Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hanging out with Abe

THIS IS GOING to come a huge surprise, so please sit down before reading this - we had a gathering on the sidewalk last Friday during the first Blues In The District show.

We were sitting down, too. Frank Haxel brought over his tent for shade and there was a steady breeze at Fifth and Maine, so it was actually quite pleasant. The band was cranking it out at the Gazebo and there were people milling around everywhere - let the summer party season begin!

Anyway, we were sitting there enjoying a beautiful early summer evening when up walks Abe Lincoln. He was meeting and greeting the good people of Quincy and getting ready for the Lincoln In The District festival the next day in Washington Park. Turns out he is actually the Lincoln reenactor George Buss of Freeport, and George has this gig down, to Lincoln's mannerisms and high, reedy voice.

You look at him, a gangly man in a top hat and tails, and you think, "Geesh. Honest Abe, right in front of us?"

"Hello!" Abe said. "How are you on this fine evening?"

We couldn't resist. There were a million things we wanted to ask him, like, "Was Stephen Douglas really a horses' bleep" to "Speaking of horses' bleeps, what do you think about the Republican nominee this year?" to "Isn't it too hot to wear that big hat?"

But, instead, we asked him the ever-present and really important question of the evening.

"Mr. President," I said, "Would you like a beer?"

Abe looked down and stroked his chin and looked quite presidential. Here he was, just a shanked 9 iron away from the site of his 1858 debate with Douglas, and he was really being pressed.

"Back in my day, it was more about spirits," he said. "Some of us were into the more local beverages like corn liquor and such. It is a generous offer, but I will pass for now, thank you."

We kibitzed with him a while longer, posed for a few pictures, and Abe ambled off into the park to press the flesh and greet the good citizens of Quincy, who were very good to him back in the day. After all, Quincy was where the idea of him running for president was first presented, by a lawyer who had an office just down the block. (Man, I'd like have a beer with THAT guy some day.)

Only in Quincy can you be having a good time on the sidewalk at Fifth and Maine and then talk to one of the most famous people who ever lived. And not really think much of it.

My hat is much shorter, but I tip it to you anyway, Mr. Lincoln.

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