Not a Jackson, a Lincoln now 24

“Mr. Lincoln? Mr. Lincoln? Please wake up Mr. Lincoln, ” a female voice gently asked.

“Huh, “was the only reply from the recently anointed Abraham Lincoln the third as he looked around a familiar room and the same familiar feeling that he wasn’t supposed to be there. He got up quickly and startled Cee Cee the inside tour guide for the Hildene Estate.

“Guess I forgot where I was at,” Abraham said rubbing the back of his neck. He was not used to sleeping in a full bed for quite some time. The cot in his make shift office had always been so low he could reach down and touch the floor, that kept him grounded. Now he was laying in the bed of his great, great grandfather and could not reach the floor and was well, uncomfortable about being so comfortable.

“Sorry I startled you Cee Cee but old habits are hard to break.”

“What habit is that Mr. Lincoln?

“For starters my cot isn’t this comfortable and I had a very unusual dream. Now only bits and pieces seem to stick with me. I remember steps and lots of faces and an angel with a lightning bolt in her hand way up in the sky. When you woke me I looked around the room and was going to run for the door. You know, wrong place wrong time.”

Abraham noticed the quizzical look on Cee Cee and smiled when he saw what she was wearing. “Well, I have seen you in the kitchen, with flour on your face but never have I seen you in that attire.”

This, I hope you approve Mr. Lincoln?” She began to fuss with the bustled dress she was wearing that looked straight out of the eightteen fifties.

“Lincoln huh, Cee Cee do you remember when I worked here? Remember when I worked this place from the barn stalls to the gardens and pretty much everything in between?

“Yes”

Well, it’s still me old Abraham, just the last name changed. ”

“Can I say something Abraham?”

“Always happy to listen Cee Cee.”

“Yes, I do remember your work at Hildene and I never had a problem with you, no one did as far as I can remember. And maybe you don’t know it yet but things are changed, they really are. What I mean to say is you are special in a way no one else is. You are a Lincoln now and I just know destined to do great things, this had to happen for a reason. I hope you can see that Abraham.”

Abraham looked at the petite five foot nothing young woman dressed in period attire and wondered where her insight had come from? What was she seeing that he had not seen all his life? Inside he was still one foot in front of the other flesh and blood Abraham; but not a Jackson a Lincoln now.

Abraham smiled that broad grin he used so many times to win confidence in a court room and said, “Just tell me one thing, do I have to dress up like Abraham Lincoln the first?

They both had a good laugh and while Abraham was asleep, he was given an entire closet of tailored suits to wear. He picked out a medium grey suit that had a sewn in label with the Lincoln III sewn inside. The suit fit like it had been waiting all his life.

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Great men,working men,robbers and thieves 23

Abraham brought his scooter to a stop at the front of the Hildene Estate. He sat there with only the put put sound of his scooter and tried to take in the the breadth and depth of four hundred and twelve acres that sprawled over rolling hills and valley. Almost as an afterthought Hildene Mansion sat smack dab in the middle like a brick and mortar flower. As many times as he worked the the gardens, cleaned stalls and planted flowers and got the working farm ready for the new season, he had never looked at it as more than a place to live and work. On the day he left for law school in New York he remembered his father standing in front waving at him. He wore that old straw hat, patched dungaree’s and that big grin on his face like he owned the place. Maybe he did know that he owned the place; who knows? But, never in a thousand years could Abraham ever entertain the notion that it was his too. What the hell was Robert Todd Lincoln thinking when he set this all up to keep everyone in the dark? Did he have more plans yet to come? What new surprises could unfold later? Abraham didn’t know, but he did know his great, great grandfather had enough bad things happen to him in politics to vow to stay out of them. And maybe that’s why he lived so long? Was this his way of getting back at those who took the lives from the Lincoln family? For now it was entirely too much to wrap his head around. He gave the scooter handle a twist and the little motor growled through it’s pipes.

