Weekend in Wakefield (National Service Capers Book 9)

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And Virginia City itself, a metropolis of 30, people, had become an integral portion of the American legend, a source of wealth and riches beside which the resources of the fabled mines of Solomon pale by comparison. Fantastically few of the original discoverers of the new El Dorado ever lived to profit from the incredible bonanza they had unearthed.

To the pioneers of the Goddess of Fortune was as blind as the Goddess of Justice is supposed to be. Before I could even choke out my excuse, they all poured out from behind desks and drawing tables, and engulfed me in bear hugs and slaps on the back and shoulders, with all manner of totally out-of-character behavior. This is one weird day, I thought. But on the heels of the tidings which were borne swiftly across the Sierra there came other men to the Comstock, men shrewder, more resolute and more sagacious. They bought out the pioneers for the proverbial song and remained to become the operators and beneficiaries of the seemingly inexhaustible wealth that had reposed unsuspected through the centuries in the depths of Sun Mountain.

Eilley Orrum, the future Mrs. Sandy Bowers, the future Washoe Seeress, the future seeker after royal trophies in Europe, came to Nevada from Salt Lake where she had discarded two Mormon husbands, one of them a bishop of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Her Scotch ancestry made her a frugal and hard working woman and, in a region innocent of almost all traces of domesticity, she was one of the first women to hear the call of the Comstock and the very first one to set up a boarding house there.

Bowers was the shrewdest of all the original discoverers of the Comstock which, in the light of his later recorded sentiments and expenditures, may not have indicated an Aristotelian sagacity, but had staked out a small footage in the very center of the lode and he stubbornly refused to part with it for the fleeting and trivial rewards which satisfied his associates. Whether it was that Eilley even then had a touch of the prescience she later claimed and took a quick peek at the future, or whether it was that Sandy wanted to insure his continued association with the only cook of consequence in Nevada Territory, Eilley and Sandy were shortly married and their claims on the Lode consolidated.

Innocent of the snobbishness and delusions of grandeur which prompted other Comstockers to seek homes on Nob Hill, in Fifth Avenue or the Rue Tilsit, Sandy and Eilley built a home as near the Comstock itself as was convenient, which happened to be down the hill in the pleasant valley called Washoe Meadows. Their friends came down from Virginia City in droves and exclaimed out loud that surely no castle nor palace, royal lodge nor viceregal pavilion in all the world could hold a New Bedfor spermaceti candle to it!

The sentiment was not lost on Eilley. If this were indeed a palace then, as its occupant, she must be a queen and Eilley knew all about queens from the Old Country. They called on each other in the late afternoon and had a neighborly cup of tea while exchanging decorous but animated gossip about other queens and knowledgeable royalties.

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From that day forward nothing could shake Eilley from the satisfying belief that she and Victoria and the Empress Eugenie were indeed cousins, not even the expressed disbelief of the Lord Chamberlain at the Court of St. James or the indifference to her appeal to Charles Francis Adams, the American ambassador, whom history must forever record a churl for not, somehow, having gotten her at least to a garden party at Windsor. Sandy was easily persuaded and a grand tour of the courts of Europe was shortly announced in the columns of the Territorial Enterprise and other interested newspapers.

Eilly and he, Sandy announced from the fragile eminence of a French gilt chair, had known some interesting people in their time in and around Washoe, Horace Greeley and Governor Nye and old Chief Winnemucca. But now they aimed to see some even more interesting people like the Queen of England on her throne and this was by way of a farewell to their old friends in the diggings.

Drink hearty, everyone, because he and Eilley had money to throw at the birds and wanted everyone to have a good time. Tradition has it that all Virginia City had itself one hell of a time and that the International Hotel still showed traces of their appreciation a week later when Sandy and Eilley actually took off for San Francisco and the steamer to England. The chilly Charles Francis Adams might prove impervious to the qualities and assets of the Bowers, but as much could not be said for the shopkeepers of Bond Street and the Rue de la Paix, nor even for the Muse of History.

