Tahoe Pine Nuts: Mark Twain meets Tita in Hawaii
One hundred and fifty years ago, Mark Twain was dispatched by the Sacramento Union to the Sandwich Islands, the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.
So he booked himself out of San Francisco on the steamer Ajax, upon her second visit to the archipelago, and commenced writing twenty-five letters at twenty dollars apiece.
His assignment was to write up the potential for commerce between California and Hawaii, but he wrote about everything else, the picture, the story, the humor the philosophy, that is to say, the dogs, the fleas the horses the people, and by the time he returned to California four months later, he was the best known honest man on the Pacific coast.
To celebrate the sesquicentennial of Twain’s epic sojourn, two 21st century denizens brought those letters to life on four Islands over four nights in May.
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I became Mark Twain for the occasion, and the talented Kathy Collins of Maui became Tita, a local girl with attitude, who speaks perfect Pidgin, and whose job it was to drag Mark Twain into the 21st century.
We played to full and appreciative houses on Oahu, Kauai, the Big Island and Maui. I never had so much fun in a white suit.
We also made a dramatic discovery. In visiting the Bailey House on Maui, we were privileged to read a private letter from their archives, in which Samuel Clemens writes, “My address is the Wailuku Plantation.”
Kathy noted that Mr. Bailey had started a sugar plantation in the early sixties called the “Wailuku Plantation.” Kathy is now my new favorite Twain scholar, as that discovery might be the freshest Twain discovery of the year.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we read, “The Diaries of Adam & Eve,” in period costume — Twain’s period, not Adam’s.
At Eve’s grave: “After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first I thought she talked too much; but now I am sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life. Blessed be the moment that brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her spirit!
“She had a heart that was tropically warm. She taught me that it is in the heart that the riches lie. A loving heart is riches, riches enough, without it intellect is poverty, and Eve possessed a heart of finer metal than any gold that was ever mined or minted. I’ll say this about Eve … wheresoever she was — there was Eden.”
The reception we received on each of the Islands was overwhelming, and the feedback was most gratifying.
“Dear McAvoy and Kathy, I was present two nights ago at your Big Island performance in Volcano. I must say it was one of the best evenings of my life and I was fed spiritually and philosophically.”
Tita and I were happy to discover first hand, that after one hundred and fifty years, Mark Twain is remembered in the Sandwich Islands with warm affection and boundless appreciation.
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.
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