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“So let’s find out what’s next,” he said out loud and drove up the drive to Hildene Mansion.

Over the front face of the big house hung a large white banner with five words on it, ‘Welcome Home Abraham Lincoln III’.

The head caretaker Jim Simson walked across the drive and greeted him with a big bear hug and then shook his hand. He was barrel chested and always clean cut and knew every chore personally on the estate. Jim was hired when Abraham left for school in New York. All he could say after looking at Abraham from head to toe was, “Abraham it’s so good to see you. I mean, Mr. Lincoln sir.”

“Jim, always good to see you, and it’s still just Abraham.”

When your father passed away, they made me temporary Estate, and grounds manager. I don’t know if you want to change that right away.”

Abraham put his hand on the caretakers thick shoulder and looked him directly in the eyes man to man.

“Well Jim, do you know what’s wrong in the barn, the house and the grounds?

“Yes,” Jim said and looked a little puzzled.

“More important Jim, do you know how to fix it when no one else does?”

“Sure, that’s what I do, ” he answered to the man who seemed to be listening to him with more than his ears.

“Then, Jim as long as I am around you’ll have that job. Now I’m going to take my stuff and put it in my old room in the servants quarters and then figure out what to do from there.”

“Abraham, your room is gone, they needed more space for the kitchen and now it is a storage room.”

“Then where am I going to stay?”

Jim took his box and what little clothes he had and said follow me Abraham. They walked through the wide open front doors and after hugs, hand shakes and every manor of astonishment subsided they climbed the main staircase upstairs. At the top of the landing Jim headed  directly into Robert Todd Lincoln’s room and put his things on the bed.

“I’m gonna put these things on the bed, because this is your room now Abraham. Hope you don’t mind but they’re planning a little shin-dig, later on. I’m not supposed to say anything but I just can’t keep it a secret a minute longer. There is going to be someone to tell you much more than I can a little later. Again, thank you….Mr. Lincoln.”

Abraham looked around the room briefly, ran his hand over the bed head board then laid down on the pillow and looked up at the ceiling. He’d done this before as a boy, only because he couldn’t understand why the room was so important. He got quite the scolding and his father was told it better not happen again. Well, it did happen again Abraham thought, yes it would happen again and again.

He laid on the bed of Robert Todd Lincoln as Abraham Lincoln the third and did what great men, working men, robbers thieves and saints and every failure of every walk of life eventually do; they dream.

 

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Shake the hand of A.L. III 22

Nine O’clock came when the lock opened from the inside of the Town Hall by Roberta Orsen and not a minute sooner.  Roberta wouldn’t have it any other way since she became the twenty-sixth town clerk for Manchester Vermont on the urging of her mother and grandmother. When she won by a narrow margin, yet margin enough the first thing she did was to take out a very old wallet snapshot of her mother and grandmother and smile. She was proud to serve in her job and just as proud to be the seventh consecutive female to hold the honorable position. No matter who was on the other side of the door she would not open until the proper time, every time.

Abraham opened the door came in and set his old burnt box on the clean counter. He cleared his throat to signal he was waiting. Roberta just shook her head with her back turned to him and usual impatience.

“Be with you in due time, I’m sure everyone is important, Mr Jackson.”

She turned to him, looked at the tattered and burned box then looked at him in a slightly different way. He didn’t bother to respond and opened the box and took out an old envelope with a red wax seal. Across the face of the envelope were the words, ‘Only to be opened by the town clerk Manchester Vermont by penalty of law.’ It was signed and dated, D.K. Simmonds Town clerk Manchester Vermont August 1, 1891.

Roberta Orsen took the envelope carefully from him and broke the seal and took out the letter inside. She read it to herself and then her entire expression began to change when she looked up at the man standing in front of her. This made her step from around the counter and go to the door and lock it, flip the open sign to closed on the window and pull the shade down. She needed complete privacy now. She then walked over to an old picture of a group of men that hung on the wall, took it down and over to her desk. She used a letter opener to break the glass.  Behind the broken glass and picture was a key, a gold plated key. Inscribed on the key was the name Robert Todd Lincoln.

