Adventures of the Mark Twain

Bonnie Baker-Duff, Owego -
Subject: Fanny Farmer and the Mark Twain

Although I was born in Binghamton, we moved to Elmira when I was two years old. My school was Thomas K Beecher. My dad worked at Remington Rand and later Fairway Spring Company. My mom, Louise Baker, worked at wonderful Fanny Farmer, located on the corner of the hotel. How she loved that job! She would often bring home little bags with 'broken bits and pieces.' I don't believe I will ever taste such wonderful candy again!

We moved back to Binghamton in 1957 and life was never the same. Since my (first) husband and I were in the Air Force, we lived in Myrtle Beach, SC, USAFA in Colorado Springs. And later, as far away as Okinawa. However, a big piece of my heart will always remain on Sullivan Street, Elmira, NY.

Toni Blide, Elmira -
Subject: Wedding reception

visit Remembering Elmira online!!!y sister and I had a double wedding. Our reception was held in the Ballroom and Terrace. We had a champagne fountain, and our double wedding cake was made by Rossi's bakery. My widowed Aunt caught my bouquet....our wedding reception was in 1969....and it was wonderful.

Hercules Diveris, Albany -

am a 1947 graduate of SHS and my Senior prom was held at the Hotel. Also attended three wedding receptions of cousins there. In 1964 the Order of Ahepa held its annual district convention at the Hotel. And I had many luncheons at the Tea Room.

Tom Shull, Florida -
Subject: Grandfather working the elevators at the Mark Twain Hotel

remember riding on the old elevators at the Mark Twain Hotel where my grandfather, Bill Peterson, worked. He would open/close the gates of the elevator, and I could ride up or down, depending on the floor I wanted to go to. Most of the time, I went to the Tea Room for lunch. I distinctly remember the egg salad sandwiches or the brown bread that seemed to go with anything you ordered.

Robert Boyle -

am researching my great aunt, ran across your website about the Mark Twain Hotel. For background, my family were pioneers in San Francisco. Family lore has it that my Great Grandfather was a sparing partner of Mark Twain around 1863-4 at the Olympic Club. This is why Gertrude F. Boyle did his bust upon his death in 1910.

An explanation that I received in my research appears below. Thought you would be interested.

Your question about the Gertrude Boyle bust of Twain was forwarded to me. The Mark Twain House in Hartford owns the bust in question. Here is an image of it. Here also is a letter to the Mark Twain Hotel in Elmira that is an interesting proposal from a benefactor wishing to display the artwork in the Mark Twain Hotel.

According to our files, the bust was sculpted in 1908. It was cast in bronze from the plaster original only after Boyle's death in 1937, at the request of her sister, Olive Boyle. According to Reba H. Thompson, who gave the bust to the museum, on October 22, 1951, Olive traveled east from California (where she lived) to inspect the work. She was satisfied with the bust and asked that Thompson find an appropriate home for it. It seems that Thompson tried several different options, including the Smithsonian, Mark Twain Society in NY, Mark Twain Hotel in Elmira NY, Mark Twain Library in Redding CT, and Clara Clemens herself. The bust stayed at the foundry in Long Island City, NY for nearly 10 years, as Olive Boyle had died and letters to the niece who was the administrator of her estate were returned as unclaimed.

In 1962, Thompson was able to connect with Clara Clemens Samossoud, and she suggested that Twain's Hartford home would be an appropriate place to house the bust. "As the old Hartford Home is being renovated on a large scale and many people go there to see it, it seems to me that there would be the best place to have it sent…" At that time, Thompson had the bust packed and sent to our museum, where it has lived ever since.
The Smithsonian lists many other sculptures done by your great-aunt. See this link. I'm I'm curious about the letters you mention to a Mildred Clemens. Mildred wasn't his niece, but more possibly a cousin, although there is no evidence that they ever met. She lectured much on Hawaii during her life, including performing in an illustrated musical called "Happy Hawaii." What kind of content is in the letters that suggests that Mildred was given the bust?

Yvonne Fields, Austell GA -

he Mark Twain Bldg was always sucha grand memory over the years. The fact that Mark Twain chose our area of living to study and write was honorable to me as well. I so miss coming home, so to to speak. Have been living in the Atlanta area for over 36 years.

Gordy Brion, Canandaigua -
Subject: Baseball Legends

have a Postcard from the Mark Twain Hotel with Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Lee Scott, George Fallon and Spencer Harris signatures on it. It is quite a treasure. I am wondering if anyone recalls what sports banquet it was that they attended there. I remember the hotel and eating next door at Izard's Tea Room down in the basement of the department store. Please feel free to contact me with any info on the signatures. Thanks.

