospital to apply a wonder drug, "Revivitol," to the Great Emancipator's mummified remains. Reportedly the elixir worked, at least for 95 seconds, which was long enough for Lincoln to sit up and declare, in words that must rank among his least memorable, "Gentlemen, where am I?" Laughable as this story was, it unquestionably was inspired by the public furor over a serious proposal several years earlier, to conduct DNA testing of hair and bone autopsy fragments in storage in Washington since
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1865. The purpose, as Walter Reed pathologists explained, was eventually to determine whether Lincoln carried the congenital connective tissue disorder known as Marfan syndrome. As the sole historian among geneticists and other scientists on a special advisory panel to consider the ethical and cultural implications of such a study, I can testify to the intense and widespread public reaction. Reporters and columnists freely speculated that such a procedure could inevitably lead to cloning Lincoln. Therein lay the seed, so to speak, for imaginative tabloid editors to concoct their tale about Revivitol. My final example comes fresh from the small screen. On Monday evening, October 5, 1998, United Paramount Network (UPN) premiered its outrageous new presidential sitcom, "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" (the P is not silent). If my description piques your curiosity, I suggest you watch soon, because this program cannot (and should not) last long. Intended as a satirical sendup of shenanigans in the Clinton White House, it takes viewers back to the Lincolns in 1861. Pfeiffer, the show's protagonist, is an English nobleman of African descent who has emigrated to America and then been hired as Lincoln's White House butler. His diary supplies each episode's farcical plot, which in the first episode was supposed to center on the president's bisexual tendencies, including lust for his voluptuous personal secretary, named Mona (resembles Monica). His conjugal neglect of Mary triggers tantrums and her own adulterous instincts, with slapstick consequences. After accidentally ingesting an aphrodisiac (not Revivitol, but possibly Viagra), Lincoln rekindles sex with his amorous wife. The next morning Mary is so pleased that she declares, "the old Railsplitter is back" then dons his stovepipe hat, stands on a chair, and croons a slow, sultry "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" a la Marilyn Monroe to John Kennedy. Striving futilely to carry this limp story are tasteless gags about slavery, Ulysses Grant's fondness for alcohol, and gay sex. At the last minute producers responded to criticism by substituting another, equally mindless episode, in which Lincoln furtively engages in telegraph sex. These sophomoric stunts prompt Pfeiffer to complain to Lincoln, "You're acting no better than a horny hillbilly from Arkansas." Mercifully, the program lists no historical consultant, and the actor playing Lincoln has admitted (with mixed metaphors), "we're playing fast and loose with sacred ground." But in fact there are subtle historical allusions in this dreadful show, drawn without doubt from the scholarly findings and controversies I have described. Does the notion of a Black diarist ring bells? What about marital troubles between the Lincolns, and documented gossip about an adulterous Mary Todd, and Lincoln's reported virility, and Mary's emotional instability? Desmond's Pfeiffer's story, like the supermarket tabloids and other emblems of popular culture, demonstrates that scholars like me who live with Lincoln never can foretell where and how our musings may spread. To that extent, and for better or worse, Lincoln belongs to the sages. About this contributor G. Cullom Davis is currently director and senior editor of the Lincoln Legal Papers, a project sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and co-sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Center for Legal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He has been Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Springfield and the founding director of its oral history center. A native Illinoisan, Davis has degrees from Princeton and the University of Illinois. His past writings have centered on modern United States political history, oral history methodology, and Illinois history. Davis is a past Chairman of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Q & A: The IHC talks to Lerone Bennett, Jr.,


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Executive Editor of Ebony Magazine


Lia Merriweather

Lerone Bennett, Jr."Most Americans, if they can help it, are not going to deal with the fact that he's a racist and that he believed in an all-white nation and that he was not the great emancipator of the slave." --Lerone Bennett, Jr. "One of the things we have to deal with in this country, one of the things that we have to deal with in Illinois, is the truth about Abraham Lincoln, so that we can create openly for the millennium an America that terrified Lincoln: a black and white and brown and yellow and rainbow America." -Lerone Bennett, Jr. In 1968, journalist and historian Lerone Bennett Jr. rocked the academic world with his article, "Was Abe Lincoln A White Supremacist?" In the article, Bennett contended that the widely held image of Abraham Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator" was a myth and that America needs to re-examine Lincoln's public policies on slavery and Lincoln's own ideas about race. Thirty years later, Bennett, executive editor of Ebony Magazine, again questions Lincoln's legacy and its effect on the nation today. Exactly, why do you consider Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator" a myth, as you stated in your article, "Was Abe Lincoln A White Supremacist?" (Ebony, February 1968)? Oh, there are so many reasons, I'm doing a book on this. First of all he was not an emancipator, great or otherwise. He did not emancipate black people in this country. And it is unfortunate for black people and white people that there's been so much misinformation disseminated on Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, again, only a handful of Americans has read the Emancipation Proclamation. Few know what's in it or what it says. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave in and of itself. Lincoln "freed" the slaves in the South, where he could not free them. Specifically, and this is the clincher, there were on January 1, 1863 three or four or five areas where Abraham Lincoln could have actually freed somebody. One of those was in New Orleans and half of Louisiana that was controlled by Confederate forces at that time. If you read the Emancipation Proclamation, you will find out that he specifically excluded the black people in New Orleans and Louisiana where he could have freed. There's an area in Virginia, in and around Norfolk, where he could have freed somebody on January 1st-- he specifically excluded those people from the Emancipation Proclamation. Black people in America were freed
