Bury My Heart at Lincoln’s Tomb

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 26, 2014

For the last several years, I have told people that I will be buried at Lincoln’s Tomb. This is not much of an exaggeration when my burial plot is just around the corner from Lincoln’s. “I’ll post a sign: drop in in nearby to visit Dropout,” I have boasted.

My apartment on Berkeley’s South side is far from Lincoln’s Tomb, at Oak Ridge Cemetery on the Northern outskirts of Springfield, Illinois.

I recall the tomb from four-score childhood visits with the Boy Scouts. Illinois license plates advertise, “Land of Lincoln;” Lincoln’s hometown vacated downtown Springfield to make room for a Lincoln presidential library, even though Lincoln left few papers.

Lincoln's Tomb.

A famous uncle of mine, Thomas B. Morgan a Manhattan writer and political figure, was recently buried in the Lincoln Tomb neighborhood, which is also a Jewish neighborhood, from the days when cemeteries were segregated. The uncle’s New York Times news-obituary:

Both Lincoln’s Tomb and the Jewish remains are in the newer part of the cemetery. The historic Oak Ridge Cemetery, housing Springfield’s non-Jewish founders, lies Northward, obscured by Lincoln’s Tomb.

It is likely that the now valuable real estate so close to Lincoln’s Tomb was procured by prominent Jewish merchants nearly a century ago.

My Rabbi is buried there, as are my aunts, uncles and Springfield’s leading businessmen.

I grew up six-blocks from Lincoln’s Home, on Seventh Street, watching tourists admiring Lincoln’s outhouse, as I sucked on a popsicle from Piggly Wiggley’s. The most unlikely Springfield businesses are named after Lincoln, who has become Springfield’s meal ticket.

Many will be surprised to learn that Vachel Lindsay, who wrote “the Congo” poem and has been discovered to be our first film critic was a son of Springfield. His home was also near where I grew up.

Visitors are more interested in Lincoln’s outhouse than in the historic state capitol building, where President Obama began his political career.

Ever since King Tut was buried “with thousands of items including a solid gold mask that covered the head of the mummified king, hundreds of gold figurines, a small chair made of ebony inlaid with ivory, jewelry, ornamental vases, weapons, and enough seeds to plant a large garden”–our contemporaries have been buried with the outrageous.

Buried near Lincoln’s tomb is modest by comparison.

These views do not represent publications where my work appears.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.