Louise Richard Kent, South Carolina -
Subject: Growing up around the Mark Twain Hotel

y family moved to Elmira in the early 50's from RI; I was almost six. We lived on W. Clinton St., only a few blocks from St. Pat's, Cappy's (cherry phosphates and Mexican Sundaes), Schmidt's (Tommy and Johnny) Grocery Store, and oh yes, Carl's Bakery (can still smell those wonderful "Denmarks"). When I was old enough to wander from that area which included Arnot Park, the Mark Twain Hotel (and the study on Elmira College campus) were central to my growing years. The Fanny Farmer store where my friend, Joyce Osborn's, mother worked is an especially sweet and aromatic memory.

Then there was the Colonial Theatre across the street and the Popcorn Wagon at Wisner Park. We used to cut through the rear entrance overhang area - can't recall why except that it was a bit dark and eerie back there. My most frightening memory of that short cut was shortly after the movie "The Birds" - Alfred Hitchcock - opened at the Colonial. It was dark and suddenly a huge (in my memory, at least) flock of birds flew under the overhang directly at us at the opposite end. My first "drop to the ground" experience of a lifetime!

I did some modeling for the Gorton Coy as a young teen-ager at the Mark Twain - felt like a huge celebrity in that milieu!! Then there were the proms, all with the love of my life Don Kent, and weddings (Barb Augustine and Jim Madell had their reception there) - such a majestic location for those great events. Anyway, those sweeter childhood and early adult memories are forever mine and will always consider Elmira home. Wish I could get back there more often!!

Carol Worden, Elmira -
Subject: Ball Room Dancing and Madame Helina at the Mark Twainclick here to visit our Remembering Elmira pages

y best friend's father worked there. I not only remember our proms at the Mark Twain and feeling like a princess while entering into the Grand Ballroom. Mme. Helina used to hold Christmas parties there for her students and families. During this time she would hand out awards. She also had her ballroom class event here where students would enjoy the Foxtrot, Waltz and the like. Oh yes, fond memories of the Old Mark Twain Hotel.

Frank, Tennessee -
Subject: Mark Twain Apartments

lived in Elmira for years, but now live in Tennessee. My mother is from Elmira - born and raised. She went to Southside High in the late 50s and early 60s. After my dad died she moved into the Mark Twain Hotel building, and she has a nice little apartment on the 4th floor. It is always neat. When i visit her, I look at that old building inside and out, and try to imagine what it was like in its heyday, back when they had the Roaring Twenties music playing in the ballroom. I'm sure it was great.
Editor's Note: There probably probably was a little Twenties Music playing, but we'll bet much of it was from the Thirties and Forties and after - since the Mark Twain didn't open until March of 1929 (almost 1930). In fact, if you'll turn your speakers on and listen real hard, you might hear some Glenn Miller playing, right now. If you don't hear it, refresh this page so that it can start over.

Linda Stradley Staiger, Almond -

he Class of 66 from Edison H.S. had their Proms and Banquets at the Mark Twain. It was a beautiful place which I enjoyed so much. We held a banquet in one room complete with entertainment provided by the Junior Class for the Seniors. Then we went home to change clothes from short dress to long gowns (and long gloves, too!) to return to the Ballroom for the Prom. How marvelous that place was. I still can picture the murals on the walls. It was also the place where I auditioned for Fredonia State Univ.---in those days a rep. from the college would travel around to test prospective music students. Ed Whittenhall accompanied my vocal solo and, after all the rest of the testing, he took me to the hotel's Tea Room for a coke. I still have the napkin from that day. Sadly, by the time I was older and was working the hotel closed and I was never able to go there as an adult. I loved that place.

Kay Howey Hickman, Texas -

y husband and I married on October 4th, 1972 in Wellsboro, PA. We drove to Corning to find a place to spend the night and everything was full, so we drove on to Elmira. We stopped somewhere looking for a room and the desk clerk told us that the Mark Twain Hotel was no longer a hotel after the flood, but was being used to house some nursing home folks.

We found out they might have a couple of rooms that they would rent out. So we called and they said to come on. We spent our wedding night at the Mark Twain Hotel drinking two bottles of pink catawba wine, watching TV, and making love. What a memory. It wasn't really a hotel anymore, and we were so thankful that we got to stay there. I think we paid $12. I do have the receipt in a photo album. I wish it were still a hotel so that we could come back and spend our 40th wedding anniversary night there.

