The Misguided Investment of Mark Twain’s Samuel Clemens

Like so many writers, one of my early literary influences was Samuel Clemens, the guy who successfully branded himself as Mark Twain and gained unprecedented worldwide recognition as an author.

So inspired by him, that on my only two visits to Connecticut, I made certain to visit The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford.

The museum was the author’s home, where his family lived from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote his most important works during the years he lived there, including Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

One of my favorite bloggers, Phil Strawn from Granbury, Texas, who reminds me of a cross between Clemmons and the founder of Luchenbach, Texas, an old Hill Country storyteller of yesteryear that I met in the ’70s. Strawn’s observations in TALES FROM THE CACTUS PATCH have a Mark Twain from Baby Boomer Texas type feel to his posts.

Anyway, I digress. Clemmons was driven to financial dissolution in a bid to develop an efficient mechanical typesetting machine.

It was called a Paige Compositor and was designed to eliminate the need for human intervention while typesetting.

The result? It was a debacle and the only working model with 18,000 separate parts. It ended up as a museum piece in the Twain House.

Clemens’ career included a stint as a journeyman printer and compositor. He clearly understood the potential of the machine. From the moment Clemens encountered the typesetting machine in James Paige’s workshop, he was dazzled by the possibilities and convinced that this revolutionary device represented a golden financial opportunity.

While the Paige Compositor was truly an engineering marvel, and could successfully and precisely set and distribute type, Paige was fixated on enhancing the machine so it could create justified lines of type.

His insistence on including this complex feature (that he could never get to work reliably) fatally delayed its release. A simpler machine from Linotype grabbed the market.

In the meantime, Clemens’ investments in the project topped $170,000 by the close of the 1880s, leaving him in deep financial straits, exacerbated by other bad investments.

To pay off creditors and restore his financial equilibrium, the 60-year old Clemens, his wife Olivia, and daughter Clara set off on a five-year tour, dubbed the “Round-the-World Comedy Tour” by author Richard Zacks, delivering stage performances to welcoming audiences in India, South Africa, Australia, and other countries.

The tour, however, was capped by tragedy upon the family’s return to London: the death of daughter Susy at the family home in Hartford, CT during their absence.

With long time friend John Lewis, who inspired “Jim” in Tom Sawyer

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Clemens recorded in his notebook, “The cloud is permanent now,” and Olivia, exhausted from the travel, was traumatized to the point that she would never return to their Hartford home and never fully regained her health.

Clemens did not forget the role Paige played in his misfortunes, and wrote in his autobiography: “Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms; and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had his nuts in a steel-trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died.”

With the proceeds from his round-the-world tour and the release of a book of his collected works, Clemens successfully turned the corner on his financial woes. He died, debt free, in Redding, Connecticut in 1910.

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Jack Dennis often reports on politics, crime, history, travel, nostalgia, entertainment, immigration, drugs, gang activities, and human trafficking. Please support our efforts to provide truth and news that corporate media will not. 🔹Dodie Dennis, retired RN and health instructor, writes about health, nutrition, Big Pharma, nature, travel and everyday hacks-tips-hints.

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Porkers of the Month 2021 Announced

Political Taxpayer’s Money Wasters of the Month: Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patrick Leahy

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) March Porkers of the Month for agreeing to bring back corrupt, costly, and inequitable earmarks. 

Congress has squandered $375.7 billion on 111,417 earmarks since 1991, with $15.9 billion wasted in fiscal year 2020 alone. 

There has been a moratorium on earmarks since 2011, but now Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Leahy are trying to disguise their resurrection by renaming them “Community Project Funding” and claiming they will be more transparent.

For bringing back the most corrupt practice in Congressional history, Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Leahy are the March Porkers of the Month

44 Pounds of ‘Cocaine’ Frosted Flakes Seized by U.S. Customs

First it was  $55 million worth of cocaine discovered at a Coca-Cola plant in Signes, France in August 2016.

According to the BBC, authorities have ruled out any involvement by employees at the plant, instead calling the 370 kilos of cocaine included in a shipment of orange juice concentrate from Costa Rica “a very bad surprise.”

Jean-Denis Malgras, the regional president of Coca-Cola, quickly learned the seizure was being called one of the largest to occur on French soil.

The following year U.S. Customs and Border Patrol confiscated seven pounds of live Mediterranean chocolate-band snails in an express international parcel going from Italy to Hartford, Connecticut.

The contents of two taped up shoeboxes were full, except for those determined snails who were already trying to escape, labeled as “shoes and honey.”

invasive snail mail

By 2019, at least 154 pounds of black market bologna was discovered by . CBP officers who stopped a man in a Chevrolet pickup at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso. Texas.

According to a CBP press release, the department’s Agriculture Specialists inspected the truck with Texas plates on its way back into the United States. One of the officers saw “red rolls” stacked behind the rear seat of the vehicle, and a more thorough investigation revealed that those rolls were actually giant bologna logs.

bologna-black-market-FT-BLOG1119.jpg

The CBP seized 14 rolls of Mexican bologna from the man’s truck and waa ultimately destroyed. Pork produced outside our borders cannot be brought into the United States, because of its potential to introduce “foreign animal diseases” into the pork industry.

On February 13, 2021, agents seized 44 pounds, or almost $3 million worth of cocaine, found inside a box of “frosted” corn flakes.

The shipment from Peru to Cincinnati, Ohio, had an estimated street value of $2,822,400. The final delivery was intended to be at a private residence in Hong Kong.

Angel brand Corn Flakes was sniffed out by CBP Narcotic Detector Dog “Bico,” and when officers took a closer look, “they saw that the cereal contained white powder, and the flakes were coated with a grayish substance.”

“The men and women at the Port of Cincinnati are committed to stopping the flow of dangerous drugs,” Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie stated, “and they continue to use their training, intuition, and strategic skills to prevent these kinds of illegitimate shipments from reaching the public.”

The CBP added that, on average, 3,677 pounds of drugs were seized at ports of entry across the United States every single day over the last fiscal year—and that these illegal substances had been hidden in “anything imaginable.”

Happy Birthday Dear Frisbee

Today in History January 23, 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company rolled out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in 1871. Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they let go.

In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer” that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates.

After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the “Pluto Platter”–an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).

In 1958, a year after the toy’s first release, Wham-O–the company behind such top-sellers as the Hula-Hoop, the Super Ball and the Water Wiggle–changed its name to the Frisbee disc, misspelling the name of the historic pie company.

A company designer, Ed Headrick, patented the design for the modern Frisbee in December 1967, adding a band of raised ridges on the disc’s surface–called the Rings–to stabilize flight. By aggressively marketing Frisbee-playing as a new sport, Wham-O sold over 100 million units of its famous toy by 1977.

High school students in Maplewood, New Jersey, invented Ultimate Frisbee, a cross between football, soccer and basketball, in 1967.

In the 1970s, Headrick himself invented Frisbee Golf, in which discs are tossed into metal baskets; there are now hundreds of courses in the U.S., with millions of devotees.

There is also Freestyle Frisbee, with choreographed routines set to music and multiple discs in play, and various Frisbee competitions for both humans and dogs–the best natural Frisbee players.

Today, at least 60 manufacturers produce the flying discs–generally made out of plastic and measuring roughly 20-25 centimeters (8-10 inches) in diameter with a curved lip. The official Frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.

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