A DayBook in the Life — Day 156 through Day 158

Business and Bachelors

New York—Mon. June 4, 1984–Nice day.  Headed off early for Westchester, then over the Throgs Neck Bridge to Long Island.  Mom and Dad arrived at 7:00 p.m.  Preparations under way for J.’s bachelor party. Out to a small dinner and to bed at 12.

New York–Tuesday June 5, 1984–Set out with Dad for INA.  One of the first sunny, steamy days of the year.  Subway downtown, good meeting.  We had lunch in the INA cafeteria and headed home.  Mom had the apartment all cleaned-up.  Flowers in the windows, tables set up.  Very nice.  Dad and I bought two cases of beers for $50 which caused some soul-searching but I kept thinking: this is once in a lifetime stuff.  Everybody was up and down the stairs all afternoon.  Mrs. Graham’s refrigerator stayed in the hallway the entire time.

Liza came just after the parents took off — about 4:30.  J. arrived just as Liza was leaving, about 7:30.

The gang began arriving about 8:00.  Once the food came I started drinking beers and smoking Woody K.’s cigar and I had a very muddled and cheerful evening.

New York–Wed. Jun. 6, 1984–D-Day’s 40th Anniversary.   I woke up with a faint sense of unwell being—head aching and tired but generally okay.  Jeffersonville and Ellenville.  I cancelled my plans to go dancing with Cathy.   Marc C. arrived on my doorstep with a bottle of French white wine, ready for the bachelor party.  For some reason I’d half wondered if he’d show up a day late because I thought it was odd he hadn’t come or called.

Listened to a tape on the radio and sat in the living room with the table cleared and Franny and Zooey opened, looking for ideas for a toast.  Nothing conclusive yet.  D.B. called collect and we talked until 1.

A DayBook in a Life– Day 74, Day 133, and Day 140

Wedding Bells and Blues

New York—Wed. March 14, 1984—Stayed in town, mostly to meet J.P. at Brooks Bros. and pick up our wedding attire.  I guess L. knows what she’s doing after all since things look pretty nice.

I played my electric guitar for an hour or so and got down a rousing version of One After 909. 

The day’s most intese experience was a poor incredibly dirty heap of a man picking his toes on the subway while I was enroute to Brooklyn.

New York –Sat.  May 12, 1984—A strange, atmospheric day.  The sky was a half white blue the color of a baby’s cornea.  Clouds were sort of blooping out of it, forming a series of thick, doughy obscene shapes.  At the same time, looking west down the side streets, lights were gleaming sweetly against the clearing evening sky.

Early in the evening, it blackenend and yellowed and gave all indication of a violent storm, but only a brief, fairly heavy shower came of it.

I was downtown at Bloomingdales at the “Registry” buying wedding presents for K.H. and J.P. and L.  It’s on a computer and the “read-out” lists all the items desired and how many have already been bought.  And once you buy the items they are handled, wrapped and delivered without any further concern on the buyer’s part.

Zach came to town and we went to see Moscow on the Hudson.  T.B.’s movie.  It was good but not exactly great.  I also, with Zach’s expert assistance, bought a lottery ticket.  The prize which was being drawn was $22 million.  I did not win.

New York—Sat. May 19, 1984—K.H. got married today, with her hair cropped short and her little thin neck and her mother not bothering to come, she was such a pretty and individual looking bride that for the first time I felt a real twinge of regret that some girl was gone forever.

Met Jane and Steve at the wedding and went with them to the reception.  It was down in the lower east side across from the Strand.

I walked home and ate apples and cheese ravanously. Also, at the reception talked earnestly and nonsense with M.H. for about ten minutes and felt enormously relieved–don’t ask me why.

A Daybook in a Life–Day 126

How Easy it is to Spend Someone Else’s Money

Sat. May 5, 1984—New York—Zach arrived here at 9:30, Jo soon after.  We drove to Boo’s in Fairfield, left there at about 11:00, drove to Mystic, Conn. And stopped for ice cream then met J. C. at Pequot Properties at 1:30 p.m.  She drove us to the  house mom had liked but wasn’t able to see inside. It was just as well, probably that she didn’t. Somebody was home cooking hard-boiled eggs and the interior of the house was basically conducive to the odor. We drove out toward Stonington, Conn. to see the “daffodil house” which was very nice, a lot like Maine, but too close to Rte. 1. Then we  arranged to meet A. from Boyer Agency at 13 Grove Street.  A most beautiful house which looked as if the sun had shown in it and the breezes blown in it since the day it was built—1863.  I believe.  A half block away from the water on a nice almost college quadrangle style neighborhood. We went back to Pequoit and bought it. Boo had the only  blank check in the group and signed it over for $10,000. Our first offer of $220,000 was refused—a second one for $225,000 accepted from a telephone booth en route back in Essex.

