I have been contacted privately by many of you for insights into the
current state of things in Hannibal, but today's experience draws me
out of my self-imposed exile from the Twain world. I had a visit from
a lovely former foreign exchange student from Brazil. She wanted her
husband to see the Hannibal sights. For the first time in years I
went through the museum. I am shocked to report to you that the
foundation and board have allowed the Pilaster House/Grant's Drug
Store to decay horribly. It is even more appalling that the site was
on the states Most Endangered Property list in 2009 -- and yet nothing
has been done. For those of you who do not know, the Pilaster House
is where the Clemens family was renting rooms after John M. Clemens
filed bankruptcy. It is where he died. This is the last place Sam
lived and enjoyed the free childhood he celebrated in Tom Sawyer.
Shortly after he entered the world of work as an apprentice.
This building is one of only two real structures related to
Sam Clemens that the organization supposedly cares for. It breaks my
heart that while building a faux "Huck Finn" house and dolling up an
old pizza parlor and store building as museums they allowed an actual
historic structure that is essential to the development of Sam to
rot. I will try to take some photographs on Wednesday to post on my
facebook page and give you all my address. I wish I were
exaggerating, but there is no hyperbole here.
I don't know what is wrong with Hannibal. I have been
thinking about it for a long time. I know many of the people on the
board. They are not bad people. But they assuredly are not
historians or preservationists. It makes me terribly sad.
I know they are going to say they don't have money. The reason is
that they spent their money on silly things.