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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 57

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At the scene of the contests and races, Al Meyers was king. Al, one of the original locators of Goldfield, along with Charlie Taylor and Harry Stimler, had made a fabulous fortune through the sale of his claims. On this day he became a self- constituted dispenser of prize money, standing in the center of the street and singling out disconsolate losers. “ Hey, you there! Tell the kid with the freckles to come here.” Over and over again I heard him call to some youngster in the crowd. “ Did you get a prize?” “ No, sir.” “ Why sure you did. Here, here’s a dollar. That’s third prize. You ran a fine race. Here, you go over there and tell that fellow you want some ice cream. Is this your sister? No? Well, you take her along anyway. Hey, what’s the matter, a big galoot like you comin' in fourth? Here! Now go get yourself an ice cream soda. Go on. Quit cryin'!" “ Aw, I ain’t cryin’!” “ Sure you are. They can hear ya bawlin’ way over to Goldfield. Go drown yer sorrow in a soda mug. Go on.” “ Gee, thanks, mister. Hey, fellas! He gave me five dollars! Come on!" “ What’s the matter, lady? Ya didn’t miss them nails, by any chance? Yea, sure, that’s strawberry jam on your fingers. Well, here, go buy the old man a drink. Tell ‘ im prize for bein’ game. Tell ‘ im I said so.” All afternoon, out in the hot sun, Al Myers picked losers and handed out dollars. Many men have that sympathetic impulse to comfort the loser, but few have the chance or the wherewithal to accomplish it. Later that night we heard that Al was down in a back room of the Merchants Hotel playing roulette with twenty- dollar gold pieces, five to each turn of the wheel. It was always a show when any of the big gamblers got to playing for high stakes, so we went down to swell the crowd standing in the shadows watching. Al Meyers on one side of the table under the big light and the dealer on the other, the little ball spinning, dropping at last into a slot with that unmistakable click that breaks the breathless tension. What Al Meyers lost that night was up in the thousands. His money didn’t last very long, but while it did, he lived his idea of a king’s life. That’s something of which few of us can boast. Many spectacular figures were in evidence during the celebration. Hugh called my attention to Governor John Sparks, walking down the street with another man. The man with the governor, Hugh told me, was Jack Davis,



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