In order to first explain my blog, you have to know a thing or two about the Passport Program for National Parks. In college I had my first encounter with the Passport in which there are divisions for various regions with all the National Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites and upon visiting these specific places you stamp your passport with date and location to prove you’ve visited. While I know some people simply want a stamp, I hope to delve more into these national discoveries. I may not make it as far and post as often as I would like, but I hope with each post I illustrate a deeper and new found understanding of these landmarks and what their preservation means to me.
Since the only stamp available in Illinois is Lincoln’s Home, as an avid collector of stamp cancellations, I am determined to go. One aspect I admire is how much of the home has been preserved with original furnishings and re-created with various replacements from desks to rugs to drawers and everyone’s favorite: the chamber pot. Seeing a tea set perfectly displayed in the dining room gives the sense of how its former inhabitants lived and makes me wonder how people 100 years from now will see us. A worn cap on Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom desk reminds me of a time when a co-worker found a vest from stock that had a tag with a manufacturing date of 1910. With all the daily wear and use of clothing and all the numerous repairs I’ve had do on costumes and my own clothes, it’s thrilling to find an article of clothing that has been around four times as long as I’ve been alive. It’s even more shocking to find that Lincoln’s top hat sold for five million dollars; it’s interesting to note how something so simple can become essential and iconic.
As an artist I’ve always had the understanding that if you ever become famous or recognized, it’s when you’re dead. The same truth seems to apply to Lincoln, who only had a 40% approval rating while president. he also struggled as a politician while participating in the well-known Lincoln-Douglas debates during the campaign for the Senate, and lost the Senate seat to Douglas. Although Lincoln is known for abolishing slavery and his presidency during the Civil War, he should also be known for his perseverance and adherence to his principals. In today’s current political climate where faith and trust in politicians has disintegrated and ideals are thrown away for personal advancement, I have an overwhelming sense of respect and admiration for a man who truly fought for justice and equality and was killed because of it.
While exploring the furnished rooms inside is intriguing, the small corner of neighborhood homes and gardens also peaks my interest. Having helped weed and plant the family garden, I appreciate and enjoy the small beds of vegetables and herbs. An apple tree with green and light red apples brings a bit of vitality and life to this home of the past. When I think of the marbles that were discovered buried in the backyard, I’m reminded of my own backyard where we buried my family dog and various pairs of glittery jellies laid in the sand box for years. I suppose that on some small scale we all leave things behind that start their own history, whether it becomes nationally recognized or not. Items left or buried are all proof of what we valued, what we did, and what we remembered, whether they are for a figure of an important time in history or for a childhood pastime.