I haven’t been hearing too much lately about newspapers around the country having to fold up operations under pressure from the internet. It may still be happening, I just haven’t noticed. I’ve never really bought into the claims that newspapers and local TV newscasts would eventually be put out to pasture because people will be relying on their computers for news that’s available anytime..anywhere. No, most of us, I think, still count on that morning ritual of opening the front door and searching around the steps and bushes for the paper then paging through it’s contents over coffee or in the porcelain library. When I was a reporter, the Argus Leader was required reading to keep an eye on what the competition was up to. Now it’s just a habit which I look forward to most days….except Wednesday. Why on God’s green earth do they feel it necessary to do this:
Those half page fold-over ads drive me nuts. I suppose the intent is to force the reader to notice the ad but they’re as annoying as pop-ups on web sites or spam on e-mails and blogs. I intentionally avoid patronizing places that try get my business through the process of unavoidable irritation. (Okay, I did go to Lewis the other day..but still.) Oh, and you can also do away with those stupid yellow sticker ads glued to the front page. But, generally speaking, I do like my paper especially when I read an article like the one by Sheri Levisay this week. It was about a man by the name of John Blair Smith Todd who was primarily responsible for pushing congress to approve Dakota as a territory in 1861 and served as its first representative in Washington where his cousin-in-law, Abraham Lincoln, had just been elected President of the United States. Todd, as I learned from the article, went from being a career military man to successful merchant, land speculator, lawyer and politician. He was also a tough ol’ bird and a bit of a scoundrel who got things done and wasn’t too fussy how he went about it. Mary Todd Lincoln was his first cousin and he was at Ford’s Theatre on the evening Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and helped carry the mortally wounded President to the rooming house across the street. Todd County South Dakota is named after him…all things I did not know. Here’s a photo of him taken in 1861 or 62.
When I first saw this image of Todd, I thought it looked real familiar. I got to thinking; isn’t there one of Lincoln in a very similar pose? I began a search and sure enough, came across this 1861 photo of our 16th President taken by noted photographer, Mathew Brady in his Washington, D.C. studio. Then, I noticed something else; look closely and you’ll see that not only are the poses similar..but both Lincoln and Todd are sitting in the very same studio. The chair, table, pedestal,(note the position of four nails at the base) and carpeting are identical. Brady even had both men place their top hats on the table in about the same place.
Of course I started making up stories in my mind about how Todd might have been visiting his cousins in Washington when Abe said, “John, I’ve gotta go over to Brady’s to have my picture made..you want to tag along?” “Why sure, Abe..in fact, I’ve been meaning to get my photograph done too. Do you suppose Brady would have time to squeeze us both in?” Then, I picture them heading back over to the White House where Mary had been standing over a hot stove all afternoon fixing supper for all her boys.
Okay, maybe that’s stretching the imagination a bit far.