The purpose of this project is to celebrate Samuel L. Clemens' life in Redding, Connecticut by documenting and showcasing his time here in multiple formats both online and offline. Your donations & site sponsorships will help me dedicate more time to these projects and allow me to get them online sooner.

Saturday, October 3

100th Anniversary of Clara's Wedding

October 6, 2009 marks the 100th Anniversary of Clara Clemens and Ossip Gabrilowitsch's wedding at Stormfield in Redding, Connecticut.

The wedding took place in the drawing room at Stormfield, with the Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Twitchell of Hartford, a close friend of Mr. Clemens, as officiating clergyman.

The bride was attended only by her sister, Miss Jean Clemens, but her cousins, Jervis Langdon of Elmira, N. Y., and Mrs. Julia Loomis, wife of Edward Loomis, Vice President of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad, were present.

Miss Ethel Newcomb of New York City played a wedding march as the bridal party entered the drawing room shortly after Noon. The room was decorated with evergreens, autumn leaves, and roses, and the bride and bridegroom stood beneath a bower of white roses and smilax.

While the ceremony was being performed Mr. Clemens was attired in he scarlet cap and gown which he wore when the Degree of Doctor of Literature was conferred upon him by Oxford University. After the wedding he returned to his customary white flannel suit. Forty guests from New York City were present and attended a wedding brunch which followed the marriage.

Speaking of the bride and bridegroom Mr. Clemens said:

"Clara and Gabrilowitsch were pupils together under Leschetizky, in Vienna, ten years ago. We have known him intimately ever since.

It's not new - the engagement. It was made and dissolved twice six years ago. Recovering from a perilous surgical operation, two or three months passed by him here in the house ended a week or ten days ago in renewal. The wedding had to be sudden for Gabrilowitsch's European season is ready to begin."

Reporters were curious about the library:

Reporter:

"Can you say a word or two about the Redding Mark Twain Library?"

Clemens:

"The village did me the honor to name it so. It flourishes. We are all engaged in propagating the building fund, in a social and inexpensive way, through picnics, afternoon teas, and other frolics in the neighborhood, with now and then a full strength concert in my house at ostentatious prices.

We had one (a concert to benefit the library) last week with a team composed of Gabrilowitsch, David Bispham, and his bride, with me as introducer and police. We had an audience of 525.

When I have a male guest I charge him a dollar for his bed and turn the money into the fund and give him an autographed receipt, which he carries away and sells for $1.10."

They were also curious about Redding:

Reporter:

"Do you like it here at Stormfield?"

Clemens:

"Yes, it is the most out of the world and peaceful and tranquil and in every way satisfactory home I have had experience of in my life."

Yet the most interesting strain of thought that Samuel L. Clemens had on this day was not about the wedding, the library or life in Redding...it was about life itself.

Reporter:

"The marriage pleases you, Mr. Clemens?"

Clemens:

"Yes, fully as much as any marriage could please me or perhaps any other father. There are two or three tragically solemn things in this life, and a happy marriage is one of them, for the terrors of life are all to come. A funeral is a solemn office, but I go to them with a spiritual uplift, thankful that the dead friend has been set free. That which follows is to me tragic and awful - the burial.

I am glad of this marriage, and Mrs. Clemens would be glad, for she always had a warm affection for Gabrilowitsch, but all the same it is a tragedy, since it is a happy marriage with its future before it, loaded to the plimsoll line with uncertainties."

This was how Clemens viewed life in the final years of his life and it was through his life experiences that he had come to view life this way.

While many are drawn to Mark Twain by his literary talents, there are also those attracted to the study of his life experiences. He was an enormously talented writer, at times larger than life, but personally he endured the same peaks and valleys we all face along this road of life and that, to me, is a key reason his persona and his popularity have not faded nearly a century after his death.

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