Erin O'Neill, Washingtonville -

y grandmother is 101 years old and living in my mother's home. Grandma, Lillian Cooper, married Vinton Hememway in 1936. They secretly eloped due to the great depression and spent November 14th in the Mark Twain Hotel. During their stay, they wrote a letter together that dedicated their marriage to God. We still have this letter on old Mark Twain Hotel stationery in the Hotel envelope. What a treasure. I just finished reading it to her great grandchildren.

Joanne Hanlon Opdahl, Venice CA -

have wonderful memories of the Mark Twain Hotel. Having lunch with Mom after shopping at Iszards. Dressing up for ballroom dancing lessons and then attending the formals to practice our newly learned dance steps. My first surprise birthday was after one of those lessons on a Friday night downstairs in the coffee shop. Dad and Mom would have a date night sometimes and eat at the Mark Twain Hotel. Oh, the ice cream they made, the best you can find anywhere !! Great memories !

Kathy Kittle McGee, S. Carolina -
Subject: Proms at Mark Twain

so remember decorating the ballroom for proms. Whatever happened to those good ole days, ballroom dancing, wonderful music. We were fortunate to grow up in the 50's in Elmira.

Dan Sullivan, Marietta GA -

was born in Elmira in 1945. I attended George Washington Elementary School and Notre Dame H.S., leaving after my Junior Year when my family moved to Atlanta, GA in June of 1962. My father, William F. Sullivan, had been head of Purchasing at American LaFrance. In 5th and 6th grade I attended Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson's Dancing School, held in the Mark Twain Hotel's ball room. Great fun and we had a formal dance every year.

My Grandfather, Vincent E. Miller, was a cabinet maker and owned a lumber yard. He built the serpentine bar in the Connecticut Yankee Room - quite a bar! As an architect, I'm happy to know that the Mark Twain still stands and has another life as an apartment building. I do hope the bar is still in use. I haven't been back to Elmira since 1977 or so, but "visit" by Google Earth every now and then.

Sharon Dutton -
Subject: My foster father

y foster father, Howard "Wash" Washington, was a head waiter for many years at The Mark Twain Hotel. As an African American he held his head high because of his position there. I remember the park across the street, where fresh popcorn from the vendor wafted through the air. I remember coming with my foster mother to the telephone company nearby to pay the bills, leaving with a "princess phone" keychain.Or, eating one of those delicious chili dogs from M&M's.

But mostly, I remember when our family's new home, in neighboring Horseheads, burned. We were without shelter until the hotel gave us a suite for two whole months. No doubt because my father's professionalism. I'll never forget this as long as I live. He would bring the dinner cart himself.

Elmira Country is a collection of sites that feature stories and photos about a favorite place in Upstate New YorkI also remember the Kiwanis Club Christmas dinners held for foster children. What a great affair. Each child received a gift. I remember being in awe of the china and silverware, the chandeliers, the pagentry. I didn't feel so small and different then. My father would come by my table, dressed in his whites with his black bow tie. I was very proud of him. If anyone has any stories about my foster father, I'd appreciate you passing them along. I'm writing a book. Thank you.

James Manning, Elmira -
Subject: Head Bell Hop

obert "Bob" Arnold of Elmira was the Head of Bellhops at the Mark Twain Hotel for over 40 years. He knew everything that was going on at the Hotel. He welcomed presidents, governors and many other dignitaries. A real fine gentleman. His children were Eilenn, Lois and Bob.

Gary E. Dow, Levittown PA -

hen I was just a little boy growing up in Binghamton about 55 miles east of Elmira, I used to hear complaints about the old Arlington Hotel downtown near the railroad stations. My dad and his business friends would say: "What Binghamton really needs is a modern first class hotel like the Mark Twain in Elmira."
Editor's Note - the Arlinton in Binghamton was at the corner of Lewis and Chenango Streets. Please click here to see a photo postcard of the old Arlington Hotel.

Dan Brooks, Clearwater FL -
Subject: Jackie Robinson

was just talking to my neighbor tonight and he brought out a orange piece of paper, signed by Jackie Robinson. He also had two other pieces of blue paper, one signed by Gil Hodges and the other by Chuck Brenner. His step dad got these when he worked as a cook for the Mark Twain Hotel. They were staying there for some sort of Award Ceremony. Does anyone remember a time when Jackie, Gil and Chuck may have stayed there? If so, what award were they there for and what kind of paper this might have been? Did the hotel have blue or orange notebook paper? Any info would help.

