We are rolling into Lincoln City in our spacious, luxury bus, where we will spend a few days. This is the number one visited town on the coast. We stop at a statue of a young Abraham Lincoln on a horse. The first thing you will notice is that his head and hands are HUGE. I’m not taking about big, farmer hands I’m talking huge, elephantiasis hands, his elongated, pumpkin-head seems to teeter on his small body. You may also notice that the artist signed the work by etching her name on the horse’s penis. I don’t know if this is a standard place to sign a statue but it seems to suggest some deep-seated issues. I’m not judging, I’m just saying. For long time readers of this blog, you may remember my moment of too much information when I discussed the boyhood crush I had on Lincoln’s mother. -so I have my own crap to deal with
While ruminating on the psychology of all of this, a larger question might present itself. Why did they name this place Lincoln City? Sure emotions were probably high after he was assassinated but Lincoln City didn’t get its name until 1965. You can certainly understand the overuse of Lincoln’s name in Illinois; you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting something named for him, but why in Oregon? Especially, when you consider the fact that in 1849 President Zachary Taylor tried to appoint Abraham Lincoln as the Secretary of the Oregon Territory with the possibility of becoming governor and Abe turned him down. I believe his exact words were. “I don’t think that’s gonna happen Zack, baby”. Maybe I live on a deeper level of resentment but I sure as hell wouldn’t name the city after him unless it was to name it Lincolnsucks City or Boothtown. I admire the higher road they’ve taken- for me that’s a road less traveled.
The name came about in 1965 when, the 5 towns that make up the city, incorporated. Instead of fighting over whose name would be the new name they held a contest among school children and, inexplicably, the name Lincoln City won. As for the statue, the sculptress, Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1965, donated it. She actually had some trouble giving the statue away because of the $25,000 shipping costs (keep in mind that back in 1965, $25,000 would have bought New Zealand and a pack of smokes). The State of Oregon turned down the offer because of the shipping costs, as did the City of Eugene. Lincoln City, with its new name, jumped at the offer and paid the $25,000. Mrs. Huntington donated it to them with 4 conditions.
1. The statue must face west. (it faces east)
2. The statue must be accessible to children. (it sits in a small lot surrounded by busy traffic)
3. The statue must not be used as a tourist destination (it was our first stop)
4. Lincoln City must never change its name.
Like the man said, “3 out of 4 aint bad.”
So what have we also learned here today?
1. Never let school children or a resentful blogger choose the name of your city.
2. If you give something to Lincoln City, get the terms in writing.
3. Don’t fall in love with a dead president’s mother- it will only lead to heartache.