“Year after year it’s always the same simple request when we get the funding to do a remodel of the Town Hall. The stipulation is that this photograph remain over the door undisturbed. It’s been here quite some time.”

“Some things never change,”  Abraham replied.

She went to the back room and he could hear her going down steps to the lower  level of the building. It took her ten minutes to come back into the room.

When she did come back she had a box in her hand that was not burned or tattered but was covered in dust from sitting so long. The box was identical to the the one Abraham set on the counter. She set it down and used the same key that opened the first box. The lid bumped twice then opened. She took out another sealed envelope opened and read it to herself. As she read she kept looking up at the man in front of her like any moment he would disappear. She spread out the documents from her box and the ones that Abraham brought, then opened a lower drawer in her desk and took out the Great Seal of the State of Vermont and pressed it into an ink pad.The Great Seal of VT

“Just a moment,” she said and got her purse from the desk, then brought out a worn color photograph of her deceased mother and grandmother.  She propped it up to see it while she talked.

“I, Roberta A. Orsen being of sound mind and body, and operating in the official capacity given to me by the great State of Vermont in these United States Of America hereby declare the documents before me to be valid and legal on this twenty-second day of June, in the year of twenty twelve. She lifted the seal and brought it down on every document in front of her. She took a deep breath then looked again at the picture of her mother and grandmother then reached her hand across the desk between her and Abraham.

“With my mother and grandmother watching, I would be proud to be the first to shake the hand of Abraham Lincoln the third.”

The newly noted and now legally documented Abraham Lincoln the third shook her hand and just said, “Thank you very much.”

Abraham turned to leave.

“That will be fifty-five dollars Mr Lincoln,” Roberta said and took out a receipt pad. “In order for the documents to be legal and binding there has to be a record of payment. I am sure neither one of us should start telling lies now Mr. Lincoln.”

Abraham reached in his pockets and set thirteen cents on the counter. It was all he had. Roberta looked again at her picture and said,  ” Mr Lincoln my grandmother came to this country with a frail little girl, the clothes on their backs and not much else. But they were Orsen women that worked hard and believed in this country. She also believed my mother would someday make her proud, and she did, she saved every cent she could and sent me to school. I wanted to honor my mother and grandmother and so I became the twenty-sixth town clerk of Manchester Vermont and no how, no way, am I going to dishonor their memory, now Mr. Lincoln, THINK!”

Abraham Jackson the man and not Abraham Lincoln the name became a lawyer, and a dam good lawyer because he could think outside the box in a court room when it counted. This was no different.

“If these papers are legal and binding then all properties of my heritage belong to me.”

“Yes”?

“Hand me the key, ” Abraham said, examined it then slid it over the desk to her, “I’d say this covers the expense.”

“It does and then some. Your receipt Mr. Lincoln.”

Abraham Lincoln the third secured his box of documents to his trusty scooter and headed to the only place that would give him comfort and time to think……

 

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Ye Olde Tavern Manchester VT, Circa 1790 21


Abraham picked his head up from reading the most important documents he had ever seen in his life, then looked around the room he was sitting in. He looked at the cheaply framed diplomas and sparse pictures on the barn wood walls. The well used on loan law books set in milk crates had started to get mildew from the weather. Abraham looked at the donated cot folded up in the corner of the room and then at the card table he called a desk. No matter how hard he squinted it still was the same tool shed around the back of Ye Olde Tavern in Manchester Vermont. Even the Attorney at Law shingle on his door had “STOP”  in red letter stenciled on the reverse side. So what was he really looking at? He was looking at the life of a man who really did not know what he was, let alone who he is? Or maybe he was just looking at a man who would probably live and die with a small amount of change in his pocket and if lucky a few people he could call friends. Like a melody of the slow sad song, “Is that all there is” began to play over and over in his head. That sing song drone on long enough for the soft fog of discontent and disillusion to set in. Was he going to be just another unsatisfied and unfulfilled dreamer drifting through history? Not now or ever again he thought and breathed out,  “I will not be a failure, I am Abraham Lincoln the Third.”

