Pine Nuts: Odeon Hall (Opinion)

McAvoy Layne / Columnist
McAvoy Layne

Saturday afternoon I had the time of my life at the Odeon Hall in Dayton, Nevada. I got to present Mark Twain on the very stage where Samuel held forth 157 years ago, away back in 1866. He was fresh from the Hawaiian Islands and his public talk would have been full of fun from his, “Letters from the Sandwich Islands.” So of course we took a step back in time to savor a few of those timeless sentiments…

“The Sandwich Islands are to this day the peacefullest, restfullest, dreamiest haven of refuge for a worn and weary spirit that the surface of the earth can offer. These islands affect you just as all things that you instantly recognize as perfect affect you -perfect music, perfect art, perfect joy. The Sandwich Islands are one long slumbering Sabbath. The good that die there experience no change, for they fall asleep in one heaven -and wake up in another.”

Stepping back in time is always an exhilarating sensation for me, but when you find yourself standing on a tangible stage, where you know the subject of your talk was actually standing on November 8th of 1866, well, getting chicken skin all over is part & parcel of the spine-tingling experience. Even the pretty lady who introduced Mark Twain on Saturday got chicken skin on her arm and showed-off that prickly arm to a packed house.

In the secrets to his longevity, Mark Twain did actually credit the town of Dayton…

“As for smoking, I came into the world asking for a light, and will probably go out blowing smoke rings. But I’m smoking in moderation now. I never smoke more than one cigar at a time. I don’t smoke while asleep anymore, and never refrain while awake. This is a good rule. It wouldn’t answer for everybody trying to get to be 187 years old, but it answers for me.

I buy my cigars by the barrel. Sixty years ago I paid six dollars a barrel, but my taste has improved here lately, now I pay seven, and that includes the barrel. No, my cigars are manufactured in Dayton, Nevada for the clergy. They make noise when they burn… like a forest fire crackling. But mosquitoes take no interest in me whatsoever, women either, for that matter. No, giving up smoking is easy…I’ve done it thousands of times.”

The owner of the Odeon, George, concocted Twain Cocktails for the reception following the program, and within the hour, everybody was kin and wrapping our arms around each other.

In winding down this amazing 35-year journey as Mark Twain, the Odeon Hall will loom in my memory like a shot tower, as a halcyon moment in time. I imagine the hardest thing about delivering my last act at Piper’s on the 30th of September might be fighting back the moisture that will be puddling my eyes. I’ve been advised ticket information is now available for that benefit at

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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