A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 9
excellent conversationalist, and his explanation of the development of the mines aroused an interest in me that I never lost.* About seven o’clock, terribly tired, we arrived at the station called Haw thorne, where passengers and crew were to spend the night. This being my wedding journey, I wore a blue “ going away” suit and a hat of solid red poppies. Hugh said my hat shed a glow in the darkness “ second only to my eyes.” But even the pretty compliment wasn’t enough to raise my flagging enthusiasm, nor did the sight of the hotel - a square black blob in the darkness with a thin sickly light from somewhere in the interior - do anything to reassure me. Indeed, my unfavorable impression was justified. Our “ dinner” was set out on a large oblong table covered with dark brown oilcloth. It was lighted from above by a metal kerosene lamp with a wide, bell- like paper shade, which threw a dim glow down over the table. Just under the lamp a big round shadow spread over the food and shifted eerily as the winter wind swept in when the door was opened. Beyond the rim of the lamplight, the room stretched away into the depths of night shadow. Passengers and crew scuffed into the room, scraped kitchen chairs over the bare floor, and sat down at the one big table. Everything we ate was greasy and tasteless. Hugh ate the boiled beef, dried- up tomatoes, and stiff, crumbly biscuits with apparent relish. As I had known him, he had been rather fastidious, but ten months of mining camp life had taught him to eat what was set in front of him - or else. I was hungry and glad to have food of any kind. I drifted alone into a little box of a room with big- patterned maroon wallpaper and a few sagging upholstered chairs, which served as a parlor. There I found a piano. I sat down and played the sweet, sentimental songs I was accustomed to sing for my friends at home in San Francisco -“ The Four Leaf Clover,” “ Forgotten,” “ Little Boy Blue,” “ Glow Worm.” The hotelkeeper’s wife came in to the room, a large, handsome brunette with n pompadour and fringe bang. After standing there listening for a moment, she said, “ You’re Mrs. Hugh Brown, aren’t you?” The falling inflection demanded no reply. I nodded and smiled. “ You haven’t been married very long.” Again the falling inflection of a statement of fact. * Today, just off Highway 95 as one approaches Tonopah, there is a square monument of native stone, about five feet high. Under this cairn lie JohnKirchen’s ashes. By his request, his final resting place is the desert he loved and from which his genius extracted so many millions.
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