George C Monroe, Bentley LA -

y aunt was a housekeeper at the Hotel from the time she was 65 until she was 80 years old. I recall how my sister and I would come down and meet her for lunch. There were some nice small diners not far from the Hotel. When I was 18 years old I went to the bar. I do not recall the name of it, but it was name of one of Mark Twain's books. (Editor's Note - it was called the Connecticutt Yankee Lounge)

Colleen Kelly Spellecy, Elmira -
Subject: St. Patrick's Day at the Mark Twain

or several years, 1954-1958, my brother Joe Kelly would entertain by singing at the annual Chemung County American Irish Society's banquet at the Mark Twain Hotel. Some years my mother would accompany him on the piano. I would always be in the wings of the ballroom because I was too young to be at the banquet. I remember walking around the lobby taking in the elegant decor and high ceilings. I remember the plush carpeting and the ornate architecture. I always felt I was among elegance and class.

My father was an Elmira City policeman for 30 years (Joseph E. Kelly) and would bodyguard the Irish dignitaries that would come to Elmira for St. Patrick's Day. I recall standing out in front of the hotel sharing the pride of my dad when he was photographed with Basil Collins who had come to Elmira and stayed in the Mark Twain Hotel. When I was a teenager I recall the joy my friend and I had eating in the Huck Finn restaurant attached to the Mark Twain Hotel. It was a grand piece of property that was part of my early heritage.

Betsy Robertson, Philadelphia -
Subject: Mark Twain owner/Charles Jones

oes anybody know anything about Charles Jones, my great grandfather, and supposedly part owner of the Mark Twain Hotel? His son was Sherman Jones who married Arletta Caton Jones, daughter Bronwyn (Bunny) Jones. I am interested to learn about my family, the Mark Twain and Elmira. Thank you for these interesting stories I enjoyed reading.

Paul Titus, NDHS '67 -
Connecticut Yankee Lounge
City Now:

uring the summer of '71, I bartended at the Connecticut Yankee Lounge...met many wonderful and interesting characters. The former wooden bar is now at the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 701 Kinyon St., Elmira. It's the Irish/Catholic Club. The wooden bar is truly a beautiful work of art, albeit about 5 feet shorter on each end. I also remember the Mark Twain Hotel for all of the sports banquets and proms held there. And WENY-TV getting knocked off the air by the flood of '72, because their mechanical equipment was in the basement of the hotel. The hotel is a beautiful building which "if walls could talk," we could get a glimpse of times gone by, and all the characters and celebrities it housed, at one time. Really appreciate the site!

Joel Esterman -
City Now: Havertown PA

've never been nor do I know anyone who has been to this hotel, but somehow I am in possession of a wooden coat hanger from the Mark Twain Hotel.

Tony Orbanac -
City Now: Elmira

y dad was a chef at the Mark Twain Hotel. He met my mom there because she worked in the coffee shop. He was a cook in the Army during WWI and came back to eventually be the Head Chef at the Mark Twain. My mom, Helen, used to tell us stories about all the famous people that would stay there. One story in particular was when the VonTrapp family came to perform.

Linda Salamon -
Subject: dancing class
City Now: Washington DC

art of my 5th-&-6th grade experience was Mr. Ferguson's dancing classes in the Mark Twain Ballroom [administered by Muriel Shoemaker, mother of my classmate, Jill.] We were all expected to use proper social manners, dress quite formally, etc -- as well as to learn (after mastering the box step) the waltz, foxtrot, etc. We taller girls (frequent at that age) had to cope with shorter boys as partners. It was all fabulous preparation for the 1920s...BEFORE the Jazz Age. The '60s made such social practices, even at country clubs, as extinct as dinosaurs.

Yvonne Teyssier Fields -
Subject: Prom night at Mark Twain Hotel
City Now: Austell GA

he very first Prom I had ever been to was with Bobby Labuski, my high school sweetheart in 1958...It was a lovely ballroom and an even lovelier evening. Also purchased my very first two piece bathing suit in the "Shoppe" on the main floor of the hotel in 1959....August. I used to love to browse through the travel agency and dream of traveling far and often. The shops were grand and then I would go home and dream on. God Bless you all. I miss coming to Elmira. It's hard to get up there very often.

Betty Smith - <>

y mother worked as a waitress at the Mark Twain when she came to Elmira after high school. She loved working there ( I think from 1934 when I was born and way into the war years and beyond). She would get autographs for me. I have my heroes Gene Autry, Melvin Douglas, Johnny Long, Carmen Cavallaro, Smiley Burnette and The Korn Kobblers Band. These were all written on the back of The Mississippi Coffee Shop coasters. The one from the Korn Kobblers was on a post card. Mark Twain had the best smorgasbord.