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not by the Emancipation Proclamation, but by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Do you think it was possible for him not to become a mythic figure considering the circumstances of his death? I think the tragic assassination played a major role in it. Coming at a time at the end of the war, the assassination of Lincoln and everything associated with him became part of American legend and people have not examined the emancipation [or] Lincoln since then. I think that's a part of it, part of the myth. I also think there is this incredible reluctance on the part of white Americans, especially, to deal with the problem that Abraham Lincoln didn't want to deal with, the problem of race in America. And I think people everywhere, museums, intellectual and cultural organizations deliberately used Abraham Lincoln to hide themselves and to hide Americans from the race problem Abraham Lincoln tried to hide himself from. Abraham Lincoln was a racist, [he] believed black people were inferior, opposed citizenship for black people, wanted to deport black people, and never in his whole life had a rational idea about the race problem in America. If they dealt with it [Lincoln's stand on race], then they would have to deal with racism in America in the 19th century and the 20th century. Few institutions, apart from the DuSable Museum of African American History [Chicago] and of course Ebony, have examined Abraham Lincoln on this level and have focused attention on the black and white Illinoisans who, unlike Lincoln, believed in equality and human rights. That's incredible, it's been more than a hundred years, we have not had in Illinois a rational discourse on Abraham Lincoln in race at any major institution. Why do you think there hasn't been a major discourse of Lincoln on this level? I don't know. The point I'm making and let me make this very clear, there were white people in Illinois at Abraham Lincoln's time who believed more or less in the Declaration of Independence, who believed in equality, who operated the Underground Railroad, and who tried to help black slaves escape into Canada: Zebina Eastman, Dr. Richard Eells and Lyman Trumbull. These were white people who were involved in the struggle for equality. They're totally forgotten in America and Illinois today. Whereas everybody talks all the time about the Abraham Lincoln who supported the fugitive slave law, who opposed equal rights for black people and who wanted us deported. That's incredible! It's almost impossible to get white people in Illinois to focus on white people in Illinois who believed in equality in Lincoln's time, unlike Lincoln who did not believe in equality. So these are the forgotten heroes? They are forgotten of course, unsung heroes. Lyman Trumbull was a senator, who had other faults, but he was much more advanced on the question of race than Abraham Lincoln. He [Trumbull] was the author of the first confiscation act, played a major role in the second confiscation act and played a major role in the passage of the 13th Amendment. Nobody in Illinois knows his name today. Everybody knows Abraham Lincoln's name, who was opposed to equal rights and who urged people to go out into the street to hunt and capture and return fugitive slaves to the South. Do you think this myth of Abraham Lincoln drifts away from the other heroic aspects of his presidency during the Civil War? I did this article in 1968 and it created kind of a furor in academic circles and newspapers all across the country. After that, there was and still is going on a re-evaluation of Lincoln; and many people believe that now, since this, it would be better that his fame were anchored on something other than this myth of him as the
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Great Emancipator. Then there are some historians and scholars who say that you can't really examine Lincoln with a 1998 perspective, or a 1968 perspective. What do you feel about that argument that you should only examine him in the time frame in which it was common for black people to be called the "n-word," and be in a submissive place in society. What do you think about that? I think that's absurd. I just said that in Illinois, in Abraham Lincoln's day, there were white men who were way in advance of him on the issue of race. I've named some of them. Again I say, in addition to that, one of the things that white Americans are running from on this whole Lincoln issue is the challenge of dealing with some white men who were more advanced in the 1860s than most white people are today: John Brown, Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips and others. It's absurd for anybody to say that all white people in the 19th century were bigots who say the n-word everywhere. I've criticized him, not just to be criticizing Abraham Lincoln, I've criticized him in that article and I've criticized him in the book I'm writing. I'm making the point that the tragedy of this whole thing is that museums in Chicago, and in Illinois and the United States of America and universities in all of the states in America have not dealt with the white men and women who really believed in equality in America. And it's ironic that the only white people in America in Lincoln's time who really believed in equality are forgotten. And Abraham Lincoln, who did not believe in it, is honored everywhere and people never stop talking about it. That's a great irony there. And just to clarify, some people believe that Lincoln freed that slaves because he cared about the slaves' condition and the way they were being mistreated. There's another view that he freed the slaves so that he could get support from Great Britain, who had already outlawed slavery by the time of the Civil War. What do you think is the exact reason that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation? I think he was driven to it, forced to do it, pressured to do it by members of the Republican Party, by Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens and other members of the Republican Party and by large segments of the American public--segments which demanded that he free the slaves and use all Union resources to defeat the Confederacy. So, he did it because it was absolutely necessary for him to do it, politically and militarily, and of course the international situation was a consideration. Among the people in Illinois, in Lincoln's time, who were more advanced on civil rights and equality than Abraham Lincoln were Joseph Medill and Dr. Charles Ray, publishers and editors of The Chicago Tribune. Medill was one of the most withering critics of Abraham Lincoln throughout the war. Medill was brilliant on this issue, gorgeous! He had his problems with race, but he demanded for almost two years that Lincoln free the slaves and use black soldiers. As long as he possibly could, Lincoln resisted Medill and Charles Ray and The Chicago Tribune and the New York Tribune and other people who demanded that he free the slaves and use black soldiers. How do you think this affects Lincoln's place in history now? Do you think that his place in history is going to wither at all, or do you think there is still going to be this mythic vision of him? Lincoln is reported to have said that "you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Up to this point, people have fooled all the people in America all of time, except one or two on this Lincoln issue. But there's a limit to how far people can go in institutionalizing myths and untruths. Nothing is sure as William Herndon said. Nothing is surer than the truth, and that the truth about Abraham Lincoln is going to come out and is going to become more and more known.
