Missouri - Hannibal

by Kimp 4. June 2013 22:10
Mark Twain's History:
Mark's Twain's real name was Samuel Clemons. Sam's father and mother started out as wealthy Virginia land owners who had inherited 6 slaves. In those day's, anybody who owned land in Virginia was wealthy.
The Clemon's moved from town to town, through Tennessee and Missouri. The father was trying to create more wealth, but made one poor decision after another, until they were flat broke and barely making ends meet. Tom remembered when they had a few slaves, before they were all sold off to make ends meet.
Tom was born in Florida Missouri (near Hannibal). His dad had a local law practice and general store there. When Tom was 4 years old, the store failed (This was the 5th store that his father owned, that failed) and they moved to Hannibal, a port town on the Mississippi river, where this father opened up a successful law practice. His father would be elected as the county Judge there. When Tom was 11, his father died of pneumonia. Tom quit school to make money to help his mother make ends meet. He worked for his brother, as a typesetter, at his brothers (Orion's) newspaper in Hannibal. Tom would go on to write a few articles and make some humorous sketches for this brothers paper.

When Tom was 18, he left home and traveled quite a bit. He ended up working for newspapers in four very large US cities.

Once, he was on a trip to New Orleans down the Mississippi, when he talked to one of the river boat Pilots. His dream when he was a child, was to become a riverboat Captain on the Mississippi river. When he found out that a Mississippi riverboat pilot made a lot more money then a captain, he changed this plans. A captain runs a ship and a pilot is the person who steers the ship. Since the Mississippi is difficult to navigate and conditions often change, piloting pays a lot more. Tom studied for two years before obtaining his riverboat pilot's license. This is where he picked up the pen name "Mark Twain" that we would use later in life. To measure the depth of water in the old days, they used a rope with a weight tied to it. Every fathom (6 feet) that rope would have a mark on it. When a riverboat was in shallow water, someone had to monitor the depth rope. Twain means two, so when the 2nd mark was reached (12 feet of water were under the boat), the depth watch would yell "Mark Twain". Hearing "Mark Twain", the captain knew he was out of the shallow water, and could floor it once again.

The civil war broke out six years later. Riverboat travel was cut to a minimum and Tom had to find another line of work. He enlisted as a confederate soldier in Missouri, but quit two weeks later and moved to Nevada to take up mining. That failed and in 1865 he went back to Newpaper writing out west, which is where he started using his Pen Name. He gained some popularity and was sent as a reporter to Hawaii. His travel reporting became very popular and another newspaper sponsored him on a trip of the Mediterranean.

When he got back, he meet his future wife, married and moved to Hartford Connecticut where he would wrote many of the novels that he is now know for. He became quite wealthy from this authorship.

Sam's downfall was that he was amazed by technology and invested heavily, over a 14 year period, in a typesetting machine that was riddled with problems. It failed when a different technology, that worked. That left Sam in bankruptcy.

So he started lecturing and touring, which helped him financially recover.
Master Story Teller:
One of the highlights for me was listening to a local African American master story teller named Gladys Caines Coggswell, who recited "A True Story Told Word for Word as I Heard It". One of Mark Twain's story's about being a part of a slave family that was split up and sold. She was very good and she could belt out a good "a cappella" gospel tune as well. Here she is singing an original composition about a three eyed cat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8pGsL518Ys
My History:
I was on a subway train in Boston around 1978 when I meet a colorful looking dude who was holding some very old rusty chains in his hands. He really stuck out from the crowd, but as he sat down next to me, I tried not to look at him at all. I thought maybe if I looked at him, and he thought I was looking at him funny, he might bash me in the head with those chains. I lived on the border of the roughest section of Boston and saw a lot of crazy people and events in my time there. 
As the train started to move, he told me that he had just acquired them and asked me if I knew what they were.
I said, "Those look like some very old rusty chains.", in a nonchalant like manner.
He says, "These ain't just any old chains... These er SLAVE CHAINS!!!"
Figuring he was a little off of his rocker, and hoping he wasn't looking for a new white boy slave, I said, "How may slaves do you own?"
"NO!!! I DON'T OWN ANY SLAVES!!! These belonged to my GRANDDADDY's, GRANDDADDY's, GRANDDADDY who was enslaved in them, and they were passed down to my GRANDDADDY's, GRANDDADDY, who was enslaved in them and then to my GRANDDADDY who was enslaved in em."

"Here", as he sticks them in my hands, "try to break 'em. <pause> YOU can't break 'em!!! <pause> I tried and tried and tried and tried, umph!!! and I couln't break 'em, umph!!! My GRANDDADDY's, GRANDDADDY's, GRANDDADDY tried to break 'em umph!!! and he couldn't break em... umph!!! umph!!! umph!!!
"Sir, here's your chains back. This is my stop. I sure am sorry that many of your ancestors were treated so heinously and I hope that never, ever happens to anyone in your family again."
The next day, I was telling this story to one of my professors and he says, "Oh yea, I know that dude. He's Brother Blue. He has a Phd in story telling and teaches at Harvard.". After that  I was thinking. Hmmm, I wonder why tomorrows best and brightest businessmen and lawyers need to take a course in expert storytelling???
His real name was Dr. Hugh Hill, but he adopted the moniker of "Brother Blue", cause when he was growing up, he always told stories to his younger mentally disabled brother, who pronounced "Hugh", with a sound similar to "Blue".    
Brother Blue went on to to be the official story teller for both Boston and Cambridge. I tried to look him up when I was in Boston, but he had died just a few years ago.
This is brother blue on utube:



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