Alternative people, alternative facts

I became a presenter with The Institute for Learning in Retirement several years ago, with a course I called, “Lincoln and His War.” Each course is six 75-minute classes, one a week. I also presented this class last spring.

This year I thought I would put together a different class – deciding to do one I’m calling, “American Icons.” Each class would be an "in-person" talk by a noted American, portrayed by yours truly. After much thought my icons will be: Archibald Gracie IV – “I survived the sinking of the Titanic”; Teddy Roosevelt – “Speak softly and carry a big stick”; Wyatt Earp – “Doc Holiday and I: Our Gunfight at the OK Corral”; Ernest Hemingway – “My Moveable Writer’s Life”; Secret Service Agent Clint Hill – “Protecting the Kennedys”; and of course, Abraham Lincoln – “On Leadership.”

As I researched and wrote each talk, whenever I stalled, I would start another one. This kept me going but after a while the talks began to run together. Was that Lincoln who walked down Fremont Street with the Earps in Tombstone or was that Ernest Hemingway? Did Wyatt Earp protect JFK and Jackie or was it Secret Service agent Clint Hill? Surely Teddy Roosevelt was not the last living passenger to leave the Titanic after the last lifeboat floated off, or was he? Archibald Gracie didn’t become president when McKinley was shot – did he? Or is he just the landlord at Gracie Mansion in New York City?

The more I wrote the more confused I got. It must have been the writer Hemingway who wrote the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln who ran with the bulls in Pamplona, then writing, “The Sun Also Rises” or was Roosevelt shot at Ford’s Theatre? Was it JFK at Gettysburg and Jackie shooting down bad guys at the OK Corral? Gracie got wet on the Titanic and unless I get my facts straight, I’ll be all wet when I perform these people. I have until 12:45 p.m. on April 17 – my first class – to do so. If not, I may be “The Old Man Out to Sea.” (With apologies to Ernest, or was that Wyatt?)

Mel Maurer

Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 9:16 AM, 04.04.2017