Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lincoln Speaks

On President's Day weekend, where else should a patriotic American be but listening to Mr. Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States? Of course, President Lincoln has been dead and gone nearly  150 years so we relied on President Abraham Lincoln re-enactor, Don Ancell, to deliver the day's message.

The tall, thin, bearded and remarkably recognizable Lincoln greeted the noonday crowd around the water well at the north end of Calico and regaled them with tales of the past.

His past and our nation's.

Lincoln described his early years, being born in Kentucky and then moving to Illinois with his family when he was eight years old. His father hated slavery and thus the reason to move the Lincoln farm from Kentucky.

The President livened the day with stories of him growing up in a poor, strict but otherwise close family where the ideals of hard work, taking responsibility for one's actions, and to always tell the truth were utmost.

"Honest to a fault, my folks taught me well," Lincoln (Ancell) stated proudly showing a large smile while patting his backside. Lincoln only admitted that  he 'lied' to his parents once and that was all his rear end could take. We guess that is where he received the nickname, 'Honest Abe'.

He spoke of his time being an attorney and traveling the judicial circuit admitting that he helped many a 'folk' poor and rich but always demanded his clients be truthful with him. He actually walked out of more than one law case when he learned his client was less than honest. Lincoln said he was away from Mary Todd and the family three or four months at a time but he did become a wealthy man (he onced earned $5,000 for one case involving a railroad - a princely sum in those days).

He told the story of being the first president to offer a full pardon for a turkey. It seems his son Tad had a pet turkey by the name of 'Jack' which the family had received late in 1863. The young boy and bird became inseparable. The Christmas of 1864 found the bird suddenly missing from his outside pen and Tad looked everywhere, finally finding the large fowl in the cook house. The White House head chef had poor old Jack's neck streched out and was about to deliver the 'getting ready for dinner' blow when Tad screamed: "You can't do that!"

The chef asked why and the youngster stated: "My father is the President and you have to do as I tell you."

At that point the young boy marched off to see his father and interrupted a Presidential cabinet meeting (all his children had secret knocks so Lincoln would know which one of the children it was and at no time were they barred from seeing their father no matter the situation). Tad came into the meeting and begged his father to save Jack from having his neck chopped. The president nodded and wrote out on a simple piece of paper that he was ordering Jack to be pardoned from the executioner. And there we have the pardoning of a turkey (or two) each year by the President of the United States.

Ancell (Lincoln) then went into a more serious tone for the crowd discussing the great sadness which had befallen the country in the guise of the war between the states. He was saddened by the loss of life on both sides, the Union and the Confedercy (roughly 620,000 soldiers died during those four years) but knew the war had to be fought and won to save the nation.

For a few more somber moments he discussed the reason for his Emancipation Proclamation:
 First, he hated slavery and believed it was immoral, secondly, by outlawing slavery neither France nor Britain would come to the aide of the south (as they were rumored to be thinking about) since those two empires had already made slavery illegal, and thirdly once the slaves in the south knew he had freed all northern slaves, they would escape the plantations where they had worked and lived to move north which would be a benefit two-fold: allow them to enter the Union Army and help cripple the south's agriculture and industrial base without the slave labor.
 With a strong round of applause Mr. Lincoln finished his 'story telling' and bowed slightly to the crowd. We were all impressed and grateful for a history lesson we already knew but realized it never hurts to be reminded of again.

It is moments like this that remind the partners at J & L how fortunate we are to live in such a glorious country as the United States and to have in our legacy such great men as President Abraham Lincoln.

J and L would also like to thank our first guest contributor, Mrs. Jessica Barr, for her contributions to this article (the quick facts below).

1. Lincoln was the only president to hold a patent - no. 6649 - for a device to lift boats over shoals.

2. The President stood at six feet four inches and weighed in at a light 180 pounds. His shoe size was fourteen and his hat size was seven and one-eighth.

3. He did not like the names Abraham, Abe, or Old Abe and preferred to be simply called 'Lincoln'.

4. Lincoln is known to under-use his pockets and instead, put important papers in his stovepipe hat.

5. The first town named after him was the capital of Logan County in Illinois in 1853. He warned the townspeople that, "Nothing named Lincoln ever amounted to much."