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Since the 1968 article, increasingly, little by little, people know more and more about how big that myth is. But the health and racial sanity of America and the challenge of race require Americans to deal with the truth of our past if we want to create a rational future. One of the things we have to deal with in this country, one of the things that we have to deal with in Illinois, is the truth about Abraham Lincoln, so that we can create openly for the millennium an America that terrified Lincoln: a black and white and brown and yellow and rainbow America. Lincoln wanted to create an all-white nation. Again, how ironic can you be. People everywhere in this age with Hispanics, Asians and blacks, they still say, "Oh if I find out what Abraham Lincoln believed I would know what to do today." What he believed is that he wanted to put all these people out of the country who are always going to the Lincoln Memorial marching. He wanted all of them out. He wanted to create his ideal, his dream was an all-white nation. We can't keep on worshipping that icon and create a rainbow nation. We've got to go back to our past and first of all deal with Lincoln. That's painful. It's painful for black people. It's painful for everyone in this country. You've touched on before about how black people interpret Lincoln's role in freeing the slaves. What vision do you think blacks have of Abraham Lincoln today? Oh, I think more and more black people are aware of the mythical proportions of the Lincoln story. I think many who do not know their facts just have an inherent cynicism about that kind of thing and take it with a grain of salt. More and more scholars, young black scholars in particular, are speaking to various aspects of the thing. I think more and more, the story's being known. Even in 1999, virtually every major academic institution, virtually every major cultural institution still holds to the traditional idea of Abraham Lincoln. Now all this has come out, still in media and in universities and museums, the old Lincoln idea is the Lincoln idea that you get everyday. I mean after all of this has come out, you've got the Internet and everything. I don't mean to be provocative, but it's painful. Lincoln in a way has become a kind of central core of the identity of white Americans. Most Americans, if they can help it, are not going to deal with the fact that he's a racist and that he believed in an all-white nation and that he was not the great emancipator of the slaves. But again I say that somehow, somewhere white Americans are going to have to deal, first of all, with the white Americans who really believed in what Abraham Lincoln didn't believe in. Secondly, they're going to have to deal with the black and white people in the 19th century who tried to make America what Martin Luther King and others tried to make it in the 20th century. What is Frederick Douglass' interpretation of Abraham Lincoln's legacy? He said that Lincoln is a president for white Americans for the white people of America. How would you interpret that? Since my article, people have created Lincoln defenders, created three or four defenses for Lincoln. One of them, they say and you mentioned it, "After all, he was a man of his time, what do you think?" I've spoken to that. Secondly, they say, "Well, yeah, he was racist, by 19th century standards," which doesn't deal with the fact that he was a racist by any standard. They say, "Well, yeah he was a racist, but he was growing." In fact he died arguing for a constitution in Louisiana that excluded half of the people in the state because of race. Another thing they do and I'm sort of amused by it, to answer what I've said to attack me, they say, "Well, Sojourner Truth said he was a good white man who didn't have a racist bone in his body." Or they say "Frederick Douglass said he was good white man." Now we know that defense. The Frederick Douglass part comes in here because everyone takes that posture now. Frederick Douglass said in a memorial tribute he wrote in 1876, that Lincoln was a good man and he treated him very well when he went to the White House. So everybody quotes that, and says, "What is Lerone Bennett talking about? Frederick Douglass saw the man and say he was a good man, a good white man!" Two or three things wrong with that. One, and I can talk
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about it all day, African Americans know--I know, I grew up in Mississippi, I grew up in the South and I've lived in Chicago for a long time-know that white people or racists can be nice, personally, to one or two blacks which has nothing at all to do with what their position is on race and what they do publicly in relation to racism. The second thing is that Douglass is one of the most passionate critics of Lincoln's policy during the war. In 1864, when Lincoln was running for re-election, Douglass refused to, at first, support him, wanted to support somebody else, said that he was a fraud and this his policies had been disastrous for black people. After the Democratic Convention nominated McClellan and on a policy that would have seemed to have favored the South and to have stopped the war and led to slavery, he changed his mind and supported Lincoln, but he never took back what he said about Lincoln's administration. Then finally, it's in my 1968 article. In 1876, Douglass made this formal speech dedicating a monument to Lincoln, it was there he said that truth is greater than politics: "Abraham Lincoln was not in the fullest sense of the word, either a man or a mortal. In his interests and associations in his habits and thoughts and his prejudices, he was a white man, he was preeminently the white man's president." Now this was a national speech, before the president and the Supreme Court. He spoke the truth and that is the considered word of Frederick Douglass on Abraham Lincoln-who admitted and said "He treated me decently when I to the White House." The problem was not whether an individual white man smiled or was nice to an individual Negro. The problem was what was his public policy. That's the issue then and that's the issue today. And you think that continues to be Lincoln's legacy today-that people are afraid to deal with this other side of Lincoln? Yes, I'm saying that Abraham Lincoln has been used to hide the race problem in the 19th century and in the 20th century. People have used him to keep from dealing with the racial problems that Lincoln tried not to deal with. People have used him to keep from seeing white people and black people in America who said in the 19th century, "We've got to deal with the race problem in this country." People have used Abraham Lincoln to keep from looking at themselves. About this contributor Lerone Bennett Jr. is currently the executive editor of Ebony Magazine in Chicago. He is the author of Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America (1962, revised 1987); Black Power U.S.A.: The Human Side of Reconstruction, 1867-1877 (1967); Great Moments In Black History: Wade in the Water (1979; and various other books. Among his numerous awards, he has received the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recently inducted into Chicago State University's new National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in December 1998. Bennett is on the Board of Trustees at Morehouse College (Atlanta), Columbia College (Chicago) and the Chicago Historical Society. He is also a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He is currently writing a book based on the myth of Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator that will be published in 1999.