Chuck Ange -
Subject: Watkins Glen Grand Prix

hen I was a young boy growing up in Rochester, my father would go on frequent business trips to Elmira. We always stayed at the Mark Twain Hotel or the Tom Sawyer Motor Inn. One time when I was about 10 years old, one of our trips coincided with the sports car races in Watkins Glen. There were sports cars everywhere. I concluded that sports cars were about the coolest things in the world, and was determined to get one as soon as I was old enough to drive. It took a bit longer than I thought before I got my first sports car, but that was the beginning of my life-long fascination with sports cars and motor racing.

Parma Sibyl Reynolds -
Subject: Lunch at the Mark Twain

worked in the Gorton Coy for about two years in 1955 and 1956, and I lunched at the Mark Twain EVERY DAY BUT SUNDAY because I loved their ice was such a fun experience...Lester Jacobs was the head of the Gorton Coy and his son-in-law was also helping to manage it. I would love to have lunch there one more time.

Warner Hutchinson -
Subject: The Day JFK was shot

uch of my childhood off and on was spent in Elmira. I recall attending Hendy Ave and George Washington schools. I lived with my grandfather, who was superintendant of schools (Harvey O Hutchinson), which did not endear me to the teaching staff. We lived at 820 W. Gray St, just down the road from the Mark Twain. He was on the board of the "crippled children's home," a care center for children with polio. I remember a picture of my grandfather standing and talking to then-president FDR who was sitting in his open Ford convertible when FDR came to visit the children. (I've since seen the car at Hyde Park.)

I recall going to the Mark Twain for lunch at the Rotary Club in the late 1930s as my grandfather's guest. During WWII, my mother and I stayed with him for a while when my father was in the Army. My mother would take me to a movie, followed by a sundae at the Mark Twain. I loved the murals.

Years later I was driving through Elmira with a business colleague. I wanted to show him the murals I had remembered from childhood. We had a sundae and went upstairs to the lobby. It was eerily quiet with only a lobby TV set on. There in the lobby of the Mark Twain, I saw a somber Walter Cronkite announcing that President Kennedy had just been shot and was being taken to the Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

My most enjoyable memory of Elmira (not at the Mark Twain) was on a visit to my nearly 80-year-old grandmother (Celia Hutchinson, once English teacher at EFA and later counsellor there for years) to take her first glider ride at Harris Hill; the pilot turned out to be a former student of hers and couldn't believe she was going up.

Babe Muro -
Silver Tray

have a question. I have a silver serving tray. On the tray it says:
Mark Twain Hotel
Intl. Silver Co
Silver Sodered, 0805
The tray is an oval shape. I was wondering if the hotel had trays like this in 1947? Can anyone please let me know. thank you,

Bill Treat, SHS57 -
My Summer as a bell-hop

uring the summer of 1958, after my first year at Wheaton (IL) College, I worked as a bell hop at the Mark Twain. My dad, Basil Treat, knew the head hop, I believe his name was Bob. I wore my first "job" uniform, previous ones being Boy Scout uniforms, and later, ROTC and US Army uniforms. I enjoyed the experience, and met some interesting people. I especially liked getting cars for guests. I hadn't driven all that much myself, but didn't seem to have a problem getting the vehicles out safely. I shared the experience of working there for many years, and always felt it was a prestigious place to work.

Irene Patros Fadis, EFA71 -

hen I was a little girl I remember that the Greek community held a lot of their social functions at the Mark Twain Hotel, mostly wedding receptions. I especially remember the grand ball room with its two floors and its arched windows, and all of our moms and the teenage girls of our community being dressed up in beautiful, elegant dresses. Folding fans with the beautiful art work were popular at the time.)

I also remember that the mom of a classmate of mine worked at the hotel; as a chef. At one of the functions I remember my dad asking for a finger bowl, if I remember correctly he had just finished eating a chicken entree. My friend's mom came out to say hello to us when the finger bowl was brought out.

Mainly I remember the parties as being very elegant and extremely festive with the lively Greek band playing native folk dances that everyone joined in a semi-circle to enjoy. Those were really fancy and elegant times and a lot of fun.

The hotel also had a brass staircase. The staircase split into two, so one could go up either to the right or to the left. The lobby at the top of the staircase had an old fashioned elevator that was gated, and it required an elevator attendant to run it.

When I was really very little I remember going into the restroom and crawling under the stall; I couldn't wait for someone to get me change to unlock the door. Imagine being all dressed up in an expensive dress and doing that! No wonder I was in trouble a lot.
The restroom had a lounge with two very colorful arm chairs and a wall to wall mirror with stools in front of the mirror. I remember all of the grownups; my mom, aunts, and the "big girls" freshening up their makeup. I thought they were so cool and elegant.

