Lincoln visits a Holocaust survivor, a book review of Land of Lincoln, adventures in Abe’s America by Andrew Ferguson

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I sat for the past few days besides doing yard work, I stuck my nose in a book called Land of Lincoln Adventures in Abe’s America by Andrew Ferguson. I honestly had a hard tome putting this book down. I think in some way across the United States or even for that matter the world we all have a little bit of “Honest Abe” deep within all of us.

We all start out with humble beginnings and most of us in the world are not born with a silver spoon in our mouth. We usually grow up and everyday we learn something new and strive for knowledge just as Abraham Lincoln had all his life. Trying to come out of hardship and manual labor, Abraham Lincoln Strove to learn and to better himself so he could eventually become more, because he knew he had it in him. As a young man he studied Law, while struggling financially with failed businesses behind him and menial jobs. Eventually he would become a Lawyer, run for the state senate, Win a Presidential Race, and go on to be the 16th President of the United States.

He struggled through his life with depression, and being Bi-Polar. Most of us in the world can relate to that. Again we have all struggled with depression, among some of those who struggle with being Bi-Polar. He had married Mary Todd Lincoln. She was a well educated woman from a fairly wealthy family. Who in their own rights had not really approved of her marriage or courtship to Lincoln. He was not from wealth, and later on her families estate would come under a lawsuit as to who was to take control of the property her family had owned. Being again they did not approve of her marriage and they definitely were not in favor of the Emancipation Proclamation, as Mary’s Family were slave owners themselves. These are all the types of struggles as being human we can relate to across the world.

Whether you know alot about Lincoln or you do not we can all relate in some way or another. On a fateful evening in April we had lost one of the greatest Presidents that America had known . A gunman named James Wilkes Booth entered where Lincoln had been been sitting and shot Mr. Lincoln in the back of the head. He dove to the stage below and yelled “sic semper tyrannis”, translated ” Thus always the Tyrants”. As he dove and hit the stage he had Broken his Leg and thus the greatest manhunt, in the history of the United States began, possibly even the world. Booth was killed in a barn set ablaze as soldiers opened fire. But not before he could stop at the house of Dr. Mudd. Mudd helped booth with his leg and that is where the saying came from your name is Mudd.

So I am reading this book and towards the end of the book I come across a story I will probably never ever forget as long as I live. I cannot tell it as well as the author Andrew Ferguson so below I will quote his book his story as he traveled the path of Abraham Lincoln and tried to figure out who Lincoln was and why he was so great.

Excerpt from Land of Lincoln

Adventures in Abe’s America

By. Andrew Ferguson

Frank told me he’d moved to Springfield four years ago with his three daughter, the oldest who was now in high school. ” I wanted them to get a better start in life, Jacksonville is a town of seventeen thousand. Springfield has a hundred and ten thousand people. There’s more opportunity to get ahead, just so long as I can keep up with them away from the gangbangers and the knuckleheads out there”. His original hope was to get a job with the state government. ” Hopefully somewhere I could use my personality and my people skills, I prefer a job that is people intensive”. Unable to find a government job, he went to work at the Hilton, hoping the flow of politicians and officials in and out all day would give him the contacts that eventually pay off.

” It hasn’t happened yet, and I think sometimes, well, why? now I think I know why. Last Tuesday morning, I’m at my desk here, and there’s some kind of commotion at the front desk. I ventured over to see if I could be of assistance. A tell gentleman was standing there, very old, very feeble. It appeared to me that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease or a disease of that kind. He was having trouble conversing. He spoke in broken English. The girl behind the desk says to me “Frank, We cannot understand what this gentleman is saying. We’re having trouble here.”

” Well if you listened closely and concentrated hard, pretty soon you could put two and two together and understand some of what the man was saying. He was experiencing difficulty entering his room, so I escorted him to the elevator and we were able to use the key to get him in the room. He was very grateful that I had been of assistance and he said he wanted to show me something”.

