Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

Cleveland, OH

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) befriended Mary Fairbanks (he called her Mother Fairbanks) on the steamship Quaker City during a five-month tour in 1867 of Europe and the Holy Land, the subject of his bestselling The Innocents Abroad. He dreamed of buying a share of the Cleveland Herald, owned by Fairbanks’ husband, becoming a Herald editor and settling down with Livy Langdon, his wife to be. “You shall be managing editor,” he wrote to her, “that is to say, you’ll manage the editor.” Though he could not afford in the end to buy part of the Herald, he purchased Livy’s wedding band in Cleveland and chose the city as the first on his debut lecture tour of 1868. “Made a splendid hit last night and am the ‘lion’ today,” he wrote the day following his lecture to 1,200. Almost $100,000 in debt in 1895 he returned to Cleveland at close to 60 to begin a yearlong, 53,000-mile world lecture tour designed to pay creditors every dollar he owed them. In Cleveland he lectured to 2,600, including 200 newsboys positioned on the Music Hall stage behind him. “Why with their scufflings and horse-play and noise,” he huffed, “it was just a menagerie.”

October 3

Posts from Cleveland, OH

Immigration: The key to Buffalo’s success and Cleveland’s decline?

Villified today by some as America’s enemies, immigrants and refugees actually may be saviors of the nation’s disintegrating cities. The Rust Belt cities of Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, Ny., among the poorest in America, have in … Read more >>

Road food. Favorite food. Did I mention food?

Yes, today’s interviews at agencies serving the poor and homeless of Cleveland are enlightening. But I really appreciate the break from the tragedy and trauma for lunch at Presti’s Bakery, 12101 Mayfield Road, a fixture on … Read more >>

Cleveland woman Priscilla Cooper talks poverty and stigma in her city

Priscilla Cooper, a former welfare recipient, started the Family Connection Center to empower the impoverished living in Cleveland, Ohio. The lakefront city competes with Detroit for the title of “Poorest Large City in America.” In the … Read more >>