The record shows them to have been the prize shoppers of the season of and during their stay in Paris alone their drafts against Wells Fargo back home came to more than a quarter of a million dollars. The Bowers had money to throw at the birds and the birds all wore frock coats and the reassuring manner of very upper class tradesmen. Eilley and Sandy stayed in Europe and England for several years and their claims continued to produce fantastic sums of money to support their wildest whim and most expensive fancy.

Several hundred thousand dollars worth of French mirrors, Italian statuary, bronzes, oil paintings, crystal chandeliers, Turkey carpets, morocco-bound volumes of the classics — although Sandy never could tell whether the text was upside down or not — marble fountains and suites of bedroom furniture came with them. But long after she had tired of these rich treasures, Eilley delighted to show visitors and especially friends who had known her in the lean years the cuttings from the Windsor Castle ivy now growing luxuriously over the massive walls of her Washoe mansion. A personal gift from Victoria to Eilley, a royal token of friendship from one reigning monarch to another Very Exalted Personage.

In time, in the late sixties, Sandy died and was buried in the hillside back of his splendid home in Washoe Meadows. Then after years of poverty, she joined Sandy in the shadow of the guardian Sierra and under the pine trees that whisper ceaselessly of the golden and irretrievable past. For more than eighty years of unbroken and useful service its operations were at first the wonder of the railroad world and later the most picturesque of working antiquities.

It had outlived its spendthrift youth and even its substantial maturity, but it still precariously rolled the mail, freight and a few passengers over its grass-grown right of way to become an imperishable actor in the great cavalcade of American railfaring. By the late sixties fortunes of the Comstock were, after a full decade of thundering production, operating in borrasca and the end of their yield was in sight. Because of the freight charges of the teamsters who hauled the ore down to the mills which lined the Carson River from Dayton to Empire only the richest ores were worth processing, and timber with which to shore up the deep stopes, drifts and winzes of the mines was equally prohibitively priced.

Millions of dollars in inferior ore lay on the mine dumps below Virginia City and ore worth millions more was almost at hand below ground but was unavailable because of the excessive cost of getting at it. Sharon knew that a railroad was what the doctor prescribed for the ailing Comstock. It might not be said that Sharon was greedy, but he had a remarkably acquisitive intelligence and so, with a grand over-all design in the back of his steel trap mind, he began allowing the mill owners of the Comstock to overextend themselves financially at his bank, took their paper when he knew it to be quite unsecured by any possibility of future earnings and kept the matter of the railroad under his well groomed silk top hat.

When the mill owners were unable to meet the obligations and so were completely in the power of the Bank of California, Sharon coolly organized them in a single association, each member of which was obligated to patronize the railroad after it was built and otherwise to do the bidding of the bank in every detail of its conduct.

When, in , the great stone shops and engine houses in the meadows outside Carson City were completed, a local notable named Colonel Curry conceived the idea of a monster railroad ball. Nevada has never forgotten the great railroad ball of Not only did they own the railroad, but the nabobs of the Comstock were carrying aboard it their own ores to mills which they controlled and returning with lumber from forests they also had acquired. Its locomotives were miracles of red paint and gold trim and its coaches were the products of the master car builders of San Francisco and the East.

It was inevitably, with the wealth that was pouring from the mineshafts of Virginia City and Gold Hall promising to total a billion dollars, that notables from all over the world should want to see the source of these iridescent wonders. Metallurgists came from Germany, mine experts voyaged from distant Cornwall, the Baron Rothschild and his entourage a whole special train for them arrived from London and mere American millionaires, capitalists, stock promoters, newspaper reporters and magazine writers were a dime a dozen in C Street and the bar of the International Hotel.

Some of the maharajahs of super-finance came in private cars of fearful and wonderful design with vast resources of marble bathtubs, tufted satin boudoirs and brass bound observation platforms. But so it once was, and in the evening the light from the crystal chandeliers of stately private cars shone through the drawn silk shades, and women in evening gowns from Paris and New York tripped daintily up their carpeted steps for intimate suppers of quail and champagne.

