I am going to have to do a little adjusting. This place has grown on me. I can see myself occasionally coming back to visit. Actually, I will try in February for the bicentennial. Lincoln kind of has that effect on me; not the "fear of five dollar bills" (a fear that I would not want to see a five dollar bill after spending an entire summer around the Abraham Lincoln home) that I predicted that I would have. Ok, enough rambling. Here's the blog.
Monday - More corrections to my manuscript. I got an interesting call from the Lincoln Public Library. The local collection called to tell me that they found a new article. This article talked about a woman who worked for the Lincolns in Springfield. Mind you, I have spent hours reviewing microfilm looking for newspaper articles. Needless to say, I was excited to find this one. This woman brought my grand total of researched hired girls to 18. I went over and got the copy of the article. There was also another article that confirmed one of my previous hired help that I had researched. A good day overall. Added the information. Went home, settled in and prepared for the next day.
Tuesday - Today was TV interview day. I was going to be on a show titled, "Pamela Speaks". After a few wardrobe changes, I finally decided on a dress shirt and silk skirt. I wanted to look professional as well as diva. I went into work and Marie, the admin assistant for the Student Conservation Association came into my office. I knew she was coming, but I thought it was going to be in the afternoon. She brought gifts for me and Josh, tshirts and maple syrup from New Hampshire. I thought that was very sweet of her. Josh mentioned to her that I was doing an interview. I didn't really think anything of it. I knew that I would mention them. So, I went home to try to find a SCA logo to put on me somewhere. I was already wearing my National Park Service badge. I went to my welcome kit. I found a croc ornament. It happened to fit within my buttonhole on my dress shirt. I felt like I was a walking billboard. I left the office with entourage (Josh, Marie, and her husband) in tow and walked from the Lincoln home to the Old State Capital. I get there and my PR guy is filming. Just great! But he made me feel comfortable and it was nice to see him. Dick Hart is also there as a part of the taping as well. So, I had a support staff. The interview went well. I talked about my research and how I think it would impact the community. Marie said that she was proud and that I have to get that information back to the home office so they can know about it. After the interview, I went to lunch the host of the show and my PR guy. It was very pleasant. Nice conversation about everything from religion to the stereotype of historians. She mentioned that she wanted to take my research and develop it into a one act play to present to the community. I was a little surprised by that. We exchanged business cards and parted ways. I finally went back to my office. I talked with my boss, Tim and I got overwhelmed for a moment. Interviews, meetings, etc. was a little much for me. I consider myself to be person who doesn't want to be in the spotlight. I like to provide support behind the scenes. I thought I was supposed to just do the research, write a manuscript, and go home. So, I voiced my concern to my PR guy. I know that he has a job to promote my work. But, I just want to do the work and present it for the greater good; not have a lecture circuit, books, and a bobble head doll. Nor do I want to become possessive and refuse to relinquish or release my research for anyone to gain from it. Which is why I think I want to do public history or a start research consulting firm. I shall see what the future holds. Tonight was the weekly flag lowering ceremony at Lincoln's tomb. Me and my entourage went out there. The weather starts to look a little unpleasant. Next thing I know, there is a small dirt storm and a heavy downpour. It was just horrible. I just knew that everyone would have to find shelter inside the tomb. After a few minutes, it finally subsided. The ceremony started a little later than usual. At the end of the ceremony, the flag that has flown over the tomb is raffled off and given away. Marie was the lucky recipient. I think that really was a memorable part of her trip to visit us in Springfield. We went to dinner afterwards. We talked about career opportunities within the organization. After this long day, I finally made it home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.
Wednesday - I got into work a little early. Susan, the curator gives special tours for the park employees called "behind the rail", which lets us actually touch the artifacts. After donning the special government issued white gloves, we were able to go through the house. It was great to be able to touch things that Abraham Lincoln owned. For example, to actually touch the desk that he used in the house to write was an experience that I will never forget. I also had a chance to see my boss Tim work in his capacity as a historian. He gave a tour to a group of young people who were visiting and preparing for a debate contest. It was nice to see and makes me really want to consider public history. I went back to my office, worked on the manuscript and the power point presentation that I had to give to the park rangers on Thursday. I finally went home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.
