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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 34

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The Oddies were a high- spirited family. Of the five brothers and sisters, Sarah was the most striking - tall and slender, with large capable hands, unruly red-blonde hair, and a wide smile disclosing firm white teeth. An able horsewoman, as all the sisters were, she was particularly at home in the saddle. My most vivid recollection of Sarah is riding “ Bill Nye,” a black Thoroughbred that snorted and cavorted and danced himself into a lather. Sarah managed him with courage, plainly enjoying the excitement for he was just dangerous enough to demand all the skill she possessed. Speaking of the Oddie horses reminds me of an incident with Tasker and Rondo. I happened to be at the upper end of town on the road leading to a location called “ The I Divide" when I heard a horse galloping toward me. It was Rondo, covered with foam, clattering over the hill, Tasker up, face red and eyes blazing. As he drew rein in front of me, he shouted, “ This damn horse tried to kill me! He tried to scrape me off that building. This time I wore him down. I ran him clear out to the Divide and back.” I called, “ You both look as if you had been through a battle." But I don’t think he heard me with Rondo snorting so. “ He’s wicked! Meanest brute I ever owned,” Tasker yelled as they danced away. And you love him for his wickedness, I thought as I watched them disappear. Rondo was Tasker’s favorite among all his saddle horses, but every moment he was on that animal’s back was a struggle for mastery. Rondo was a true challenge to his master’s magnificent horsemanship. Tasker's fortune continued to grow for a number of years, for his interests were scattered all over southern Nevada , but his heart was centered in a huge ranch in Monitor Valley some sixty miles east of Tonopah. Pine Creek Ranch was ten thousand acres of beautiful grazing land stocked with blooded cattle, by means of which Tasker planned to raise the standard of livestock throughout the state. His prize Hereford bull was the noblest animal I ever saw. We all loved to be invited to Pine Creek, for Tasker was a delightful host indeed. As long as the weather would permit, eight months in the year, the rambling ranch house bulged with company, Nevadans and easterners. Literally, we ate off the fat of the land, rode horseback over the lovely countryside, and sat on the wide porch of the ranch house watching the Herefords roam the hills, while the lights and shadows of desert sunlight made pictures in pastel. The year Halley’s Comet made its appearance, we were at Pine Creek, and all got up at four o’ clock in the morning to watch it go trailing across the clear desert sky - a celestial pony tail.



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