The next morning came early as a banging on the other side of the office/tool shed wall. It was Mandy the owner of  Ye olde Tavern. All she said was that breakfast was ready and would not stay ready very long.  The newly awakened Abraham Lincoln III rubbed sleep from his eyes and took his tattered and burned box with him to the restaurant side of the Tavern. He sat at a window seat just below old framed pictures of men in beards and women in bustled dresses. They were standing in front of the tavern as if it had always been there and always would. Abraham just looked out at passing traffic until the head waiter brought his favourite breakfast bowl of country scrambled eggs on top of spiced diced potatoes with a three link of sausage overlay, beside that was a wedge of glazed cornbread. The coffee was hot and filled a large mug with the words, “Boss” stencilled on the side.  Mandy created this breakfast for him and never served it to anyone else. She called it the, Linc 3 special but would not tell him why. As far as he knew, he was the only one served breakfast at the Tavern, because the doors opened for business at 5 o’clock pm.

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“Lawyer my ass,” the waiter said to him when passing his table. “You’re just a free loading bum drinking out of the Boss’ cup”.

“Two seconds later Mandys voice came from the kitchen,  “yeah, and he’ll be drinking out of that cup when your looking for another job if you have anything else to say.”

The waiter was quiet all the way to kitchen with a rather worried look on his face. Only Mandy cooked his breakfast. She let him use the shed as payment for representing her in court on a expansion zoning law for her restaurant. It was an old law that was more bent than broken, but he managed to convince the Mayor on a Sunday that the statute was unfair to her and should be removed.  She became impressed not so by his knowledge of the law but his sincerity and powers of persuasion in court. She won the case and told him she couldn’t pay him in money by would allow him the use of the shed to conduct business. She knew he needed a place and regular meals far more than the fifty dollar charge for his services. He accepted and had been living and working there for the past six months.

After breakfast he had about 20 minutes to get to the Manchester town hall. He arrived early and stood outside the building. The town clerk could see him though the window. It was five minutes before opening. Abraham tapped on the window and she looked at him and shook her head. She knew him. He had been there often enough to be an annoyance, with his long lean face and those penetrating eyes, searching eyes that seemed to probe her very thoughts if they strayed from the information he was looking for. He would have to wait until nine am like any other person, because he was not special, even if he did grow up on the Heldene Estate.

 

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The Legacy of Robert Todd Lincoln 20

Many questions fill your mind now and as such I will try to address them. But being long since dead I can now speak in an unflinching manor and not feel threatened by the consequences of such action. I am not so well versed in the democratic America you live in as opposed to the republic that I live in now.  The treachery and deceit of politics in my time have taught me bitter lessons of guard and defend at all times. One such bitter lesson came while in England and took from me the life of my son Abraham. Unlike my father I entered politics with the ideals of a child on his first walk in the forest, thinking only of the fragrance of pine and wild flowers, the cool waters of a spring fed creek and the shade of an old oak tree. Yet in all this beauty I failed to see the hidden dangers of such an ancient profession. My mother long since before me had beliefs in all manor of superstition. She felt our family was cursed from an ancestor who had wronged a farmer with a wife thought to be a witch. We rarely saw eye to eye on this subject and remained strenuously opposed. But not even witchery, conjuring, or the spirit world can match the conniving, back stabbing, and bald faced deceit in the government of my day. One cannot tread lightly in this arena or sheath his sword and not be impaled on the words and deeds of those standing as close as a hand shake or speech away.

