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This man drives a Lincoln

Monday morning, Dwain Penn went to Wal-Mart and used a coupon to buy a $7 bottle of hair coloring. He is going to dye his hair from gray to shades of soft black because, by Thursday afternoon, he plans to look a lot like Abraham Lincoln. Mixtures of latex and pine rosin will be rubbed across his skin to make him appear older. He’ll capture Lincoln’s facial features, right down to the bushy eyebrows and famous wart on the right cheek. Feb. 12 is Lincoln’s birthday, and Abe would be 200 years old tomorrow ‘” if he still had a pulse. Dwain is 53, a year older than Lincoln was when he was inaugurated as the 16th president. Thursday is also the day Dwain has chosen to do a pair of 90-minute character portrayals of Lincoln at the R.E. Lee Auditorium in Thomaston. There will be a 3 p.m. matinee and another performance at 7 p.m. Dwain describes it as ’90 minutes of pure history.’ Admission is free. It’s not the first time Dwain has crawled inside another man’s skin and emulated his native tongue. The Pike County preacher has been doing historical role-playing since 1988. There have been 15 in all, including the ‘other’ notable Abe ‘” Father Abraham of the Old Testament. Dwain also has cast himself as Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Beethoven, St. Nicholas and Winston Churchill. Too bad the Academy Award nominations are in already. In preparation for a July 4 celebration in 1996, Dwain was asked if he did any portrayals of our nation’s ‘political forefathers.’ Not really, he said, but he was willing to expand his cast of characters. His list of prospective candidates included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. He ruled out Franklin because he ‘didn’t approve of his lifestyle.’ Jefferson didn’t make the cut after Dwain read T.J. had snipped out the parts of the Bible he didn’t believe in. So, it came down between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. ’I looked in the mirror,’ Dwain said. ‘I had to ask myself if I looked more like a $1 bill or a $5 bill.’ In his closet, he pulled out a dark-blue pinstripe suit and held the 1935 pocket watch that had belonged to his father, George. He fashioned a top hat out of corrugated cardboard. It was a learning experience, especially after he sparked a historical powder keg by claiming the Civil War began because of slavery. ’That’s when the fertilizer hit the fan,’ he said, laughing. Several members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were in the audience and demanded equal time for a rebuttal. Dwain promises no such blunders Thursday and again on Sunday at his church, the New Hebron Baptist Church in Concord. Thursday marks the 50th time he has portrayed Lincoln. He has made appearances at schools, churches and nursing homes. They’re usually so glad to see him they’re willing to overlook that he’s 5 inches shorter than Lincoln’s 6-foot-3. ’Everybody also assumes Lincoln had a deep voice,” he said. ‘But I’ve read one account that said he delivered the Gettysburg Address in a ‘˜high tenor trumpet voice.’ … Four score and seven years ago. …” Dwain has discovered there are a lot of Lincoln impersonators out there, although not nearly as many as Elvis. He promises folks will learn something, and he will hand out copper calling cards with his bearded face on them. Yes, he’s giving out pennies. In tough times, I guess old Abe has come up with his own economic stimulus package. Editors Note: The article above was written by Ed Grisamore of macon.com and The Macon Telegraph.

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