Monday, January 12, 2009

Obamathon Man Goes Lincolnizing in Springfield, IL

Today, Obamathon Man and his associate spent a good deal of time (and money) in the former place of business of Barack Obama: Springfield, IL. However, Springfield is far more interested in honoring another of its famous residents, Abraham Lincoln. Everything to do with Lincoln can be found in Springfield: His former house and office, his presidential library, his official museum, several sculptures of him, and his tomb. All they need to do is airlift the Lincoln Memorial over to Springfield and their Lincoln monopoly would be complete. Obama must have absorbed so much Lincoln during his tenure here in the Illinois Senate that by now he can't help but emulate the guy.

We set out to go see the Lincoln Library, but couldn't find it. However, this gave us the perfect pretense to strike up a conversation with local merchants about Obama. We went into a small souvenir shop, whose owners maintained a strict 1:1 ratio between Lincoln and Obama Merchandise. My associate had to use the bathroom, so I chatted up the two cashiers. They gave me directions to the Library, then they talked a bit about Obama. Apparently, he had kept an office in one of the buildings next to the store here. One of the cashiers used to be a waitress, and she had waited on Obama a couple of times. He was very polite, she said. I asked if he was popular in Springfield, and of course that was an understatement. I joked that he was probably a bit more popular than Illinois's governor, and they chuckled.

We walked to the main square, near the old capitol. There was a statue of Lincoln, a recreation of his law office, and several informational placards which read "looking for Lincoln". In Springfield, you can look for Lincoln but he isn't hard to find.

We walked a block north, past another statue of Lincoln, to the Lincoln Library. We were happy to go in since the weather was frigid, but we weren't exactly thrilled to find that admission was $10. We decieded just to browse the gift store instead. There were plenty of Lincoln books, mugs, shirts, and other items of questionable utility with pictures of Lincoln on them. There was also a shelf devoted to Obama merchandise.

We took a stroll through some of Springfield's neighborhoods on our way to see the capitol. Being from the west coast, buildings that would otherwise be considered dilapidated are viewed by us as "historic". We noticed many stores that were Lincoln-themed, including the Lincoln-Douglas Hamburger-Hot Dog Restaurant. The quality of their fare is debatable.

We made it to the state capitol, without any sightings of Blago. Maybe he was just afriad we'd uncover another of his less-than-brilliant schemes. Bored, we decided to go back to the old capitol. By the time we arrived there, we were freezing so we stopped inside a bookstore. The owner was somewhere between polite and rude, but he was at least cooperative when we asked a bit about Obama. His store was directly adjacent to where Obama had announced his candidacy. To him, the announcement was something of a nuisance since it kept people from coming in. But he did appear to like Obama, and was happy to have him as a president, if not as an infrequent neighbor.

We hastened back to the car since a cold wind was beginning to blow. But on the way back, I did find time to stop and take a picture of a Lincoln statue which came out rather well.

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