The Lincoln Legacy in Little-known Illinois


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Sculpture
Kim Bauer

All photos courtesy of the Illinois State Historical Library."It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before usthat government by the people, for the people, shall not perish fro the earth." --Address at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (November 19, 1863) "And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgement of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God." --Final Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) Since the nomination of Abraham Lincoln as the Republican Party's candidate for president in May of 1860, there have been ongoing attempts to remember him through public sculpture.1 His assassination in April 1865 galvanized the nation's northern populace to an awareness that had never before been witnessed in the nation's history. Almost overnight, the first "heroic" statue of Lincoln was created.2 Early literature treating Lincoln sculpture centered on all forms of Lincoln monuments and their locations. Lincoln statuary was just one component of these lists.3 It was not until 1932 that the first book-length treatment of heroic statues of Lincoln was compiled by Franklin Mead.4 Mead's work gives a brief description of the statue and of the sculptor involved. Mead also devised a classification system to group the various statues into geographic and chronological order.5 The next author to chronicle Lincoln in sculpture was Donald Charles Durman.6 As with Mead, Durman's work lists the known Lincoln statues. Durman also includes other "heroic" sculpture besides statues. As Durman states, "Only those busts, heads, and statuettes are included which were made by sculptors who also made large statues of Lincoln or for which Lincoln is definitely known to have posed."7 However, Durman did broaden the scope of the "heroics." He did this by including material used in making the sculptures from simply marble and bronze to also incorporate wood, plaster, and limestone works. Durman also expanded the entries to the works to contain more information concerning the individual sculptor and the sculpture itself. Almost immediately after Durman's well-known work, the third book to chronicle Lincoln in sculpture was published. F. Lauriston Bullard was a well-known authority on Abraham Lincoln. Approached by the Abraham Lincoln Association to produce a comprehensive work on Lincoln sculpture, Dr. Bullard was a very good choice.8 Long an editor at the Boston Herald, Bullard had attained a degree of qualification on Lincoln by writing and
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collecting Lincolniana. The author was able to use his contacts in the newspaper industry to obtain information and photographs for the various sculpture. Dr. Bullard was also noted for his attention to detail.9 While Durman presents a greater number of entries, Bullard goes into more detail, giving the reader an index as opposed to Durman's exclusion of one. Bullard also gives his own assessment of the sculpture as works of art. Bullard's assessment is one of artistic merit. Rarely do Bullard or Durman, and never Mead, venture into the sociological or psychological meaning behind the need for erecting these Lincoln pieces.10 That task would be left for a later author. In 1994, Merrill D. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Virginia, completed his tome, Lincoln in American Memory.11 This work was the culmination of a nation's lifetime of Lincoln. Professor Peterson's book is a wonderful compliment to Mead, Durman, and Bullard's works. It presents a synthesis of the reasons behind the desires of the American populace to foster and perpetuate the memory of Abraham Lincoln. Through Peterson's categorization12 the sculpture that is presented in the literature can be fully understood. Circuit Markers A means used to keep Lincoln for future generations was that of marking, preserving, and celebrating sites connected with the President. The desire to provide some form of "witness" joined with local pride and hopes for tourist commerce to lead to calls for locating and marking Lincoln sites.13 One such project was the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association. Conceived in 1914 by Judge Joseph Cunningham, reputed to be "the last living associate of Lincoln in 'riding the circuit,'" the association was to mark the sites of Eighth Circuit courthouses and the roads alleged to have been used by Lincoln in riding from county seat to county seat. The Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution soon became interested and organized the circuit marking association as the legal vehicle for fundraising and including non-DAR members in the good work.14 The project occupied seven years. County boards paid for the marking of sites within their boundaries. The program was so popular that courthouses outside of the officially demarcated Eighth Circuit were added, as "they wanted to be permitted to place markers, and it was agreed to do this, since Mr. Lincoln often practiced in those counties." Coles County was also added, as "in riding the circuit that county was always crossed, and in marking the Lincoln Circuit it would be impossible to leave this county out."15 The circuit was commemorated in three ways. Telephone poles along the circuit route carried the Association's logo, marking the way for pilgrims. Points where Lincoln was believed to have crossed county lines in riding the circuit were marked with metal plaques, designed by State Architect Edgar Martin. Who produced the interesting sculpted figure is at this point unknown. Each county seat was marked with a bronze plaque, designed by Henry Bacon with bas relief sculpted by Georg Lober, a native Chicagoan and student of Gutzon Borglum.16 The county seat markers were dedicated through 1922. The ceremonies typically included praise for the project (one speaker referred to the newly marked trail as "a necklace of precious jewels, threaded on the Lincoln circuit for the bosom of the nation"), and praise for the artworks themselves as carrying "a simplicity so simple as to be impressive, so beautiful as to dwell in the mind of the beholder."17

