Viewing Entry - Vagabond adventures (E14338) by Keeler, Ralph
Playing time for epub/audio formats : 5 hours 21 minutes
Author / Responsible party
Autobiography. Minstrel shows. History. Humour. Squalid adventures.
Ralph Keeler failed as a novelist, but this autobiography reflects a life well-lived with humor and adventure - Ralph Keeler wrote the Vagabond Adventures which he had lived. He had been, as he claimed, “a cruel uncle’s ward” in his early orphan-hood, and while yet almost a child he had run away from home, to fulfil his heart’s desire of becoming a clog-dancer in a troupe of negro minstrels. But it was first his fate to be cabin-boy and bootblack on a lake steamboat, and meet with many squalid adventures, scarcely to be matched outside of a Spanish picaresque novel. When he did become a dancer (and even a danseuse) of the sort he aspired to be, the fruition of his hopes was so little what he imagined that he was very willing to leave the Floating Palace on the Mississippi in which his troupe voyaged and exhibited, and enter the college of the Jesuit Fathers at Cape Girardeau in Missouri. He had a philosophy which he liked to impress with a vivid touch on his listener’s shoulder: “Put your finger on the present moment and enjoy it. It’s the only one you’ve got, or ever will have.”
Keeler was in the same literary circle as satirist Bret Harte, novelist Charles Warren Stoddard, editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and essayist William Dean Howells. He so impressed Mark Twain that Twain wrote an essay about him called "Ralph Keeler". In 1873, on his way to Cuba, he reportedly was thrown overboard by a Spanish loyalist who objected to his backing of the revolutionary, anti-Spanish movement.