Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s nose, and Mr. Accordian

on November 17, 2012

Our original plan was to leave Jellystone and stay the night in Springfield, IL.  That would give us a chance to do all the things I wanted to do and see all the things I wanted to see… But, as is becoming a common thread in all of my blogs, it was way too hot!

In fact, the headline that ran in the State Journal-Register was “Springfield sweats through hottest day in more than 40 years”… The last time the temperature was that hot (104 degrees Farenheit/40 degrees Celsius) was July 13, 1966!! (http://www.sj-r.com/archive/x537696878/For-Springfield-could-be-hottest-day-in-more-than-50-years)

We arrived around 4:30pm, I think, and it was so hot, there was no way we could even set up camp, so we decided to stop and see one or two of the sights I felt I would regret not seeing, and then head off to St. Louis (hoping to arrive there after the weather had cooled down a little.)Tomb

I chose the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln (who was born in Kentucky in 1809) moved to Springfield in 1837, where he worked as a lawyer for Illinois State Legislature.  He and Mary Todd got engaged in 1842.  (Mary was born in Kentucky but had moved to Springfield in 1839 and lived with her sister.)

They lived in Springfield, until 1861, when Lincoln was elected President (actual election date of Nov. 6, 1960), and they moved to Washington DC….which, as we know, is where he lived until his assassination, April 1865.

Lincoln's NoseAbraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and lived through a very important part in history.  I could never say everything that had to be said about him in one tiny little blog, so if you didn’t study all about him in school, you should look him up!  Fascinating history!  (Also, there’s a movie just released this year called “Lincoln” starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham and Sally Field as Mary, and directed by Steven Spielberg! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/  I haven’t seen it yet, but I assume it’ll be factual enough to get the basics of this part of history in a 120 minutes.)

Since Springfield’s biggest claim-to-fame is (or should be) Abraham Lincoln, I THOUGHT finding his tomb would be easy.  (We couldn’t find it on GPS and we had our phones turned off because we didn’t want to pay international roaming charges.)  So, we made an “educated” guess, that we would find his tomb at the National Cemetery (Camp Butler National Cemetery, to be precise).  There were signs for the National Cemetery for miles, so THAT was easy to find!!

We arrived at the cemetery and, although it was interesting, and under different circumstances, I would’ve liked to have walked through, but I was trying to find the Tomb.  Again, you’d think it’d be easy, but I saw nothing but row after row of white headstones.National cemetery

I went to the information center, but, of course, it was closed.  There was a computer index, so technically, you could type in the name of the person’s grave you wanted to visit, BUT it was out of service…

However, they still had a pre-technology book with actual worn pages! Someone else was examining it, so I waited..and waited… Finally, I just went to ask if they happened to know where Lincoln’s tomb was and they did! Well, they had a general idea, anyway.  And it wasn’t at the National Cemetery.  It’s at the Oak Ridge Cemetery….(I don’t think I could’ve guessed that.)

Anyway, it was too complicated for them to explain, so despite the fact that they were at the National Cemetery for a reason, they offered to leave and drive to the Tomb, so that we could follow them! We (eventually) accepted their offer, and it’s a good thing that we did, because the route was a labyrinth of streets. We would never find our way without their help.Rt 66

Can you imagine such nice people? After we arrived at the Tomb, they were worried we didn’t have a good enough map to navigate without GPS (we had GPS, it just didn’t find “Lincoln’s Tomb”), so insisted we take their roadmap! (Also, a cold compress… it was so hot and they were kind of used to it.)  They were so insistent, that we started to feel ungrateful, so accepted!

Oak Ridge Cemetery is a beautiful cemetery!  (http://www.oakridgecemetery.org/) There are small markers and beautiful old carved monuments, an abbey, a chapel, gardens… apparently, it’s the second most visited cemetery in the United States (the first being Arlington National Cemetery.)

My focus was Lincoln’s Tomb, but I think you could probably spend a whole day there.Memorial Memorial

A plaque outside the Tomb tells us that this structure marks the graves of Abraham, Mary, and three of their four sons (the oldest son is buried in Arlington). The site was chosen by the Lincoln family in May 1865.

Down the hill (on the north side, is the old receiving vault.  (The vault held remains that awaited burial, either during the winter while the ground was frozen, or while burial plans were being made.  It also briefly held the remains of Abraham and one of his sons.)vault 1

If you arrive at the right time of day, you can actually take tours and go inside the Tomb. Of course, we didn’t. It was closed by the time we arrived.  If ever we are in the vicinity again, though, I will go back.

(www.illinoishistory.gov/hs/lincoln_tomb.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Tomb)

Also, at the entrance of the Oak Ridge Cemetery, is the tomb of a man named Roy Bertelli (1910-2003), also known as Mr. Accordian.  In the background, you can see Lincoln’s Tomb. Mr. AccordianMr. A

Apparently, the story goes something like: Roy Bertelli was an entertainer and really wanted to be buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. However, the cemetery was for “posh” clientele, and he didn’t qualify. He decided to go inquire anyway, and found out that there was actually a burial plot available, near the entrance.  He bought it!

Shortly after his purchase, the people in charge realized who had purchased the plot and wrote him that a mistake had been made, and he couldn’t, after all, be buried there.  They were rude about it, so he absolutely refused to give up his spot.  Not only that, but he built this above ground crypt, so it’d be impossible to ignore it, when coming into the cemetery.

In the end, he kept his crypt, but it’s empty.  He requested to be buried in a different cemetery, outside of town.

His tomb is listed under RoadsideAmerica as “The Defiant Tomb of Mr. Accordian”.
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/19409

Wednesday – St. Louis, Missouri.

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2 responses to “Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s nose, and Mr. Accordian

  1. henrymowry says:

    Very nice post about your visit to Springfield. Thanks for taking me along; I need to go there!

    • 4mygypsysoul says:

      Thank you very much!! Springfield really was fascinating – so full of history! Next time, the priorities of my to-do list (so far) will include visiting Lincoln’s home and the Capitol Building, and taking the self-guided driving tour of the Battle of Springfield! (http://www.visit-springfieldillinois.com/)… and probably more time in the Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Camp Butler National Cemetery, now that I think of it…

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