It built the Minden branch tapping the rich dairy and ranching resources to the south of Carson City, and for a time the traffic in milk, butter, cheese and stock shored up its declining revenue. For a time the railroad was the personal property of Ogden L. Mills, grandson of its original builder, who, a generous, sensible man, kept it running out of his private pocket. The Comstock was to produce a multitude of great names, some of them of world consequence, others that blazed brightly on a national scale. There was George Hearst who was to become a California senator in Washington and whose fortune was one day to finance the most important chain of newspapers and magazines ever to be published in the United States.

And there was Henry B. Yerington, one of the greatest of Western railroad operators, and Wells Drury, a journalist in the spacious tradition of the nineteenth century newspaper world. One of the most arrestingly picturesque of them was William M. Steward, graduate of Yale Law School a graduate too, of the Mother Lode camps of the early fifties and later a Nevada senator and greatest expert on mining litigation in the West.

Steward, who was accustomed to try cases involving dangerous characters fully armed with a brace of Navy Colts under the skirts of his frock coat, was the first real law on the Comstock. His interpretation of justice was invariable in favor of whoever might have retained him, but his courage and tenacity were monumental in a generation when both of these qualities were in great requisition.

Another of the nabobs of note was John Percival Jones, hero of the great Crown Point fire at the time he was superintendent. Jones also became a Nevada senator and was the driving force behind the now almost forgotten Panamint excitement across the California line in the Death Valley region. Graduates of the Virginia City school of experience enlivened the known world for two full generations.

But hard head and broad shoulder above all the silk hatted rout of Comstock millionaires, king of the bonanza kings and a favorite of fortune whose name was destined to rank with those of Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Mellons and Whitneys, John Mackay was one of the very few, who, when greatness claimed him, never forgot its origins and never altogether deserted the Comstock.

Mackay was one of those who toiled up Six Mile with an Ames shovel on his shoulder. Among the first arrivals from the abandoned riffles and Long Toms of the California Sierra, he went to work in the first shallow diggings on the slopes of Sun Mountain and within two decades was to be known throughout the civilized world as the quintessential American success story. Like Adolph Sutro, Mackay found the early operations on the Comstock so wasteful and unsophisticated as to be positively repellent, but he was to live to see the management in his own mines regarded by experts as the pinnacle of deep mining technique and the most economical of his generation.

After holding down a variety of jobs in the mines which by this time were appearing along the Lode in florid abundance and observing shrewdly into the conduct, or more often misconduct of their fortunes, Mackay went to work in the Kentuck Mine, taking his pay not in cash to be converted into Saturday night whiskey and Sunday remorse, but in shares in the company. The shareholder was reported to be among the Confederate armies fighting in the campaigns of western Tennessee and a fat bonus was posted for the recovery of his proxy. That was enough for Mackay. When he reappeared it was with the missing block of feet and a bill of sale to show his ownership.

Now Kentuck could be incorporated and Mackay was for the first time an active capitalist on the basis of his share in the property. Fair, an alliance which was eventually to lead to the Big Bonanza and the emergence of the kings of the Comstock. Of the four, Mackay proved the most capable of bearing the almost intolerable burden of fantastic wealth. To this day Mrs. He resolutely refused to learn French, thereby forcing his dinner partners to converse in English to their notable disadvantage.

Instead of the rare clarets and noble champagnes served by Mrs. He was, in a word, a trial while among the dignitaries, so that his wife was glad to see him depart as soon as possible for San Francisco or his beloved Comstock. In actuality Mackay was an extremely well read, urbane and polished man of the world in which he lived. Almost in their entirety, and that was in the millions, they were contributed to causes he considered worthy on the condition that they should be absolutely anonymous. Such institutional benevolences as the Church of St.

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The wealth he wrested from the California and Con Virginia mines was translated into continental railroads and trans-Atlantic cables, telegraph systems, sugar refineries, copper mills and productive real estate. Perhaps, indeed, probably he derived pleasure from the power and authority his great fortune gave him, but the Comstock nearly half a century after his death, remembers him for a disillusioned remark he made one night in the Washoe Club at a time when his income was close to a million dollars a year, a sum the equivalent in purchasing power of four or five times as much today.

