University of Nevada, Las Vegas

A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 79

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I have not the slightest recollection of what opera we heard that first night. The excitement of the day, the beautiful hotel room, the new clothes, with Hugh so handsome in his dress suit and top hat, drove everything else out of my mind. But the following night Caruso, at the top of his career, sang Carmen! To this moment, I can hear his honeyed voice with its strange pathos soaring through the high vaulted ceiling of the Morosko Opera House. After the performance we returned quickly to the hotel, for we had invited a half- dozen Tonopah friends to join us for supper in the Palm Court. The gayly ornamented room was crowded with richly dressed men and women, while from the eight crystal- chandeliered galleries above, people looked down on the brilliant scene. Judge Jackson was one of our guests that night, and in the course of conversation he reminded me of the remark he had made that night in Goldfield about out making a hundred thousand dollars. I interrupted him, “ And didn’t I tell you we’d make three times that amount?” He smiled understandingly. “ Yes,” he said, “ and I guess you will.” We were among the last to leave the Palm Court that night. Hugh and I went up in the elevator to our room, feeling life could add nothing more to our happiness. We walked through the wide, red- carpeted halls, eloquent of the grandeur of an earlier day; now another Nevada boom was on and we were part of it! I slipped off my pretty blue dress and laid it carefully over the big upholstered chair. After our full day, sleep came easily and quickly. Suddenly I was awakened by a strange rumbling that grew louder and angrier as it came nearer, culminating in a violent heaving and shaking. Then the terrifying sound of breaking glass followed, and plaster and soot showered down on us. In terror, I clutched my husband. He kept saying, as he leaned over me protectingly, “ It’s all right, dear! It’s all right!” I knew what it was. I had been born in San Francisco. An earthquake - a terrible one! Then came that ghastly few minutes of stillness. I have read a great deal about people’s impressions of the shock, but no one seems to have recorded the seemingly interminable moment of still- ness that followed it. Then little sounds began, swelling fast to the noise and confusion of rushing feet out in the hall. We slipped out of bed and looked through the jagged glass of our windows to the big plate glass frames of the Southern Pacific offices opposite. They were empty holes. Down on the street lay piles of shattered fragments, together with countless bricks that seemed to have rained from the sky. In the softness of the early morning light, I stood there long enough to take in the scene. Then

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 79
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