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Sandra Uetz <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 13 Jun 2012 06:25:32 -0700
text/plain (305 lines)
Now I see why you are the executive director! Grace under press

Now I see why you are the executive director! Grace under pressure is something 
that more of us should have, and I think I can safely say that all of us reading 
your responses to Mr. Dempsey respect how you have handled the situation.

Take care, 

Sandra Littleton Uetz

From: Cindy Lovell <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tue, June 12, 2012 10:18:50 PM
Subject: Re: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Lovell, Executive 
Director, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

Dear Terrell (with apologies to all
who already know the history),

With all due respect, I cannot allow you to malign=20
the late Herb Parham, whose foresight and generosity=20
regarding the museum have to date been unparalleled.

1. He and his family paid for the museum gallery.

2. He and his family constructed the Huck Finn
House and dedicated it to the memory of their
son, Austin, a fine man, I am told, who died too
young at the age of cancer. To say "he should
have" done anything is disrespectful. He gave
generously of his own money. To build a memorial
to his son was his right. Having watched my own
parents bury my brother at the age of 22, I am
sensitive to parents' wishes when they've lost a
child. Just today I was visiting with Merrilyn
Parham, Austin's widow. She is a volunteer
in admissions. She was joking that when the
family saw Herb coming they would get their
checkbooks out. She is my friend, and I have great
respect for her and her extended family.

3. Several entities bid on the Becky Thatcher
House. The board won the bid. No one
"engineered" anything. Whether or not they
paid too much is a matter of opinion. I often
have buyer's remorse before leaving the Quincy

I am relatively new to the museum, but I have taken=20
the trouble to learn its history. I am privy to the
maintenance of all the buildings, including that of
the Pilaster House (Grant's). It's easy to second
guess. I have done similarly. But I have been here
long enough to see the volunteer hours by the
board, the checks written by board members,
and the energy directed toward fulfilling the
mission. There is always room for 20-20 hindsight
and self-recrimination. Life is that way. No board
member set out to ruin the museum or Sam's
legacy in Hannibal, and all are working toward
a common goal that includes the careful and
speedy restoration of Grant's. We are excited
and eager to begin this project. Do we worry?
Certainly. But we also work. Grant's is entirely
made of wood (unlike the brick property you
referenced earlier today), so not only flooding,
but midwestern humidity have hastened its sag.
It's 175 years old, and we consider it a treasure.
No one here shot the parents, I promise.

You and your wife have been generous to the
community. Some would say, "Why Molly Brown?"
or "Why a dog park?" when there are so many
other ("better") needs, such as homeless families,
etc. There is always a "better" way to spend someone
else's money. I would not presume to spend yours.
I choose to donate mine to the museum as do the
board members. We put our money where our
heart is, just as you do. Nothing wrong with that.

Please do call me (386-748-1256) anytime.
You would be most welcome at a board meeting.
Your love of Twain is surely as great as ours,
and only good can come from people looking
for common solutions for the greater good.

Thank you,
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Terrell Dempsey [tde=
[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Lovell, Executi=
ve Director, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

