Twain shall meet at Carson City’s Empire Elem. School
In honor of Nevada’s 150th birthday today, one of its most famed residents paid a visit to third-graders at Empire Elementary School on Thursday.
Mark Twain, as portrayed by Incline Village’s McAvoy Layne, told the students of his first impression of Carson City.
“Carson City was the most uninhabitable place on Earth,” he said. “Nothing grew there. Even the birds, when they flew over here, carried their own provisions.”
His opinion of the Carson River was not much better.
“It’s a moist ditch is what it is,” he said. “If it was my river, I wouldn’t let it out of doors at night.”
He was, however, struck by the beauty of Lake Tahoe, where he worked on a timber ranch in 1861.
“If there is a life happier than the life we lived there, it is a life I have not read about in books,” he said. “If Lake Tahoe does not cure whatever ails you, I’ll bury you at my own expense.”
He told how he came to be a reporter at the Territorial Enterprise after sending in a well-crafted letter to the editor under the pen name, Josh. He entertained them with stories of the life he lived on the Comstock in 1865, but the tales came with a warning.
“Truth is the most valuable thing we have,” he said. “So I try to conserve it.”
He finished by encouraging the students to find their own stories to tell, beginning by exposing themselves to good writing.
“The man or woman who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them,” he said. “Isn’t that so?”
He said the second rule to writing is to find a place of seclusion where “you can’t be interrupted by a tweet or a text.”
“I hope I get the chance to read your story someday,” he said.