” It was a letter, dated April 1965, “Frank said. ” It was from the mayor of Springfield— The Mayor at the time. It was addressed to this gentleman in Prague, Czechoslovakia. That’s where he was from, Czechoslovakia. The letter from the mayor thanked him for his interest in Abraham Lincoln, and invited him to Springfield, as a guest of the Mayor. It said, You come here to see the home and the tomb and the Lincoln shrines as our guest, and we will give you the key to the city. Well, apparently, it took him forty years to save enough to get here, but he made it.

” Then the man tells me his story. Suddenly he stands up straight as can be as he tells me. He said He’d been in a concentration camp. He pulled up his sleeve and said this. Every time he mentioned the concentration camp he pulled up his sleeve, and you could see the number there. He knew about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington from when he learned about them in school as a boy.

” Now here’s what’s interesting . When he was in the concentration camp, and he was all alone in his cell, it was the worst time of his life and he didn’t think he could go on anymore, and he said Mr. Lincoln came to him.

” Mr. Lincoln stood right in front of him, just like I’m standing here in front of you, and Lincoln said to him , ” You never forget: All men are created equal. This is true for all men all times, and these men who would do this thing to you, who put you here, they’re no better than you. You are equal, because all men are created equal, you keep remembering this, and you persevere, you’ll be all right”.

” Well this is what the gentleman said, in his broken English. I don’t know about ghosts I’m skeptical, But this is what the man said. I get a chill thinking about it”.

” Well, from this time onward, the man says he knew he was going to be alright. he knew he was going to persevere, and he vowed if he ever got out of the concentration camp, he would come to Springfield, to thank Mr. Lincoln, he was so grateful. He’d written a poem for Lincoln and he had to recite it for him. That’s what he said. He had three flowers on the bed, they were the plastic kind, two red, one white, carnations. He said he had to go to Lincoln’s tomb and give him the flowers and recite this poem.

” Then he recited the poem for me, right there in the room. I didn’t understand it, of course. He was hunched up in the back, but he stood up straight as can be when he said it, this old man. He put his hand over his heart. He was shaking.”

Frank left him and went down to his post in the lobby and called the mayor’s office. The opening for the Lincoln museum was a week away, and everyone on the mayors’s staff was busy. Someone suggested Frank call the convention and visitors’ bureau, and a woman named Alicia Erickson, who specialized  in dealing with foreign tourist groups, arrived a few minutes later. ” I told her, you have to help this gentleman, but be careful, because I’m thinking he’s on some kind of death walk, Alicia , I think this is his final trip, This is something he’s got to do before he dies. ” Alicia told me later what happened after that.

” His name was Mr. Dubin, Henri Dubin, ” she said. ” He was sweet and very gentle, but he was frail, very thin, and kind of hunched over— and very hard to understand. Only Frank could really understand him, I think. And he was just insistent that he had to visit Lincoln’s tomb right then, that day. He couldn’t wait because he had to fly back home the next day.

“So I got him in my car and we drove out to the tomb. He was carrying the flowers in his lap. I don’t think he could hear me that well, because when I would ask something he didn’t really answer. So we didn’t do much talking.

” At the tomb he walked around the outside very slowly. Then we went inside. You know how at the tomb you kind of go down a hallway and turn, then you go down another hallway and turn again, before you get to the actual tomb?”

I told her I did, at every turn is a small Lincoln statue, molded after the more famous ones around the country. There’s Anna Hyatt Huntington’s on the circuit, and the Saint-Gaudens from Chicago, and of course French’s form the memorial in Washington.

” Well he had to stop at every statue. He’d put his hand on it and study it, stare at it. By the time we got to the grave he was crying. He was very emotional. He took one look at the tomb and let me tell you: that man got down on his knees and kissed the ground. Then he laid the flowers there, and he got back up, and he stood straight as he could and recited his poem. Tears were streaming down his face. his voice was very strong and clear. then he looks at me and he kind if sighs and he says, ” Yes, Now it’s over.” He says, ” We can go.”

Mr. Dubin slept most of the next day and then through the night.

