A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 75
“ He’s in a dump they call the Empire Building. You take the hoist to the tenth level, then take the first crosscut to the east, and you’ll see his location notice on the door.” But Dick was also given to the fast quip. I had tried the cream tart stunt one night, and didn’t have all the letters necessary. “ I just haven’t tarts enough to go around,” I remarked ruefully as I passed the plate of dessert. Quick as a flash, Dick turned to the man next to him. “ Say,” he said, “ were you ever at a party where there were enough tarts?” We never knew what kind of an adventure story was going to be told around our table on Sunday evening, or what new experience would come of the stranger brought along by one of our guests. One of the most delightful surprises happened the night Charles Knox brought with him Mr. Parkhurst, an officer in the Montana Company. After supper Mr. Parkhurst sat down at the piano and played softly while the others were still chatting at the table. I sat nearby, raptly listening. At last he turned to me and asked me about the plans we ladies were making for a library. I was surprised at his remark, for the idea was so new 1 did not expect anyone to mention it. But I explained to him that there was no place in town where the miners could go except the saloons. Mr. Parkhurst wondered if they wanted to go anywhere else. “ If they had a room uptown where they could go and read quietly, they would use it,” I replied. We ladies were sure they would. Mr. Knox came over from the table and joined us. He said that he had been mulling the idea over in his mind since he had first heard of it. He thought that every man who could be encouraged to patronize such a room would be just that much less grief for the mine operators and would keep some of his money in his own pocket. He thought the operators ought to help. Mr. Parkhurst agreed and, turning back to me, promised to give us five hundred dollars. “ I’ll do more than that,” added Mr. Knox, “ I’ll take it up with the Mine Operators’ Association and see if we can’t give you a lot to build a cabin on.” A few days later, I received a letter from Mr. Knox enclosing a check for a thousand dollars and a deed to a lot on Mineral Street. With this boost for our enthusiasm, we plunged ahead, first with a book social, then with a minstrel show at the Opera House and other festivities until we had enough money to put up a beautiful little stone building. There we gathered several thousand volumes, as well as subscriptions to a few newspapers and magazines. The library was a great addition to the town and was used by everyone. I look back with real happiness to the creation of that little building. It was as near as I ever came to experiencing Al Meyer’s opportunity to create something soul-satisfying.
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