Cindy, =3D0A        I appreciate your reply and will gladly attend any boar=
d =3D
meeting at any =3D0Atime at which I am welcome.  However, you are a bit dis=
genuous about the Huck =3D0AFinn house and the "generous family."  In fact,=
he Huck Finn House was paid for =3D0Aby Herb Parham who was president of th=
e =3D
board for sixteen years from 1989 until =3D0A2005 if I recall correctly.  H=
e =3D
engineered the purchase of the Becky Thatcher =3D0AHouse for a very steep p=
ce in addition to paying for the Huck Finn House.  He =3D0Ashould have more=
roperly paid attention to the Pilaster House.  Your veiling =3D0Ahim in thi=
s =3D
manner continues the long sad tradition of whitewashing in Hannibal. =3D0A =
is just not true that the board was not part and parcel of the development=
=3D0Aof the Huck Finn House. =3D0A        I have no quarrel with you or an=
on the board.  But the board is =3D0Aresponsible for the sad state of the =
laster House.  After twenty-five years I =3D0Aam very, very tired of hearin=
g =3D
about the board's plans and experts and how much =3D0Abetter things are goi=
to be in the future. Like a physician, your first =3D0Aresponsibility is t=
o =3D
do no harm.  It is shocking that the board did not do the =3D0Aannual maint=
ance to keep up the Pilaster House.  =3D0A        Put any positive spin on =
e story you like, but the board has failed =3D0Amiserably. Your seeking to =
scue the house is much like the man who shot his =3D0Aparents and begged th=
e =3D
mercy of the court because he was an orphan.=3D0A=3D0ATerrell Dempsey=3D0A=
=3D0A________________________________=3D0AFrom: Mark Twain Forum List Admin=
ator <[log in to unmask]>=3D0ATo: [log in to unmask]: Tue, June 12,=
2 8:41:07 AM=3D0ASubject: Response to "Sad Neglect in Hannibal" by Cindy Lo=
ll, Executive =3D0ADirector, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum=3D0A=3D0AN.B.=
: I am=3D
posting this message on behalf of Cindy Lovell. --Kevin B.=3D0A=3D0A~~~~~=
=3D0A=3D0AAll,=3D0A=3D0AI appreciate Terrell=3DE2=3D80=3D99s concerns about=
the =3DE2=3D80=3D9C=3D
sad neglect in Hannibal,=3DE2=3D80=3D9D as he=3D0Aput it, and have tried to=
them here. As many of you visit regularly=3D0Aand/or receive The Fence Pai=
er because you are members, you will already=3D0Aknow much of this.=3D0A=3D=
=3D80=3D9CI am shocked to report to you that the foundation and board have =
wed=3D0Athe Pilaster House/Grant's Drug Store to decay horribly. It is even=
ore=3D0Aappalling that the site was on the states Most Endangered Property =
st in=3D0A2009 -- and yet nothing has been done.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D0A=3D0A1.=
=3D99s Drug Store was placed on Missouri Preservation=3DE2=3D80=3D99s Most =
ed=3D0ABuildings List in 2009 AT OUR REQUEST to raise awareness and help se=
=3D0Afunding.=3D0A=3D0A2. At that time, the house was stabilized by a team =
of pre=3D
servationists led=3D0Aby Frank Salter and Bob Yapp. This was to stave off f=
ther problems until=3D0Afunds could be raised for the full restoration =3DE=
=3D93 which is in the Foundation=3DE2=3D80=3D99=3D0As master plan and sched=
uled to be=3D
gin as early as next year.=3D0A=3D0A=3DE2=3D80=3D9CIt breaks my heart that =
while buil=3D
ding a faux "Huck Finn" house and dolling=3D0Aup an old pizza parlor and st=
e building as museums they allowed an actual=3D0Ahistoric structure that is=
ssential to the development of Sam to rot.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D0A=3D0A1. The =
ux =3DE2=3D80=3D9CHuck Finn=3DE2=3D80=3D9D house=3DE2=3D80=3D9D was a gener=
ous gift from an a=3D
lready generous=3D0Adonor (whose family purchased the old Sonnenberg Dept. =
ore and funded=3D0Arenovations there for what is now the museum gallery). T=
se generous people=3D0Alost their son to cancer and erected the reconstruct=
Blankenship home on=3D0Aits original site using period materials and worki=
from old photos and=3D0Arecords as a tribute to their son=3DE2=3D80=3D99s =
memory. =3D
This is all indicated on the=3D0Aplaque outside the home. The board did not=
eek this gift, but they=3D0Agratefully accepted it from this benevolent fam=