6. Lawyer Lincoln made 300 appearances before the Illinois Supreme Court.

7. He was once challenged to a duel but the challenger accepted his apology when the much taller and smarter Lincoln chose broad swords as the weapons for the duel.

8. Lincoln first spoke out against slavery in a speech to the Illinois State Legislature in Vandalia in 1837.

9. Lincoln was born in 1809 and Mary Todd in 1818, they were married November 4, 1842 - inside her wedding band were the words, 'Love is eternal'.

Follow this link to take the quiz on how well you know this president!
Read more from Jessica Barr on her Educational Blog
Contact President Lincoln

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Call of the Wild

The only sounds to be heard during this early morning five mile trek through the San Bernardino National Forest were those of our snowshoes breaking the half inch icy crust which hid the newly fallen two and a half feet of fresh powder. The day was picture perfect, proven by the photographs in this blog, with the sun stretched out in the clear blue sky shimmering on a winter wonderland before us. This is not another tale of snow shoeing but one of enjoying the outdoors where no other human had tramped through in days. Enjoying nature, no matter the season, is an extremely important aspect to living. It is easy to sit in a chair watching television but when one ventures outdoors and sees nature at its finest that is what makes life worth living.

Ah, but I pontificate on the wonders of this earth and there is no need when one only needs to turn their head once in a while and view it for themselves.

 Of course, as with all our blogs this one is special and odd. Friday the 8th of February we had no intention to going to our cabin in Big Bear but simply enjoy a long weekend at our other home until we heard the local and national news.

There seemed to be a large snow storm coming to the San Bernardino Mountains with expectations of six to eight inches of snow (they missed that call by over a foot) and a killer (his name will not be mentioned since that would only give him credit he does not deserve) who was on the loose in the vicinity of Big Bear.

Hmmm, a blinding snow storm and a murderer on the loose in our neck of the woods (literally). What other enticement did we need to make the hour drive up the mountains from our desert home?

By eight-thirty in the morning of the 8th we were in the cabin planning on snowshoeing as soon as the weather allowed. It was snowing so hard that we could not keep up with the shoveling of the porch and stairs leading into the cabin. We allowed the dogs, all four of them, to run wild in the street since no vehicles were going up or down our street in this snow storm and they had a ball. But as the sun set with the temperature dipping to the low teens while the snow continued to fall it was time to call it and inside we went.

Saturday the 9th we were up and out early to clamber over the snow drifts through the national forest. The only other sound besides the breaking of the icy crust of the snow were the regular and suddenly routine sounds of police helicopters above us sweeping for signs of the elusive cowardly killer of a lovely young couple from Irvine and a brave police officer from Riverside.

With this in mind our attention was drawn to fresh animal tracks in the snow near a large Western Juniper. There were little ones seeming to be running for their lives, rabbits probably by the looks of the tracks, instantly followed by larger ones, coyotes to be sure. There were scuffle marks by bushes, escape routes by the looks, and final chases. This is the cruel nature of things but it is nature. Animals need to live and living means finding food sources. May sound cruel but it is the way nature works and in some bizarre way it does. A single female rabbit can give birth to hundreds of little ones (some estimates as many as 800 during breeding season) where coyotes usually produce an average of six pups and only fifty or seventy percent ever see adulthood. So, there are a lot more rabbits to feed the coyote population. It was the way nature was meant to work.

Not some self-proclaimed human bent of destroying those far more valuable than him. As an ex-cop, J of J&L believes this low life killer is the worst of the worst. Cop or ex-cop the term ‘protect and serve’ are not simply decorations on the side of a police unit but a soul-based belief that police officers live by.

We, of course, would not recommend this activity or constant search for adventure to our readers. Indeed, our daughters and friends warned us against this and other intrepid adventures. But being who we tend to be, J&L happens to do such things as a way to explore, understand and to share. These stories need to be written. It is who we are.

And, being an ex-cop, J of J&L would never venture into these situations without the means to defend those who are with him on these adventures.

He packs heat.

Being a non-political blog we will not venture into the hot gun control topic but only state the following – an old cop saying: “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”

Nothing will stop the continuing adventures of J and L. In the words of Herodotus, “It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.  Our journey is an adventure through life and no storm, nor darkness of the threat of man will keep us from our day’s journey.