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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 02:04:31 -0400
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Two personal anecdotes that might interest Mark Twain Forum members:


1. I am a collector. Three of my collections are cow paraphernalia,
Twain-related items, and postcards.

I normally buy postcards for 50 cents or less. Rarely, I'll buy one for $1.

About two years ago, at a postcard sale I found a postcard I couldn't pass
up for $4.  It brought all of my collections together in one item.  It was
what is called a real photo card.  In the early 1900s it was common for
people to have photos taken of themselves, their homes, their farm animals,
etc. and have them printed on postcards. Often, a name or location was
written on the negative in black, which appeared on the photo print as

The $4 card was a photo of a family cow. In white writing on the bottom of
the picture it said:


To any Twain enthusiast, it is obvious why a cow born on that date would
have been named "Twain." The postcard is one of my prize possessions
---worth only $4 to some but much more to me.


2. In the late 70's I was active in the women's movement. For my local NOW
chapter, I created about a dozen stationary designs (to be printed and sold
as fundraisers). Each included a 'feminist' quote from a famous person.

On one design, I drew a small portrait of Mark Twain and used the quote:
"We easily perceive that the peoples furthest from civilization are the
ones where equality between man and woman are furthest apart....No
civilization can be perfect until exact equality between man and woman is

I had found the quote in Maxwell Geismar's "Mark Twain & the Three R's:
Race, Religion, Revolution & Related Matters"  I did not include the source
on the stationary.

After receiving a note I had sent on a piece of the stationary, a writer
friend called to ask the source because she hoped to use the quote in her
writing.  I told her what I knew (that is it was from Mark Twain's
notebook, quoted in Geismar's book) and then wrote a letter to Geismar (via
his publisher) asking him to send more specific information.

Months passed and I never heard from him.  I figured he was an important
author too busy to answer my letter.

Several years later, I received a letter and package from one of Geismar's
friends.  (I cannot find the letter now.  I wish I had kept it and knew the
name of the person who sent it.) He told me Geismar had received my letter
and had made a notation on it and placed it in his pile of mail to be
answered.  However, he was dying (of cancer, I believe) and never completed
the response.  It had taken his friend and his wife several years to sort
through Geismar's papers.

In the letter, the friend explained the source of the quotation.  It had
been written by Twain on November 6, 1895 on board or en route to or in New

The package included a half dozen posters advertising Geismar's "Three R's"
book ---and the poster had that same quotation on it.  I framed one for
myself. Over a period of years I gave the others to those I knew would
appreciate them.

Also in the package was a copy of Geismar's 1970 "Mark Twain, An American
Prophet."  The friend told me that Geismar had a few copies of the book
left when he died.  (I'm not sure, but I think it was already out-of-print
at that time.)  From my letter, he knew I would appreciate a copy so sent
one as a gift.

It was one of the best gifts I ever received ---something I love and
cherish ---and was doubly appreciated because it was unexpected.

C.J. Peiffer