Current Essays

094 Lincoln Anne Washington's Birthday

From 18th February 1987
Last year, you will no doubt remember, we celebrated the millenial anniversary of our jolly city in a series of historical pieces ranging in time from an account of its founding by a group of wandering Irish monks and their companion the Englishman Neatanniel, back in the tenth century, down to the strange story of Go-lum-bus the Rochester native who in the late 15th century was stranded while on a package tour of Europe and whose vain attempts to get back home re-awakened European interest in the Americas.

I think it is about time we had yet another instalment of early Rochester’s thrilling history and, at this time of year, what should we obviously choose to celebrate but Lincoln Anne Washington’s Birthday. Lincoln Anne Washington was a Rochesterian who lived in the early 16th century and suffered greatly from the fact that he had been given as a middle name, and for purely pecuniary reasons, the name of his rich and rather grand great-aunt Anne. If you recall this is exactly the same sort of problem which caused the eighteenth century German composer and founder of the German National and Romantic Schools of Opera, Carl Maria von Weber, to become dissolute and which rendered him unable survive being forty. And it is almost the same problem that so exacerbated the condition of the ‘Boy named Sue’. Lincoln Anne Washington was not as dramatic as these later figures, but would, for example, if one were to say “Well Hi Lincoln Anne, you having a good day, then?” reply “I never have good days, just less bad ones, … … and this isn’t one of them.’

He was, not to put too fine a point on it nor to beat too much around the bush, … a bit of a pain.

Lincoln Anne is justly famed though, for two things - he was, of course, the first Rochestarian and therefore the first American to send greetings cards in any noticable way. In particular he would send vast quantities of Valentine’s Day cards, annonymous, of course, and he would make up sweet little rhymes to put in them
Roses are red,
Violets are blue
And so am I.
She loves me, she loves me not
she loves me not, she bloody hates me
and so on. All his vigorous efforts lead enevitably to the establishment of one the biggest and most thriving industries in America today. This is one of the reasons why, as a mark of respect, the one notable day of the year on which we are not expected to send out vast volumes of greetings cards to all and sundry is Lincoln Anne Washington’s Birthday. The other reason is that old Lincoln Anne, getting the jump on ABC by no less than four centuries, was the first American to suggest, in his blockbuster musical ‘Vespucci’s not Spelt with two Ks you Dumb-Dumb!’, how much easier it would be, and how much less effort, if we were ruled by another country.

Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.

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