Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crawling Old Man ... Mark Twain's Warning

     When we drove home from Michigan, we decided to stay one night in 
Hannibal, MO. We wanted to experience Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens) homeland & hoped to inherit a bit of his muse while we were there. We found his boyhood home after educating ourselves about his traumatic life. Then the rainstorms began. So, we headed out of Hannibal in a downpour.
     My Honey was snoozing in the passenger’s seat while I drove the “Ghost.” My mind was deep in thought of Mark Twain's interesting life.
     At that moment, an old man wearing a brown hoodie began to crawl across the highway.
     I hit the brakes & right before my eyes, the man turned into a slinking coyote. The animal slipped back into the brush beside the road, just as two motorcyclists passed me going way too fast.
    I had to believe the "old man" was a vision sent to me by Mark Twain's spirit.
    Honey, awakened with a start, & commenced to lecture me that no one should ever brake for an animal. 
    "But…but…it looked like an old man crawling onto the road." (And to myself, I thought, it was Mark Twain warning me.
    "Besides," I pleaded, "I saved two bike riders from a fatal accident. The old man would have flipped them over like dominoes."
     I want to believe that Mark Twain caused me to brake for that old man. The biker's were not supposed to slam into that coyote & die that day.
    After all, Twain had foreseen his brother's death & that inspired his interest in parapsychology. He believed in spirits, apparitions, and afterlife. 
    "So there, Honey!"
    Clemens was born in 1835 during a passing of Haley’s comet, & he died in 1910, two weeks after Haley’s comet passed again. He was a typesetter for newspapers before becoming a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. His pen name, Mark Twain, is a term for a measured river depth of two fathoms.   
  After his brother was killed in a riverboat explosion, Twain decided it was a sign to quit that profession &  try his luck at gold mining.
    Near Angels Camp, CA, on Jackass Hill, he wrote a humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” It became popular nationwide & soon the Jumping Frog Jubilee began. The first one was in 1893, in Copperopolis, CA, (where my brother lives today…& I believe competes in the frog jumping.) The event soon found a permanent home in Angels Camp.
That short story began Twain’s successful travelogues. Later, he wrote Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer & countless other writings.

            I'd like to return to Hannibal, MO & take a river cruise that is depicted to flow by the sites in Mark Twain’s novels. And to visit Becky Thatcher's home & maybe Unsinkable Molly Brown's abode, but I hesitate… the memory of that hooded old man slinking onto the highway, causes me to shudder.  

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