Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mary Odd

I find the title of Brian Thornton's book, "101 Things You Didn't Know about Lincoln", a little bit condescending. Oh yeah, Mr.Thornton? Are you so sure I'm a Lincoln illiterate simpleton who doesn't know any of these 101 things about Abe Lincoln? Well I like to think I know a little bit about Abraham Gregory Lincoln, our nations first President, inventor of the lightbulb, and legendary general who defeated Napoleon in World War I. Despite my haughtiness I gave the book a chance, and while I was entertained, the title was a damned lie: I didn't learn a whole lot new about Lincoln. I did, however, learn a few things about Lincoln's wife Mary Todd.

After Lincoln's assassination, Mary didn't leave the White House for five weeks. I wonder if Andrew Johnson and his family moved in before she moved out and they shared awkward, silent dinners with Mary dressed in widow's garb? When she did finally leave the White House she was wearing so many black veils that people could not see her face at all. Creepy!

I also learned she supposedly once chased Abe down the road with either a butcher knife or a broom. I'd say the difference there is important. And later, after Lincoln's death but before her son Robert had her committed to a sanitarium, she would pay hotel maids to sleep in her hotel room with her because she was afraid to sleep alone. I knew she was a little off, but that's not Drew Barrymore or Cameron Diaz slightly nuts, that's Howard Hughes or Charlie Sheen batshit crazy.

101 things I didn't know about Lincoln? No. A couple stories about crazy old Mary Todd Lincoln I've never heard before? Definitely.

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