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More important, each ceremony announced explicitly the driving force behind the larger commemorative effort--the effect the monuments would hopefully have on the coming generations. In the words of Rockford politician Oscar Carlstrom, these simple bas reliefs would lead "all who pass [these places] . . . to know of their having been touched by the immortal feet of Lincoln and . . . pause with a reverent thought in passing."18 Giant "Heroic" Busts There have been a number of heroic Lincoln heads produced over the years. Donald Durman's book lists over a dozen such works.19 In recent years the list has grown to include many that have remained unrecorded despite the advent of the Smithsonian Institution's Art Inventory and the Save Outdoor Sculpture project.20 Many of these heads are still little-known works. The most recent Illinois addition to this category are the two works of the Colorado artist, Jim Nance. Mr. Nance has sculpted life-size busts of Lincoln; one depicting him as "The Prairie Lawyer"; the other as president in a work titled "The Immortal Conscience." Mr. Nance has described these two works as one, that the "Prairie Lawyer" should not be viewed separate from "The Immortal Conscience,": "When I tried to capture the spirit and the character of this great man, I realized that since both periods of his life intertwined, two portraits -attorney and president- were necessary to fulfill my vision of Mr. Lincoln. Only through two portraits could I show the transition and the struggle, the strength and the triumph, and the mortal cost of that triumph".21 The busts themselves are made of bronze, stand twenty-six inches high, and sit on a base of marble and walnut. The dedication ceremony for the two busts took place on May 3, 1995 at the Lincoln-Herndon State Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. Roadside Giants The post-WWII years saw a United States with the strongest economy in the world. Families took to the road in search of education, entertainment, and excitement. One tool used by many entrepreneurial communities to attract the dollars of potential visitors was the roadside colossus. Colossal figures as moneymaking ventures have long been a fixture in the United States, people traveling great distances to see Peale's mammoth skeleton, New York's Cardiff Giant, and outsized Native Americans and wild animals at various world fairs. By the 1960s Big Ole stood with giant buffalo, bass, and Canadian geese as staples of the American roadside.22 It was perhaps only a matter of time before they were joined by Abraham Lincoln. The first of our Illinois colossal Lincolns was created in 1967 by Carl W. Rinnus for placement at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Rinnus, a department store window decorator known for sophisticated and colorful displays, was approached by state fair officials to create a colossal figure of the ax-wielding Lincoln of the New Salem years.23 The 30 foot fiberglass figure was erected in late June 1967, about six weeks before the opening of the state fair, where it was joined by the other overgrown figures, including the Sinclair Oil Company dinosaurs, fiberglass farm animals, and the famed butter cow.24 Garishly colored, like most roadside colossi, the amiable young man holds his ax as if just breaking from work. The youthful, friendly features are those of the young Lincoln who, I would argue, embodies many of the attributes most Americans see in themselves as a people-www.prairie.org/book/export/html/83 90/95

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honesty, good humor, a sense of fair play, and a willingness to help others. The state fairgrounds colossus was followed in 1968 by another, located near Charleston, Illinois. While the young Lincoln in Springfield was conceived of as but a sign of welcome to a week-long festival, Charleston's 62-foot figure was meant to serve as an attraction in itself. "The world's tallest memorial to Abraham Lincoln" was intended to draw innumerable tourists and their dollars to Coles County's many recreational and historic sites, some of which were related to the 16th President.25 The history of the Charleston work is mired in controversy. Few connected with the project have cared to discuss it. Local boosters were eagerly pursuing several avenues to draw visitor dollars to the area.26 It appears that the Lincoln project began with a Charleston businessman noting the tourist drawing power of Iron City, Michigan's colossal Paul Bunyan. Others businessmen became interested and the work was soon commissioned under auspices of the private Charleston Tourism Development Corporation.27 In May 1969 the figure, produced by the Gordon Specialty Co. of St. Paul, Minnesota, was placed in the new Lincoln Memorial Park. The June 1 dedication was almost incidental to the "Lincoln Heritage Trail Festival," a weekend of special events headlined by a carnival, a flea market, Indian dances, antique shows, and horse racing. Lincoln and Douglas lookalikes urged visits to local attractions. One dedication speaker, referring to the figure itself, noted proudly that "Abraham Lincoln has made history for Charleston."28 Charleston's 62-foot Lincoln, clothed in black, projects a mood not unlike his dress. He seems downright angry. The face is actually severe looking, the left hand is formed into a fist that crumples the papers within it. With gray hair and beard, one could see a nasty John Brown as plausibly as Abraham Lincoln. Another disadvantage--the viewing angle from the ground to the right hand has led many observers to think that the President is making an obscene gesture. Charleston's Lincoln colossus stands today, enticing tourists to a private recreational park, still touted as "the world's tallest Lincoln statue."29 Statues Gironi The move from nineteenth century to the twentieth saw transitions in many areas of the life of the United States, among