Helen Keller inscribed a copy of her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903): “To Mr. Clemens / If my book finds favor in thy sight dear Friend I shall count my darkness light and each loss a privilege. / Helen Keller / March Tenth / 1903” [Gribben 365]. Note: Sam replied with thanks on Mar. 17. Tenney: “Recollections of MT are affectionate but not illuminating. There were several meetings, one of them March 31, 1895 when she was fourteen (pp.227-28). Photograph of Helen Keller with MT facing p. 138” . Unless Helen was on the ship en route to La Havre, this date given by Tenney is incorrect.
March 11 Wednesday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to John Hay, Secretary of State.
The next time you are coming to New York please let me know a day or two beforehand—and appoint a meeting-hour & place.
It is something I have been commissioned to say to you, & it is of large importance to you.
Since it is political, you will quite understand by that that I have no axe to grind, we mugwumps being forbidden by our political religion to carry axes [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: “Taking the girls to opera—February strawberries in New Orleans, Adelina Patti” [NB 46 TS 11]. Note: Adelina Patti, born Adela Juana Maria Patti (1843-1919), opera diva, ranked as one of the most famous sopranos in history. Born in Italy, Patti grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. At the peak of her fame, she earned $5,000 a night; her contracts stated she must be top-billed, with her name in the largest type, and she was free to rehearse or not, as she pleased. Besides opera music, she often sang traditional songs, such as “Home Sweet Home.” In 1903 she went on her last tour in the US; it was a critical failure. Patti’s complete surviving recordings were reissued on CD in 1998 by Marston Records. This particular opera Sam referred to was not found, nore why he referenced Patti; she did not return to the US for her farewell tour until Oct. of this year. Perhaps he’d heard her sing in Europe.
From his Mar. 10 NB entry, one of Sam’s 18 surviving notes to the invalid Livy is put to this date, Mar.
Dear Livy dear, I have been reading that book “A Week in a French Country House” right on top of the “Cabbage Patch,” & my! what a contrast between the richness & brilliancy & finish of the one & the poverty
crudeness & vulgarity of the other! It’s an experience! it’s the difference between Emerson & a nigger-show. Which reminds me that the nigger-theatre was very VERY good, last night, & laughed myself weary. Mrs. Mott sent kindest regards & many messages of sympathy. Good-morning my darling, you hadn’t a very restful night, & I am very sorry, good-bye, dear. / Y [MTP]. Note: see the remaining undated notes to Livy under beginning entries for 1903. Ed. emphasis.
March 12 Thursday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to Sue Crane.
Dear Assu: / Livy has just been instructing me to pay you what Vix was owing you when he died, for his keep
his funeral, which she thinks is $100, & I am to add $5 & ask you to buy flowers with it for the 19th, for our dear child’s grave, if you will be so good. I will try & not forget to put the check in this letter.
Livy sends world‘s of love. She gets along a little, but it is slow, poor girl; she keeps up her spirits in a wonderful way, by help of mental applications, & I think she is marvelously patient & uncomplaining. She says she so longs to see you, & I tell her she surely can before very long, if she keeps on improving in even the least degree.
I continue to see her a few minutes twice a day, & Jean has had two glimpses of her a week or so ago; & another glimpse ought to be about due, we think, but the doctor says no, not yet awhile.
A couple of us had a very delightful dinner-visit with Julie & Jervis the other night—it was a charming evening. With ever so much love, dear aunt Sue— / The Holy Samuel [MTP]. Note: the date of the dinner with Julia and Jervis Langdon II is not known.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.