Mark Twain Speech

This was a speech that Mark Train gave at a party given by the mayor of Liverpool in 1907, the day before he set sail back to the states. When he returned he gave the speech again at the famous Lotus Club in New York to thunderous applause.

I’m not sure the connection, I’ll have to check it out but the publisher of Mark Twain had a farm here in Clove Valley. The farm is still here, all the books in the library here went to the library at Vassar College when the original family sold the farm. I think the name was McKinney but I’ll report back after checking with the Union Vale Historical Society.

“Many and many a year ago I read an anecdote in Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. A frivolous little self-important captain of a coasting-sloop in the dried-apple and kitchen-furniture trade was always hailing every vessel that came in sight, just to hear himself talk and air his small grandeurs. One day a majestic Indiaman came ploughing by, with course on course of canvas towering into the sky, her decks and yards swarming with sailors, with macaws and monkeys and all manner of strange and romantic creatures populating her rigging, and thereto her freightage of precious spices lading the breeze with gracious and mysterious odors of the Orient. Of course, the little coaster-captain hopped into the shrouds and squeaked a hail: Ship ahoy! What ship is that, and whence and whither?’ In a deep and thunderous bass came the answer back, through a speaking-trumpet: The Begum of Bengal, a hundred and twenty-three days out from Canton — homeward bound! What ship is that?’ The little captain’s vanity was all crushed out of him, and most humbly he squeaked back: Only the Mary Ann, fourteen hours out from Boston, bound for Kittery Point with nothing to speak of!’ That eloquent word only’ expressed the deeps of his stricken humbleness.

And what is my case? During perhaps one hour in the twenty four — not more than that — I stop and reflect. Then I am humble then I am properly meek, and for that little time I am only the Mary Ann’ — fourteen hours out, and cargoed with vegetables and tin-ware: but all the other twenty-three my self-satisfaction rides high, and I am the stately Indiaman, plowing the great seas under a cloud of sail, and laden with a rich freightage of the kindest words that were ever spoken to a wandering alien, I think; my twenty-six crowded and fortunate days multiplied by five; and I am the Begum of Bengal, a hundred and twenty-three days out from Canton. Homeward bound!”

The audience sat spellbound, in almost painful silence, till it could restrain itself no longer; and when in rich, resonant, uplifted voice Mark Twain sang out the words: “I am the Begum of Bengal a hundred and twenty-three days out from Canton,” there burst forth a great cheer from one end of the room to the other. It seemed an inopportune cheer, and for a moment it upset the orator: yet it was felicitous in opportuneness. Slowly, after a long pause, came the last two words — like that curious, detached and high note on which a great piece of music suddenly ends — “Homeward bound.” Again there was a cheer: but this time it was lower; it was subdued it was the fitting echo to the beautiful words — with their double significance — the parting from a hospitable land, the return to the native land — wail and paean, paean and wail. Only a great litterateur could have conceived such a passage: only a great orator could have so delivered it.

Doggie Julian and a Poke in the Nose

Doggie Julian was the long time basketball coach at Dartmouth college. Here is a true story told to me by Bill Smith, a dean at Dartmouth and the head of the department of Psychology .

When Bill was a graduate student at Princeton, he augmented his income by being a timekeeper at the basket ball games. Bill was from Zanesville Ohio, one of 9 brothers, no sisters, and only one set of twins, Clyde and Claude. His brothers either went to college and became teachers or went to Cleveland and worked at the Sherwin Williams paint company.

One evening while Bill was closely watching the final minutes of a very close Dartmouth vs Princeton basketball game, the clock ran down to the last seconds and as Dartmouth threw up a last chance to win the game, Bill pressed the buzzer as time had run out.

Doggie Julian went ballistic and ran to the table and started screaming at Bill, complaining that the last shot should have scored. While Doggie got red faced and screaming Bill calmly poked him in the nose, not a hard shot but clearly expressing Bill’s discontent with Doggie’s behavior.

Now fast forward probably ten years, Bill became a professor at Dartmouth. Every time Doggie saw Bill on the campus, he looked at him and said “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Bill said “I think you must be mistaken.” True story, I tried to look up the actual game, probably in the late 1950s, to see what the score was and how it was reported but so far haven’t been able to, maybe one of my readers will do the proper research.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Last year we bought split rail fences from a guy up near Amsterdam NY. They were expensive but all locust and ready for installation. Dig the holes place the posts and fit the rails. We left a cut in the fence because it gave us and our neighbors access to each other. We then built a short fence of stones and rails, the way it used to be done before the chainsaw was invented. This was the fence in progress.

This year we went even more primitive, cutting locusts from the property here and fitting the fence by hand. This valley is filled with locust trees. They grow like weeds, fast and strong. Out at the beach if you use a locust post for a dock, it never seems to rot. Leave it 50 years and you still can’t drive a nail into it.