I remember when Marlo Thomas came to Elmira to campaign for McGovern. She came to the hotel where she was campaigning. I remember that she gave me her autograph; I think I only came to see her, and not that I was interested in McGovern. Her TV show was very popluar at the time.

Another memory I have of the Hotel, is that on the outside corner facing Main Street, there was the Fanny Farmer Candy Store. It had very exquiste chocolates, and the aromas were very warm and friendly. I often wonder what happened to the owners of the store, I surely did miss it the last time I visited Elmira.

Linda Barrett -

everal years ago I was at a flea market and found some dinner ware with the picture of Mark Twain. While talking with the owner she said she had gotten the dinner ware years ago when the hotel closed at one time. The back is marked Syracuse China. I collect old teacups and saucers, and I couldn't resist buying these few pieces.

Charlotte Leisenring Robinson -

hat a thrill it was to find this site. My family will be visiting Elmira in August (2006) to bring Mom & Dad home to Woodlawn, so I've been "surfing" and am delighted to read the stories about the Mark Twain. Although we migrated south to Maryland our hearts will always belong to Elmira. And what wonderful memories we have of the Mark Twain Hotel.

It was "the place to be" for three generations of Leisenrings. For my grandparents and parents it was the "company dinners". My mom never tired of telling the story about sliding down the banister in her green satin gown. For me, it was the proms, mixers with boys from private schools, and most of all my wedding. Due to the closing of Remington Rand we relocated to Binghamton but I was adament about being married in Elmira. So the family and out of town guests, of course, booked rooms at the Mark Twain.

After the rehearsal dinner and bachelor/bachelorette parties we all gathered in the bar for a nightcap. The next morning at 5 a.m. I woke up too excited to sleep and will never forget hanging out the window of my room getting a last glimpse of Elmira before leaving my childhood behind.

Liz DuBois -

n your site I found the marvelous photo of Samuel Clemens standing on the steps of the Park Church along with a lot of other men. While the other men may not be important to anyone else, I strongly suspect that one of them was one of my Spaulding ancestors since the Spauldings also belonged to Park Church and my great-great-grandfather's sisters, Alice and Clara Spaulding, were great friends with Olivia Langdon. My question...does anyone have any idea of the identities of the other men in that photo???

Cheryl Stover Claney -

y mom, Nelda Segur Stover, was born and raised in Elmira. She graduated from South Side High in 1937. She met my dad, Robert Stover in February 1946 in the Hotel Bar at the Mark Twain Hotel. They married in September of 1946 and settled in the Boston area. They were married for 49 years, when Dad passed away in 1995. Mom is now 86 and is living in the Boston area in an Alzheimer's facility. I am planning a trip that takes me though Elmira on my way back to Chicago (my home) in August (2005). I have promised her that I will try to find her house that she grew up in on Charles St. and stop at the sight of the former Mark Twain Hotel!

Melodee Andersen -
Subject: Letter of Recommendation - 1932

y grandmother worked at the Mark Twain Hotel in 1931 and 1932. She received the following letter of recommendation from the Maitre D'Hotel dated Oct. 15th 1932...

"To Whom it May Concern;The bearer, Mildred Bristol, has been in my employ for more than a year and I have found her to be a conscientious worker, of fine character, pleasing personality and trustworthy. In my opinion, anyone needing her services will find her well qualified to fill the position.

Yours very truly,Jean Lannan
Maitre D'Hotel

Ronald W Miller -
Subject: Friday night ballroom dance lessons

n the mid 1940's my father played trumpet in the band at Ferguson's dance click here for our Remembering Elmira Pagestudio over the drugstore next to theRR overpass. Between Dad and my taking tap lessons at Fergies, I was able to take ballroom lessons on Friday nights at the Mark Twain. Once a month they used a live band (from Fergies) That's where I played in public for the 1st time. I think I was about 11 years old and scared to death, but Dad let me play the only song I knew, "I LOVE YOU TRULY". Still playing all around Florida where I frequently meet people from Elmira, like Bob Iszard in Lone Palm Country Club, Lakeland Fl. Because of the Mark Twain and Friday night dances, I'm one of the few musicians who I know that knows how to dance. Oh yes, I also remember giving a corsage to my date, Jeanette Wheeler, on those special monthly dances. They taught us more than just dancing. I attended SHS in 1949 but moved to St. Petersburg, Fl. and graduated there in 1953. Still visit Elmira and several relatives every few years.

