Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 21, 2009
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Mark Twain Boyhood Home, 208 Hill St., Hannibal, MO
Contact: Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
Ryan J. Murray, Marketing and Community Relations Manager
120 North Main St.
Hannibal, MO 63401
Phone: (573) 221-9010, ext. 404; Cell: 573-228-1222
Fax: (573) 221-5109
Modern Day “Huck” to Sleep in Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home Tonight
Mark Twain died in 1910. His boyhood home was to be demolished in 1911. Benefactor George Mahan purchased and saved the house in 1912. And only one person has slept inside the home since that time. Until now.
Citizen journalist Neal Moore is traversing the Mississippi River by canoe searching for stories of communities that are coming together for a greater good. He recently came ashore in Sam Clemens’s Hannibal, also known as “America’s Hometown” where he learned of several community endeavors that were exactly what he was searching for. And tonight, his last in Hannibal, will be spent in Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home sleeping in the very room where young Sam Clemens famously slept.
“The only other person to sleep in the Boyhood Home was George Seybolt,” said curator Henry Sweets. In the late 1960s Seybolt was the CEO for the William Underwood Company and selected Hannibal as the location for a new plant, which we know today as General Mills. “Seybolt had a lifelong fondness for Mark Twain,” Sweets explained. “He inquired if it would be possible to spend a night sleeping in the Mark Twain Boyhood Home. The arrangements were made, and Seybolt slept on a mattress filled with cornhusks. The next morning he left a check in the amount of $500 on the pillow as a thank you to the Museum.”
Moore’s story within a story intrigued the staff of the museum properties. They invited him to spend a night in the home. “We see him as a modern day Huck Finn – camping on islands, paddling down the river, making friends along the way,” said executive director Dr. Cindy Lovell. “Neal represents ‘everyman’ to us, and we’ve asked him to help tell our story to the millions of Twain fans around the world.”
That story is an unusual endowment fundraiser, the “10 by 10” campaign to raise ten million dollars by the end of 2010. The Museum is seeking one million Twain fans from around the world to donate just $10 each. Lovell explained that in the present economic downturn, large donations are unlikely, so this grass roots fundraiser for readers of Twain was created. “Donors will be invited to sign their names on the famous whitewashed fence – sort of a symbolic whitewashing,” she said.
“Sam Clemens began his career as something of a citizen journalist contributing pieces when and where he could,” Lovell said. “Neal’s adventure resonated with us. Like Twain, he is a reporter. Like Huck, he is an adventurer. He symbolizes the spirit we are trying to preserve.” Moore will be the first person to sign the famous fence, representing readers from around the world that continue to make Twain one of the most revered writers of all time.
The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death, so the Museum is using the date to sound the alarm to Twain’s fans worldwide. “The Museum must establish this endowment to ensure operations and the preservation of the eight buildings that tell the story of Twain’s boyhood,” said Lovell. “We want to be sure these properties are around for future ‘Toms’ and ‘Hucks’ who come exploring.” Museum properties include the Becky Thatcher House and the Huck Finn House.
The Museum will officially launch the “10 by 10” on Saturday, October 10th, when all $10 donors are invited to sign their name on the famous whitewashed fence. Online donors can designate a proxy to sign for them. “We’re getting a headstart on 2010 through Neal’s visit,” Lovell explained. “And yes, he’ll be donating ten dollars.”
Further information is available at http://marktwainmuseum.org.