them the passing of the generation that had experienced Abraham Lincoln, leading Merrill Peterson to declare this era that of a move from "Memory to History."30 Knowledge of the coming end of the Civil War generation was a troubling one to many Americans, leading them to seek means to transmit the testimony of the Civil War generation forward through time.31 Many of the thousands of soldier and sailor monuments dotting the landscape stand as a testimony to the perceived power of sculpture as a means of transmitting memory. Early in the commemoration process entrepreneurs recognized the existence of a large market for monuments inexpensive enough to be purchased by small towns. One entrant into the market for an inexpensive tribute for placement in schools and other public places was Italian sculptor Rafaello Gironi, an employee of Boston's Sculptured Arts Company. Gironi, probably influenced by the commercial opportunities presented by the Lincoln Centennial and the desire to make memory "tangible", presented two works for public institutions in 1909. The first was a bearded bust , 2 feet 9 inches tall. It stood on a 3 1/2 foot pedestal and sold for $30. Gironi's status as a "thoroughly Americanized
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immigrant" was seen as giving the bust special meaning, with one commentator noting that while there were fine works by Volk and Saint-Gaudens on the market, "it is something new to have an accurate conception from the hands of an adopted citizen. The young Italian also modeled a heroic statue. This work was almost certainly taken from the Chicago Lincoln Park Saint-Gaudens figure. In order to increase his potential buyer audience, Gironi relied on an old lithographer's trick of switching heads on a subject. Like printers had done, Gironi offered this statue with a bearded Lincoln or without. By doing so, Gironi was able to produce a chronologically correct Lincoln depending on the time period that the purchaser was interested in obtaining. This allowed Gironi to effectively skip the step of recasting the body of Lincoln every time there was a change of Lincoln's face. Pattison--Lincoln Library The 1960s saw the opening of an era in which political leaders and the public generally no longer felt it necessary to "get right with Lincoln." Once the Great Emancipator and savior of the Union, later humanitarian and symbol of the worldwide battle of democracy against fascism, Abraham Lincoln now entered the realm of the mortal. All aspects of his character and thought came under scrutiny. Did Lincoln truly believe in the equality of all humanity, or was he, as Lerone Bennett claimed, just another racist? Did "Honest Abe" deserve the title, or was he in fact a sharp lawyer and, later, a cynical manipulator of the public? As Merrill Peterson has noted, even late-night comedians for the first time felt free to poke fun at the tall skinny guy with the funny hat.32 A sculptural figure that can be interpreted as symbolizing this period of rethinking and doubt stands at an entrance to downtown Springfield's Lincoln Library (the name given to Springfield's public library). In April 1976 officials of the Old Capitol Art Fair examined over 50 designs for a major sculpture to be placed in front of the under-construction Lincoln Library building, which was to serve as home to the fair's permanent collection. The work would be the art fair's Bicentennial gift to the city of Springfield. After an initial round of competition, a design by well known Chicago sculptor Abbott Pattison was unanimously chosen by the art fair's panel of judges. The finished sculpture was unveiled November 21, 1976, at the as yet unfinished Lincoln Library. The actual appearance of the work had been a well-kept secret--in the words of one art fair official "We don't want to spoil the surprise."33 Surprise wasn't the word. The abstract figure, "conceived as an image of Lincoln," stands eight feet tall. It is located at the library's south entrance, facing the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Sculptor Pattison intended for the statue to thus represent "the marriage of modern Springfield and Lincoln's day." The head and facial features were meant to bear resemblance to those of Lincoln, while the rest of the body is completely abstract. In a bit of understatement one journalist declared that "the abstract body and representational head evokes a character resemblance rather than an exacting physical likeness. . . ." Among the "Lincolnesque qualities" mentioned are "kindness, hominess, and humility" in the figure, "masterful personality" projected in the arms, and "born of the land" affirmed by the legs as they sink into the base.34 Artist Pattison, who claimed himself to be "a patsy to do anything about Lincoln," readily admitted that "not . . . everyone is going to be 'wowed' about my sculpture," but that "It seems that for a modern abstract building you must straddle the resemblances to Lincoln with the lines and shape of the building. . . . The building does not call for a romantic picture of Lincoln. It was a compromise between the completely abstract and a man whom we have all admired from childhood."35
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Pattison's "Lincoln" withstood periodic attack through the first year or so if its existence. Less than a week after the dedication it was found sporting a sign reading "Sid's Junk Yard." Much criticism took the form of letters to the local newspaper. One out-of-state visitor, bearing the appropriate surname Lament, used the terms "abominable," "monstrosity," "grotesque," and "degrading" all in one paragraph.36 The statue stands today, unnoticed, it seems, by almost all but grumpy Lincolnians. This work might, in fact, be the Lincoln sculpture for its time--a non-representational representation reflecting the society's own confused feelings about the man who was once called "The First American." Keith Knoblock One of the most recent entries into the field of Lincoln sculpture is the statue at Bloomington, Illinois. Inspired by the Bicentennial of the United States