I have completed 4 weeks here. It seems like only a few days ago, I was packing and heading home to Rowlett for a few days before I got on a plane or two to get to Springfield, Illinois. If anybody asks you where I am, please tell them Springfield or the state capital of Illinois. People keep asking me, "How is Chicago?" I haven't visited the city yet. That is on my to do list before I leave here. Ok, here is the recap for this week.
Monday - Research. (big surprise) Reviewing marriage licenses, death certificates, cemetery records, and newspapers for notifications of these events can be a eye strain. I'm already near sighted and blind. I may need an eye exam when I get back home. I went out with some of the park rangers to dinner and bowling. The mexican restaurant was authentic. I should have did a soup or something. Rich mexican food and recovering from a 2 week meatless fast don't mix. Enough said. My PSA (public service announcement) for the day. It gave me a chance to see these folks outside of their ranger uniforms and as regular folks. After dinner, we went bowling. I now know that bowling is not a sport of mine. Not really an athlete. my bowling score after 1 game was 46. Maybe I just need practice. Enjoyed myself. Went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.
Tuesday - I spent a portion of my day in the Illinois State Archives to obtain copies of death certificates. Everything is within walking distance here. I was walking and saw a marker that commemorated the Springfield Race Riots of 1908. The marker was across the street from the elementary school where the first African American victim was hung. As usual, I was moved to tears. After going through security scans, id checks, and metal detectors, I was finally allowed to go into the archives. I could only go in with my phone, paper, and a pencil. I guess it was a good thing I didn't bring anything suspicious with me. The state's records have to be secure, I guess. One day, I'll make a field trip to view the state archives of Texas. After reviewing more than 30 reels of microfilm, my eyes felt like they were bleeding. The staff admired my diligence towards work. They asked if I were ok and if I needed anything like water or a break. I think I may have surprised them. I got some help from women who were pros at reviewing microfilm. I got the question, " are you here to research the Springfield race riots?" I am wearing a National Park Services badge. I've had to keep myself from answering questions like that since my first day here. I'm tempted to make a t-shirt that says, "I'm not here to study my history, but yours" but, I don't want to offend the nice people of Springfield. I finally left the archives, spent a couple of hours at my desk. My housemate and I went to the Oak Ridge Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and 3 sons are buried. They have a flag lowering ceremony every Tuesday night in the summer. This particular night I was wearing a turquoise and white ensemble. The hills around the site are steep. There's the tomb, the receiving vault and the temporary location where the bodies were held until the permanent site was completed. To add to that, a bunch of mosquitoes. I understand my skin looks, feels, and possibly tastes like brown sugar, but there was no need for them to congregate and feast upon me. We got there an hour before the ceremony. My housemate likes to explore. So he was taking as many pictures as he possibly could. The ceremony finally started. A portion of the 114th regiment came out in civil war era uniform. It was really interesting to watch. It was raining on and off while we were there. They actually do a gun salute and "fake" cannon firing. Standing at the front of the audience was not a good idea. In addition to my eyes hurting from looking at all the microfilm, my ears were a little sore. Not to mention, the mosquito bites I discovered when I returned home. We went to dinner. I came home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.
Wednesday - It rained again. This time, with thunder and lightning and everything. Springfield was no longer dry. I spent the day in my office compiling my research and staring outside. I went home to settle in. My housemate and I watched BET. It was an interesting experience. My housemate is precious. His job is to redesign the kid's activity book for the park. I was asked to give my insight on how to reach the "under served population." An interesting term. The director asked me to sit in on a meeting. "Since this is your culture we are talking about." I really wanted to push her down a flight of stairs. I have to keep telling myself that the images on TV is what people are familiar with. I have to be a change agent. I hope my time here reflects that. After 4 episodes of "House of Payne", my housemate retired upstairs. I settled in prepared for the next day.
Thursday - I decided to spend a part of my day at the Presidential Library. Also, to see if my other mom had any information that may help my research. I spent the morning reviewing census records and county history. I learned some interesting information. She returned from her meeting. She asked if I went to any Juneteenth activities. I told her no. She was talking of how the youth just see it as another celebration and don't grasp the meaning. The day is to serve as a celebration of the emancipation of slavery. So, I got on a soapbox for a few minutes about that with her. I told her about the "african american history research" suggestion. She said that she was not surprised. She encouraged me to continue doing the work. She told me I was bright and brilliant. She advised me that there are days when you will be the only one amongst the professionals. Also, she told me that I must know that I have to be the gatekeeper of my history. So, I felt better after leaving her office. I went back to my office, started working on my manuscript and power point presentation with a renewed determination. I went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.
Friday - I arrived to the end of my work week. My wardrobe was a little more relaxed. Jeans and a tshirt. It was raining when I left my house headed for work. The rain was heavy and steady for a couple of hours. I left my office to go to the Visitors center to get some air and buy a couple of postcards to send home. I encounter this elderly gentleman. He was waiting on his group to return from their tour of the Lincoln home. We talked for about 30 minutes. I think I have a "great listener" sticker on my forehead on occasion. He told me about how things were in Alabama and Chicago over 50 years ago. I regret that I didn't have any paper or a tape recorder to capture it. I really miss my multipurpose phone. If I had it, I would have been able to do so. Oh well, perhaps another time. The group arrived back to the bus. I decided I would ask some general questions. I introduced myself and told them what my job was for the summer at the site. I asked if they learned anything. They said that they learned some things about Lincoln. I asked if there were any questions. A young lady asked me if any African Americans lived in Lincoln's home. They advised me that their park ranger/tour guide said there were. I had to advise them that was false. I happened to have some of my research material in my bag. They thanked me for giving them some good information. Their bus driver advised me that I was "garage kept." A friend of mine advised me that was a southern way of saying that I still looked young and single. That made me day. I was invited to visit the group in Chicago. After that, I went out to the University of Illinois at Springfield. This time, I knew my way and did not get lost. I took photos of original marriage certificates. That was a great experience. To know that these documents are still preserved and available for viewing. I returned back to my office, uploaded photos and updated my notes. My housemate and I rented videos for our movie night. Settled in to enjoy my weekend.
Saturday - I did absolutely nothing. A day of HGTV and "what not to wear" marathon. I was a happy camper. Finished watching movies with my housemate.
Sunday - Another great worship experience. I find it coincidental that the color scheme here at Abundant Faith is the same as my home, FOH. I have to admit, I looked quite fabulous in denim, khaki, and brown. The colors seem to compliment my skin. Okay, I think I have done enough ego boosting for the moment. Praise and worship was a comfort to me. I felt like I fit in. I was asked by members why I haven't joined the praise team. One, I'm not a member. Two, I don't think P Sheezy or the FOH family would be too thrilled about that. Three, I'm only here for a few more weeks. The word that I received from the speaker were encouraging. I have to recognize, realize, reaffirm, and review when it comes to hearing GOD's voice. So, that ended another week in the Land of Lincoln. I only have a few more to go before I return back home.