That's great. Thanks.
So, for the bar tab story we have two named sources and an anonymous source
who told it as a true story, but there is no evidence that any of those
three ever knew Twain or met him. We have one fellow who recalls that he
told the story as a prank (and he's named by one of the three
aforementioned). And none of the people who actually knew Twain in Nevada
(and there were many of them and they left behind a pile of books, letters,
and interviews) ever told the story.
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From: James Caron
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:33 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: That bar tab story
That quote is from
SF Examiner, 22 April 1910, p.2, under the heading "Recollections of His
Page 2 features a boxed space (amid columns full of stories about SLC) that
recounts anecdotes told by "veteran newspaper men...yesterday."
Page 3 has a reminiscence by Joe Goodman.
Apparently, there was a yarning session as the paper prepared for its
tribute to Sam in which someone recalled Alf Doten telling the original
How's that for an oral tradition?
On Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 6:56 PM, Kevin Mac Donnell <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> That's very good evidence if reliable. Have you a source for it? Doten
> The account by George Cassidy names Wright, Doten, Lowery, and Parker as
> Sam's drinking buddies, and takes it seriously. I tracked down all of
> writings I could find but turned up none that mention the bar tab story.
> two people (plus one unnamed person) claim the story was true, and none of
> the many people who knew Sam in Nevada mention it in their many books,
> articles, letters, journals, or interviews.
> Certainly if Doten was having fun pranking his new acquaintances, then
> clear how his absurd prank grew legs among those who did not know Sam.
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> Member: ABAA, ILAB
> You may browse our books at:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: James Caron
> Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 9:59 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: That bar tab story
> In a recent post about his article on the origin of the pseudonym "Mark
> Twain," Kevin MacDonnell writes:
> "The bar tab story (with an entirely different meaning) is based on
> patently false newspaper accounts by people who did not know or ever meet
> While researching for my book, I ran across a report that the bar tab
> was a deliberate yarn told by Alf Doten, who did know SLC, as a joke on
> "Doten delighted in pretending to their new acquaintances that it [nom de
> plume] originated from Clemens using the expression in the booming days of
> Virginia City on such occasions as he found it convenient to 'stand off" a
> friendly bartender for drinks for Doten and himself."
> So that "origin" story is clearly not to be believed, but no doubt was