Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lincoln's Glasses, Divorce, and Mediation

In 1958, when I was in sixth grade my parents took our family to Washington, DC.  I remember the trip well.  My parent could not afford to take us on many trips.  We saw all the sites including Ford Theater and the house where Lincoln died.  In those days there were not the sophisticated exhibits we have today. In some ways Ford Theater probably looked about the same as it did in 1865.  I remember see artifacts of the assassination and thought it included contents of his pockets but I did not remember correctly. Out of curiosity, I Googled “contents of Lincoln’s pockets” and that they are now in the Library of Congress and found the following posting by Lisa Waller Rogers.  Full posting at

“On the morning of April 15, 1865, the day Abraham Lincoln died, someone emptied his pockets. These contents were put in a box which was then wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. The box was then handed to Abraham’s oldest son Robert Lincoln who was at his father’s deathbed. Robert Lincoln then passed the box on to his daughter, Mary Lincoln Isham, who donated the box to the Library of Congress in 1937. Labeled “Do Not Open,” the mystery box was tucked away in a vault in the Librarian’s office and forgotten for almost four decades.

Finally, in 1975, then Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin decided to open the box. With staff looking on in eager anticipation, Boorstin untied the string, tore off the brown paper, and opened the box.

Lincoln assassination artifacts: contents of Lincoln's pockets the night he was murdered (left) and copy of a newspaper announcing the assassination (right)

The night Lincoln was murdered at Ford’s Theatre, he was carrying:

*  a pair of small spectacles folded into a silver case,

*  a pair of reading glasses,

*  a small velvet eyeglass cleaner (I can’t find above),

*  an ivory pocketknife trimmed with silver,

*  a large linen handkerchief with “A. Lincoln” stitched in red,

*  a tiny pencil ( I can’t find above),

*  a brass sleeve button,

*  a fancy watch fob, and

*  a brown leather wallet lined with purple silk. It contained a Confederate five-dollar bill bearing the likeness of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and eight newspaper clippings Lincoln had cut out and saved. All of the clippings praised him. (2)

These artifacts were put on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C, in 1976, the year of our nation’s 200th birthday and are still on view today. Though only everyday items, the contents of Lincoln’s pockets are among the items visitors to the Library most often ask to see.

Here’s a close-up of Lincoln’s reading glasses, broken at the left hinge and mended with a bit of string. Frugal Abe wore rickety reading glasses while, in contrast, extravagant Mary had a collection of 300 pairs of gloves.”

By this time you are probably asking what does this have to do with divorce or mediation.  It is Lincoln’s glasses mended with string.  I can relate to the problem.  I am constantly losing the screw to the hinge of my glasses and fixing it with a kit they sell at drug store checkout counters.  Before that I would stick in a paper clip.  I never thought to use string.  The string tells us a lot about Lincoln.  Frugal perhaps but also not caught up in appearances or caring a great deal about minor inconveniences.  Can you imagine any recent President fixing and wearing glasses held together with string.  My point is that people getting a divorce should put things in perspective.  They need to mend their marriage or divorce with string and not worry about it.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (275) 4/14/13 (Date Lincoln was shot)


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cuban Divorce

I wrote a blog about Mediation in Cuba on May                 2, 2008.  See it at   I said that Divorce in Cuba is not as complicated as here. There are no issues dealing with health care or housing and there is a strong presumption that the Mother retains custody of the children.  It is worth discussing more.  See December 31, 2007 article in New York Times by the Associated Press entitled, “Divorce Is Easy in Cuba, but a Housing Shortage Makes Breaking Up Hard.”  The problem is housing.  You can get divorced but will have no place to live.  Will the gradual changes in the Cuban government change the housing shortage and will there be a corresponding increase in divorce?  Time will tell.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at CDM (274) 4/4/13