Thursday - I gave my power point presentation to the park rangers. They appreciated my work. they also gave me suggestions for my presentation. I considered this to be my rough draft, or dry run for my DC presentation the following week. After my presentation, my boss tells everyone that I will be going to DC. He also tells them that I will be coming back in February to do a lecture for the bicentennial events at the Lincoln home. I was shocked! Once again, I thought I was supposed to just do the research, write a manuscript and go home. Obviously, not the case. So, I will be back in Springfield to celebrate the bicentennial. I am excited! I came back to the office and made changes per the suggestions from the rangers. I added a few lines to my manuscript. I finally left the office. I was walking home and realized that I would be leaving the site in a few days. I started to realize that I was going to come back as a different person than when I left to come here. I went home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.
Friday - I came into my office. Printed up a quick summary of my research. I had a meeting with a Nikki from an organization named "Looking for Lincoln". This organization has signs all over the state that tells stories about Lincoln that children that understand and learn from them. The meeting went well. We discussed making another wayside sign that talks about the hired girls. Also, she was going to add the information to a production reenacting Lincoln's farewell address in Springfield. Once again, surprised that my research is being used in so many different ways. I left that meeting and went out into the site. I had park rangers telling me that they were already using my information in the tours and the response has been great. That made my day. Today was a lunch meeting with Tim, Katharyn Harris (library mom) and Dick Hart. We met up at a downtown restaurant. I have to admit, I will miss that part of Springfield. I will have to take time to discover the non-franchise, locally owned restaurants in Houston when I return. I enjoyed my lunch. I gave my "mom" a thank you note. She appreciated the thought. I got back to my office. Josh and I decided that we should visit New Salem before I leave. New Salem is the town that Abraham Lincoln lived in before he came to Springfield. We went out there in the heat of the day. It was an entire area that was recreated to look the way it did when Lincoln was there. That seems to be a fascination with historic sites. Ok, the whole purpose would be the better term. Historical accuracy is the professional term. This site is a state operated site, which received budget cuts through laying off, or firing seasonal employees. It is sad that the site has to suffer due to the whims of a state's government. One would think that the Lincoln sites would remain open in anticipation of the bicentennial. or be staffed to the max because it is summer travel season. I would think that these sites impact tourism and the local economies. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyhow, this is a couple of miles of log cabins, farmland, and roads that are set to look like 1830's central Illinois. The scenery was beautiful. I realized that I was not prepared for this visit. Not to mention, out of shape. Motivation to do better. Get more exercise so I can feel and look better. By the end of the visit, I felt gross and my feet were sunburned. I didn't think that was possible for me. Lesson learned: get sunscreen. We left the park and returned home. I ran straight for my shower to get all of the humid nastiness off of me. I was invited to go to hear a friend play downtown that night. I left my house and walked downtown. I made it in enough time to catch the last set. It was truly a joy to watch. I sat at the table with Mr. Lockhart, the glass maker I met last Friday. After the set, I sat and talked with the band. I walked home, settled in and prepared myself to enjoy my weekend.
Saturday - I finally woke up and did my usual Saturday morning ritual. HGTV and Food Network. Nikia and I went to lunch. I went back into my office to start working on my presentation packets for DC. I wanted to make sure that the people attending the workshop next week would have something to remember my research and internship by. My plan was to finally check out the mass transit system and go to the mall. I needed a suit for my presentation that I would be giving next week. I went to the ATM to get cash so I can get change for the bus. I got the cash and the receipt, not the card. I didn't realize until I got on the bus that I didn't have my card. By then, it was too late. I went ahead and rode the bus out to the mall. Of course, Springfield's mass transit is not like Dallas or Houston. Then again, there really is no need to have several buses and light rail. It was a nice break outside of my apartment. I finally made it back downtown. I went home for a few minutes to grab a blanket. This was the night that the movie in the park was rescheduled to. The attendance was sparse. Then again, the night before, a movie night in the park event was done at a bigger park with 3,000 people coming to watch the "wizard of oz" on an outdoor screen. That was fine with me. I finally saw "the bee movie". It was a cute movie. After the movie, I walked home, settled in and went to bed.
Sunday - My final worship service. I was a little saddened. I'd started to feel at home and it was time to go. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the FOH. But this was like my summer home. If I come back, I also want to visit other churches. Especially the historic African American ones. No matter where I go, I have to find my center. Churches are historically known as a cultural center. Churches held an important place in the Civil Rights movement, for example. This was the place where community meetings were held and to get information or instruction on the plan of action like marches and boycotts. Sorry, had a history nerd moment for a minute. But for me, it is a spiritual center that I have to have. I came home and started to pack. My goal is to only take one suitcase when I leave Springfield headed to DC. I refuse to give airlines extra money for luggage. I finally settled in, and prepared myself for my last day in Springfield, Illinois.