” The next morning, ” Frank told me, ” we got him to the airport. I made sure my friends at the airlines understood how feeble this man was, that they had to take special care of him. When I got him to the Check-in, he couldn’t help himself, he was crying again. He turned to me and he said, ” Frank, God sent you to help me find Lincoln. You are an angel. ” And he hugged me.”

Standing there by his desk in the Hilton lobby, Frank didn’t say anything for a while. ” I told a lady friend about this last week, after it happened. she said to me, ” Frank, you want to know why you haven’t got your job in the government yet— that’s why. You had to be there, at the Hilton. ” she said, God wanted you to be there to help this man!” Maybe so. I’m Skeptical, I’m a skeptical man

 

Andrew Ferguson

 

Well after I finished this book on one mans journey I discovered like I said there is a little Lincoln in everyone, and I have a few new places and people I now need to talk to. Well enough typing for the night off to watch some Tv and then off to bed. Goodnight to all my readers.

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Night Time Phototography Long Exposures Done Right!

chicago 1 aI have often gone out at night and thought about all the lights and how amazing they look. nothing though looks more amazing than a long exposure photograph. Cameras can capture all the ambient light the human eye cannot see.

It Is easy to think well I’m going to go out and go to the city with my camera and take photos. Long exposure photography is something that is somewhat skill and somewhat just plain dumb luck and timing. You can take one long exposure photograph thinking this will be amazing once I am done, but I have looked afterwards and thought there is really not the lights I wanted and it does not look as good as I first thought it would.

Usually I wind up trying to find some amazing Locations first. Take the photo above for instance, this was taken on a Chicago night facing the Chicago River in the foreground. The buildings make for all the light you need. The boats that passed by made for the streaks of light on the river. Lights will normally look like small starbursts especially Street lights. Here I set My Shutter speed to bulb so I could get about a 45 second exposure my Iso was set to about 200 and my F stop to about 14.

After I took the photograph I did not know how amazing this would look thinking this better turn out well, only because I forgot one essential. I forgot My Tripod that day!. I found the flattest surface I could possibly find where the camera would be steady, and set the camera there with my shutter remote attached because pressing the shutter button manually usually causes blur because the camera tends to shake. The photo above was one of the prettiest long exposures I have taken.

5e662d12-07df-42f8-9921-2f0dadbe6ea2_FULLSCREENThe photo you see here with the light throw from a Projector at the Harvest Moon Drive-In Theater in Gibson City, Illinois was taken on a rainy night. Again I forgot one important necessity at home and that was my tripod again. There was a picnic table in the front of the lot and I used that to Steady the camera. normally you cannot see the light from the projector like this on a clear night with no rain, but I got lucky on this night the rain produced this amazing light throw. I set the Camera to about a 30 second exposure here and let the camera capture this scene. So here you see the light flooding through the rainy night as families sit in their cars and watch movies. I would never suggest forgetting your tripod!!

water 2 aHere was one of my favorites here I remembered my tripod this was taken In St. Charles, Illinois. I was born i this town so this photo means a bit more to me than just some random night shot I took. Here there was a small dock off the river walk it was fairly steady, and several times i had to tell people to stay off the dock to because walking tended to cause shake, and I had to deal with the swarm of mosquitoes trying to attack me on a warm summer night and ignore the how uncomfortable I felt from them constantly biting me. This was one of the hardest shots to accomplish because of all the elements working against me, but I finally got the shot I wanted after almost 10 minutes sitting in discomfort.

This shot was on a Tripod and I set the shutter to bulb again, my F stop to about 14 or so and an iso of about 200. I took this photo just after the sun had set and the skies turn that pretty blue. i let this exposure go for about 45 seconds or so!. So not only do you capture the light but also the amazing reflection on the Fox River.

So this is just a little about long exposure photography hope you enjoyed if not for the story atleast for the amazing photos!!. Please feel free to follow me I know I Have not written in a while, but it is Valentines Day and It is Snowing well I have nothing to do so writing seemed like the best option. Like I said hope you all enjoyed. I will try to write a bit more often. Feel free to follow my blog. There are more stories you can read some just for fun and some educational.

