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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 98

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Chapter 14 An Old Friend Becomes Governor… Launching the “ Nevada”… Other Old- Timers Rise to Fame… Hugh and the American Bar… Dining with the Herbert Hoovers As THE WONDERFUL AND BUSY YEARS ADVANCED, the early comers who had struck it rich in Nevada mining became established citizens and men of power in the state. Many, like Hugh, moved onto a larger stage. Tasker Oddie, long the “ first citizen” of Tonopah, was inevitably one of these. With the passing years, Tasker had played in unbelievably bad luck. All over the state he poured money into mining ventures without success. At last he was back to the impecunious state of his early manhood, and his beloved ranch in Monitor Valley was turned over to one of the banks. In 1911, Tasker decided to run for the governorship. He had all the requisites for political success except one - money. But he refused to let that stop him. With his last few dollars he overhauled his old Thomas Flyer and started across the desert to the nearest town. Without cash Tasker could not rent halls, but he could meet the people on the streets with the same hearty handshake he had used when he was rich. He had to sleep in hotels when no friend offered him a bed; but often next morning the hotelman, like as not a one- time partner, would wish him Godspeed with a wave of the hand. Even his posters appeared miraculously ahead of him. Tasker accepted it all with his genial, affectionate smile. On election night, after Tasker had won, he and Hugh sat in a café in Reno. Tasker pulled out of his pocket a picture postcard of the governor’s mansion in Carson City - a handsome, yellow, porticoed building with white pillars, set in the center of a dignified garden. “ Look, Hugh,” he said. “ There’s my new home.” Then, with that infectious Oddie chuckle, he added, “ It was either that or a tent.” When the time came for Tasker’s inauguration, Hugh and I went to Carson to stand in his receiving line. The hall where the reception was held was one of those awful rooms that had survived from the Comstock days, with dark wood paneling extending half way up the wall and gold medallion wallpaper above. This night the ugliness had been masked by floating bunting and draped chandeliers until the place took on the festive atmosphere that surrounded Tasker’s election all over the state. When the new governor made his entrance, for a moment the crowd was still. Tears flooded many eyes. In the center of the immense room Tasker stopped and gripped the hand of the nearest guest, his face flushed and his bald head crimson with happy embarrassment. Ranchers, ample and affluent; cattlemen,



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