y.=3D0A=3D0A2. Yes, the Interpretive Center was once a pizza parlor. The or=
al=3D0A=3DE2=3D80=3D9Cdolling up=3DE2=3D80=3D9D happened back in 1983. In 2=
004-05 it was =3D
updated to serve as=3D0Athe starting point for the tour of the properties.=
=3D0A3. The board did not =3DE2=3D80=3D9Callow=3DE2=3D80=3D9D Grant=3DE2=3D=
80=3D99s =3DE2=3D80=3D9Cto=3D
rot.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D Several steps have been taken=3D0Ato maintain it until=
the res=3D
toration can begin including moisture removal,=3D0Amoisture barriers, etc. =
der the guidance of expert preservationists.=3D0A=3D0A=3DE2=3D80=3D9CI wish=
I were ex=3D
aggerating, but there is no hyperbole here.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D0A=3D0AThere i=
s no exagg=3D
erating the need for Grant=3DE2=3D80=3D99s Drug Store to undergo a full=3D0=
tion; and without inquiring, one would have no way to know what steps=3D0Ah=
e or have not been taken to preserve this important building.=3D0A=3D0A=3DE=
=3D9CI know many of the people on the board. They are not bad people. But t=
y=3D0Aassuredly are not historians or preservationists.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D0A=
=3D0AI agree=3D
=3DE2=3D80=3D93 they are certainly not bad people. And while they may not =
istorians or preservationists, they do rely upon historians and=3D0Apreserv=
ionists for guidance, which is why Grant=3DE2=3D80=3D99s is stabilized and =
=3D0Aon our =3DE2=3D80=3D9Cto do=3DE2=3D80=3D9D list here.=3D0A=3D0A=3DE2=
=3D80=3D9CI know they are =3D
going to say they don't have money.  The reason is that=3D0Athey spent thei=
r =3D
money on silly things.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=3D0A=3D0AThe estimate to restore Gran=
s is just over one million dollars, which we=3D0Aassuredly do not have. Our=
embers and supporters are aware that we are=3D0Aworking with our colleagues=
n Berkeley, Elmira, and Hartford for the=3D0Apassage of the Mark Twain Comm=
orative Coin Act, which would yield roughly=3D0Aone million dollars apiece =
the four Twain sites. The bill has passed in=3D0Athe House, and we are now=
orking on the Senate. It must be passed before=3D0Athe election. That is on=
e =3D
possible funding source. Our board held a special=3D0Ameeting on Saturday t=
o =3D
brainstorm a major capital campaign aimed at Grant=3DE2=3D80=3D99s=3D0A(now=
) and th=3D
e Justice of the Peace building (later). The recession has not=3D0Ahelped, =
t rest assured the board is concerned and proactive. They donate a=3D0Alot =
their own money to this cause =3DE2=3D80=3D93 as do many of the forum memb=
ers he=3D
re.=3D0AAs do I and many museum employees and volunteers. All donations are=
eeply=3D0Aappreciated, and all donors=3DE2=3D80=3D99 names are published in=
our ann=3D
ual report.=3D0A=3D0AAs museum visitations are on the decline, we are all t=
ening budgets and=3D0Atrying to create new revenue streams. I wrote a piece=
n this subject here:=3D0A=3D0A
wain-words-music-a-_b_1576051.html=3D0A=3D0A=3D0ATerrell, I invite you to c=
all me=3D
and have your name placed on the agenda so=3D0Ayou can address the board d=
ectly. I think you=3DE2=3D80=3D99d be pleasantly surprised=3D0Awith the ver=
y respon=3D
sible plans in place. We are not neglecting Grant=3DE2=3D80=3D99s. We=3D0Aa=
re stres=3D
sing and worrying and working to ensure it is here for future=3D0Ageneratio=
to visit. I also encourage you to post photos to Facebook and=3D0Aanywhere=
lse you can. Please help us get the word out. We will eagerly=3D0Aaccept al=
l =3D
the help we can get: press as well as funding.=3D0A=3D0AThank you,=3D0ACind=
=3D0ACindy Lovell, Ph.D.=3D0AExecutive Director=3D0AMark Twain Boyhood Home=
& Mus=3D
eum=3D0A120 N. Main St., Hannibal MO 63401=3D0APhone: 573-221-9010 ext. 402=
| C=3D
ell: 386-748-1256 | Fax: 573-221-7975=3D0AEmail: cindy.lovell@marktwainmuse=
.org | Web site:=3D0A your ordered=
Twain: Words & Music" yet?  Details here:=3D0Ahttp://www.marktwainmuseum.o=
/index.php/community-projects/mark-twain-cd=3D0A=3D0A"Let us endeavor so to=
e that when we come to die even the undertaker=3D0Awill be sorry." ~Mark Tw=