Thank You,

Brian

The Great Useless Amtrak Employees At Union Station, Chicago, Illinois

Normally I include a photo of some sort in every blog I write. today I am not including one, instead I want to write about the horrible experience I had with Amtrak the past day.

Last night I got to the Illinois Terminal, Champaign, Illinois about 5pm or so,I was a couple hours early due to the fact my ride had to be somewhere else that evening. My train was supposed to be in at 6:59pm Heading towards Chicago, Illinois. around 7:15 they finally call us out to the platform to wait. All the passengers including Myself waited an hour outside, until the customer service rep said it was going to be  awhile until the train would be there.

We went inside as the customer service reps and police started telling the customers they could not divulge any information as to why our train was this late. People started investigating it themselves, and found out our train that we were supposed to catch had been hit by a Tractor, the witnesses I talked to had said a Semi carrying a tractor had hit the train.

For the next 2 hours or so we sat around until Amtrak finally admitted, that their train had struck farm equipment. It was not until about 9pm or so when a freight engine finally towed the Amtrak train we were supposed to be on with the remaining passengers going to Chicago, and they let them off at the Illinois Terminal. As the Train passed I had noticed just how damaged the Engine pulling the Amtrak really was. As the Passengers were getting off shaken by this incident, Channel 3 news had showed up to interview them and get a shot of the train being towed.

We sat there until about 10:30 When the girl at the Customer Service Desk made an announcement, that all passengers going to Chicago should remain in the Amtrak lobby until further notice about the buses they had got. Around  11 pm they finally told us our buses would be there momentarily, and they had us stand outside on this island with a small roof over it as the rain came down. We stood there until 12am before any buses finally arrived.

We had boarded the buses as the bus driver started loading from the middle of the line and not the beginning of the line, and he had caused one female passenger to become irate with this, and he tried to play Mr. Tough Guy, and get in the woman’s face literally. After we boarded the buses, it was finally time to leave, but as we got further down the road, we had all realized the bus we were on had no heat. We dealt with this for about two and a half hours. We finally arrived at what we were told was Union Station in Chicago, Illinois, yet we were dropped off two blocks from the station itself, and we all had to walk in 45 degree temps through a steady rain.

We had got to the doors of Union Station, and the police were standing inside, and would not listen to who we were, and things were about to get heated. The Manager was a tall skinny, white , shaved head snob with glasses he finally listened after 5 minutes of arguing trying to prove who we all were. We kept telling him we are Train 392, and the buses just got us here, and yet he stared at us like we were zombies about to eat him. He had finally let us in, and we were all ushered downstairs and told to go to the Amtrak Lobby basically without question, as if he was trying to avoid being confronted by already Irate passengers.

At the Champaign, Illinois Terminal WE WERE TOLD THAT AMTRAK WOULD PUT US UP IF WE MISSED OUR CONNECTING TRAINS BACK HOME, AND WE WOULD BE PUT UP IN A HOTEL. I told the Manager at Union Station this, and I was told this is my final destination this is where I stay. I then proceeded to tell him I have been stuck in Champaign, Illinois for 6 hours, some of us brought just enough money to get back to our destinations, and we are hungry and just want a place to lay our heads. He vehemently denied Amtrak ever telling me this although this was a guy in Chicago telling me what someone in Champaign said. I finally had had enough. I went to Customer relations to ask to use the phone, because mine was not working, and I was told I could not use the phone, and Mr. Tough snob manager came out and tried to confront me again. This time I told him we want accommodations or I want a cab back to my mothers house which is 75 miles away. He refused again telling me he cannot get me a cab because them getting us there this late was not their fault and this is my final destination and this is where we will stay until our trains in the morning.

After Awhile I went back in and told him again look this is not our fault and should not have to pay the consequences because of the mistakes of Amtrak. He had then told me he was gonna call the Police. I said fine call the police because I think this whole thing is gotten way out of hand, and the fact you will not take care of your customers but instead refuse to listen or even provide a cup of coffee for that matter for the weary travelers which you refuse to help.