For nine decades now the Comstock has been an integral part of the legend of the American West. For nearly half of this period it was a produce of wealth in one of the most tangible of its many forms and for the other half of its inhabited and exploited existence it has been a romantic fragment of the national history of the land. It has inspired a wealth of lore and literature to the extent of a very considerable bibliography of serious books and has served as a background for a good deal of fiction which never surpassed the actual recorded fact.

It has occupied space in the American consciousness out of all proportion to its geographic size or population. The shrinking violet could never with any plausibility be selected as the official flower of the State of Nevada. Where the bonanza kings left off on the Comstock the literary lions took over. Surprisingly enough, however, the Carson River, or Carson Water as it is known in the stately old phrase, has never come in for its share of romantic treatment although it is one of the most romantic little rivers in the world.

Probably the fact that it is not navigable and that no vast civilizations were ever borne upon its tides has led to this neglect, but Carson Water made possible a great and spectacular productivity as ever floated upon the Mystic, the Ohio or the Colorado. Without it the milling of the Comstock ores would have been impossible by any process known to the nineteenth century and the necessity for transporting ore over vast distances to mills in other parts of the land would have been incalculably costly. The Carson is well worth the attention of a curious and enquiring generation.

A remote and lonely stream, it rises in the foothills of the High Sierra, flows briefly north and east to its appointments with destiny and disappears ingloriously into the Sink of Carson without every knowing the sea which is the objective of almost all respectable and conventional rivers. In spring it is a rushing torrent that inundates vast meadows and downloads around Minden and Gardnerville. By midsummer it is a placid meander whose pools and backwater entice the judicious picnicker and occasional crayfisherman in the neighborhood of Empire and Dayton. In winter it is a gelid streamlet impervious alike to the devisings of mankind or the zephyrs of Washoe.

Always it is a lonely and often a beautiful little river winding its way to a lonely and geologically improbable end. But once it was a river of mighty consequence. When its stamping mills and reducing plants stretched for miles above the Carson City and Empire its waters were carefully husbanded and used over and over again by the successive mills along its banks. Its existence was the basic fact that lay behind the construction of the railroad. Its presence made possible all the operations of the far-reaching and consequential Comstock.

It was a river of humble origins and appearance but of weighty importance in the affairs of men. There are other pleasant places to explore around the Comstock. Few persons other than native Nevadans know that the Geiger Grade on which they approach Virginia City from the main highway at Steamboat Springs is not the original Geiger over which the stages of Wells Fargo toiled with their treasure until the coming of the railroad is still available to traffic a few thousand feet from the surfaced grade and is an infinitely more picturesque and exciting drive. Then there is Six Mile Canyon which leads by a precipitous and craggy route down to Sutro past the ruins of a score of once tremendous and vibrant reducing plants and stamp mills.

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As lately as the great Butters reducing plant was built to employ workers in Six Mile, but all that remains today is a heap of ruined masonry, mute testimonial to unjustified optimism. And there are agreeable and exploratory drives to be made to Jumbo and Como, but they are not strictly speaking a part of the Comstock.

The years of the Second World War were bleak ones for the Comstock. For lack of repairs whole blocks of buildings in the lower town collapsed and disappeared, their structural economy having been sawed up into firewood. Mining was prohibited by the government and without mining or tourists and with a diminishing supply of liquor Virginia City was in a bad case. Now, however, the Comstock is enjoying the sort of boom it dreamed of during the dark days. Most notable of the post-conflagration landmarks is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John Mackay was frantically engaged with his own workmen in saving the lower workings of his Consolidated Virginia Mine when news was brought to him that St.

The title and good will, such as it was, of what had once been the most famous of all frontier newspapers, was a latent asset through a succession of abandonments and mergers of the feeble and faltering Virginia City News. The new tycoons of newspaper row purchased the News with a circulation of fewer than , reverted to the historic name and style of The Territorial Enterprise, and set about relocating Virginia City on the map. Removing from a job printer in Sparks, a suburb of Reno, they erected a handsome modern printing shop in the rear of the still standing Territorial Enterprise Building at 24 South C Street to which the paper had moved in The new owners set about recasting The Territorial Enterprise not so much in its original format as in a style a good deal more atmospheric than it had possessed in the days when Joe Goodman and Dennis McCarthy were the primal movers of its destinies.