We ate dinner in the Tumble Down Café and went to the Griswold to await the arrival of Alice with the changes.  Signed, sealed and delivered at the Griswold Inn at app. 9:00 p.m. Dropped Boo off in Fairfield, Jo at her car, Zach at the door and to bed.

Between offers, of course, I spoke with Mom and Dad, on the basis of one phone call, at the Williamsburg Inn, not knowing exactly where they were or if they would be in.  A good sign.  I thought.

A Daybook in a Life – Day 105

Sat. Apr. 14,1984–New York—Looking out the window this morning at 10:00 a.m., it looked cold and deserted as a bad November day.  Discouraging weather.  One must, however, keep up one’s spirits.  What alternative, tell me, has one got.

L.W. called and wanted me to meet H. and J. for lunch. L. said he needed help.  So I trudged down to the Trump Tower in the rain and it turned out not to be a cozy lunch but distant relations. A., M. and Mother S, of whom, I’ve never even heard.  Anyway, we raced through lunch then they tore off to a play and that was that.  L. and H. and I ended up starring at one another as if we’d survived a hurricane on the roof of a house.

I trudged on home in the rain and spoke to L.P.   P.C. is house manager for a settlement house on W. 46th play center so Z. K.  and L.P. and I went down and met P. C. there.  The play was The Shoehorn by Mark Wiston, a pretty dreadful play about marital infidelity among the older generation.  Afterwards we went out and had dinner with the sound and lighting people–a nice girl name L.S. who lives in Brooklyn, a nice, nervous wreck of a kid with an earring–an uneasy addition to anybody’s wardrobe so far as I am concerned and another nice guy who reminded me of G.P. with overtones of C.B.

That was fun.  Home by 1:00 a.m. in a cab.  Englsh cabbie.

A Daybook in the Life–Day 93 and Day 97

Mon.  April 2, 1984—New York–I started off yesterday in pretty high spirits, striding to the bank, having my shoes shined, stepping fancifully around in the nice warm weather.  Things went pretty rapidly downhill though when I’d gotten home.  I was cleaning, folding and vacuuming for Dad’s arrival when I became inspired about taking C.B. out.  So I bought tickets over the phone to Sam Shepard’s True West and called the B.’s number.  T. (her sister) came on and immediately said that everybody had plans and suddenly I went from young man about town to kid in serious trouble.  The nadir was calling W. R., a tough but nice seemingly girl from Berryville, Virginia (scene of some interesting activity during the Civil War), and having her roommate answer and hear W. saying in the background to tell me she was talking a shower.  I had to hang my head at that one.

Earlier though, on the bright side, I signed and mailed my tax returns, completed, including my eye test, and mailed my license renewal and a contribution to William Westmoreland for his libel suit against CBS.

During the day, I got a flat tire (a big nail punctured the tire but it didn’t go down, it just would have) right near where L.B. lives, so I went and left her a note.  In general a hurried retreat turning into a rout on the girl front.

Fri. Apr. 6 1984—New York–A pleasant enough day weather wise.  Did business on L.I.  Had a nice lunch with E. R., P. B, and L. D.  I think half of the girls in that office love L., odd because he is a huge man and looks like a walrus.

I went to see True West tonight—all by myself.  It was kind of nice because in that stunned and appreciative moment when the play ends, you don’t have to start chattering to somebody about it.  I think I called twelve girls to go to it and not a one would come—nobody—nada.  I got to the theater early though and sat in relative comfort eating a bagel out of my front pocket and reading a New Yorker article about Mario Cuomo.

I bought a great pirate Beatle record tonight—File Under Beatles.

