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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 86

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Chapter 12 The Day the Banks Closed… Depression - the Mining Town’s and Mine… Roundup at the Bell Ranch… First Day’s Ride for a Tenderfoot… Bull Fights, Dogies, and Professional Wranglers FROM THE TIME OF ITS DISCOVERY, Tonopah had been financed by eastern investors, but as the new camps came along, California speculators became more and more actively involved. As a result of the earthquake, development money from California, previously so easy to secure, dried up almost overnight. This situation became part of a chain reaction extending across the nation in 1907, and the financial panic began. One morning in October the three Tonopah banks failed to open. The news came to me by telephone. I had no real comprehension of what the bank closings would mean to Tonopah or to us personally, but instinctively I knew we were faced with misfortune. From my windows I could see groups of men on every street corner, talking excitedly. I asked Fong to watch out for little Hugh and skipped down the hill to Jen Stock’s house. I had to talk to someone, and she was so level- headed. But she wasn’t home, so I continued on over the hill to see Pearl Bartlett. George and Pearl Bartlett had just moved into a really magnificent home. It was rumored to have cost $ 75,000. I think I had expected to find her in tears, but to my astonishment Pearl met me with a bright smile. “ Hello,” she said. “ What does all this mean to you and Hugh?” She spoke as if it were a new strike instead of a calamity. “ I don’t know,” I replied; “ like everybody else, we’ve invested a lot of money, but I know Hugh’s pretty cautious. He’d never be tempted to go in too deeply.” Pearl threw back her head and laughed. “ We’ll be skinned alive.” Then she added quickly, “ But it was wonderful while it lasted. You know, Marjorie, they can’t take away from us what we’ve already had.” I never forgot that remark. I never forgot her gay laugh either, although we both knew the family would be bound with chains of debt for years. In a few months the Bartletts were living in a rented cottage in Reno, stripped of all they owned, but as happy on the surface as they were when stocks were soaring. Most of our friends were involved in the collapse in one way or another, and they all seemed to take it lightly. The gambler’s code is not to squeal when he loses. But my own reactions were deep and slow. I knew Hugh’s clients - the Mine Operators’ Association, the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad, and one of

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 86
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