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Philippi takes a step back in time

by Nora Edinger

REGIONAL EDITOR

PHILIPPI -- When Abraham Lincoln crossed Philippi's Main Street Thursday, traffic slowed to a halt.

The drivers knew it was really actor Jim Rubin of Beckley. But the lean, black-clad form still commanded the respect due to one of the nation's favorite presidents.

It's the reason behind that admiration that causes Rubin to regularly put on his top hat and take Lincoln to the masses, such as those at this week's Philippi Covered Bridge Sesquicentennial Celebration.

"(I) like to keep his memory alive, this man of good character," said Rubin, a retired social worker who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lincoln. "He's a good role model."

Rubin wasn't alone in bringing a historical tone to the celebration. Joyce P. Browning of Charleston was on hand to portray Mary Todd Lincoln, and Robert C. Grose of Buckhannon was representing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"I find it an honor and a privilege to portray Mary Lincoln," said Browning of representing a woman she said is one of history's most misunderstood characters. "I'm not ashamed at all to portray her. She was a dedicated wife and mother."

Grose, who has built two full-size Civil War cannons from scratch, said he also enjoys the study required to do such portrayals. For example, he learned the Lees once owned what is now Arlington National Cemetery. During the Civil War it was used as a Union hospital, "and they started burying people in the flower beds."

The Lincolns, Lee and actors representing Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant will also be available for the rest of the bridge celebration, which continues today and Saturday.

Here are some of the remaining activities:

Today

n Portrayals of Gen. Stonewall Jackson at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Vietnam Veterans Park.

n Portrayals of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the Courthouse gazebo.

n Covered bridge birthday party at 1 p.m. at the Courthouse gazebo.

n King Cole's outdoor barbecue 4-8:30 p.m. at Adaland Mansion.

n Entertainment 6-9 p.m. at the Courthouse gazebo.

n Teen dance, 9-11 p.m. on Main Street.

n Various museum and other building tours; crafts and quilts on display throughout the day.

Saturday

n 5K walk/run begins 9 a.m. at Courthouse.

n Hangar amputation re-enactments at 10 a.m. (location to be announced) and 2 p.m. (Philippi Baptist Church).

n Portrayals of Gen. Stonewall Jackson at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Main Street.

n Presentation on railroad's impact on the covered bridge, 11 a.m. at Philippi Presbyterian Church.

n Colonel Kelley shooting re-enactment 11:30 a.m. at Philippi Presbyterian Church.

n Portrayals of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln at 1 p.m. (Philippi Presbyterian Church) and 4:30 p.m. at the bridge.

n Covered bridge birthday party at 1 p.m. at the Courthouse gazebo.

n Tea with Mary Todd Lincoln 3:30 p.m. at Tygart Valley Star.

n King Cole's outdoor barbecue 4-8:30 p.m. at Adaland Mansion.

n "Monarch of the Tygarts" 7 p.m. at Blue and Gray Park.

n Various museum and other building tours; crafts and quilts on display throughout the day.

Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at nedinger@exponent-telegram.com.

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