“reception,” which said The St. Louis Republic, looked as if “some official dignitary were visiting St. Louis.” Then he went across Fourth Street from the Planters’ to the rooms of the Pilots’ Society. There the river men had gathered in force, and royally they welcomed back a long-lost brother. A short address was made, and a handshake exchanged all around.
Capt. Bixby escorted him to meet the pilots, among whom were Capt. Ed. L. Fulkerson, Capt. Beck Jolly, Joe Carroll, “Commodore Rollingpin” Carter, Capt. Jesse Jameson, Capt. Bill Kelly, Capt. Ed Callahan, Capt. Tony Burback, Capt. Fred Walsh, and Capt. Ed West—nearly all of whom were associated with Sam Clemens on the river forty years ago.
At noon George J. Tansey, President of the Merchant’s Exchange, escorted Mark Twain to the exchange where he was introduced to many, and where he made a short address. He said that the sudden call upon him had found him without a text upon which to base his remarks. Of Mr. Tansey’s introductory words Mark Twain said:
MARK TWAIN’S SPEECH
“It is very embarrassing to listen to personal compliments, but doubly embarrassing when the recipient of them feels that they are deserved. Mr. Tansey said very many nice things about me, but there are many other things which he might have said, but which, no doubt, slipped his mind.”
After lunching at the Planter’s Mark Twain took a cab for Union Station, where he departed for Hannibal, his boyhood home. He looked forward with much interest to his two or three days’ stay in Hannibal, and hoped there to meet many other old friends, and perhaps seek out the localities which are the setting for much of “Huckleberry Finn.”
Asked before leaving what he thought of St. Louis, he replied that it was like coming to a strange American city.
“Everything is changed,” said he. “The high massive building have made quite a different place of it. When I was here last, in ‘84, there were still some vestiges of the city which I knew before the war. These are now gone.”
As his train sped along the elevated tracks and the broad river came within view, he gazed upon it pensively. Asked what he thought of it now, he replied:
“It’s very natural; it’s the same river.” [Editorial emphasis.]
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 1-2, ran “Mark Twain Here as St. Louis’ Guest for the First Time since 1861” [MTCI 418-25].
Before leaving St. Louis for Hannibal, Sam met Jim Reagan [ca. July to Frazer]. Note: Powers mistakenly claims the 100-mile side trip to Hannibal was “an impulsive decision, and a self-conscious one” [MT A Life 611], but Sam planned the side trip at least a week before, as is clearly shown in his letter to cousin Dr. James Ross Clemens of May 23. See entry.
May 30 Friday – It was a full first day In Hannibal, Mo. Sam gave an autograph to Minnie Dawson. Sometime during his stay in Hannibal (May 30 to June 9) he also gave an autograph on St. Louis Country Club letterhead in Clayton, Mo. to Sophie Sloan. Sam stayed up till after midnite into May 31, when he wrote Livy about the day .
awoke at 8 this morning; got a hot bath; shaved; put on a fresh white shirt & the lightest gray suit; breakfasted; went & stood in the door of the old house I lived in when I whitewashed the fence 53 years ago; was photographed, with a crowd looking on.
Then drove with Mrs. Garth & her daughter to the Cemetery & visited the graves of my people. Back to the hotel by 12. 30; rested till 2. 15 & was driven to the Presbyterian Church & sat on the platform 3½ hours listening to Decoration-Day addresses; made a speech myself.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.