Pine Nuts: I drank with the ghost of Mark Twain |

Pine Nuts: I drank with the ghost of Mark Twain

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

Thank you Samuel! This year, 2017, marks the 30th year that I’ve been on a wild ride as “The Ghost of Mark Twain,” thanks in large part to Lake Tahoe.

Back in the 70s, I was leading an indolent life in the Hawaiian Islands, holding a job my father thought should be illegal, that of hosting a morning radio show on the Island of Maui. Mine was the life of the idle butterfly. But I missed the joy of skiing, so I reserved a cabin in Tahoma for five days and headed to Lake Tahoe for a ski holiday.

I was so anxious to ski I could hardly sleep that first night in Tahoma. It snowed 5 feet that night and the cabin was dark at dawn. I was buried alive and trapped like a rat. It took five days to plow the roads up to where I was stranded. Devastated, I threw darts for two days until my elbow gave out, then sat down and discovered on the coffee table, “The Complete Essays of Mark Twain.”

I had cabin fever by that time and my brain was soft, so that seed was planted in fertile ground. It took me 10 years to read the remaining 18,000 pages Twain left us, and I never regretted the lost sleep.

Fast forwarding a little, I found myself lecturing at Leningrad University in Russia in a white suit and the Russians were treating “Samuel” like an elder statesman, letting him climb inside Sputnik II, and touring him all around St. Petersburg. We had to pinch ourselves.

Our State Department sent us to Europe to work in our schools over there, and we were subsequently invited to Bermuda and the Sandwich Islands. Wow, can this all be a dream?

This year, I decided to write a book about the relevance of Mark Twain today and the emergence of Chautauqua in our nation’s classrooms. “The Secret Lives of Pine Nuts” will be out in January, and much of it is drawn from the 1,241 Pine Nuts columns the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza has been resilient enough to publish over the past 17 years.

To celebrate this 30-year magical carpet ride, we’re launching a brand new venue. Wine glasses have been ordered and engraved, “I DRANK WITH THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN!”

This summer we’ll be hosting a Fireside Conversation with the Ghost of Mark Twain at Twain-Layne Haven in the Village of Incline. Twain-Layne Haven is our gallery of Twain memorabilia gathered over the past thirty slow moving years.

So we look forward to sharing Twain’s Tales of Tahoe with a few interested guests, who will take home wine glasses to attest, “I DRANK WITH THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN!

Thank you, Samuel, thanks to our Bonanza, and thank you Lake of the Sky, “The fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

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