Monday, June 9, 2014


I walked around the complex of houses that will eventually be a fully developed neighborhood of old Hannibal and reflect some of the sense of when twain was there. His house is the centerpiece.
It was fun to see what they had done with the rooms, but I do have some trouble with an entire house being furnished with period pieces that may or may not reflect what the original furnishings looked like. I would have been interested to know how they arrived at the things they displayed.

I did get some of that information when I tagged along with a fellow giving a guided tour who obviously knew a lot about these houses. I think the men he was guiding in some way will work on developing the new look that each building and the neighborhood itself will get.
That was the other poor feature. Much is closed or unsafe or being renovated. It is an idea in development and really not yet ready for the public.
Plans include developing the Becky Thatcher house as a place to show that Becky and Tom might be allowed to go to school but that Jim and Huck were on the outside looking in. Also the building now that represents an old drug store, more old Hannibal than Twain, will be used to represent what it was like to live in Hannibal in the old days.
That building is like it was in the 50's when it was donated. It was shored up as best possible, but it still has some of its old sags and underneath the floor joists have suffered shortening after flood damage and are propped up with makeshift concrete pillars.
I got this information from tagging along on the tour.
The old pharmacy is filled with all sorts of equipment and bottles. One display cabinet was estimated to be worth 5 to 8 grand and really excited one of the engineers or planners who were getting the tour.
All this came from a pharmacy down the street which had collected it when the old pharmacy in this location closed up and rather than throw it out had stored it in the attic. So this was authentic artifacts right from this corner. I would really hate to see a dentist in those days.

Twain's judge's office was very interesting also.

Again it is reconstucted from what it might have looked, but it was so basic, and the tour guide did say they had unearthed some fine records telling exactly what had gone on in Twain's father's court.
He told a great story of Twain deciding to not come home one night late and get in trouble, but to sleep in his father's court. We went in and was getting to sleep when the moonlight moved in such a way as to reveal a hand and then an entire body. It seems a man had been stabbed and the body was being stored in the courthouse. Twain told it that he left through the window taking most of the sash with him.

Twain's own rooms were interesting. In one there was a quote to the effect that when you go back to your boyhood home, you feel like a boy again and everything in between seems like a dream. And I understand that. It used to happen to me when I'd drive home and arrive at 170 Goembel after midnight and as my mom put out the late night lunch I'd walk through my boyhood home that had not changed at all since I was a child. I can almost take that walk in my imagination today and that home is broken up, and the house itself taken down so that all that is left there is an empty lot.
However, were Twain to visit the museum of his boyhood home, I believe he might feel as if he was in yet another sort of dream and say something like:

"As I toured my boyhood home it came to my attention that some people had moved in furniture that I had never seen and that had never been a part of my boyhood experience. Good furniture too. Furniture that my mother and his father might have been proud to have. Why, had I known as a boy that such people existed who were that generous with such fine furniture, I'd have gone to them and had them move in the furniture while I was still alive enough to extract the full benefit from it."

The rooms have glass partitions and I did not like that. Also there is a white plaster of Paris cast of Twain doing something in each room. He is an old man or perhaps this is supposed to be the ghost of Twain. I did not much like that either. Seemed to clash with the furniture and further crowd an already crowded room.

While I make many complaints, I did enjoy making my visit. I knew from my reading that this would not be the best of museum visits.

Some original atifacts were in the interpretive museum. Twain once wore this gown.

His sister made this doiley

and perhaps at what is called the Mark Twain museum in town tomorrow I'll see other originals. It looked to be more satisfying. I almost forgot to go and just got there on my way to see the old Star theater. They signed me up for tomorrow so I don't have to pay twice.

Outside and around the blocks I got a good sense of the river although I expect that the high protective earth between the town and the river was not there in Twain's day, nor the railroad that talks a constant stream of engine whistles day and night, nor the bridges across the water. Still it was fine to walk in the area Twain walked in and see the physical river that had so inspired him in so many of his writings. Across the river were undeveloped forests which were newer than Twain but still must reflect a bit of what he saw.

And Twain would have enjoyed the sound of the trains. I am enjoying that and seeing them when they pass.

The boat was not running, but I got a fine photo of it.
The best angle would have been this next shot, but you see how much debris is in the way. That is the nature of this town right now. It is full of workmen and things that need fixing.

In good weather it offers tour rides. Now it does a few. I just missed one on Thursday. I think I knew that I would miss the schedule. I am happy to have caught the Tunica boat.
construction was in the way of good photography in other spots as well. Here is what the tom and Huck statue is undergoing.

Here is more what I hoped to see

The statue of young Twain at the wheel looks good. Mine is a shadow shot as I had to shoot into the sun.

Missing was this statue. This was a planned memorial to Twain but the money could not be raised to create it in the Great Depression.

Here is Tom Sawyer's house with a bit of the white wash fence. It is so interesting when reality depicts fiction and yet has a base in reality since this is the house of the boy who inspired the character of Tom.

Along the river I saw this and thought that Tom would have been inspired to disobedience for certain.

Here is a cool sign with Twain and my name.

Finally, here are two details I just enjoyed. I assume this door knob is more made for handicap accessibility than to reflect one that was in Twain's house back when he was young.

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