I chose to leave the profession that took the life of my father and so many others close to me and moved in a sideways direction. I put my law degree to full effect and found out why my father ceased defending corporations. I then entered into the rail road business. I had a fine mentor in George Pullman and when he expired a large well oiled door opened and I assumed the helm of the Pulman Palace Car company.  The work was not easy but paid very well and in a short time I was able to afford 412 acres near our old summer home in Manchester Vermont.  I named it Hildene after your great great grandmother Hildene, (pronounced Hill de nea).  She is buried on the land just below the north hill, next to my son Jack, and all heirs after them if they wish. I have insured there will always be enough money for the estate to remain intact for quite some time.

So now you will learn from a dead man how you have come to be in the world of the living. While in the service of our country as Ambassador to the United Kingdom I was approached by a rather stout man at a coronation ceremony. He introduced himself as a business man with the opportunity of great wealth to come if I would only follow his directives and those he represented. My duties were not so great or taxing but as I stated before one has to tread carefully in a room full of snakes. Not yet versed in the movement of vipers I was offended by his manor and opportunities and brushed him off as if he were a pesky fly at my coat collar. Later, I found out in America that one of our newspapers had printed a story about my equal in America and he was told clearly to discharge all his duties and leave the country. It was a most embarrassing and undiplomatic slap in the face of the United Kingdom.  One week later my son Jack became ill in Paris. He had contracted a blood borne disease and was being treated by a French doctor. I was not comfortable with this and had him moved to my Ambassadors suite in the United Kingdom. I had what I thought was the best physician to take care of him and was assured that recovery would be soon. I should have paid closer attention when the Parisian doctor told me that the man taking over care of my son shouldn’t be trusted to lance boils on livestock, let alone care for my son.  Jack went from bad to worse in the coming weeks and  on his death bed confided he met a young woman in the suburbs of Paris and fallen deeply in love with her. Jack’s final request was to find her and take her home with me for she was carrying his child.  I made the promise knowing quite well it would take months to find her. Yet I did find her in the care of an ailing grandmother and young cousin.  Her release in terms of money cost a twenty acre farm and to pay off all debts in her keeping. But, the young woman I found out was in fact very much in grief when I told her about Jack’s passing.  I had to keep  Jack’s body in Kensal Green Cemetery for six months while searching for her.

Hildene had no money, no job and she was carrying the only generation beyond myself in her womb. I would have moved heaven and earth to accommodate her and she was grateful for my generosity. She also agreed to leave for America as personal secretary assistant to my wife Mary.

With special tutors, she quickly lost all trace of her French accent and I being in government and having such privileges of high office had citizenship papers, birth certificates and all manor of documents prepared and stamped with my personal seal.

The time for the baby’s arrival had come but there were complications and much as we tried it was God’s will that she not survive but the baby boy delivered to us in good health. I named him Joshua Robert. Now from lessons learned I became a cautious man, not wanting to invite more vipers into the den than the usual. I had birth certificates made with the name Joshua Robert Lincoln and Joshua Robert Jackson.  It was fitting that he be called Joshua Robert, Jack’s son.

I assume you would ask, why not name him Abraham as in my father’s name?  I must say that name ever since biblical times has not gone without sacrifice to this day. In doing so I created alternate names to live by and by choice all my descendants will have. You can choose to live a life in relative obscurity or a life with the light of the world shining on your every move from now on and with it the dangers. Your father and his father had this same choice and I have not dissuaded them in any way. But, now as a long dead man I can say the choice your grandfather made to restore his name to his birth right brought him tragedy not too long after when he and his beloved Annabele died in a most horrific train accident. Both were buried on the Hildene estate, as your father, you and all after.

So let me say right here, every man should have a choice in how to live his life. I chose a path of relative obscurity far from the political arena and have lived some eighty-two years of life. In that time I do not regret leaving the political spotlight however brief it may have been. But, I do say to you in the remaining hours of this night that some men are chosen by fate, God or driven by the sheer will to do what they feel is right. For no man ever lay on his death bed and shouted out that he was glad he did nothing when his fellow man cried out for help.

