I hadn’t noticed it before. This wan’t my first trip to Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Lincoln Tomb. We had gone to the tomb and paid our respects. After that we drove around the cemetery to see varoius other sites. When we finally left the cemetery, I noticed it immediately (as soon as we drove through the cemetery gate)- a souvenir shop? A souvenir shop! A souvenir shop located just outside the gate on the right. “Man,” I thought, “That’s tacky.” Don’t you think that’s a little classless?
Now my interest in this got the best of me. I decided that I must make a visit to the place. The first thing that struck me was that the building itself was old. It kind of had a log cabin feel to it. “Yes, this place has been here awhile,” I thought. When we walked in, there were several employees behind the counter. One of them said to me: “You’re lucky today.” “I am?” I responded. Then she explained: “We usually aren’t open this time of year-but we got a call that a group of students from a school were going to tour Lincoln’s Tomb today and we were asked to have the store open.”
That sounded good to me-especially since we actually saw the students pull into the Lincoln Tomb area just as we were leaving. I was also glad that we were ahead of the students-they hadn’t arrived at the store yet. Then I began conversing with this lady. I asked how old the shop was. She indicated it had been around since the 1930’s. Yes, 1930’s. Well, that impressed me. I asked her if any celebrities had ever been in the store. She replied that the store had been visited by many well know people over the years. She mentioned the Osmonds and Liberace just to drop some names. “Wow,” I replied.
Well, I decided to look around the store. There were the usual tacky things that are in every gift shop-various gadgets and whatnots (pertaining to Lincoln, of course). The store also had some good Lincoln items-framed portraits-different books, etc. I purchased a few items. Yes, I did buy a few things. You see, the store had grown on me. I then realized that the Lincoln store, outside of Oakridge Cemetery was also part of the Lincoln story. It had been around for ages. How many scores of people had been in that store? How many yet in the future would go there? How many of the shoppers truly loved Lincoln? How many shoppers in that store would learn to love Lincoln by purchasing something in there that sparked further interest? Even though it was tacky to have a souvenir shop right outside the cemetery gate, the place had become sort of a Lincoln site in itself. What are your thoughts? Have you been there?
The lady behind the counter was right. It was my lucky day.