March 14, 2009
Believe it or not, a manuscript of a Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mr. Mark Twain, has been found and will be published. The story of the story can be found here. The title of his newly found piece is, The Undertakers Tale, a look at the undertaking industry. If any American writer could be know as America's Writer Extraordinaire, it has to be Twain. He was American from his birth and his childhood on the shores of the Mississippi river to his subjects he chose to write about.
Years ago I took a journey to Hannabal Missouri, Twains home town just so I could walk on the same streets he walked on, and whence Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn took form in his imagination.
I was mortally wounded with disappointment. There is nothing there except a few valiant efforts of some locals to make a buck or two off some memories of his books. I cannot tell you how distressed I was, and still am at the complete nothing being done in his memory.
I fretted over this for some time and compared his life as a writer of Americana his whole life, the epitome of an American success story, from working on the Mississippi river on steam boats to becoming the most famous American in the world and the model and spokesman of our growing country.
I thought of the Rockefellers picking up a worn out plot of land in Virginia that had a pedigree and rebuilt it to better than it's former state. That was, of course, Williamsburg, Virginia. How many millions of people from the world over have visited there to get an inkling of what it was like when we colonist were hatching a dream about making a country where, of all things, everyone would be free to pursue happiness, how bazaar an idea was that.
I thought about Williamsburg and what could be done to further the American idea, and thought about Twain again. How someone with means could rebuild Hannibal, Missouri to the way it was in Twains day, with perhaps a convention center where today's writers could assemble and converse and lecture. The Mississippi could be cleaned up and become commercially viable with steamboats traversing where Twain sailed in his early years. Twain awards could be awarded annually from Hannibal. They present Mark Twain awards now from the Kennedy center, why not bring them home to Hannibal?
I even composed and sent a very amateurish prospectus something like the above, but I really did not think it would go anywhere. I was not disappointed, it didn't. I think I sent it to the Ford Foundation. But I still think something should be done to elevate Mark Twain to America's premier author, speaker, and spokesman in absentia. Maybe someone with deep pockets, and empressorial abilities could make a dream a reality. Maybe someday it will happen.