This year brought about lots of charters with clients catching lots of fish, having lots of fun and most importantly, lots of good memories. I traveled to Cuba to dive and fish while Vicki visited family in Dallas and Chicago. We traveled to destinations in Europe exploring, snorkeling, diving, boating and fishing. One of my most treasured memories however, is that of returning home to Hannibal, Missouri to visit my family and attend functions surrounding Tom Sawyer Days.
It is no secret that National Tom Sawyer Days is an event steeped in tradition, embodying the characters, thoughts and lore surrounding Hannibal’s favorite son Mark Twain. This year marked the 60th year capturing the innocence and interest tied to the event as much as the much-anticipated crowning of the new Tom and Becky. The thing that made our trip extra special was the fact that our nephew, Rhet Reed (13), was among 5 finalists being considered for this year’s Tom Sawyer.
To my recollection, the month of June has been a celebratory month for Tom Sawyer Days, including a fence-painting contest at Mark Twain’s Boyhood home. This visit re-kindled memories of the past and I agree with Mark Twain that; when one returns home, nothing is as big as one remembers’. Houses are much smaller, the main streets are narrower and the geographical area of the town is less than I recall. The river harbor (which I considered huge 40 years ago) has docks for only a few small slips for flat bottom fishing boats, runabouts, small cabin cruises and small houseboats. Only the mighty Mississippi River is as big and powerful as I remembered.
Vicki and I were in the thick of things. A full day with our niece, Tara Reed (9), to tour Mark Twain’s historical sights such as, his boyhood home, his fathers law office, the jail and general store. Climbing Cardiff Hill for a view from the world’s only inshore lighthouse over-looking the Mississippi.
Attending a dinner cruise aboard the Mark Twain River Boat with all of the Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher finalists who would continue to audition for the titles while on the cruise. Family and friends, who never left the little river town of Hannibal, enjoyed a delightful evening with food, drink and entertainment while becoming re-acquainted. They included bankers, business owners, tradesmen, contract workers railroad conductors and engineers (just like my father and Rhet’s grandfather, Harry Fisher, who once engineered iron horses on the railroad tracks along the river).
I invited my life-long friend, Don Burroughs and his wife Debbie, to join us on the cruise. Don and I were Boy Scouts together exploring area caves, hillsides, cliffs and river bottoms. He and Debbie are collectors of Mark Twain arts and crafts and we were honored with their presence.
Aboard the vessel, Captain Terry of Hannibal (Owner of the paddle boat) and a graduate of Hannibal Senior High School (just like me), invited me to take the helm. Piloting toward the bridge, my thoughts went back to yesterday; fishing on the riverbank as a young boy, and learning to navigate my first boat (a 16ft. Mark Twain fiberglass tri-hull).
The formal announcement of the winners came July 4 (during the 4th of July Celebrations). Rhet Reed and Molly Broughton became the official 2015 Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. They will represent Hannibal at numerous local, regional, state and even national functions. They will be two of the town’s top tourist attractions, the faces for all that is Mark Twain. Congratulations Rhet and Molly!
This is Captain Terry Fisher of Fish Face Charters hoping that you enjoy this Adventure of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.
By Captain Terry Fisher