GREENVILLE — Greenville Public Library had a visitor just in time for President’s Day. “Abraham Lincoln” came to speak at two separate times.
The first was “A Biography of Lincoln’s Life” and later, “Lincoln, Ohio and the Civil War”. While he recited some of his most famous speeches, such as the “Gettysburg Address” he included some humor. One story was an incident that happened at a reception hall.
“A gentleman doesn’t wear his hat indoors,” he said. “I removed my hat when I got into the reception hall and I noticed a chair in which I sat my hat. I got into the reception line, I was shaking hands for some time, and a woman came by. She grew weary and looked for a place to repose. She sat in the chair and didn’t see my hat. I heard the sickening crunch of my hat being flattened, then I turned around just in time to see her rise in an embarrassed state. I said, ‘Madame, I could have told you my hat wouldn’t fit you, before you tried it on.”
Lincoln impersonator John Cooper, of Baltimore Ohio, has been portraying the president for about 25 years. His co-workers at the Defense Supply Center Columbus, said he reminded them of Abraham Lincoln. He did not see the resemblence.
One Halloween, to take his kids out trick-or-treating, he found an old black coat, made a cardboard hat and spray – painted his beard black. He looked in the mirror, and Lincoln looked back.
“I like history and I like Abraham Lincoln,” he said. “I pretty much think I am Abraham Lincoln in this suit.”
The next 15 years he started visiting the local schools on a volunteer basis, as Lincoln. Eventually, he started getting paid at places like the Ohio State and the Great Darke County fairs. A few years ago, he developed a sermon on Lincoln’s spiritual journeys and performed it at Trinity Wesleyan Church, in Greenville.
“I believe he was a very spiritual man,” Cooper said.
Something Cooper has discovered through his portrayal of Lincoln, is that Lincoln is popular with every demographic group. The funniest thing happened in 2009, while he worked at the Ohio State Fair, he said.
“I thought the last group that wanted to see me in the middle of summer at the fair, is teenagers,” he said. “But, they are the demographic that probably comes to me more than any. For some reason high school students think Abe Lincoln is cool. I think it’s probably the hat.”
For more information, visit www.fourscore7yearsago.com.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.