Monday, October 22, 2012

Halley's Comet, Mark Twain & Elmira all related?

When you talk about landing on a comet or the Orionid Meteor Shower ...I think about Halley's Comet ...and I am reminded of one of my favorite people...Mark Twain...Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens came in at birth with Halley’s Comet and left in death on its return trip…a man of high ideals, wit, and a man who has made history in our own backyard in Elmira, not Missouri!!

As many times as I visit Elmira, I always pay a visit to its cemetery and follow its well-marked trail to Mark Twain's grave. I found it by chance many years ago and since then it has become more landscaped and more signs enable the visitor to find it. I guess it is called "cemetery tourism".

Other signs take you to "Twain Country" and maneuver you to 1 Park Place, which is in the middle of Elmira College Campus in downtown Elmira. There in a park like setting is the steamboat captain shaped - gazebo like structure - built for him by his sister-in-law as a summer retreat. The structure once stood on a high hill above Elmira on her property called Quarry Hill Farm. Today it has been moved to the campus and inside is the desk that Twain used for 20 years to write many of his classic American stories like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

His wife Livy Jervis Langdon was from Elmira and in truth the Clemens family are all burred on her fathers cemetery plot! So it really it is "Twain Country" down there.

Twain considered himself "The American" and he truly was a part of the fabric of what makes! His quips were so American humor and as funny and pertinent today as ever....Here are two I like....

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress... But I repeat myself.”

Another favorite of mine is, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress!”

Not as well remembered however, were his continual efforts to promote equality and dignity for all of human kind. Twain was a member for almost 10 years of the American Anti-Imperialism League – he was the Vice President until his death.

This group opposed imperialism by America for any reason. They believed that by joining the rest of the world (at that time) in its conquests for commercialism or religious means, America would be abandoning the ideals of self-government and non-interventionism ideals expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence or in Lincoln’s precepts in the Gettysburg Address.

Twain was an interesting man...the quintessential "American"!

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