Thinkin’ Lincoln and Todd

Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 at 7:51 am
By: Doug Lund
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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:

 Argus insert 002

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.

johnny toddWhen 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.

abe photo brady studioOf 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 want to tag along?”  “Why sure, 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.


  1. Guest says:

    I agree about the ads in the Wednesday paper. The first thing that I do is rip them out and throw them away without looking at what they have to offer. It’s my way of getting back at the Argus and the companies that put them there. I know it’s not much, but hey, I just wasted a little bit of their money. :-)

  2. prairierose says:

    Could it be that Matthew Brady was a perfectionist and used Todd as the stand-in for the President in establishing the pose and the lighting he wanted for the portrait. From what I have read about Todd, he was a skin-flint and by agreeing to help Brady….he would have gotten his portrait for free.

  3. dlp says:

    Even more maddening than the fold out ads in newspapers are the post cards in mag’s.

  4. ahmal al edel says:

    May the aroma of a savory young goat roasting slowly over an open fire on a spit outside your bedroom window being turned by my lovely sister Nonfatima greet you at the dawn of each new day.
    I too am upset with these ads of harassment that flaunt themselves at me on each Wednesday morn. I pray that the newspaper will prosper, but these insults at their readers sanity and peace of mind must end. Early morning is no time to scream curses that are offensive to Allah. By 2pm curses can sometimes be justified, but not in the early morning time. I will climb upon my prayer rug and pray that this method of torment by the Argus will end peacefully.

  5. Sweeps says:

    dlp: The first thing I do with my one and only magazine (AARP–nice, but those cards drive me crazy!) is tear out all the cards and drop them in the trash. Glad I’m not the only one.

    Doug: great reading for this history major, but as someone to whom English grammar and spelling are an avocation, when you’re tempted to write “it’s”, please think for a second: is that the version I really want to use? At any rate, thanks for the history fix!

  6. Doug Lund says:

    Sweeps. Thanks for the reminder. I fear I should have paid closer attention in Mrs. Schultz’s English classes. I do know the difference but sometimes old habits rise to the surface.

  7. Trisha says:

    Doug, once again I am so sorry for Ken’s comments in yesterday’s blog. He just gets real grumpy and smart when he hasn’t had sex for a couple of weeks. I suppose that I’ll have to get him out of that state later tonight. (Sigh) And today, I really do have a headache.

  8. Vet says:

    Take the cards from magazines and put the blank cards in the mail. The companies have to pay the return postage.

  9. grouse says:

    Hello Vet….I like your style….This will amuse me for years to come

  10. Badger says:

    I just listened to some coffee clatchers complaining about the 1//2 of 1//3 page foldouts. An Argus was on the table, and someone mentioned how much they hated the darn things. It was basically unanimous. We all hate them. Darn near enough to cancell a subscription.

  11. daniel johnson says:

    We just got back from Fort Collins Co and believe it or not the same Ad fold is employed in that city as well . I appreciate you bringing it up because it really screws up opening the pages in a normal fashion. Maybe if we all refuse the wed paper the Argus may get the point .

  12. John Bennett says:

    Doug – how do those Argus fold overs differ from the TV stations , ‘crawling” information across the bottom of the screen when ever they feel like. How about those that are hearing impaired? Try watching with the closed caption on and then have the crawl start. You can’t read either the closed caption or the crawl. Why doesn’t the crawl and the ‘FCC required emergency notice’ ever happen during a commercial break?

    It is all about selling advertising and you know as well as I do that nothing happens till a sale is made. Besides if the Argus didn’t have an ad or two there would be nothing to read. The ads add some weight to the paper – other wise the remaining 3 or 4 pages of the daily-waste-of-ink would just blow away to the neighbors.

  13. blueeyes says:

    Add this to the list: my personal favorite is when the Argus prints white words on dark background. How are we supposed to be able to read it when the words are all fuzzy ? If it was my ad, I would be darkening the AL door and demanding it be done over so people could actually read what I paid for. Aberdeen, Sioux City and Rapid City newspapers have the AL beat – hands down. The AL needs to work harder because it is a poor excuse for a town the size of Sioux Falls. Rant over.

  14. Sodakmac says:

    I am glad to know that many other folks hate those folded ads in the newspaper and those very aggravating cards in magazines. I also mail blank cards back to the advertiser – it gives you a small sense of satisfaction to know they have to pay the postage.

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