A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 31
that is, clearing out the debris after a dynamite blast with a shovel, or “ muck-stick.” In eighteen months the leasers - perhaps 160 men - produced four million dollars for themselves. When the surface deposits had been worked out and the waste dumps worked over, these young leasers could no longer function. After that, Tonopah settled down to a steady growth under the management of eastern capitalists, who hired an army of specialists to sink deep shafts, trace rich veins out into unknown territory, and reduce ore- bearing rock to bullion. Typical of the men who made fortunes out of the leasing system was Tom Lynch, and his marriage to May Edwards, a tall, handsome blonde, was not only a social highlight, but it dramatized the leasing period. Tom knew everyone, and the invitation to his wedding reception was published in the Tonopah Bonanza. Dress suits and gowns from Paris rubbed shoulders with business suits and clean khaki. Opera hats and ostrich plumes mingled with wide Stetsons and miners’ caps. I remember well what I wore that night: a semi- evening dress of heavy black silk, trimmed with smocking around the waist and down over the hips, very flattering to the Gibsonesque hourglass figure of the day. The hat I wore with it was a creation of black lace with two long black ostrich feathers curling down directly back of my left ear. Tom’s house, up on the hill very close to our own, had been trans- formed from a little four- roomed shack into an irregular but spacious home of eight rambling rooms. The wedding was held in the Catholic Church, and the reception was at their home. On the dining table was a big punch bowl into which two men poured champagne, while two others rapidly ladled it into glasses, which were emptied and refilled as fast as hands could move. The crowd milled up to the table and away, a continual churning for hours. Every possible space in that house was covered with wedding presents. My little house was bulging with my own wedding presents, and they weren’t a tenth of what had been sent to this bride. What could the new Mrs. Lynch do with this flood of gifts I often wondered. After the reception our little coterie decided to end the evening at our house. Hugh came trudging up the hill a little late, his arms stacked high with bottles of champagne. I was furious. We had had all the champagne that was good for us. Turning to him with great dignity, I said, “ You shouldn’t have done it! I don’t want anyone to go from my house tipsy away.” With a roar that shook the little house, the bottles were dragged from Hugh’s arms and opened, corks popping like a toy pistol barrage.
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