The police arrived listened to both our stories agreed my story was the more compelling argument but he could not do anything, and he left. The manager then passed the buck to !-800-USA-RAIL the customer service line, I said I did not want to speak to a representative on the phone. He then asked me why I left Champaign If I knew I was going to be stuck here in Chicago for the night, I explained to him once again, We were told we would be put up in Hotels for the night, He then Proceeded to tell me, and mind you this was now past 2:30 in the morning that he had just called the Illinois terminal and they never said that Illinois Terminal usually closes completely for the night before then. So I knew he was blatantly lying to me right there and then. He then proceeded to ask me why didn’t i just stay there in Champaign and have my parents come get me because that is where I was headed for the weekend. I told him I live 240 miles from my parents they are not going to travel 240 miles at Dam near 11pm at night to come get me to bring me up. Mind you my father is well into his seventies, and does not walk to well anymore. He then said well why didn’t you call them and ask for a ride when I got to Union Station, We got in about 2 am and my parents are still 75 miles from that point. I was getting mad at his why didn’t you questions, because he acted as if it were just that easy.

I waited until about 6 in the morning as I finally nodded off in an Amtrak lobby chair for about an hour maybe less, it was not comfortable, and I did not sleep well. I went to customer relations to try to use the phone again, because Amtrak does not have WiFIi like they claim in Union station it is only for those who are using sleeper accommodations . i explained I was part of the 392 debacle, and my phone does not work right now I would just like to call my parents to let them know what time to meet me in Fox lake, Illinois this morning. She  snipped at me I need a ticket to prove that because we normally Do NOT DO THIS! I said here is my ticket and you and your managers have already put us out, I need a phone!. She let me use the phone, and afterward told me my ticket was no good since I did not take the train into the station. So I had to go get a new return ticket, because If you do not Check in on the train, they do whats called a forced check in and your ticket is no good. Mind you some of us never got checked in on the train because we got bussed because of this fiasco. I went to the customer service lady at the ticket counter, she actually called customer service to clear the force check in. and was the nicest lady I encountered all night that worked for Amtrak! I even told her that.

I suggest that if you take Amtrak read their small print, and buyer beware if a train gets in a wreck before or while your on the train you may experience some of these same problems with bad customer representatives of their company. If this ever happens again no matter how I will find a way back home to my own bed before I try to go on ! It is not worth the hassle and the problems you encounter. These guidelines for the way they treat people need to be rewritten for them at Amtrak.

Sorry for the rant I just wanted to get this all off my chest as I have now been up for almost 24 hours with maybe an hour or so of sleep or a power nap. I would like comments on this ! and tell me your views.

Thank you,

Brian

Time at the Blackhawks rally with my daughter!.

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         In 2005 I attended my first Championship rally for my team the Chicago Whitesox, but then I went with my friend Mike, Tara, and my friend Mike’s Mom. In 2010 I was in Chicago when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley cup, and I celebrated on Michigan Ave that night. This time I was at home when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013. So this time I Wanted to go to the Rally, and see the players who brought it home to us in Chicago.

       A few days before the rally my daughter Amanda asked me if she could come with me, I did not know she was into hockey as much as I was, but she named all the players by memory, and now tells me if their is a trade, or something exciting going on with the Hawks.

       We left at about 6:15 am and we took the Metra down to the City, and we were in Chicago by 7:20 am. From there we walked up to Michigan avenue where we waited for about an hour before they started letting people into Grant Park, in Hutchinson field. We talked to other Hawks fans, and some even said they wished next season started now due to the decline in our baseball teams declines. We sat in the heat sipping on a 7/11 Slurpee, and watched one man even climb to the top of a city light pole, and many people were already trying to lead cheers, and show there hawk pride. Some people complained about the lines saying it was to long. I thought to myself well we just brought the Stanley cup to Chicago, and we are PROUD!!!!.