The cows will be coming soon from over at Tom’s farm in Millbrook for the summer. The grass is starting to grow and the new fence will be finished.

You may not like it, too rough and uneven but it will last forever and with barbed wire on the inside, the cows won’t mess with it, with one exception…if there isn’t enough water for the cows, pump down or whatever, the cows will break through anything to get to the nearest pond. Don’t ask, we found out the hard way.

Wedding Bells? Ridley loves Tara

Tara is a beautiful bitch. She arrived from Ireland last fall and his had one unsuccessful relationship with a fine dog from Colorado but nothing happened until she met Ridley a real stud, at least we are hoping so.

We are about two weeks into her possible pregnancy and while I’m anxious to have her tested, our vet Barbara Clayton is the best. She said, “She’s either pregnant or not, why test her, you’ll find out soon enough, by five weeks she should be showing and in 8 weeks you’ll have pups.”

There are a bunch of dog terms for breeding. Tara and Ridley tied up three times, she was flagging and standing and hopefully she will be in pup. No need to explain details, you get the idea.

Ridley is eight years old and a proven stud, in fact Kevin his owner and a terrific dog breeder, trainer and active trial competitor will not charge me a fee if Tara doesn’t produce pups.

So stay tuned. Tilly the first dog we imported from Ireland was the best we’ve ever had. Her one litter produced 10 pups and her daughter Bee had eight, the last of which named Chevy was born in the back of the pickup while driving Bee home from the vets. Chevy’s still going strong at 9 and lives down in Clove Valley at Tom and Tina’s place.

Ridley listening for orders:

Tara not moving which is very rare, admittedly she needs a little hair gel.

Duncan’s Dairy Bar

If you ever travel to the Albany area, you must consider a stop at Duncan’s Dairy Bar. It is actually on route 7 in Brunswick NY not far from the Vermont border, It’s like Karen’s Diner in Pawling and the Red Rooster in Brewste, on steroids. The portions are embarrassingly large, quality outstanding, prices reasonable, and the menu is inventive. As an example one of the featured dishes is two fried eggs, bacon and cheese on two silver dollar pancakes.

We went there last Sunday morning, it was crowded but the service was fast. I’m not yet used to the Albany area as #2 son has recently moved there, but this was a real find. Baseball caps not required but they will make you feel more comfortable. A few extra pounds on the belly will also make you feel right at home.

Writing this review reminds me of a wonderful evening we spent with our friend George from Pittsfield Massachusetts. We visited a restaurant about which he had written a glowing report in the Berkshire Times, The owner greeted us effusively and thanked George for the review. George had to sheepishly admit to us that it was actually the first time he had been in the restaurant.

I admit that the pictures are slightly disgusting but believe me it’s worth every pleasurable minute.

The Attic

I’m not sure the year our house here in Clove Valley was built, best guess is that it was built in the 1870s, but my family has lived in it for the last 71 years. My father never threw anything out. That is true of most of my family who over the years have lived in the house.

There is a perfectly good town dump, now called the recycling center, They used to take everything, now almost everything, but my family doesn’t use the dump unless accumulated stuff really gets out of hand, which it did 20 years ago when we did a renovation/addition and filled up a 20 yard container with things we no longer “needed” to save.

We threw out such things as cancelled checks from the 1930s, boxes of letters and bills and receipts and then there was the furniture, like the barcaloungers that no longer reclined and with upholstery torn.

Well I am at it again and already have filled two industrial sized bags with those yearly christmas cards from the 1970s with pictures of young families holding hands and running along the beach somewhere, young couples who are either very old now or worse and yes mostly forgotten.

Next will go the electronics , old vacuum tubes, radio parts, unusable connectors, wires, cables, instruction manuals, boxes of them , and that old Johnson Viking transmitter that hasn’t been fired up since before the Vietnam war.

How about the college exams, text books, term papers, I found a whole file belonging to my father in law who graduated from college in 1941 and went off to war. He saved everything, sadly died in the early 1980s, but his files all went up to the attic.

If this seems merciless there are things I will save or pass on to family. All the letters my father wrote to his father and mother from France in the First World War, and the letters he wrote to my mother in the Second War from the Pacific. They are in a metal box which has only been opened by me every decade or so.

Then there was my cousin Joe, who was a famous horse racing writer, When he died his apartment contents went to the attic. My nephew a horse owner has promised to come and go through it (read- keep all of it).

Lastly there is Kevin’s bottle shop in Millbrook to consider (see an earlier post), who takes almost everything, old pictures, old kitchen equipment, everything including the kitchen sink.

