Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hannibal, MO

On the way back from my dad's place in Arkansas we stayed over once more in Hannibal, MO, boyhood home of Mark Twain, or Sam Clemens, as he was known as a kid.
I had wanted to tour Mark Twain's home on our way down, but the desire to arrive at our destination by dinner hour was more pressing, so we spent time on the way back to Minnesota.

Last year I read Mark Twain's autobiography...Volume 1. And in case you didn't know, Mark Twain's works today continue to stir readers up, with some parents and other groups advocating to change the most derogatory word in his classic books (it starts with an "n") with more acceptable terms, while purists believe we should leave well enough alone.  He insisted that his autobiography not be published until 100 years after his death, out of concern that his progressive ideas would bring retribution to his family.

Outside of his views, Mark Twain had a way to paint a picture with words, and his witticisms were intelligent, satirical and are widely quoted yet today. As he aged his sentimentality over his boyhood roots grew.
The introductory plaque before entering Mark Twain's home
I loved that his home was presented with Mark Twain's own words when he toured his own home as an adult. He had already become famous, his works well-known and his company in great demand. He had become a confidant to President Grant, had met world leaders and toured the nation and the world speaking. But he was brought to tears by the sight of his old home and of the streets of Hannibal, MO.

I love this quote -- don't we all feel like this as we move through life?
Hannibal has remained a small river town, though they have clearly capitalized on their renown as Mark Twain's hometown. The streets slope down to the river and are met by a large berm to hold back the flood waters (that part is probably new since Mark Twain's time). While cars have replaced the horse and buggy, the streets are still lined with many of the original buildings built in the 1830's and 40's, all now on the historical register and well-preserved, home to businesses that would have made Mark Twain chortle.

This building was erected in 1839...and is now home to Groomingdale's, a pet boutique.
Huck Finn's home was preserved as well -- wait, you say, wasn't Huck Finn a fictional character? Yes, but he was based very closely on Mark's boyhood friend, Tom Blankenship. The Blankenship family was poor and lived in a small one-room house on the edge of town. It's hard to believe that a family with 9 children resided there.
Huck Finn's home
Inside Huck Finn's home. So tiny!
The Mark Twain museum brought to life five of his most famous novels, and on upper floors of the museum you could view the original collection of art that Norman Rockwell completed depicting scenes from his books. Some became Saturday Evening Post covers, others were done simply to honor a great American author.

The museum did a great job of creating interactive parts for kids, but Mark Twain's fame and works are still lost on our girls. Some day they will understand his importance in American literature, and hopefully they will go back.
Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
I'll close with one of my favorite quotes, still relevant today.
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

1 comment:

  1. MyBackPack10:30 PM

    "Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run, because if you don’t, they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment."--Mark Twain