       About 8:15 am we entered Grant Park officially and made our way down to where we took our positions for the rally. We stood there and drank alot of water, took photos, and watched the celebration everything from beach balls, chants, to chicken fights, and if you do not know what a chicken fight is, it is where one person sits on another persons shoulders, and they try to push the other person off. If the person fell the crowd would catch the person who fell and they would crowd surf.

       We sat long we watched the players make their way to Grant Park on double decker buses on the large video screens placed around the field we sat in, and even saw news crews interview a few people in front of us. the police passed out water because of the heat, but most people wanted to uncap the bottles throw them in the air spraying people with the water instead.

        When the the Blackhawks had finally arrived we cheered loud, and we watched Pat Foley introduce the team, and when Jim Cornelison sang the National Anthem we cheered louder than ever, because we are proud Americans, and Blackhawk Fans!!!. We Watched the speeches Patrick Kanes “WHAT’S UP CHICAGOOO?”, and “THAT’S HOCKEY BABY!” Speech. He then Introduced Corey Crawford, Who gave the Amazing F-Bomb speech. Toews got up, and his voice was nearly gone by now after 4 days of celebration. After all that the confetti blew off, the fireworks hit the air, and our Fight song Chelsea Dagger started playing!. We worked our way closer to the front at that time as we watched all the players hoist the Stanley Cup, and kiss it. We danced, and celebrated even more. It was the end of the rally , and we had an amazing time with a crowd of nearly 100,000 in that park. The Parade and Rally together drew over 2 million people. As I say on my Facebook page before every Hawks game even though i am speaking about another Stanley Cup, and an amazing 2014 season, LETS GET EM BOYS!!!!!!!!

Reflections!!!

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       When It comes to photography, I am enthralled with shooting in the city of Chicago. there is such a variety of things to shoot, and one of them is the building surfaces that reflect. I was in Chicago the other day and noticed the clouds in the blue skies, and the way the buildings reflected the blues, and the other buildings they stood next to. I started to shoot away I decided on some of the shots to get as low as possible. So I put my bag on the ground and used it as a pillow as I laid on my back to get some spectacular shots of some of these beautiful architectural wonders. So here today I sit here writing this wondering what the next spectacular shot I will see next time I am in Chicago!!!.

Spring, and Baseball has arrived!!!!!!

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So yesterday I went to the Chicago Whitesox game, as I was standing by the bullpen watching Jake Peavy warm up, in walks their Catcher Tyler Flowers. After shooting several shots of Jake Peavy throwing, and Bobby Thigpen who is still the Whitesox all time saves leader. I decided to snap off a few shots of Tyler Flowers the Whitesox Catcher. If you are friends with me on Facebook, or follow my blog you know I love sports, especially baseball, and my Chicago Whitesox even more. I decided no editing would be done to this photo, because I thought it captured the moment well, and so here it is straight out of the camera. No tricks, no editing, just a plain and simple photograph of our own Tyler flowers. Who not only hit a homerun yesterday, in which they won the game 5-2 over the Kansas City Royals. He also hit one in the opening day game vs Kansas City. Today he hit 1 single, got walked twice, and hit by a pitch, but all fur null, we lost today 3-1. thanks for reading this, and hopefully you enjoy my blog.

Above Chicago!

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So the one thing I have been told by one of my my friends who occasionally models for me Kat Schrödinger, Is that I am great with Angles. I have found out not only is this true for models, but also when I am shooting Cityscapes, or even just objects of interest. When I was out in the city last week with another photographer friend of mine before a film meeting, I told my friend that we needed to get out of the crowd, and get above the city. So I found a 10 story parking garage, where we went to the top, and I leaned as far over the edge to catch a shot like this. I was not about to sit on the ledge, and I suggest you never sit, or stand on a ledge while trying to photograph, unless you have the proper safety equipment. The reason being looking through the eyepiece of the camera, and trying to balance is not a good idea at all!!!…. I have tried it and nearly fallen, and have learned from those mistakes. A different perspective though can mean the difference between a great shot, and just a good shot!.