Celebrating Lincoln on His 209th Birthday

By Fern Marder

Around Presidents’ Day, Parker usually invites Robert Costello, Civil War reenactor and acclaimed impressionist of Abraham Lincoln, to many of our homes to entertain our residents and program participants about our 16th president. This year, we decided to hire Mr. Costello to entertain the people who attend senior centers in our surrounding communities.

On February 12th, President Lincoln’s actual birthday, Robert Costello was in full costume at the Piscataway Senior Center, celebrating Lincoln’s 209th birthday, “but I don’t feel a day over 150,” quipped Costello. “My goal is not to talk about the Civil War but to teach you about Lincoln the man.”

For the next hour, enthralled attendees learned about the President’s first love, Ann Rutledge, who died of brain fever at the age of 22, leaving Lincoln heartbroken and depressed. Costello discussed Lincoln’s various jobs: a boatman, a post master and store clerk, a surveyor, and militia soldier, none of which brought him any great success until he became a lawyer. “People said if you can’t do anything successfully, you may as well go into politics,” joked Costello. And, we learned more about the love Lincoln shared with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who was his biggest critic and biggest supporter.

At the end of his talk, Robert Costello recited the Gettysburg Address and received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd for a job well-done.

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