 

God Bless America

God Bless America

 

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Quickie….HUH? 19 1/2

Sorry for the long delay, but I wanted to get this right. Sooooo if you hold on you will read a whopper of a twentieth instalment. Only hope I can keep up this mental energy. Trying to make Ayn Rand seem like oat meal next to a fire hot taco is daunting to say the least.

Mixing a little history with a dash or two of embellishment to come up with a recipe that could satisfy an American appetite.

Truly thank the tiny, tiny cadre of diligent eyes who have taken the time to read this undertaking into the heart of America. Your distinction will come when you can say that you read the work as it was being created.

With hat in hand I thank you

Rod Thorn

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Blood of My Blood, Flesh of My Flesh, A.L. III 18

“What’s not safe? It’s just an old box. What do I do with it?”

Papa Links eyes opened wide and focused directly on the son in front of him and shook his head from side to side.

“Far more,” he said, “and this belongs to you and only you. You’ll find the key is the adjustment bracket on the observatory telescope at Hildene.”

“Where did you get this?”

“It was hidden in a secret compartment inside the Sunbeam car. It came from the rail road car that you father and mother travelled in. Now you must get that key and open this case. You will know what to do after you open it.”

Papa Link, smiled down at the man he had raised and loved for so long and sighed one final time and left this earth one happy man.

When the doctor took the pulse of his patient, it was only to verify the time of death and to comfort the young man clinging to the shell that once was his father.

The funeral held at The Hildene Estate was grand to say the least. Through the years Papa Link had made many friends, but non so close as those who worked with and for him. Their tribute to him was all sixteen Hildene workers dressed in period attire.  The men wore simple black clothes with stove pipe hats and the women wore full bustled dresses. They conducted the eulogy in the beautiful estate garden. The height of the sermon was a reading by Papa Link’s son. He read from a purple covered bible loaned to the estate.

Psalm sixteen ended with “Keep me safe, my God.”

Papa Link had been given the right to be buried on the Hildene estate. He was put to rest next to the grave of his father and mother that had been granted in the will of Robert Todd Lincoln himself.

The former Hildene worker and Manchester lawyer laid flowers on the fresh grave of his father. Later under cover of darkness he went to the observatory and took only ten minutes to find and take off the adjustment bracket. The shape was the most unusual he had ever seen but so was the lock on the box.telescope1

He tucked the key in his pocket and strapped the box securely to his scooter.  Then he drove to his apartment next to the town tavern and rolled thoughts over and over in his head; what could be so important that it was his father’s last wish? Was it money? It couldn’t be that much, not on Papa Links salary. He was always lending money and not in a hurry to get it back. Maybe it was his unfinished will. So many times he had asked if he could make one up for his father. Just as many times he was told it could wait. Now it was too late. It didn’t matter though, he was a capable lawyer and knew all the documents that were needed to complete anything that could be in the box. He set it down on the folding card table used for his law practice.

“Christmas comes early,” he said to himself and put the key in the box lock and opened it. What he took out was the original deed of ownership to the Hildene Estate. Included in the box were documents giving all properties and holdings to his heir and son Joshua Robert Lincoln. The next paperwork he took out were the original birth certificates of his grandfather, his father and him. They all had the right dates and times of birth. He read them over several times as his legal training made him do with all legal certificates. All the last names ended with Lincoln. The last birth certificate was his and the name on it was Abraham Lincoln III.

“What!” he said out loud, “What?”

He sat there on the edge of his folding chair and wondered why this happened? Why was he  raised to believe he was a Jackson?  Why was his grandfather, father and him not told they were Lincolns? For every question he had no answer until he looked in the bottom of the box. He found a very old letter in a red wax sealed envelop. The seal bore the initials R.T.L. He broke the seal and read the letter written by Robert Todd Lincoln.

The top of the letter had the date July 26, 1926, and began; If you are reading this letter written in my hand then you are the blood of my blood and the flesh of my flesh.

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