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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 72

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closed. Golden put two men to work on the cut while he opened a little hole-in- the- wall jewelry shop on Main Street near the Merchants’ Hotel. They broke into ore just beyond where the vein had faulted, and Frank Golden netted $ 5oo, ooo. He thought it would be nice to put up “ the first permanent building” in Tonopah, but there wasn’t anything around to build with. Then he noticed a patch of white stone showing behind where our house now was. He discovered that it was soft and easy to quarry, and that it hardened when it was exposed to the air. So he put up the little building - a good job, too, tight and warm. Then he went to Reno and built the Golden Hotel, where we stayed the night we came into Reno on our honeymoon. Zeb Kendall, the “ big promoter” who had been one of our traveling companions on the stage to Tonopah, was another whose mercurial fortunes often came up for discussion around our Sunday night supper table. Probably the most dynamic men of the camp, the promoters never prospected but always knew where money could be flushed out to option any “ likely lookin”’ spot of ground. They were intelligent, usually educated, and well dressed. Zeb loved the little brown- eyed girl who had been queen of the Railroad Days parade, Belle Pepper; he hovered over her like a Newfoundland over a kitten. I think her woman’s intuition warned her that she would have a precarious life if she married him. Zeb played for high stakes over the table as well as underground, but ultimately, Belle did marry him and followed him through one fortune after another. Once, when I knew he was “ in the money,” I told him that he ought to buy his wife an annuity so that she and the boys would be safe no matter what happened to him. “ Oh, I do,” he said, rubbing the side of his face with the flat of his hand, a characteristic mannerism. “ Every time I make a stake, I always put money away for her, but I always get to needing it and have to borrow it back.” Zeb and Belle had a son who was born on Abraham Lincoln’s centenary. Zeb was in the Nevada State Senate at the time, and the legislature passed a bill naming the boy Abraham Lincoln Kendall. His mother was furious. She said to me, “ I don’t want the boy called ‘ Abe’ all his life!” But there was nothing she could do about it; it was a law. Exciting as were the reports of new strikes, it was the anecdotes about high finance that really provided thrills. One of our guests told us that the money poured in so fast, they were ashamed to take it to the bank. A hundred thousand dollars in one day. They kept it in an old roll top desk, and sat up all night with their feet cocked up against it so they’d look casual and discourage a hold- up. “ And, by God,” our friend said, “ I nearly landed in jail. Some fellows were selling stock in ground they knew

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 72
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