The Road Back (part 3)

While driving across Kentucky I was really excited when I saw the road sign saying President Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace was the next exit. I really wanted to experience some U.S. history along our trip. Yes, Graceland is also history but it’s more culture/celebrity history not the kind you find in a history book. At least, no history book I have ever read in school.

I was determined to find Lincoln’s home. Lucky for me his birthplace and boyhood home are within ten miles of each other.

Abraham Lincoln Bust

When we exited the interstate we followed the signs but it seems we were on this rural road with cornfields that kept going as far as the eye could see. The corn had already been harvested and some fields had already been cut down.

It made me think of something my dad said when watching a movie or TV show where a person was running through a cornfield. He said the leaves would “cut you up”. I’m not sure if that kernel of knowledge is true since I have never had the pleasure to run through a cornfield.

When we arrived at the National Historical Park there is a huge Memorial Building with stone columns and four sets of stairs. It houses Lincoln’s birth home.  In the Visitor Center we watch a short film that was very informational.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits I learned about the 16th President.

Abraham Lincoln shares the same name with his grandfather, who was very rich. When he died he left everything to his oldest son. Abe’s father, Thomas, didn’t

Sinking Spring

get anything. After marrying Abe’s mother, Nancy Hanks, they moved to Sinking Spring Farm. It was called that because of the Spring down the hill from the cabin.

Symbolic birthplace cabin

Shortly, the future president was born in a one-room log cabin. It was 18-by-16 feet with a dirt floor, one window, one door, a small fireplace and a low chimney made of clay straw and hardwood. Their home may have been small but according to the 15-minute video The National Park Service shows the Lincolns were not poor, but they weren’t rich either. Thomas was a farmer and did carpentry and cabinetmaking on the side.

This is what inside of the cabin may have looked like.

The log cabin in the Memorial Building is not the original log cabin. The cabin inside is very old but The National Park Service considers it “a symbolic cabin”.

According to NPS, the original cabin was purchased by a NY businessman in 1894. “Shortly thereafter it was dismantled and reassembled for exhibition in many cities.” There is no information on what happened to the cabin after that.

The Memorial Building

The Memorial Building was built almost 100 years after the Lincolns left Sinking Spring Farm. The Lincoln Farm Association raised more than $350,000 from 100,000 American citizens to build the neoclassical structure. Each step to the Memorial represents every year President Abraham Lincoln lived.

When Abe was two-years-old the family moved ten-miles northeast to Knob Creek.  This is where his first memories come from.

Lincoln did attend school at what he called a “blab school”. The school couldn’t afford writing materials so it taught using recitation. Lincoln only attended about two years’ worth of school but he loved writing and would use sticks in dirt, or his finger on a dusty window to write.

Thomas and Nancy Lincoln

Learning about the 16th President’s beginnings during a time when a Presidential election is going on and a big-budget movie is about the hard-working man is about the come out was very illuminating.

Lincoln was underestimated time and time again but he never gave up. It seemed to spur him on to do great things and stand up for what he believed in and for Americans.

The Road Back (part 2)

Evenings seem to be the times I think of my dad the most.  Since he became ill this is the time we would talk on the phone. He would talk as much as he could before he “ran out of air”. Since the liver cancer had spread to the lymph nodes around his heart and the morphine caused fluid to buildup in his lungs he was unable to speak for long periods at a time.

I remember the last time I spoke with him. My mom had gotten him a new I-Pad 3 so he could continue to email while in the hospital. His laptop was too heavy for his already weak body to hold. I called him through the FaceTime Feature and showed him my apartment; told him about my day; and how my thesis paper was going. He could see me and everything I was showing him but he didn’t or couldn’t hold the I-Pad correctly and all I saw was his hospital gown for most of the conversation.

It was a great conversation, however, I didn’t know it would be our last. I guess you never know when your last conversation will be with a loved one.

Graceland Mansion

Lisa Marie Plane

During my tour of Graceland and Elvis’ Car Museum I kept earmarking things to tell him about Elvis.

Gold sink on plane

I heard a rumor that the inside of Elvis’ plane, the Lisa Marie, was made of gold. It’s not. The seats are leather and there are television sets all over the place. The only thing that I saw that could have been made of gold are the sinks in the bathrooms.

Jungle Room chair

According to the audio tour, The Jungle Room was decorated by the King himself. He decided to put green shag carpet on the floor, walls and ceiling. He picked a great big round chair that was Lisa Marie’s favorite chair to sit in.

The wall-to-wall shag carpet insulated the room so well that Elvis moved his practice sessions into the room.

Outside the building that housed The Colonel’s office was a swing set for Lisa Marie. Connected to the same building was an indoor shooting range.  I thought it was weird that out of all the places it could have been placed on Elvis’ 13 acres of land the swing set was place outside a shooting range. Different times I guess.

Spent his final morning.

Elvis loved racquetball so much he built a court on his property. The court also contained a room with leather couches and a piano. On the day he died he was at that piano playing songs and singing with family and friends.

Out of all the pictures of Elvis there wasn’t a single one where he had gained weight. It was all the fit or “skinny Elvis”. I was told the family didn’t want visitors and fans to remember him that way. I can see how they would want everyone to see and recall happy memories of Elvis.

Elvis’ Final Resting Place

The Meditation Garden is where you will find Elvis Presley’s grave; along with his mother’s, father’s and grandmother’s grave. His grandmother, Minnie Mae, outlived her son, Vernon, and her grandson, Elvis.

Pink Cadillac

At the car museum I saw Elvis’ Pink Cadillac.  According to the audio tour Elvis was very generous with his vehicles, usually giving them to friends and even strangers. But the only car he would not give away was his mother’s favorite… the Pink Cadillac.

At the end of the tours and museums I picked out a postcard for my dad and then remembered he was gone. I’ve been told that may happen for awhile. It depresses me when I forget he is dead and then remember. But it saddens me more to think that at some point his death will be normal to me.

Visiting Graceland was a great way to wait out Hurricane Sandy. At least so I thought, I spent three nights in Nashville because of the snow from Sandy.

In part three of The Road Back I will tell you some things about our 16th President Abraham Lincoln you may not have known, including he may not have been as poor as we thought.

Abraham Lincoln Bust

(NaBloPoMo: I’m still counting this as a post for November 6th. I got caught up watching the election coverage and posted late.)