North Carolina Newspapers

    The NEW BERN
Christmas eve found us
walking by the lodging house in
Washington where mortally
wounded Abraham Lincoln
breathed his last on April 15,
1965. Wth no idea the place was
open, we tried the door knob and
gained entrance.
A young lady, employed by
the National Park Se^ce, was
seated at a desk midway the
narrow hall. Without being
asked, she said pleasantly but
somewhat matter of factly, “He
died in the back room.” So there
we went.
Forty years of newspapering
have seasoned us to deaOi
violence, but standing by the too
short bed that Honest Abe died
in was no routine experience. It
project us instantly into the
grim past.
The spotless white bedspread
may or may not have been
authentic. After all, two
families, hard pinched for
money, continued to use tte
structure as a lodging house
until the Federal (^vemment
bought it in 1893.
There was no doubt about the
the pillow on the bed. Stripped
down to the ticking, it was in a
clear plastic case. If there were
blood stains, and surely there
must have been at one time,
they were obscured on the
under side.
Much too tail to be placed on
the bed straight up and down,
Lincoln, from shorUy after 10 p.
m. until 7:22 a. m., was in a
cater-cornered position. Un
conscious from a bullet in his
brain, he had little need for
comfort.
The room, rather small, was
draUy wall papered and simply
furni^ed. A bureau, with a
bowl and pitcher on it, stood
near the foot of the bed. A china,
portable commode stood near
the center of the room, and
except for a rocking chair
without upholstery, that was it.
To the left of the hall, at the
front of the lodging house, was a
very plainly furnished parlor. It
had a leather sofa, some chairs,
and a round, marble topped
table. This is where the
President’s wife, Mary Todd
Lincoln, spent those last
agonizing hours.
In the next rom. Cabinet
members kq;>t the vigil, stunned
by the eiux^iy of what had
occurred across a narrow street
at the Ford Theatre, as Lincidn
attended a performance of Our
American 6>usin.
Only in fairly recent years
has the show house been
restored. Plays are presented
there regularly, as of old. That
diristmas eve afternoon, less
than a month ago, a matinee for
^dren was transpiring, and
the laughter was shrill and loud.
There was no laughter in the
Ford llieatre's museum, right
next door, connected to the
show house. In a glass case you
can see only inc^ a
by
away the
John WOkes
pistol used
Booth.
It is a small weapon, but it
seemed to us that the hole in the
barrel is rather large for a gun
of that size. Admittedly, we’re
no authority on firearms an
cient or modem.
Considering the dimensions
(Continued on page v>
ONCE UPON A TIME—Your bones are too brittle
for sauntering on snow covered sidewalks, if you
recall when 0. Marks & Son kept shop in this un-
si^tly building on the southwest comer at Middle
and Pollock Streets. Later, bewhiskered Jesse
Basni^t, a staunch Republican at a time when the
very word was considered a worse label than any
four-letter vulgarity you could dream up, had his
hardware store there. D. L. Latta, a courtly gent if
we ever saw one, succeeded Basnight in the same
business. The comer was a great hang out on
Sundays, andof a night, for guys with nothing much
to ^ but talk and watch an occasional automobile
make a U-tum at the none too busy intersection.
Joe Watson, who could eject marvelous music from
a tin horn or a rolled-up piece of cardboard, helped
to make the hours move faster. You young whipper
snappers may snicker at the thought of such
earring on, but never since has life been as sweet
for a fellow with empty pickets—Photo from the
Albert D. Brooks Collection.
2
    

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