Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa
and anyone else who would like to be here
When I was a small child, we didn't travel very much because we had no car. The first trip we ever took was to Springfield and New Salem, Illinois. I was very excited to be going somewhere besides to the park and to my two aunts' houses. We rarely went anywhere in a car, but usually went on the bus or on the streetcar.
We drove from St.Louis to Springfield and New Salem in a car that belonged to my father's friend Mr. Mitchell. My mother, Elaine, and I sat in the back seat. We had to be very quiet and very good, as Mr.Mitchell, who was driving, was not used to small children. He was the physics teacher at Beaumont High School where my father taught mathematics. (Later, he lived with us for about a year.)
In Springfield, we visited the house where Abraham Lincoln had once lived, and also buildings that showed us what his life had been like before he became President. I understood that he was a great man, that his life was very different and long ago, and that he had been very good to free the slaves in the Civil War. I liked looking at the rooms of the house, like the one in the picture (from the Lincoln Home Tour
of the National Historical Site).
New Salem was a village of log houses from Lincoln's time. I was very interested in these houses, as they were much more different from our apartment or my friends' houses. We learned how Lincoln had been very poor, and how he had learned to be a lawyer and later, how people had liked him so much that he could win elections and eventually become President.
I remember that there was a special kind of fence around all the log houses, made of split logs. After I saw New Salem, I understood better about log cabins in the woods and on the prairies in the stories that teachers read to me. (This picture is from the website for New Salem