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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 61

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Chapter 9 A New House… Mission Furniture and Inside Plumbing!… An Elegant Social with Music from the Red light… Of Baby Food and Frontier Doctors… The Wonderful Vacuum Cleaner… Fire!… Some Unforgettable Household Helpers IN THE FALL OF 1905, our stay in Tonopah was beginning to take on an air of permanence. In addition, we were excitedly anticipating the birth of out first child, and so we began to think seriously of a home of our own. I wanted to build where we used to walk out at sunset to watch the progress of the railroad construction camp. From there our windows would face a hundred miles of uninterrupted grandeur with, at nightfall, the pageantry of sunsets that only desert air and far horizons can produce. In the middle distance lay a clump of low hills, so washed by centuries of rain that mineral deposits had come to the surface in patches of color: red, purple and deep yellow, looking like pigments on an artist’s palette. But my husband thought the view would not compensate for the winter winds, and of course he was right, though I regretted the loss of all that beauty beyond our windows. I had been getting progressively more homesick for San Francisco as the months wore on. Now that the railroad was here, I could make the trip in ease, and I had a real reason for going - furnishings for our new home! So I boarded the train with happy anticipation. As the ferryboat slipped into the pier in San Francisco, the warmth of my family’s exuberant affection quickened my heart beat. Even in the midst of all my excitement, I looked at the women around me with an inner chuckle, for I thought of what Mrs. Knight had said about walking up Market Street some day feeling dowdy. Well, she was right. Two years had certainly made me out of date. The lovely tailored suit I had worn, feeling so emancipated in the skirt four inches off the ground, was now much too long, and there wasn’t an Eton jacket in sight. With my store of rich experiences, I was eager for an audience. I had brought a little bag of high- grade dust from Goldfield, and with all the skill of a seasoned prospector, I proudly panned dirt for my family and friends, dramatically rolling the beautiful stuff around in the bottom of my mother’s smallest frying pan. I had brought exquisite specimens of blistered high- grade from Goldfield, and I had a bit of ruby silver from the Montana, which made lots of conversation until its lovely color faded away. For a month my mother and I had wonderful time shopping in the morning and going to the theatre every possible afternoon – light opera, vaudeville, and best of all, Camille, with Madame Helena Modjeska. It was a rich experience to see that lovely, homely wonderful actress! All this entertainment and

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 61
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