 

A Daybook in a Life — Day 1

Prologue

Dec. 31, 1983—New York–I have decide to try and maintain a diary this year.  It will be more like a ledger (Scott Fitzgerald maintained a literary ledger detailing a monetary and publishing history of his work as well as a month by month short hand diary of his life for use as raw material–I will try to do the same) than a “dark night of the soul.”  I already make a practice of jotting down phrases which interest me, occur to me or I happen to read, so I will use this diary as a repository for all my little bits of paper.

It might be a nice place to maintain the weather and to reflect a bit on the news of the day.  Since my business actually is carefully registered I will not concern myself with that but I know that I keep hardly any track at all of my social time so that will be recorded.  A minimum entry requirement might not be a bad idea.  A lot of nights I barely get my socks off, or not even, so I might use today as a prototype—the last day of 1983.  A year book is a poor place to reminisce, so I will merely note that the year passes without great feeling or particular regret.

First Daybook Entry

Sat. Dec. 31, 1983—New York–The weather is cold and bright, the sky clear.  Slept on the sofa and slept.  Spent 2 hours on my play, rattled away on the guitar, then took a bundled-up walk down Fifth Ave.  I walked part of the way behind a youngish couple, she with a very hearty laugh, and overheard her talking about her mother walking for half an hour every day round and around the same block.  He said, “So I have heard.”  I approved of that. Once I got home, I sat down and wrote a note to Spectra Films requesting a promotional still photo of Nathalie Baye, a French film actress who is a favorite of mine. J.M. is having a New Year’s Eve party, I probably will go. C.H. said tonight on the telephone, “Happy New Year with skates on it…and stars.”  I hope so.

Ask and you shall receive–hand out photos of Nathalie Baye in La Balance.

 

 

A Daybook in a Life

In 1984 I started what ultimately became I guess part of my life’s work—unbeknownst to me.  I bought a notebook at a stationary shop on the west side of upper Madison Avenue, probably in the upper 80’s, about three blocks away from my apartment in NYC.  It wasn’t special.  It was just a notebook and on December 31, 1983 I started writing in it–daily.  Again nothing special, just where I went, what I did, the weather, what I ate, what I heard, what I saw.  There was never anything, “dark night of the soul” about the contents.  It was a daily account of my daily days, good, bad, fun, boring, dull, dramatic, but not merely jotted down, rather a fairly full and carefully composed (for the most part) out line of my day with random thoughts and observations.

During those 34 years, I dated, I got married, I had three children, I met scammers and con men, faced financial ruin, rid a house of bats, stymied conmen and scammers, started a business or two, made maps, wrote books, gave numerous presentations on Civil War Maps and Mapmaking culminating in a nationally broadcast presentation on C-Span BookTV.  I used my wits, held a couple of political offices, wrote a few songs, served on some interesting boards, read a lot of books, wrote and published a few articles,  played guitar on the street, broke my leg—a compound fracture—and my wrist in Carcassonne, and stayed in touch with friends some of whom I had since childhood.

This year I got the flu right after the New Year and in my flu stupor I pronounced to my family that I was quitting, what I call, my daybook.

They would not allow it – “Dad,” they said, in unison.  “Your day book is not for you anymore—it’s for us.  You cannot stop.”

I agreed.

I thought about it….how many people can account on a day to day basis for everything they’ve done for 34 years, 1 month ….and counting?  That’s 300,000 hours, 12,500 days and 1,786 weeks.

So over the course of the next few weeks, months, whatever, I plan to post some of my daybook entries.  I will just use initials for most of the people I came in contact with – except maybe the con men, they might not remain nameless—we’ll see.

And stay tuned.

Yes! There is a Method to our Mapness

As a historical cartographer–one who doesn’t use a computer to draw or to do research, I could be considered a dinosaur, maybe a buggy whip. But details in mapping are important, especially when recreating a historic place–a place that existed when the population of the United States was 55 million, before the industrial revolution, before oil was discovered and  long before automobiles were the prefered mode of transportation.

So how are our maps completed?

I use contemporaneous photographs, taken within days of some of the major battles for Gettysburg and Antietam.  I asked an agronomist, a crop expert, from Cornell  to study the panoramic photos of these fields to determine the crops in the fields. It was easy to figure out what type of fencing there was, where the orchards were, the extent of the woodlands etc. Essential to the use of these photographs was the 1970’s work of William Frassanito, who painstakingly determined the point-of-view and location of each extant wartime photograph of Gettysburg and Antietam.

