Time Traveler – Part III

The prompt for the Chatham Writers Group this week was to write a letter to an advice columnist (Dear Abby, Miss Manners, etc.) and to write the advice columnists reply. It was an excellent writers group meeting with a wide range of types of advice being sought. Some letters and replies were very moving & poignant, some very lighthearted and funny. For my story I chose to write a story involving my time traveling Hungarian physicist, Doctor Lazlo.

Artist rendition of Lincoln penning his “ Ask Abe” advice column reply.

Time Traveler III
Diary of Dr. Lazlo – September 26, 1978:
I did the unthinkable. I traveled to August of 1858 and brought Mr. Abe Lincoln of Springfield, IL back with me to modern times. Things did not progress well. There were many obstacles to overcome. First, In dress, appearance, and manner of speaking, most people thought Mr. Lincoln was Amish. Secondly, he could provide no proof of having had a formal education so it was difficult to land a job. “Without that sheepskin, Lincoln, you ain’t goin’ nowhere,” one employment agent stated. Through much effort, I was able to secure a job for Abe with a small local newspaper in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. They were seeking an advice columnist and agreed to hire Lincoln on a trial basis, appearing under the the by-line, “Ask Abe”. His first column reads:

Ask Abe
Dear Abe,
I met a lovely woman at a singles night party hosted by a local tavern. We had a wonderful evening, and realized we had many things in common. One thing we discovered is that we both work at the same place. Our paths had not crossed because our company has many employees. I believe that this relationship has a strong possibility of becoming long term, so I have two questions for you:

1) what are your thoughts on romantic relationships in the workplace.

2) I would like to impress this woman by inviting her to dinner at my townhouse. Can you offer a
suggestion for a meal that is simple to make, but will still impress?

Sincerely,
Smitten in Chicago

——————————————————————————————————————————————————
Abe’s Reply:

Dear Mr. Smitten,
I have many fond memories of Chicago, I debated Stephen Douglas there once, about slavery and Popular Sovereignty. I am sorry to say that I did not meet any Smittens while I was there. That being said, there is much in your letter that leaves me in a confused state. Sir, I find your choice of meeting place to be somewhat startling. Gentlemen typically seek members of the fairer sex at church, at family gatherings, or via introductions made through family connections. You met this woman at a tavern, that bespeaks a dubious background.

However, you state that you both work in the same place, so perhaps you are a teamster, keelboatman, farrior, I am speculating. And this woman you write of may be a char woman or laundress at this same place of business. My main concern about a workplace romance, as you call it, and what your main concern should be, would be the clientele who frequent these types businesses, who are typically all men. In my experiences with these entities, from a standpoint of legal representation, I have found the male clients to be rather coarse and very forward in their intentions. To allay your workplace concerns, you should encourage your romantic interest to conceal a pepperbox revolver in her crinoline skirts or, in the least, a Bowie knife to ward off any unwanted advances. Should she have to resort to the use of such items, any attorney worth his salt would acquit her of any charges brought forth.

Turning to your question about a meal to impress, I would first suggest that avoid scandal or impropriety, your lady friend should be accompanied by to your domicile by another couple, or at least a female acquaintance – her mother perhaps? Now for the meal, I find slow roasted Buffalo hump to be a true delight. If you lack suitable space to prepare a sizable fire, I would suggest frying strips of the humps in bear lard. You can use the same grease to fry potatoes. Desiccated vegetables are easy to prepare, they also prevent scurvy. I recommend buttermilk biscuits and a peach cobbler for dessert. If this does not win this woman’s heart and impress her mother, then I feel this is not a relationship to pursue, for it portends a house divided. Good luck, Sir.

Respectfully, A. Lincoln.

The editor of the newspaper thought this column to be some sort of a joke and never published it. Nor did he hire Abe.

Coming to the realization that I had made a great error in judgement, and Lincoln expressed he was homesick, I transported him back to his Illinois of 1858. Because I had typed it, I have the only copy of his single, never published, piece of advice to Smitten in Chicago.

Dessicated vegetables. A mix of potatoes, carrots, string beans, cabbage, beets, onions, tomatoes, etc. Compressed to a block one inch thick and 12 inches x 12 inches square, heated and dried. It took several hours to boil into something palatable. After preparation, there was no taste. But they did ward off scurvy!
Small caliber, four barrel pepperbox revolver made by Sharp’s firearms company.

Ernie Stricsek, Chatham Writers Group, 5/16/22


6 thoughts on “Time Traveler – Part III

    1. Thank you Bob! I enjoy your “radio days” stories. That seems like it was a lot of fun. We had a similar vacuum cleaner experience. Not us, but someone who used our vac said it didn’t “suck” anymore. Great story about fun times.

      Like

  1. Honest Abe gave seriously good advice about the dating scene. I think the meal suggestions, while probably historically correct, are hilarious. It is always wise to prevent scurvy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have done it again!! Your feel for the language and custom of Abe’s time plopped up against modern idiom and culture is sweet and sarcastic, nostalgic and nuanced, humorous and hilarious. Loved it. Keep ’em comin.’

    Liked by 1 person

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