“It was a mighty nice family…” (Garrison Keillor, Clint Eastwood, Angela Lovell)
NARRATOR: Sam and Livy married February 2nd, 1870. They had four children: a son, Langdon, who died of diphtheria at 19 months, followed by three daughters, Susy, Clara, and Jean. They built a mansion in Hartford, Connecticut for a storybook existence as Mark Twain’s literary star continued to soar. Livy’s nickname for her husband was “Youth,” because he had the heart and soul of a boy, and his nickname for her was, “Gravity,” because she did try to keep his feet on the ground. They were a close and loving family, and their happiness was almost dreamlike.
TWAIN: “When Susy was thirteen and was a slender little maid with plaited tails of copper-tinged brown hair down her back and was perhaps the busiest bee in the household hive… she secretly and of her own motion and out of love added another task to her labors – the writing of a biography of me. She did this work in her bedroom at night and kept her record hidden. After a little the mother discovered it and filched it and let me see it; then told Susy what she had done and how pleased I was and how proud. I remember that time with a deep pleasure. I had had compliments before but none that touched me like this…” (Autobiography)
SUSY: “We are a very happy family. We consist of Papa, Mamma, Jean, Clara and me. It is papa I am writing about, and I shall have no trouble in not knowing what to say about him, as he is a very striking character. Papa’s appearance has been described many times, but very incorrectly. He has beautiful gray hair, not any too thick or any too long, but just right; a Roman nose, which greatly improves the beauty of his features; kind blue eyes and a small mustache. He has a wonderfully shaped head and profile. He has a very good figure – in short, he is an extraordinarily fine looking man. All his features are perfect, except that he hasn’t extraordinary teeth. His complexion is very fair, and he doesn’t ware a beard. He is a very good man and a very funny one. He has got a temper, but we all of us have in this family. He is the loveliest man I ever saw or ever hope to see – and oh, so absent-minded. He does tell perfectly delightful stories. Clara and I used to sit on each arm of his chair and listen while he told us stories about the pictures on the wall.” (Susy Clemens, Papa, as published in Twain’s Autobiography)
TWAIN: “I remember the story telling days vividly. They were a difficult and exacting audience – those little creatures. As romancer to the children I had a hard time, even from the beginning. If they brought me a picture in a magazine and required me to build a story to it, they would cover the rest of the page with their pudgy hands to keep me from stealing an idea from it. The stories had to be absolutely original and fresh. Sometimes the children furnished me simply a character or two, or a dozen, and required me to start out at once on that slim basis and deliver those characters up to a vigorous and entertaining life of crime. If they heard of a new trade or an unfamiliar animal or anything like that, I was pretty sure to have to deal with those things in the next romance. Once Clara required me to build a sudden tale out of a plumber and a “bawgun strictor,” and I had to do it. She didn’t know what a boa constrictor was until he developed in the tale - then she was better satisfied with it than ever.” (Autobiography)