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Thursday, March 31, 2005 08:05 am


Lincoln pops up at his library

The unthinkable has happened: Abraham Lincoln, or rather the life-size fiberglass rendition thereof, has been kidnapped.

WFMB Sports Radio (AM 1450) broke the news Monday morning during Sam Madonia’s talk show. Madonia “met” Abe during the Illinois-Arizona basketball nail-biter, which he had watched on Saturday night on Pasfield House’s 90-inch projection TV screen. Abe — thus far the sole specimen of what was meant to be a community-wide pop-art project called Abe on Parade — normally stands with his outstretched hand positioned so that he appears to hold the electronic scoreboard during basketball games.

As Madonia reminisced about the game, Pasfield House owner Tony Leone arrived at WFMB’s remote broadcast location to tell Madonia the statue had disappeared. A ransom note left at the scene demanded a $5,000 pledge to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum foundation for the statue to be returned before the Illini’s Final Four game. The note was signed “Lirpa Loof.”

Leone took the note seriously, and immediately delivered a check for $1,000 as the first installment of his pledge to the ALPL&M Foundation. So far, the statue has not been returned.

However, the kidnappers provided a picture of the missing Abe positioned in front of the new presidential complex — ironically, the very sort of photo the ALPL&M Foundation had hoped to avoid. As reported two weeks ago in Illinois Times, Foundation Chief Executive Officer Susan Mogerman said museum officials did not want pop art to detract from the museum on opening day.

“We want to allow the architecture to speak for itself,” she said.

Signs point to this crime being resolved soon. After all, what does Lirpa Loof spell backwards?

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