Angels Camp is the one incorporated city in Calaveras County, California. Mark Twain’s story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” won him his first national recognition as a writer. That story, written in 1865, was set right here in Angels Camp. This bust of Mark Twain sat in the window of Angel’s Camp World Mercantile last October.
Mark Twain was a unique character if ever there was one. I’ve copied a paragraph of the frog story for you which I found at twain.liv.virginia.edu. I’ve bolded the best parts for those of you for whom English is a second language. Also, note that rat-tarriers means the dog breed rat terrier; Cal’klated is calculated, and edercate is educate.
Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tom- cats, and all of them kind of things, till you couldn’t rest, and you couldn’t fetch nothing for him to bet on but he’d match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal’klated to edercate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He’d give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut see him turn one summerset, or may be a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of catching flies, and kept him in practice so constant, that he’d nail a fly every time as far as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do most any thing and I believe him. Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog and sing out, “Flies, Dan’l, flies!” and quicker’n you could wink, he’d spring straight up, and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor again as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightforward as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had traveled and been everywheres, all said he laid over any frog that ever they see.
That’s the end of the excerpt from the one-of-a-kind story, by the one-of-kind author, set in the one-of-kind place, as I was inspired to share it with you owing to the Weekly Photo Challenge, “One.” Hope you like it.