Mark Twain was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910). He was born in Hannibal, Missouri. Have you been to Hannibal? It’s a small town on the Mississippi River, and interesting place to visit. They have some pretty good restaurants too.
Of course, the Mississippi River was the locale for much of Mark Twain’s writing. His writing was enriched by his travel and his vocations. He worked as a printer, writer, boat captain, miner and other trades.
Mark Twain was a lecturer and traveled the world spreading his good humor and common sense. He was like an early Will Rogers. Is that too early too?
Unfortunately, the closest thing I can come to these two men is George Burns.
To be in this category, you can’t just be funny, you must be wise.
When I was a kid, I loved the movie Tom Sawyer. I never was much for reading Mark Twain’s novels, but I think I have read most all of his short stories. But the characters in his novels are characters that I could relate to.
My River was the Jordan River, once a pristine stream full of trout with much beauty and wildlife along its shores. The only reason I know this is that a very old man told me about it. He caught trout easily from its shore.
Even when I was a boy, the Jordon was a slow-moving muddy mess, the only trout being at the entrance of the streams that feed the river.
Only carp lived in the river. Yet we swam in the Jordan River watching for a turd that might come floating down.
There were some treacherous currents and two of my friends drowned there.
I remember that day vividly because my grandfather was playing his accordion for some of the town folks at the grandstand in the Riverside Park. Just one half a mile away one boy was trying to save his brother when they both drowned.
We used to hunt and go birding along the river.
In the first Christmas bird census after World War II, we counted 139 species of birds along the Jordan River. In a later Christmas census, they counted only 13.
All of the foliage along the river had been removed during the construction of subdivisions. There was no reason in the world that the builders could not have left the habitat for the birds and animals. Note: The Communist had no respect for wildlife either.
Yet today, the Mississippi River still provides habitat for creatures along its shores. It is still the Mississippi flyway where thousands of birds find refuge throughout the year.
If Mark Twain were here today, he would still see the birds and wildlife that he saw as a boy.
There is no excuse for the disaster in Utah. The Jordan River in the holy lands is not full of crap. (Incidentally, the Jordan River in the Salt Lake Valley flows from Utah Lake to the great Salt Lake,, freshwater lake to a saltwater lake and it is a geological twin to the holy land. Even the flora is similar.)
Things change over time. The Salt Lake Valley is a disaster area full of concrete and speeding traffic. It is not the Valley that I grew up in. You can buy water from the Jordan River in Israel. Nobody is selling water from the Utah Jordan River.
Like Mark Twain, that Valley was one-of-a-kind. The Mississippi River, where Mark Twain played as a boy and dodged sandbars as a river boat captain is also one-of-a-kind. Let’s continue to protect the environment that it provides to wildlife.
Mark Twain is preserved. It is because of his great contributions to literature, his great humor, his great wisdom.
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