Perhaps it was only because we were in Illinois, but on our recent road trip we could not avoid the Lincoln memorials and monuments Route 66 threw at us.
We started with the most impressive: The World’s Largest Statue of Abraham Lincoln. It stands towering about 75 feet above a pleasant grove just outside of Ashmore, Illinois, its face impassive yet enigmatic, its finger pointing towards the heavens, its left hand clutching an accordion-folded important document.
Mega-Lincoln was created in 1968 to mark the 110th anniversary of a Lincoln-Douglas debate. It was moved and abandoned numerous times before being restored in 2004. At one point, its skyward-pointing digit was blown off with by a shotgun and its face was ventilated by a large-caliber bullet hole.
Thus, much like the real Lincoln, Mega-Lincoln endured many hardships and eventually was shot in the head.
Mega-Lincoln is now the family-friendly mascot of the Lincoln Springs Resort, whose literature depicts a cartoon mascot of a grinning, galloping Abe with the same upraised finger yelling “Honest Fun for Everyone!”
But a joyous mascot couldn’t divert attention away from the most disturbing part of the entire memorial: the grove where mega-Lincoln now sits is dotted with a dozen chainsaw Lincoln sculptures, depicting the former president at various stages of his life. In a handout available at the grove, the chainsaw artist writes that he sought to create the statues “so no one else would have one like them.”
Unfortunately, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, and the statues are all hideously exaggerated, hunchbacked troll creatures.
Giganta-Lincoln and the hunchbacked mini-Abes were certainly more impressive than our next stop: The diminutive Watermelon Monument in Lincoln, Illinois.
Apparently, Lincoln, IL is the only city ever named for Abraham Lincoln with his personal consent. The life-size watermelon slice monument celebrates that magnificent day in 1853 when the future president christened his namesake community with melon juice.
It is awesomely underwhelming.
Yes, the town’s citizens could justifiably show tepid pride in their celebrated yonic watermelon slice, but they must have felt emasculated when confronted by Ashmore’s gigantic Lincoln statue. Shame-faced, they approached the civic leaders, seeking help and guidance for their monumental inadequacy. The mayor probably argued that the Watermelon Monument was enough to lift Lincoln citizens out of their severe depression, if only they would embrace the melon’s beauty. But it was all for naught, as the citizens were tired of the mayor’s unhealthy obsession with the watermelon and vowed to do something about it.
Although murdering Gallaghar improved the mob’s mood, it ultimately failed to appease the angry Lincolnites. The mob realized it made more sense to vent their frustrations at those nerds in Ashmore in a constructive manner, so they decided to join the giant-Lincoln race: They would construct the World’s Largest Lincoln…
[wait for it…]
…that is sitting on a wagon!
That sure showed those uppidy people of Ashmore.
Finally, apropos of nothing, we stopped at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois. Did you know that if this was a REAL catsup bottle, it would hold up to 100,000 gallons of catsup? Say what you want about the stupidity of painting your town’s water tower, that is a hella-lot of catsup.