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.

Monday, June 11 Radio Discussion- Twain & Keller

Left to Right- Lisa Burghardt, Dolly Curtis, Brent M. Colley

On Sunday, June 10th I traveled down to Bridgeport with the Easton Historical Society's Lisa Burghardt to discuss the Twain & Keller Exhibit (currently on display at Easton Public Library) with Dolly Curtis and Dave Schwartz of WPKN 89.6 FM.

We were scheduled for 30 minutes, but as it turned out, we ended up needing a little more time and stretched it to 45 minutes. The Twain & Keller topic has a knack for inducing extensive conversation.  :)

We had a great time. Dave and Dolly are a lot of fun to work with and we look forward to future shows on WPKN 89.6 FM.

If you would like to listen to the show, you can do so here:
Twain & Keller > Easton and Redding, Connecticut's Special Connection on WPKN 89.5 FM

Friday, June 8

Why did Helen Keller move to Easton, CT?

After World War I, Helen Keller became active in relief efforts on behalf of those blinded in the war. This effort marked the start of the work that occupied Keller for the rest of her long career.

Keller worked concurrently with two organizations, the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind. Besides serving as a director of both, she held many different staff positions and, over forty years of extensive and near-constant travel, became the most prominent and recognizable spokesperson for the blind and the deaf-blind.

In 1929 Keller began a fund-raising drive to provide an endowment for the American Foundation for the Blind. She wrote thousands of letters soliciting funds, including one to Gustuv Pfeiffer, who contributed $500. He followed with further contributions and, after Keller visited him in 1931, he gave the foundation 150 shares of preferred stock in his pharmaceuticals corporation. In 1932 Pfeiffer accepted an invitation to serve on the foundation's board of trustees and became one of its most active members, heading both the budget and executive committees.

In 1938, Pfeiffer convinced Keller to move her small household (including a secretary and a helper) from Forest Hills, New York, to Aspetuck. He provided the land, donated much of the building cost, and helped to raise the rest. Keller named the home Arcan Ridge, after a cottage in Scotland. Although Keller was a citizen of the world, and her extraordinary contributions to humanity are associated with many other locales, Arcan Ridge was her home and her retreat. If not central in her work, it was central in her life, as she expressed in a letter to the Pfeiffers:

"How wonderful it all is! You, Mr. and Mrs. Pfeiffer, have so taken me by surprise with your delightful plotting and planning, I can hardly speak... There is no counting the treasures to which the key symbolically opens the door. It means a home in New England to which affection and memory have ever bound me, a place nearer Heaven where Teacher is, a sanctuary where rural solitude will again sweeten my days."

To friend Keller wrote:

"We have never loved a place more than Arcan Ridge. It is a Colonial house surrounded by meadows, woods, brooks, and the old New England stone walls you will remember. I am especially delighted with my study which has spacious bookshelves, thirty-five cubbyholes and windows hospitable to the sun."

In 1946, while Keller was in Europe championing the plight of wounded soldiers and civilian victims of World War II, her cherished house burned to the ground. When she returned, Pfeiffer provided lodging in one of his other nearby houses and, with contributions from other neighbors and friends of Keller, began to build another house on the same site. This 1946 house, 163 Redding Road, was Keller's home for the rest of her life.

She produced her later writings, notably the 1955 biography, Teacher, during sojourns in Easton. After a stroke curtailed her activities in 1961, she spent all her time in Easton, until her long and productive ended in June of 1968.