Then I used regimental histories–each regiment would occupy a small sector of the battlefield and their accounts and maps  would show their particular sector in great detail. The soldiers’ diaries and letters (this was probably the most literate war in history) also contain many references to their immediate surroundings. Many of them were themselves farmers and they would frequently comment on the crops and fields, fences, barns and orchards. The most poignant research items were “burial” maps. Dead men were often buried right where they had fallen by their fellow soldiers, who were usually their townsmen, friends, even relatives. They would then send the family a very detailed map so they could journey to the battlefield, locate the body and bring it home for burial.

On the major battlefields such as Gettysburg, Antietam, Stones River in Tennessee, the National Park Service has tons of data that they gladly make available to a researcher.

Aerial photographs are very revealing if you know what you’re looking for. If I have a reasonably good Civil War era map and it shows a road or a lane that’s vanished, or a barn or a house, if you look very carefully, you can find a footprint or a trace of it. Also, the skeleton features in the landscape – the rivers, streams, hills, principal roads etc. – are obviously extant features on todays extremely accurate USGS maps. So those features are immediately drawn on my map,  providing an immediate reliable framework.

The maps drawn and used by the actual Civil War armies, while not terribly accurate in terms of exact distances and such, are full of the sort of information the armies needed. They wanted the name of residents along the roads because there were no route markers and there were not normally formal names for a given road or lane. The surest way to get reliable directions was to get pointed toward the Smith’s house or the Jones farm. Documenting the residents also gave the armies an idea of the local population. The more residents there were, the more resources there were for the armies to live off. (Union General William Tecumseh Sherman set off across Georgia on November 16,1864 saying, “Where a million Georgians can live, my army will not starve.)

The armies also had to know where they could find corn fields, wheat fields, orchards, hay fields, wells, springs etc. because an army on the march needed to feed 30, 40, 50 thousand men  and thousands of horses and mules. A typical mule would drink 10 gallons of water a day. Multiply that by 10,000! A Civil War army (and it didn’t matter whether they were friends or enemies, Union or Confederate) would devastate any countryside they marched through. They would take all the food for themselves and all the forage for their animals, drink the wells dry, destroy the fields they camped on, empty the barns, clear out the larders, tear down all the fences (to make their camp fires to brew their coffee) and raise havoc generally. But the armies need to live off the land is great for mapmakers because their military “route” maps detailed this sort of food and forage information so the armies knew where they could march and fend for themselves.

A great aid in mapping Gettysburg was the work of John Bachelder, who arrived in Gettysburg immediately after the battle. Bachelder marched up and down the field, mapping it, and he had as a resource the thousands of wounded soldiers, Union and Confederate, remaining behind, who he interviewed. His map, a birds-eye view of the field, was very reliable and valuable.

There were also quite accurate published county maps available of some areas, including Gettysburg, published prior to the Civil War that I used. (They were also used of by the armies and the generals.) Also, soon after the war, the U.S. War Department prepared surveys of many of the major battlefields. These maps were much more detailed and accurate than the maps made under wartime conditions. (The U.S. hired former Confederate mapmakers to work on these surveys. One Rebel named Blackford, who’d sworn he would die rather than live again under the stars and stripes, found himself, within a month of Appomattox happy to be working for the U.S. Army mapping the battlefield

Finally, almost every Civil War battlefield has people who have devoted their lives to studying “their” battle. They know every nook and cranny of the field and like nothing more than to guide someone around the field, point out sites, recommend books and resources, provide access to private lands and to other knowledgeable locals, and in some cases they fix parking tickets incurred locally.

There are other resources but the above provides a pretty good idea of what’s out there. I decide on the reliability of the information based on the resource I used. Photographs, for example, are irrefutable–at least back then they were, before Photoshop.  Other data would often be corroborated by some other data. And then you have to wonder why anybody would mislead about the existence of a stone wall or the presence in their front of a rye as opposed to a wheat field.

After I have everything in place.  I get to add trees and terrain.  I get to print.  I guess I was given the talent of being able to print–very legibly and very small. And finally I get to watercolor.

All my maps are done on a desk that  I found in a barn–it was probably the carriage house for the only New York State governor that hailed from my city.  Unfortunately it wasn’t his desk. I needed some thing flat and this table was tucked away, dusty, covered with some weird tack paper–nobody had used it in years.  I cleaned it up and gave it a second life.  It looked so nice that my landlady wanted it back when we moved.  I offered her $25 for it–I had already completed Pea Ridge and Shiloh and was in the middle of Antietam,  I was rolling.    I can’t remember if she took the money or just let me have it. I am thinking she took it.

