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Brundidge library joins ‘big read’

The Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library in Brundidge participated in the first ever statewide “The Big Read” and joined the National Endowment for the Arts in its initiative to encourage literacy and promote awareness of the joys of reading.

Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, is the American author whose works will be celebrated during the yearlong program. His popular book, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” will be the focus of the program for both young readers and adults.

Jean Carroll, librarian, said the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library offered activities for both its young and adult readers this week.

“On Tuesday, our young readers enjoyed hearing selections from ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and then had an opportunity to whitewash a fence. They learned a lot about Tom Sawyer and learned that whitewashing a fence can be fun – for a few minutes.”

On Thursday afternoon, Brundidge resident Lawrence Bowden was Mark Twain as he spoke to an adult audience.

Not only did Bowden look the part, he also sounded much like the great storyteller as he told how he traveled the Mississippi as a riverboat captain when he was a young man.

“ Mark Twain got his pen name from the call ‘mark twain’ which was a measurement of the depth of the water,” Bowden said. “Being a riverboat captain was a great responsibility and he learned a lot about riverboat life as the captain of the paddle wheeler.”

Bowden said Mark Twain got his brother a job on another riverboat but, sadly, his brother was injured in an on-board explosion and died.

“That affected Mark Twain and could be one reason for his depression later in life,” Bowden said.

He told how Mark Twain’s books were sold door-to-door and that, once the author got a little money in his pocket, he bought a big house in Connecticut, which he lost toward the end of his life.

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is as relevant today as it was back in the late 1800s, Bowden said. “Mark Twain’s work continues to be popular today. He is considered one of the great American novelist. He loved humor and didn’t mind poking fun at people and at issues. He laughed at things that others were overly serious about. Nothing was sacred to him.”

Twain died in April 1910 and his life had a poor ending. However, Bowden said, his writings shaped literature for years to come and are still used as a measuring stick for other writers.

Carroll said “The Big Read” is a way that towns can celebrate the state tourism bureau’s “Year of Small Towns and Downtowns” because Mark Twain’s writings tell the stories of small town America and transcend time.