Thu, 7 Jan 2010 17:43:51 -0700
Full Disclosure: John Seelye once gave me the shirt off his back.
It was a warm spring day in 1978, and we were standing on the foredeck
of the Steamer Delta Queen as we chugged up the Mississipp River, just
north of Natchez. Dr. Seelye was on board to conduct seminars on Mark
Twain for the University of Nebraska, while I had been invited to
portray the author, both at 71 (as part of a large cast that included
jazz pianist Jay McSahann, fiddler Johnny Hartford, singer Shiela
MacRae, and newsman Douglas Edwards). I also as young 28-year old Mark
Twain (my actual age at the time) on the ship during the daytime. I'd
had my hair permed and dyed dark auburn (I had hair then) and was
outfitted with suitable togs.
When the professor came around the corner and introduced himself, I
recognized the name, but knew it couldn't be the same man whoe name I
had just read five minutes before in Fatout's Mark Twain Speaking.
That one would have been much older, as he was a contemporary
lecturer--along with Mark Twain--listed on the same page of Major Pond's
Speaker Brochure. In fact, I was meeting that's great great (is that
enough greats?) grandfather. He wasn't exactly dressed like a lecturer.
He looked more like a happy cruiser on the Mississippi, with his camera,
in his brown Bermuda shorts, sandals, and wearing a remarkable Mark
Twain t shirt. It was the best job of putting The Great One's face on a
shirt I'd ever seen. I told him so. Whereupon he pulled the shirt off
over his head and handed it to me. I wore it until it dissolved. Thanks
for that great memory, John.
So that's my Full Disclosure. Here's my offering to the conversation:
The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by John Seelye.