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Friday, June 2, 2017

The "President James Buchanan Returns Home After 60 Years" Story

The LancasterHistory.org museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
It was an ordinary day.  Staring into the blue eyes of James Buchanan at the Lancaster History  Museum at Wheatland, home of former US President James Buchanan.  Seems that President James Buchanan has finally returned to his home at Wheatland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania after 60 years of standing erect in the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies in the Gettysburg Museum, PA.  
James Buchanan in wax
The Gettysburg Museum closed this past November and its contents, including wax effigies of past Presidents and First Ladies, were sold at auction.  When LancasterHistory.org found out about the auction, many people contributed to a fund to make the highest bid to return James to his home in Lancaster.  So what does a 6 foot tall wax figure dressed in formal black overcoat, white shirt and white bow tie while clutching his walking stick go for at auction.  President Buchanan sold for $4,400 which topped Thomas Jefferson ($2,640) and Richard Nixon ($2,090), but came in under Ulysses Grant ($6,820), Teddy Roosevelt ($8,800) and President Buchanan's successor Abraham Lincoln which sold for $9,350 which was the highest bid of the auction for wax Presidents.  I must tell you that as I stood looking into his baby blues, it was freaky.  His eyes were somewhat crossed and he seemed to be looking at me with one eye and looking past me with his other.  
President James Buchanan 
If I had stood on a slight platform as James was doing, I would have been the same height as he.  He was holding a copy of the Preamble to the United States Constitution in his right hand which looked remarkably real, while his left hand was empty.  Mr. Tom Ryan, President and CEO of Lancaster- History.org made the winning bid in Gettysburg and then loaded the wax figurine's body into the rear of his station wagon for the ride home;  
The hand and Preamble
the head lay detached in a cardboard box nearby.  What I am looking at today isn't exactly what came back in the station wagon.  Marianne, the daughter of friends from our church and an employee at LancasterHistory.org, told me that the head had been removed and replaced with one that they already had from another figurine which looked more realistic. So, what did I think?  I have looked at quite a few photographs, paintings and drawings of President Buhanan and must say I wouldn't have recognized him when I walked in the door had I not known where he would be standing.  His hair seemed to be too short his weight was quite a few pounds less than expected and his facial features weren't as good as what you would expect if it had been a Madame Tussaud wax effigy.  
A plaster study of President Buchanan
It was still impressive and having my photograph taken with him was pretty neat.  Now, a few feet from the wax effigy of President Buchanan stood a small plaster study of Buchanan based on a statue in Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C.  Even though it was much smaller than the original as well as the wax likeness that stands next to it, I feel it is a much better likeness than the wax effigy.  But then, that's my opinion!  No matter what, it's good to have the former President home once again!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Just a bit freaky!
  


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