Sunderine "Sandy" Temple used to
But after 35 years of working as an interpreter at
the Old State Capitol, and 25 years of being married to
a Lincoln scholar, she's learned to appreciate it.
Today, the 68-year-old thrives in all that fills the
building's rooms and halls.
"To be doing the same thing or to be consumed with
this type of work, you have to love what you are doing,"
said Charlotte Oglesby, who has worked with Temple as an
interpreter since 1987.
Temple celebrated her 35th anniversary at the
historic site Friday. She is the only remaining
interpreter who worked there the first year after it
reopened in late 1969.
Temple says she still remembers how she felt on her
first day of work.
"I was terrified," she said. "I had never been an
She planned to stick around for just five years. But
five became eight, and then 10. The years kept passing,
yet she never left.
"After all that many years, it becomes a part of
you," she said. "I like people. I enjoy talking to
people, and this is a wonderful building for that."
When Temple began her job on Feb. 4, 1970, the site
had been open for two-and-a-half months. Because she had
missed the two weeks of training the rest of the tour
guides had received, she simply was handed two brochures
and told to read up.
"They put me in the state library and I was supposed
to interpret it, and I knew nothing about it," she said.
She quickly learned about the room - home to
Illinois' first state library, in which Abraham Lincoln
was the first to check out a book - from the 22 other
interpreters on site.
In those days, the site was bustling with activity.
Buses lined up along Fifth Street as tourists waited to
view the building, and the staff was well equipped to
handle the masses."There were 23 interpreters at that
time," Temple said. "We had one in each room. And, of
course, over the years they've left, and we haven't
replaced them. We're down to five now."
And those five interpreters have their hands full.
Not only do they provide impromptu tours of the
building, they also are each assigned to clean a handful
of rooms, as well as other tasks.
As site interpreter coordinator, it's up to Temple to
schedule interpreters and volunteers. One of the more
interesting aspects of her job is maintaining the
wardrobe of period clothing, which is used by the Old
Capitol Chorale singers and for the site's productions
of "Mr. Lincoln's World."
The costume she often wears - to portray Mary
Brayman, whose husband served as solicitor for the
Illinois Central Railroad, in "Mr. Lincoln's World" - is
an original 1851 pattern that was used as the model for
Mary Todd Lincoln's dress in the "Springfield's Lincoln"
statue on the Old Capitol Plaza. Temple posed in the
dress for pictures that were sent to the artist.
There have been other perks to the job as well.
Because of the building's significance, it has attracted
some famous tourists, including Lady Bird Johnson,
President Nixon and actor James Arness.
"We've just had (tourists) from all over the world,"
Thirty-five years on the job has made Temple somewhat
of a Lincoln scholar herself. She even co-wrote a book
called "Illinois' Fifth Capitol" with her husband, Wayne
Temple, whose most recent work is about Lincoln's eating
She also takes the initiative to research facts about
Lincoln and the building so she can answer questions
that come up during tours, according to site manager
Justin Blandford. It's a characteristic he greatly
"I think anyone who brings her level of expertise and
professionalism to the job is always a valuable asset,"
Blandford said. "Every day is a treat when you get to
work with somebody like Sandy."
But what he most admires about Temple is the example
she sets for others - especially the students who tour
"She has the opportunity to shape their thoughts
about history," Blandford said. "It's a job she takes
Kelsea Gurski can be reached at 788-1526 or