LAMB: What did you see in Gettysburg itself?
FERGUSON: Gettysburg is a very odd place, you know and I figured that it’s got a kind of—sort of a wasted feel to it. It doesn’t, you know, you’d think that they would have done all kinds of things to capitalize—they have two million visitors a year or more and—but there are no sort of like yuppie restaurants, no high-end gift shops …
LAMB: Put that into perspective that’s twice as many as visitors as the Supreme Court has a year.
FERGUSON: Yes, sure. Yes. Of course, they don’t have any yuppie restaurants at the Supreme Court either but that’s—they’ll get it sooner or later. But you know and I—it comes from the odd nature of the place. This is a place where several hundred thousand men got together for three days trying to kill each other and 11,000 of them succeeded and to try and turn a place like this into a vacation spot, you’re going to get a kind of a cognitive dissonance there.
LAMB: What’s the Perry Como statue?
FERGUSON: Right underneath the window of the house where Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address or touched up the Gettysburg address, the night before he delivered it, on the Gettysburg Square, is a statue of Lincoln with Perry Como or so it said. Actually, what it is, is it’s Lincoln life-size next to sort of every man tourist.
LAMB: By the way, for those who might not remember who it was.
FERGUSON: People have forgotten Perry Como, this is awful to say the least. He was a crooner, a sort of a Frank Sinatra without the overtones of danger and sexuality but anyway, so he just looks like every man, which was Perry Como’s appeal and he’s in a cable neck sweater and Lincoln is talking to him. One of the things I do, in the book and I’ve tried to, as a theme to weave in, is everywhere I went I found a new Lincoln statue. Lincoln statuary is a fascinating subject in and of itself. It reflects this—our own changing view of Lincoln. The opening chapter’s about the statue that was put in at Richmond, which is a very small, life-size statue. The last chapter is about Lincoln Memorial, which of course, is a huge Lincoln statue and there’s a lot to learn about how we’ve seen Lincoln and what we think of him now by the kind of statues we put up and the one in Gettysburg is incredibly banal and sort of cartoonish and silly and it’s considered by most Lincoln buffs to be the low point of Lincoln iconography.