and a desire for McLean County to have a life-size Lincoln, V.L. "Budd" Fairfield, an American History instructor at Bloomington High School began the project in 1975. Fairfield had "conceived" of his idea from an unusual source - actor Raymond Massey. Fairfield had once stood next to the actor when Massey was in a traveling production of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois." Earlier attempts to erect a suitable Lincoln statue by McLean County's citizenry had met with defeat after projected costs had become too prohibitive.37 After preliminary proposals, the Bloomington Bicentennial Committee awarded the project to sculptor and Illinois State University faculty member, Keith Knoblock. The image that Knoblock conceived was one that shows Lincoln in his forties. Here one can see an image of Lincoln as part of the common folk. His sleeves are rolled up and he has his working clothes on, prepared to tackle any task. This statue is of a copper/bronze mixture and took eight months to complete. The dedication was held on August 28, 1977 and the statue was placed in the then newly-built McLean County Law and Justice Center. It is in this center that the statue still resides, reminding all of Lincoln's connection with Bloomington and McLean County.38 Lily Tolpo A recent addition to the world of Lincoln statues is the work done by Lily Tolpo. Long known as the wife of the noted Lincoln sculptor, Carl Tolpo, and for her bust of Mary Todd Lincoln, Ms. Tolpo has created a lifesized portrait of both Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas depicting their debate at Freeport, Illinois. Titled "Freeport's Lincoln and Douglas in Debate," it is the only such portrait of both men, together, known to exist.39 The sculpture depicts a seated Lincoln listening to a standing Douglas giving his point in the debate. Originally, the concept for this statue was to place the original in Freeport with subsequent castings of the same statue to be located in the six other debate sites around the state. However, the only one that has been dedicated to date, is the Freeport site. That dedication took place on August 27, 1992, the 134th anniversary of the original debate. When contacted, a Freeport official stated that other sites are more interested in placing "original pieces" depicting their own site's uniqueness than in a replica of the Freeport statue.40 Conclusion The desire to expand Lincoln's influence goes on unabated. Lincoln sculpture is a major component of this influence. Tourism, personal economic gain, war remembrance, and artistic recognition are just a few of the elements. Regardless of the motive, the unifying representative for all of this is Lincoln and his image; whatever that image may mean. By documenting these pieces, the researcher and historian are able to better understand the differing motives and desires behind these driving forces; and, to properly place Lincoln in the context of the ever-changing times.
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About this contributor Kim Bauer is the historical research specialist for the Henry Horner Lincoln Collection of the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield, Illinois. The author would especially like to thank Mr. Mark Johnson of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency for his invaluable assistance in helping to research this topic.
Endnotes 1. The world of Lincoln sculpture must be forever indebted to Leonard Wells Volk. His life mask of Abraham Lincoln, done in the spring of 1860, has remained the definitive basis for countless sculptural renditions and variations of Lincoln. During the winter of 1860 the sculptor Thomas D. Jones came to Springfield, Illinois and made a bust of Lincoln, the first bearded bust from a life sitting. 2. The art term "heroic" used throughout this paper means a "life-size" or "larger than life" work. Durman claimed the first "heroic" statue credited to the sculptor P ietro Mezzara. For a more complete account of this see Donald Charles Durman, He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford University P ress, 1951), p. 2627. Hereafter Durman. Dr. Louis A. Warren claimed that Henry Jackson Ellicott did the first life size study. "Earliest Sculptors of the P resident," Lincoln Lore, No. 899, July 1, 1946. This was subsequently disproved and credit still belongs to Mezzara. 3. Works with titles as Charles Edward Brown's Scenic and Historic Illinois; Guide to One Thousand Features of Scenic, Historic, and Curious Interest in Illinois (Madison, WI: C.E. Brown, 1928) and the Southwestern Indiana Civic Association's The Lincoln Country of Southwestern Indiana (Evansville, IN: Koenemann-Riehl and Company, 1935) were indicative of the localized attempts to draw visitors to the region. 4. Franklin B. Mead. Heroic Statues in Bronze of Abraham Lincoln, Introducing the Hoosier Youth of P aul Manship (Fort Wayne, IN: The Lincoln National Life Foundation, 1932). 5. For example, Mead uses chapters titled as "The Lincoln of Illinois," and "Lincoln, the P resident," to place the various statues in their artistic context. 6. Durman, He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln. See footnote two for complete citation. 7. Ibid., p. vii. 8. F. Lauriston Bullard. Lincoln in Marble and Bronze (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University P ress, 1952). 9. While proof-reading his author's copy of the work, Dr. Bullard came across a discrepancy and left this note to the editor, Dr. Roy Basler, "To wit: There is no sandstone Lincoln. In my present state, my text is not easy to get. Am in pajamas, writing at a crowded table." From the author's copy Lincoln in Marble and Bronze, Box 93, Abraham Lincoln Association collection, Manuscripts Division, Illinois State Historical Library. 10. The only times that these discussions concerning the psychological and sociological impact are discussed is when the respective author's are quoting the artist's own conception of what Lincoln meant to them; or, when the question arose during dedication ceremonies. 