Kerry Dare -
Subject: Manager of the Mark Twain

y only memory of the Mark Twain Hotel is that my aunt worked as a secretary for the manager whose name was Mr. Emerson, and that she really liked him. I believe I met him (once?) and in my memory he looked like David Niven - tall, thin and distinguished. This was probably in the mid-fifties. It would be very interesting if anyone knew him and if my memory of what he looked like was correct.

Bob Caparula -
Subject: WELM

remember as a Junior at EFA (1951) going to the Mark Twain Hotel and entering the studios of WELM to broadcast a live show called "The Elmira Public Schools are on the Air". I remember the theme song was Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue being played off a red 45 disc. I remember seeing the newsman (Gordon Ridenaur) It was like seeing a celebrity. Ahhh the memories!!!

Kerry Keel -
Subject: a memory & query

he only time I can remember being in the Mark Twain Hotel was Thanksgiving Day, 40 years ago. I can't say that I remember all that much about the dining room. I do remember how cold it was that day. We had spent the summer in Colorado because my father was at a school there. He had been sent to the ITU school in Colorado Springs to learn the newer processes for printing that the Star Gazette would be implementing. So, I had not had the chance to acclimatize to the weather changes. I really believe it was the wrong thing to do to make the hotel into apartments. Even if the hotel ran in the red, for historical reasons and for tourist traffic, I believe the hotel would have had a renewal in the later years as the historical impact would begin to draw customers. It is like the Langdon Plaza, where Twain's wife's family lived. The shops there do not do the site much good.My question is this, service wear from the hotel dining rooms, of what value might they be? I have one of the silver syrup bowls, for lack of a better description. I would like to know what it is worth. There is a very small place on one side where the silver was worn off of it.

Mike Neustadt -
Subject: The lobby parakeets

y parents and I moved to Elmira in 1957. We stayed at the Mark Twain for a night or two, waiting for our furniture to arrive. It was quite a luxury for a young boy of 12. I have a memory that I'm not so sure about now since no one else has mentioned them: the lobby parakeets. I remember that the lobby on the second floor had some cages full of parakeets. Did I dream that? Am I thinking of another place? I visited many more times over the next ten years or so, often for lunch in the Connecticut Yankee Restaurant - I had forgotten the name but was reminded by a posting on this site.There was a Travel Agent on the ground floor who was a friend of my mother. I enjoyed collecting brochures describing grand hotels in exotic locations and the ships and airplanes to take you there. I guess they had an effect on my life, as I am enjoying a grand career in the Travel Business.Thank you for this wonderful, memory filled site.

Edward B. Godwin -
Subject: Manners, Dances, and Candy

y mother insisted upon her four boys attending the Ferguson's dance classes. I suppose she hoped we would learn dances and manners. Of course, it was ballroom dancing. One of the evening events was the awarding of prizes--boxes of Fanny Farmer candies; they had a store in the hotel. Our EFA class of 1954 had our dinner there and later our family marriage celebrations there. I used to visit the WENY radio station to watch the AP wire ticker kick out news stories just like now we watch at the bottom of the TV channel ticker. I can even remember seeing a "human fly" climb up the outside of the hotel.

Mike George, EFA Class of 1959 -

avorite memories were Mr. Ferguson's Dance School, the banana splits, the Christmas Dance, the Fanny Farmer Store and the Young Bachelor's Dance. My wife, Margie Laux (formally Geraghty) used to own the Connecticut Yankee Lounge.

Cal Lewis -

henever I hear popular songs from the 40's and 50's, I think of dancing classes whose instructor was a little Napoleon-like figure named Ferguson. Does anybody remember him? He commanded attention with a pair of castanets. I think boys were recruited just so that the girls would have partners. I never again danced the way that he taught us. The lessons were conducted in the main ballroom. I think that I was in about the 7th or 8th grade at the time.

Jeanne (Gould) Freireich, SHS Class of 56 -

weet memories of this wonderful old building are of a couple of formals I had the pleasure to attend with a very nice Preppie. My last memory of the place was a scary meeting, for a teen, with the IRS, because of a mistake in my income tax return to the tune of $20.00. They came to get it!

Mary Costello, SHS Class of 58 -

ertainly I remember the proms we went to at the Mark Twain. Also, I remember my mother taking me to the ice cream shop there as a special treat. My favorites at that time were Hot Fudge, Butterscotch, and Mexican Sundaes. Yum!

Shirley Greene Keep, EFA Class of 52 -

can remember many fine events at the hotel, but none so cherished as our Senior Luncheon for the EFA Class of 1952. Our 50th anniversary is coming up June 2002. We had a lovely luncheon at the hotel. I also remember visiting my grandfather Thomas Towner, when he worked there as a baker, in the hotel kitchen. On one such occasion, I saw a visiting movie star, Pat O'Brien. That was a very exciting day for this small town girl. I will always consider Elmira my "home". Love to all.

