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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 66

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had left a burning candle that ultimately ignited the timber on which it was resting. Tonopah declared a week of mourning. The caskets lay in state in the Miners’ Union Headquarters, surrounded by a guard of honor. Hundreds of miners arrived from nearby camps. With drums muffled and flags furled in black crepe, they walked behind trucks bearing the caskets through driving sleet to the drab little cemetery at the end of Main Street. We had two regular newspapers in Tonopah. The Tonopah Sun was edited by L. C. Branson, a cold, hard man I could never get close to; but I had a real affection for the rough- diamond qualities of Bil Booth, who edited the rival daily, the Tonopah Bonanza. When I had causes to defend, I went to Bill Booth, and I always got a square deal from his paper. Arthur Buel was a cartoonist on the Tonopah Sun, a really good artist. He drew remarkably fine portraits of our leading citizens as well as delightful cartoons, his signature for which was a little burro. Arthur himself was a character right out of Bret Harte, with a big lumbering body and a heart as big. No “ fancy pants,” he liked those quiet little evenings when the boys got to fogging around the saloons. I have a vivid memory of one of Arthur’s escapades. During the camp’s later and more “ respectable” years, the Butler saloon was turned into a small theatre. One troupe of traveling actors presented a show that was a marvel of gay- nineties entertainment, with women of uncertain age dressed as babies, and real stunt men and comedians. The prima donna was a large, florid woman with a big pompadour and wasp waist, who sang such popular songs of the period as “ Wouldn’t You Like to See a Little More of Me?” and “ How About a Little Lovin’.” One night Arthur Buel decided to accept her invitation. As she leered down at him from the stage, he clambered over the seats, stepped from the piano onto the stage, grabbed her, and planted a manly kiss squarely on her painted mouth. Indignant, she pushed him away and marched off the stage, with Arthur in pursuit. Suddenly there was a loud smack, and Arthur came flying out on the stage, rubbing his cheek. Amid howls of laughter from all of us, he climbed down over the piano again and made sheepishly for his seat. Twenty years later he came to my home in California with a car load of family - the same smiling, rollicking Arthur Buel, just bigger and shaggier, that was all. I was so glad to see him, I hugged him, and Mrs. Buel stood by with an expression that plainly said, “ Oh, I’m used to that. Everybody loves my husband.”



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