The Irony: Someone Stole Mark Twain’s Memorial Plaque.

Whoever stole the plague adorning a monument at Mark Twain’s grave last month had to climb a ladder to do so.

At least, that’s what a local historian suspects, as reported by the Elmira Star-Gazette, since the monument itself stood at a height of 12 feet, the same measurement used by riverboat pilots to indicate safe river passage and from which America’s great author took his name.

Thus, many figure the crime was premeditated. Because, after all, who besides, maybe a painter or a plumber, like my husband, drives around with a ladder on a vehicle? I don’t.

When I first heard about the disappearance of Twain’s plaque on January 2nd, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony.”

Because while Twain was “ransacking the islands” of Hawaii in 1866, he and his traveling buddy Mr Brown explored Kealakekua along the Kona Coast of Hawaii Island, and Mr. Brown pilfered a 150-pound coconut stump sheathed in copper as a memorial for the British navigator Captain Cook.

On another occasion, Mr. Brown and, presumably, Twain himself, also stuffed their pockets with bones from the remains of a purported battlefield on the slopes of Diamond Head, where, today, thousands of visitors tramp up a concrete path to be rewarded with dramatic views of Waikiki and the coastline.

mark twain, grave plaque, memorial
Mark Twain Grave Plaque Recovered.

In Twain’s defense, he ordered Mr. Brown to return the memorial and his own was just reportedly recovered, as well. But as far as I’m concerned, the theft of Mark Twain’s plaque at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York, isn’t quite the desecration some have claimed—although it is illegal. What I like about the story is it keeps the Twain legacy—and his own shenanigans—alive. I don’t imagine Twain turning over in his grave at the theft of his plaque but, rather, bent over, slapping a knee, enjoying a good laugh in his after life, wherever that may be.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dottie Bachman says:

    I believe it has been returned.


    1. Kim says:

      Hi Dottie, yes it has. I report that in my essay. Read on!


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