By Jamie Cooper
Growing up in rural North Carolina had its advantages. Each Saturday morning during the warm months (of which there were many), my mother would wake all the kids up at 5:00a.m. Why did we get up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning? To hunt for treasure. At least, my family and I thought we would find all sorts of treasure at the local flea market. As the old saying goes, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. My mother thought it would be best to beat the other “treasure seekers” to the market by going as early as possible.
We were each given ten dollars or, on some occasions, even twenty dollars to spend at the flea market or yard sales. Each Saturday the anticipation of the hunt mounted. What would I find? Perhaps I would find another Soviet-era globe or those old beat-up baseballs? Those items may have been obsolete or used up to their owners, but to me, they were priceless. And by priceless, I mean they cost me a dollar or two.
During one of our hunts, I came upon a typical mountain of “junk”. As I gazed over the table, I came across several astonishing items that grabbed my attention–little busts of various U.S. Presidents. I was a huge admirer of U.S. Presidents when I was a child, especially President Lincoln. After all, he did establish Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. Imagine my excitement when I realized these busts were only one dollar each! Needless to say, I bought every bust they had including the one of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
After closer examination, I noticed each miniature bust carried a distinctive smell. It turned out that each Presidential “bust” was actually a bottle containing a musky men’s aftershave. All you had to do was remove the head to dispense the product. The label on the bottom revealed that the bottles were produced by AVON in 1979. Appropriately, the aftershave contained in the President Lincoln bottle was called “Deep Woods.”
I have had those Presidential busts displayed in my room since 1991. But today I have President Lincoln’s aftershave on display in my office at the President Lincoln’s Cottage Visitor Education Center. The bottle may be 30 years old, but it still contains that “Deep Woods” smell.This is the online version of “My Abraham Lincoln,” the Lincoln bicentennial exhibit currently on display at the Robert H. Smith visitor Education Center at President Lincoln’s Cottage. The online exhibition will serve as a place for Lincoln collectors to share their treasures digitally, creating an online resource for Lincolniana. Lincolniana is broadly defined as all items (artifacts, ephemera, books, etc.) having to do with Abraham Lincoln. To share your Lincolniana with us, please contact Erin Carlson Mast, Curator at President Lincoln’s Cottage at EMast@savingplaces.org.