  • Top Image: The Wheatfield at Gettysburg Battlefield — Courtesy: Library of Congress

  • Middle Image:  Jedadiah Hotchkiss Gettysburg Map Detail.  Photograph of the original in the Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA  by Rodney Lee Gibbons, CPP. The map appears in Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War (Abrams 1999) by Earl B. McELfresh

  • Bottom Images:  McElfresh Map Company’s Gettysburg products.

 

Presentation at the Eldred World War II Museum

 

PT Boat 490 Photo Courtesy: McElfresh Map Company LLC

PT Boat 490
Photo Courtesy: McElfresh Map Company LLC

The naval battle of Leyte Gulf was fought on October 25, 1944 in the waters off the coast of the Philippines.  It was not only the greatest naval battle of the Second World War, it was also the largest naval engagement ever fought on the high seas.

In a presentation this coming Saturday at 2:00 PM, October 25, the Seventieth Anniversary of the battle, at the Eldred, Pennsylvania World War II Museum, Earl McElfresh will describe the events leading up to this battle and the part his father, Lt. John M. McElfresh, as skipper of P.T. 490, played in this enormous sea fight that effectively knocked the Japanese navy out of the war.

Lt. McElfresh is mentioned prominently in every account of this battle, which involved 200,000 men and 244 ships, including the two largest and most powerful battleships every launched, Japan’s Yamoto and Musashi.

Crew of PT 490  Photograph Courtesy; McElfresh Map Co. LLC

Crew of PT 490
Photograph Courtesy; McElfresh Map Co. LLC

In a talk entitled, “My Dad vs. the Empire of Japan,” McElfresh will detail the actions of his father as he earned the first of two silver stars awarded to him by the President of the United States: “For conspicuous gallantry as officer in tactical command of P.T.’s 490, 491 and 493 in action against enemy Japanese forces during the battle for Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944.”

Earl McElfresh of Olean is a Cattaraugus County Legislator and owner of McElfresh Map Company.  The World War II Museum is located at 201 Main Street in Eldred.

 

A Small Tribute to a Short Speech

1000 Voices at Olean High School Photo Credit:  Mrs. Skrobacz

1000 Voices at Olean High School
Photo Credit: Mrs. Skrobacz

Our local high school put on a special program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettyburg address.  A retired teacher put together the presentation which included videos, re-enactors from local regiments, the Bucktails and 154th NY, and period music.  I was invited to give a five to ten minute presentation.  The highlight of my presentation was my daughter’s introduction.  She is a senior and so very poised in front of a microphone.  Anyway with no further a-do here is my presentation:

Given the mythic proportion that Lincoln has achieved, there is a persistent notion that the Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an envelope by Abraham Lincoln as he made his way by train to Gettysburg.

There are several reasons to doubt this.

First off, Lincoln’s presence at Gettysburg was an afterthought. He actually had to petition the organizers of the cemetery dedication to include him in the dedication ceremony. The very fact that Lincoln called his effort an “address” indicates that he’d prepared it, not for a general delivery but for a specific occasion and a select audience.

Lincoln recognized that this gathering was an opportunity to bring the country “up to speed” –as we would put it–on the meaning and worth of the sacrifice these Union soldiers had made and all the others were making. He wanted to remind the nation that while this war was being fought at an enormous cost in lives and treasure, it was being fought for an immeasurably valuable prize. Lincoln would not take an opportunity like this lightly and he would traditionally prepare very carefully for such an event.

Secondly, Lincoln liked to think on his feet. Literally. All his life, he walked while he thought and he thought while he walked. He walked back and forth in his White House office when he was puzzling out or preparing something. That’s a little difficult on a moving train.

He also had a habit of reading things out loud –whether he was reading someone else’s writing –a funny story or a newspaper article–or was composing a letter, or a speech or a proclamation.  The cadence, the content, the impact of what he was working on seemed much clearer when he heard it spoken aloud.

Lincoln was always extremely unwilling to speak off-the-cuff. The night he arrived at Gettysburg a crowd gathered outside the house he was visiting. The crowd called for a speech and Lincoln resolutely refused to say anything but an extended version of “Good evening.” He didn’t want, he said, to say anything foolish.

