Probably no one was better acquainted with Sam Clemens in his younger days than Mrs. Laura (Hawkins) Frasier, his childhoood sweetheart, schoolmate and playmate, now matron at the Home for the Friendless.
Mrs. Frazier is the original Becky Thatcher in "Tom Sawyer," and no one else. She was Sam Clemens' first sweetheart as Clemens himself has testified, for when he was married he sent her an invitation in the care of her brother, with this note:
"Mrs. -----" (married name unknown) "formerly Miss Laura Hawkins, first sweetheart of one of the within named parties twenty-nine years ago. Pardon the suggestive figures."
This card Mrs. Farsler now has in her possession and she prizes it very highly.
In October, 1908, Mrs. Frazier visited Mark Twain's home at Stormfield, near Redding, Conn., spending a week as the guest of the noted humorist.
Leaning back in her easy reclining chair, Mrs. Frazier recalled to memory the things that happened when she and Mark attended school together: "Sam and I started going to school the same year; he was seven and I was six. We lived opposite each other on Hill street. Sam had long golden curis hanging over his shoulders at that time. He used to carry my books to school every morning, bring them home for me in the afternoon, and occasionally he would treat me to apples, oranges and such things, or divide his candy with me.
"In the winter when the creeks or the river were frozen, Sam spent a greater part of his time on the ice. I couldn't skate, but he always arranged for me to go along in the crowd. He used to push me along on the ice in a split-bottom chair. He was a fine skater, too, in fact, he was good at anything he undertook. I remember the last time I saw Sam when he was a boy. It was just before he left Hannibal for the last time. We were skating on Bear creek and I can distinctly recall that I had trouble in getting on one of my skates and Sam performed the services very beautifully.
"The first time I ever saw Sam was on a hot summer day. He came out of his home, opposite mine, and started showing off, turning handsprings and cutting capers just as described in 'Tom Sawyer.' I remember one time when we were riding saplings, and I was thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious. I recall hearing the children talking about how badly scared Sam was."
Mrs. Frazier is a gentle and winsome lady, with wavy, rebellious gray hair; eyes that glow like those of a young girl, and a charm of manner that makes every one love her. Long before Mr. Clemens was married, she became the wife of Al Frazier, now deceased. She has been the matron of the Home for the Friendless here for many years, and there could be no more worthy one.
Mrs. Frazier knows very well that she was the Becky, and she rejoices in it, for she loves Sam Clemens, with a tender, disinterested affection that is the foundation of those sweet friendships that time cannot change. His fame and high position do not concern her beyond that they are the tributes to the goodness and greatness of her childhood sweetheart.