Terry T. Williams, SHS Class of 1957 -

ad took me to the annual winter baseball banquet at the Mark Twain Hotel in 1951. I still have that event's program. As an interested young baseball fan, I sought to get some autographs of the guests. I saw an old man sitting at a table by himself. I asked him for his autograph. Nobody else seemed interested in talking to him. He asked me if I knew who he was. When I said that I knew him to be Mr. Frisch, he beamed a big smile and signed his name on my program. Frankie Frisch was the only member of the Baseball Hall Of Fame there that night! A young pitcher named Whitey Ford was also there, and I got his autograph, too!

David Taylor, SHS Class of 1960 -

hat click here for more Elmira memoriesI remember most about the Mark Twain Hotel is our Senior date was very good, the meal was very good, and I believe the maitre d' played an important role in helping the evening be especially good.  I think his name was Stanley Rybak.Thanks for a nice page.

Rose Klein, SHS Class of 1961 -

spent many nights in the hotel when I was a little girl as it was my place of residence during my mother's and father's separation. My father owned a restaurant on Railroad Ave. I have a green blanket from the hotel which says, Mark Twain Hotel, Elmira, New York. My mother, I believe, has some of the original dishes.

Bonnie Traum DiBello, SHS Class of 1960 -

his is great. It brings back such nice memories. I use to be so impressed by just walking into the hotel and up that magnificent stairway into the lobby. It made you feel special just being there. I went to a dance there in the ballroom when I was a freshman at SHS. It was an Easter Dance and I went with Senior Dick Hartman and double dated with John Thompson and his date. It is one of my favorite memories from high school.Thanks again for bringing back good memories of the past and why I still love Elmira and consider it home.

Jerry Lindsay, SHS Class of 1960 -

remember my twin brother and I took blind dates to a northside (EFA) ball at the hotel.  We sat down and exchanged the usual pleasantries, and soon discovered that while I liked to "fast dance" (jitterbug) and my brother did not, my date didn't fast dance but his did; so, we excused ourselves, went to the rest room and returned, sitting with the other's date.  The music started, I grabbed my date, and danced all night. To this day, I'm convinced that the girls never knew that we made the switch.

I remember the senior prom the most.  I took the most wonderful girl of the entire four years of high school - Carole Battisti.  We spent most of the week preparing the ballroom to look like the Champs Elysees - complete with La Tour Eiffel. I believe that mural remained for some time in the French classroom.  As the party heated up, Carole and I really got into our jitterbugging, and before we knew it the whole crowd was circling us cheering us on.  My brother reminded me of that moment nearly every time we got into remeniscing.

Those dances were even more special because we all came from the "southside" and dared to have fun in the heart of "where it was at" on the north side.  The flower shops did a land office business, and that's when I learned just what a nosegay was.  But just as much a part of these memories were the times when with our parents, we would step out of the clamor of shopping and duck into the glamor of lunch in the Connecticut Yankee Room. I remember peering out of those small square windows right next to the shoppers who were still frantically shopping.  The time when we didn't have lunch there it was the dining room in the basement of Iszards.  But that's another whole set of memories. 

Over all these memories, I recall the Christmas decorations in the lobby of the hotel.  The curved staircase leading to the ballroom was draped with garlands and red satin ribbon.  The reception area leading to the ballroom was always a place for last minute primping before the grand entrance.  I remember one of my friends spending the entire evening bummed out because his date dropped her orchid corsage while she was trying to pin it on and accidentally stepped on it - crushed all the life out of it in a split second.  It was not a pretty picture.Though the physical presence of the hotel has changed forever, the memories go on. 

The word elegance comes to mind when I think of the Mark Twain Hotel - and it's prominence as a place where things happened stands out when I remember the annual Arctic League Christmas drive.  Many people whom I knew were scheduled to make presentations, and I recall being glued to the radio after church on Sunday afternoons - radio station WENY and WELM - to hear some of my friends perform.We can be grateful that this home page has given us the opportunity to keep our memories alive - for while the Mark Twain may not always be with us, the memories live on. 

Recalling all these things brings to mind many other thoughts, but I'll leave these for another time. I'll look forward to others' albums of memories. They will give me a chance to share the momories with my lovely wife, Harriette.  We still have  property in Pine City and do make it back there occasionally.  Best regards to all whose foundations were formed in and around the best little city in America. Thank you for developing the site.

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