A visit to Tom, Huck and Becky

Yes, today we crossed the Mississippi again and found ourselves in Hannibal, Missouri. 

This is a sacred place for those of us who grew up on the stories of Mark Twain, and who find his wit and wisdom just as compelling as adults.

I was here many years ago with my family, and I remember the home of Samuel Clemens as small and very approachable. Of course, Mark Twain was barely dead in those days, and there was not yet a need to gussy up the place and plan for crowds.

Today you can still get to see the house, but it is so screened off with plexiglass that you can hardly get the feel of any of the rooms – plus, they all have images of the adult Sam Clemens and some pithy quote. So it’s a bit claustrophobic and not as atmospheric as it might be. So forgive the glare and get a small sense of the house. And I would bet that those cute window boxes weren’t there in Sam’s day. But there was a great view of his father’s law office across the street, and Becky Thatcher’s house.

Outside, of course, is the famous fence. Years ago, we were able to trick my brother into whitewashing it, and Don fell for the same line.

There is now a recreation of the house where the Huck Finn inspiration lived, just up the hill from Sam’s house. Poor Tom Blankenship spent a lot of time in the hokey.

The official museum also houses the Norman Rockwell paintings done for Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, along with lots of Mark Twain “stuff.” An odd but charming collection.

We also went down the street to the river – THE river – and strolled a bit to see what modern-day Hannibal looks like. It’s surely not Galena or any other tarted-up tourist town of our recent experience. In fact, it looks a bit sad and tired. It appears that Mark Twain tourism is the major – and perhaps the sole – thriving enterprise left in this once -bustling river town.



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