…If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln, written by Ann McGovern, is unique. It reads neither like a biography nor a pure history – rather, it is a cross between both. Many of the questions dealt specifically with Lincoln while others concerned the general period of history in which he lived.
Q & A.
What kind of clothes did people wear on the frontier?
People on the frontier did not wear fancy clothes. All the clothes were made at home.
Men hunted deer and used the deerskins to make pants and jackets and shoes. They called the deerskin buckskin.
Buckskin breeches were fine – unless you got caught in the rain. Then the breeches would shrink. As they dried, the breeches would get tighter and tighter around your legs. Abe had a blue mark on each leg all his life, from wearing buckskin breeches that shrank after a rain. [pgs. 17-18]
What kind of school would you go to?
You would go to a blab school! The schools were called blab schools because everyone blabbed – that is, everyone said his lessons out loud at the same time. That is how the teacher could tell if each pupil was doing his work.
You might live miles away from a schoolhouse. When he lived in Indiana, Abe Lincoln had to walk about four miles though the woods to get to school. [pg. 33-34]
How would you send a letter?
If you wanted to send a letter, you would give it to the postmaster. Abe Lincoln was postmaster of New Salem for three years.
You would write your letter on a sheet of paper.
There were no envelopes. So you would fold the paper and seal the folds with hot sealing wax. You wrote the address on the outside. There were no stamps either. In the upper right-hand corner, the postmaster wrote down how much it would cost to send the letter. But you wouldn’t pay to send the letter. The person who got the letter paid for it. The farther away he lived, the more he had to pay.
If you wrote a letter on one sheet of paper to a friend who lived thirty miles away, your friend would have to pay six cents. But if you used two sheets of paper, your friend would have to pay twice as much. So people tried to crowd everything onto one sheet of people. [pgs. 55-56]
Lincoln is treated neither as a villainous ogre nor the savior of the world. He is depicted simply as a person who existed and whose life is worth recording. I found this “neutral” position acceptable, but then I am not a die-hard Lincoln hater…
One answer mentions the practice at corn husking events of exchanging a red ear for a kiss.
In the answer to one of the questions, Abe jokes about one of his father’s prayers.
One answer discusses the local beliefs and superstitious healing practices.
One answer mentions The Arabian Nights and its magical stories.
Conclusion. Helpful study of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret