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The New York Times, November 8, 1901

Paperhanger's Anecdote Wins the Greatest Share of the Audience's Applause.

Samuel L. Clemens, ("Mark Twain,") and Patrick H. Coakley, a paperhanger, met last night on the little stage of the Good Citizenship Association of the East Side Settlement House, Seventy-sixty Street and East River. Both were there to entertain a large audience by telling stories. Mr. Coakley was not embarrassed by his distinguished rival, and Mr. Clemens acknowledged that the paperhanger received the lion's share of the applause. Clarence Gordon introduced the speakers. He said, in part:

"We captured Mr. Clemens in the wilds of Riverside. Mr. Coakley we caught here on the east side. Mr. Clemens did not want to come. It was not the first time I had tried to capture Mr. Clemens, whom I have known for many years. Not long ago I found him in a barber's chair next to mine. The barbers were through at the same time, and I hailed Mr. Clemens. He did not seem to recognize me. He said: "You are a bunko steerer; by-by. But I caught him at Riverside by showing him the membership of this club, and when I told him that our motto was 'Our neighbor is ourselves in another body,' he agreed to come."

Mr. Clemens received a cordial welcome. He said in part:

"I may have taken Mr. Gordon for a bunco steerer. He had the light in his eyes which told me that he wanted something out of me. I am, however, very glad to be here with you, 'captured.' I have been too busy to prepare an address, and will read from a recent magazine article of mine telling how a chimney sweep got the ear of the Emperor. It explains how watermelon is a cure for dysentery. There are many remedies most people know little about. Incidentally the impossible may happen.

"You go to the drug store to get something to keep the hair from falling out. Beware of drug stores. My hair was rapidly leaving me, and I spoke to a friend of mine, a very old and wise man like myself. He told me that if I would just plow my hair twice a day with a stiff brush it would be all right. I have not lost a hair in eleven years, and there is quite some of it. [Applause.]

"I told the remedy to our pastor in Hartford. One Saturday night he was through with the preparation of his sermon and saw a bottle on the dressing table. He took it for a hair restorer and forgot about plowing the hair with a brush. In the morning his hair was green. He had used a very good hair dye. He had to preach the sermon, but the congregation wondered about his hair and forgot about the sermon." [Laughter.]

Mr. Clemens then read his magazine article. This occasioned a good deal of merriment, but did not equal the appreciation manifest during the story of Mr. Coakley, who said:

"Once on a time there was a very old couple in Ireland. They had seen better days and earned a living by playing music in public places. he played the fiddle and she the piano. Theirs was a life of harmony. But there came a discord. The old lady kept bewailing over the better days. He grew tired of it, and they quarreled. They would not speak.

"Among their possessions was one of those old-fashioned beds, a big four poster. It was the kind that you could not get into any house on the east side today. [Laughter.] The old man put the fiddle in the middle of the bed. The bed was a big one, I tell you. He had caught a terrible cold, and was awakened in the night by a terrific sneezing fit that made the fiddle moan. [Laughter.] The old wife in the Irish way said 'God bless you.' He sneezed again to hear her say it, and again she said 'God bless you.'

" 'Do you mean that?' says he.

"With all my heart,' says she. 'I love you with all my heart.'

"Then she gets up and fixes his feet in hot water and mustard and nurses and cheers him while he plays 'For Auld Lang Syne' on the fiddle. [Cheers.]

"And so it is that a kind work, or an old loved adage may reunite the loving. Don't ever let a chance for a pleasant word, a happy 'good morning' or 'good night' fail to fall from your lips." [Cheers.]

Foremost in the applause was Mr. Clemens, and when it had died away he and the old paperhanger shook hands.

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