This last concern was particularly important because Lincoln’s only direct access to his fellow countrymen was through the written word. So each word he spoke or wrote for the record had to be very carefully crafted. There was no radio. No television. Lincoln hardly ever left the White House. This trip to Gettysburg was one of the longest trips out of Washington that he took during his whole Presidency. Lincoln spent probably 95% of his presidency in his White House office. The country came to him. Anybody willing to wait long enough would have the chance to briefly meet and speak with Abraham Lincoln.

When Lincoln spoke for the record, reporters took his words down more or less accurately in short hand. His words appeared in the newspapers in black and white for his friends and enemies to read. It was the president’s standard forum when he wanted to “speak” to the country. Lincoln was by profession a lawyer. So he designed his speeches as a lawyer would, using precise language to develop a compelling argument.

But Lincoln also possessed the soul of a poet. He had, in fact, written some actual poetry –all of it terrible, dreary and gloomy –really bad – but when his poetic inclination was tempered by his need for lawyerly precision, the results were some of the most remarkable and carefully prepared political speeches ever delivered. The only ad-lib, the only improvised words in the Gettysburg Address, were the words “under God” in the phrase “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”  Lincoln was an “agnostic” meaning he was someone who did not deny the existence of God but didn’t acknowledge the existence of God either.  Apparently, somewhere between Fort Sumter and November 19, 1863 – as the war took a turn for the better with major Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, God was beginning to look pretty good.   

Lincoln had read widely and his writings had obvious influences: the Bible for sure –he could quote relevant passages from the Bible to suit almost any occasion. He was an aficionado of Shakespeare…he read the plays and attended performances of them regularly in Washington… he admired and studied classic political orators Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. One less noted but very obvious influence on Lincoln was the telegraph. The President spent an inordinate amount of time at the telegraph office, which was situated a brisk walk from the White House. It was his sanctuary from the cares and activities of the White House and it was also the nerve center of the war effort. Lincoln telegraphed constantly to his commanders in the field. These telegrams had to be short, exact and put in terms that could not be misunderstood. Lincoln developed an affinity for the blunt “shorthand” communication of the telegraph. The influence of this “compressed” language helps account for the brevity of the Gettysburg address.

The actual physical presentation of this address is interesting to visualize. Lincoln sat with dozens of local and national dignitaries on a raised platform on a breezy hillside in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. November 19th can be cold and blustery. A large crowd, thousands of people, filled acres of space to listen to noted lecturer Edward Everett, the featured speaker, give a two hour speech –which he had memorized. His talk encompassed the Gettysburg battle in some detail and he expounded on the significance of the battle and the meaning of the war.

Then Lincoln stood up and gave his two-minute address, which he read. There were no microphones. There was no amplification. Lincoln had a rather high-pitched voice but it was a voice that carried wonderfully. So the original delivery of the Gettysburg Address was not some solemn, sonorous presentation but a belted out rendition by an expert stump-speaking political pro, one of whose principal qualifications for office in pre-electronics 19th century America was a voice that carried to the farthest person back in an enormous crowd in a large open field while the wind was blowing. What distinguished Lincoln in this specialized field of orators and politicians was that the short hand reporters dispatched to document his speeches would stand listening, completely enthralled, and forget to write down what he said.

Lincoln sat down-there was prolonged applause–yet he sensed that the speech had not gone down well. “That speech didn’t scour,” was the phrase he used, meaning the speech hadn’t carried through smoothly, as a plow would. He didn’t know it at the time but he was probably feeling the effects of the mild case a small pox that he developed soon after returning to Washington. Some newspapers ridiculed his effort but Edward Everett, an old political adversary of the President, wrote to him that Lincoln’s two minute effort had come closer to the “central idea of the occasion” than Everett had in his two hours.  

In evaluating Lincoln’s stature on the stage of history – and he stands way, way up there – the Gettysburg Address is certainly important on his resume. If there can be any question of his genius, it’s merely necessary to ask who else on earth could come up with a phrase that became one of the most famous passages in the English language and that will be remembered so long as the language is spoken. What did he come up with when all he was trying to say was “87 years ago?”  Four score and seven years ago.

This is not “train ride, back of an envelope material.”