Here are a few pictures of the attic, but nothing is available for sale or free. I do however, have second thoughts about:

The Peace wreath (with lights)

The 1000 paper placemats with the map of Italy

Perfectly good lampshades

The old antenna rotator which will come in handy should the internet disappear

Maybe I should keep the old picture taken at Bradley Beach NJ in 1912 of a human pyramid of handsome young men in old fashioned bathing suits on the beach.

Writing Again

I haven’t posted on this blog for a few months and today I got an email from an old friend who suggested I keep at it, so this post is about my oldest friend Larry pratt who died during Covid, although it wasn’t the pandemic that got him, it was just an accumulation of bad luck and bad health.

I went to a memorial service for Larry up at a small cemetery in the Berkshires and a few of us spoke about our remembrances of Larry.

More than anything else we all remembered his humor and not the kind of humor that creates big hearty laughter but the humor that tells a story, subtle and thoughtful. Larry had been the editor of the Yale humor magazine.

Larry and his wife Abby had a big black lab which he named Prerinse because after every meal Larry would put the plates on the floor and Prerinse would do the necessary.

The story I told was about when I asked him whether he had a log splitter, he said “The only thing better than having a log splitter, is having a neighbor who has one.”

Larry was smart as a whip and never missed a beat. He spent his summers on Squirrel Island in Maine one of the most beautiful places on Earth. When we got off the boat on our last visit, he always greeted me the same way. He said “Rinehart” and I repeated “Rinehart”
back to him.

I looked up the term and found the following from Wikipedia


It is now considered established that the original target of the call was James Bryce Gordon Rinehart (Harvard 1900).[2] A contemporary piece in the Harvard Crimson adds details:
Rinehart, who is an earnest student, has been in great demand as a tutor to other men in his courses. As he lives at the top of Grays hall his friends have sought to find out whether he was in or not by directing plaintive cries of “Rinehart, O Rinehart” at his windows. This made the studiously inclined who swell in the neighboring dormitories very tired and they determined to quell Rinehart, so promptly at dark for the past three nights the college yard has resounded with the cries of “Rinehart, O Rinehart.” First one end of the yard and then other would send up the plaintive cry, and then all the buildings would swell as if in chorus with the same old plaint. Last night the college police tried to stop the racket, but the boys by a little teamwork kept them running from one dormitory to the other. One man with a megaphone was particularly offensive, but despite the police vigil of three hours the megaphonist was still summoning Rinehart in tearful tones.

Larry, how I miss you but I’ll still cry “O Rinehart”

Attack of the Killer Zucchini

This is the time year when all the crops come in, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, peaches, apples will ripen in September. If you make the mistake of not checking the garden for a week, the small zucchini has morphed into a mutant giant plant. They are tough as nails and not very good to eat.

Last year I tried to scoop one out and fill with Spaghetti sauce. I got it down but barely.

I am told in Maine when they neglect the crop and the zucchini become big, t they sometimes fill a guy’s car up so he can’t get in

I’ve never seeing it but I like the idea.

The Cat Came Back

There was a story in the Miami Herald today about a black cat that was found today two weeks after the collapse of the Surfsde Tower and was the longest known survivor of the disaster. Several of the families members had survived and the cat was reunited with the owners.

For some reason it reminded me of Lee Moore, the coffee drinking nighthawk, a DJ on WWVA a country station in Wheeling West Virginia.. The station was maximum power 50,000 watts and could be heard all over the east coast. Moore was the all night broadcaster who sold everything from day old chicks to guitar lessons and in addition to playing the guitar was a cracker barrel philosopher. The song he often played was called The Cat Came Back about a cat that kept on returning no matter what his owner tried to do to get him to leave.

November 11, 2020

It was called Armistice Day when I was young. It commemorated the end of what was then called The Great War. It is now Veterans Day to remember both the living and the dead who served our country.

In my family it had more significance, my father and my brother in law’s birthday. My father was in a trench in France on November 11, 1918, after having been wounded twice during the war.

My brother in law was also a veteran but was the executive producer of the Walter Cronkite Evening News. Sandy was at every space shuttle launch and every presidential election for years. We all wonder what he would think if he were here today to watch the election returns and the disputes growing out of the vote count. He had a wonderful sense of history and was a fierce defender of the free press.

Here in Clove Valley we celebrate the veterans of yesterday and today. I am a veteran also. I remember I was in Idaho about 15 years ago and when I went up to the ticket counter at the Spokane airport, a woman said to me “Thank you for your service.” I wasn’t sure what she meant when I realized my ID had the USMC veteran emblem on it. I was slightly embarrassed and it was the first time I heard anyone say it.

You hear it everywhere now, which I think is fine. Maybe the thing to remember today is how much we don’t realize or appreciate peace. In Vietnam we lost 50,000 lives. In the Battle of the Somme in the First World War 50,000 died in a day.

There are some things to think about today.