Perry and Abe.

Time Warp: Abe Lincoln Meets Perry Como

Field review by the editors.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

"Return Visit" is a 1991 sculpture by Seward Johnson. It stands flush on the bricks of the sidewalk -- which was a novelty for the time -- and features a lifelike Abraham Lincoln gesturing with his stovepipe hat toward the second floor window of the house where he finished writing his famous Gettysburg Address.

The guy standing next to Abe is not from the 19th century. He is, according to Johnson, "the common man" -- Johnson's way of showing that the Gettysburg Address was as relevant in 1991 as it was in 1863.

Common he may be, but the man also looks and is dressed a lot like singer Perry Como (1912-2001), who grew up in western Pennsylvania. Johnson, who is known to tap into pop culture for his artistic inspiration, probably chose Como as a model because Como was a local Pennsylvania celebrity and was known in his time as a regular guy.

Unfortunately, the Perry Como connection is lost to anyone in Gettysburg younger than retirement age, and it became further obscured when Johnson made a 31-foot-tall copy of the sculpture and began trucking it to various cities across the Midwest. People who've seen "Return Visit" in Dayton or Chicago don't know about Perry Como or Gettysburg; they only know that giant Lincoln is talking to some giant white guy dressed like a dad from the 1980s. When Johnson trots out his "common man" explanation, its met with 21st century snorts at Johnson's disrespect toward American diversity.

Johnson really should come clean and admit that the guy is Perry Como. People wouldn't be any less confused, but they might focus their statue outrage elsewhere.

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Time Warp: Abe Lincoln Meets Perry Como

Address:
US Hwy 30, Gettysburg, PA
Directions:
Main square of Gettysburg, PA, where US Hwy 30/York St. and US Hwy 15/Baltimore St. meet.
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Gettysburg Dime MuseumGettysburg Dime Museum, Gettysburg, PA - < 1 mi.
Gettysburg Museum of HistoryGettysburg Museum of History, Gettysburg, PA - < 1 mi.
Ike at the OfficeIke at the Office, Gettysburg, PA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Ductwork Tin Man, Fairfax, VA - 66 mi.

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November 24, 2017

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