Thursday, December 10, 2009

"His face was chalky white..."

I was 15 years old when I read this story in Life magazine for February 9, 1963. Such is the power of the imagery--the description of Lincoln in his casket 36 years after his death--that I never forgot it. For years I told people the story of the boy who witnessed the opening of Lincoln's coffin in 1901, before Lincoln was permanently sealed away in a concrete tomb.

After my current reading I remembered thinking in 1963 that the assassination of a president was something that happened in the past, and had little relevance to modern times. A few months later, in November, John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I came to understand with others of my generation what it feels like when it happens.

Life has made its archives from the 1930s to 1972 available on Google Books.








3 comments:

nursemyra said...

Fascinating

Drew said...

Since my childhood in the 1960s, my sister, Tanya, had been talking about this exact same article and the exact same quote "... And his face was chalky white." She was 10 years old at the time she read the article and has recounted many times thereafter how that imagery disturbed her night after night.

To make matters worse, she had a white chalkware bank in the likeness of Lincoln which sat on her dresser. Every night the light would shine through the window and illuminate the bank reinforcing the "chalky white" quote.

She finally "accidentally" knocked the bank off the dresser and broke it.

We were talking about the story today, so I "Googled" the quote and up popped this link. Amazing. Here's one more story to add.

Jim said...

Since my childhood in the 1960s, my sister, Tanya, had been talking about this exact same article and the exact same quote "... And his face was chalky white." She was 10 years old at the time she read the article and has recounted many times thereafter how that imagery disturbed her night after night.

To make matters worse, she had a white chalkware bank in the likeness of Lincoln which sat on her dresser. Every night the light would shine through the window and illuminate the bank reinforcing the "chalky white" quote.

She finally "accidentally" knocked the bank off the dresser and broke it.

We were talking about the story today, so I "Googled" the quote and up popped this link. Amazing. Here's one more story to add.

(Whoops, the account is a shared account and "Drew" is not my name. My name is Jim)