11. Merrill D. P eterson. Lincoln in American Memory (New York: Oxford University P ress, 1994). 12. Dr. P eterson "archetypes" are: The Savior of the Union'; The Great Emancipator'; Man of the P eople'; First American'; and, Self-Made Man'. Lincoln in American Memory, Back page of inside dust jacket cover. 13. For Springfield sites, see P eterson, p. 265; the background of another project, the Lincoln Way, is covered in Report of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library to the Forty-ninth General Assembly of the State of Illinois on the Investigation of the Lincoln Way (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1915), vii-ix 14. "The Lincoln Circuit," circular issued by Lincoln Circuit Marking Association, Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. 17. "Lincoln Circuit Marker Unveiled," Illinois State Register, 5/8/22, p. 2. 18. "Unveil Marker With Impressive P rogram," Metamora Herald, 10/20/22, p. 1. 19. Durman. He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln, p. ix-xii. 20. The Smithsonian Institution has been cataloging the known examples of art in America nearly since its inception in 1846. The Save Outdoor Sculpture (SOS) P roject is a cooperative attempt by the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural P roperty and the Smithsonian to catalog and keep an up-to-date inventory of the known outdoor sculptures throughout the United States. To access the Smithsonian Institute's Art Inventory on the Internet go to the address www.siris.si.edu. To access the SOS P roject on the Internet go to www.nic.org. 21. From the promotional brochure published by Jim Nance and to be accompanied with the statues. See the inside front cover for this quote. The brochure and other supporting material can be found in the vertical file Sculptors: Nance, Jim located in the Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. 22. For an enjoyable look at the colossus as an American phenomenon see Karal Ann Marling, The Colossus of Roads: Myth and Symbol Along the American Highway (Minneapolis; University of Minnesota P ress, 1984). 23. "Creator of fairgrounds Abe statue may finally get his due," The State Journal-Register, 2/11/96, p. 4. 24. For unusual sculptural attractions see "Illinois State Fair" advertising supplement, Illinois State Journal, 8/6/67. 25. Undated press release advertising erection of the figure is found in "Lincoln Heritage Trail Festival" publicity packet, Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. Lincoln-related sites in the area include Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, Shiloh Church (burial place of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln), and the site of the Charleston Lincoln-Douglas debate. 26. One such venture was inclusion on the Lincoln Heritage Trail, a project of the state tourism departments of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, with support of the American P etroleum Institute. See "Lincoln Heritage Trail Festival" publicity packet, Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. For outline history of the Lincoln Heritage Trail see Mark E. Neely, Jr., Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1982), p. 190. 27. "Will Lincoln buy Charleston's Joke? " The State Journal-Register, 6/8/78, p.1. 28. For information concerning dedication and photo of lookalikes see "Lincoln Heritage Trail Festival" publicity packet, Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library; dedication quote, "Lincoln Statue Dedicated Sunday," Coles County Times-Courier (Charleston), 6/2/69, p. 1. 29. Springhaven Campground and Recreational P ark promotional brochure, courtesy John Hoffmann. 30. The term "memory to history" is taken from Merrill P eterson, Lincoln in American Memory. (New York: Oxford University P ress, 1994). Chapter 6 discusses various aspects of the transition as reflected in Lincoln scholarship and commemoration. 31. The notion of passing memory of the war to another generation is illustrated by one of the pleas used to seek support for a soldiers and sailors monument in Decatur, Illinois-"in a little while those [who lived the experience of the war] who still live will also have passed away. The . . . the Macon county soldiers of the civil war will live only in the memories of succeeding generations." "The Monument," Decatur Herald, 10/4/03, p. 3. A report of the dedication of a monument in Virden, Illinois, brought the comment that "two generations seemed to clasp hands yesterday across a span of 30 years in building a monument, the foundation and superstructure of which is as enduring as the everlasting hills." "The Monument History," Virden Reporter, 6/13/02, p. 1. One means used by veterans to share their "testimony" was to visit schools in the week before Decoration Day, to share their memories with students. See "The Veterans Corner," P eoria Daily Transcript, 5/3/97, p. 3 and 5/30/97, p. 4; "Soldiers at School," Canton Weekly Register, 6/2/10, p. 1. 32. P eterson, pp. 357-58; 379-80. 33. "Sculpture planned for new library," The State Journal-Register, 11/3/76, p. 3. 34. "Lincoln Library sculpture," Illinois Times, 11/26-12/2/76, pp. 13-14.

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35. Ibid. 36. "Toby McDaniel," The State Journal-Register, 11/26/76, p. 15; "Statue Called Monstrosity," The State Journal-Register, 6/27/77, p. 6. 37. For Fairfield's encounter with Massey, see The Bloomington P antagraph [n.d., n.p.] The 1875 and 1890 attempts had projected costs of $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 respectively. Ford County P ress, Sept. 18, 1997 [n.p.]. Both of these articles are from the Sculptors-Knoblock, Keith vertical file in the Henry Horner Lincoln Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. 38. Ibid. 39. Barbara Hughett. "Lincoln-Douglas Statue to be Dedicated in Freeport, Illinois," The Little Giant: A Newsletter of the Stephen A. Douglas Association, May 1992, v. 4 (1): 3 40. P ersonal telephone interview with Ms. Mickey Martin, P resident, Freeport Lincoln-Douglas Art Foundation, 10/19/97.

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