With a circulation in excess of ten times the population of Storey County in which it is published, it has climbed from four slim pages of local news to twenty and twenty-four pages of costly national advertising and to the position it occupied of old as the free-wheeling wonderment of the Western World. Its present editors are scarcely more inhibited than was the redheaded young man named Samuel Langhorne Clemens who, as a member of The Enterprise staff in , started signing his stories with the byline Mark Twain.

While it may be remarked parenthetically that a ponderable number of Comstockers have no slightest notion of what The Enterprise is all about, they have no least hesitation in pocketing the tourist dollars it attracts to C Street, and subscribers of discernment in Boston, Houston, Baltimore, and Paris enjoy the continuity it establishes with the great days and the riding years of the Old West. Amateurs of the American past and of the old West see in Virginia City one of the few remaining examples of the hell and high waters days of the frontier and the individualist.

There are vestigial remnants of the nineteenth century elsewhere in the land, notably Central City and Leadville in Colorado; Tombstone, Arizona; Columbia in the Mother Lode; and the other Virginia City, that one in Montana. None of these however seem to retain the ancient flavor of character at once raffish and sophisticated that abides in the Comstock.

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Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep! Cat the Cat by Mo Willems. Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen. Tubby Leslie Patricelli board books by Leslie Patricelli. Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers. The Village Garage by G. Brian Karas. What About Bear? What If? What's Your Sound, Hound the Hound? Where Is Tippy Toes? Willow's Whispers by Lana Button. Aggie the Brave by Lori Ries. Animal Rescue Team: Gator on the Loose! Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke.

Anna Maria's Gift by Janice Shefelman. Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds. Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser. A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker. Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Pat Sherman. Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue by Molly Coxe. The Bicklebys' Birdbath by Andrea Perry. Binky to the Rescue by Ashley Spires. The Boy in the Garden by Allen Say. Bridget's Beret by Tom Lichtenheld. The money, obviously, now that he is involved with a shrewd entrepreneur like the literary agent Sterling Lord.

And yet there are no Big Boys left in that literary caste sense. Jimmy is never gong to be a J. Breslin is in a new league, actually helped invent it, and for perverse or cynical or prestige reasons wants to play in an old one. So another bomb is on the way! Breslin, you bum, come home! I wanted to alert people everywhere that Jimmy the non-Greek was writing better than ever, that the words sizzled and struck out at you like grease being tormented on a griddle, that line for line and play by play he was a New York Ace who had come through with a super-bitch of a performance.

Those two selling words in the ad came from me. In relation to Breslin. So get ready for a story. I wanted truth with all the portholes open. But the damage had already been done, if damage is the right word for the nightmare I walked into, and instead of Breslin having kissed off his responsibilities to the truth as I had it in my article the script was turned around and I was suddenly tagged as the smalltime Judas to his pop, commercial Christ.

Every straight impulse I had in trying to lens-wipe Jimmy and others to the real power for change I thought a New Journalism could rifle into the minds of men, causing them to act with armed vision on the basis of true stories written with the insight of the older fiction, causing them to hug literature as their own very skin and not a remote lip-service thing, was immediately knocked down by Breslin and his twerps to a cheap attack by Seymour Loser who was jealous of his book, money, fame, big juicy cockarisma on the scene we live in.

We know what goes on in that beady, crooked, vengeful brain of yours. Self-destruct, parasite! I thought it was all pure theater at the time and even admired him for his crazy balls in breaching the weak liberalism that would have turned the rest of us to stone if we tried a stunt like that, but that was before The Treatment was turned my way.

Breslin can write them better than anyone because he instinctively thinks and acts like they do when his ass is against the wall. He knew very fucking well I thought he was the big fundamental journalist of our time in New York and that in my own zealous, John Brown way I was trying to call him home from dollar-bill hamming to the scorched harvest of his own reality. The first count was my overconviction in crackling positive tones that straight fiction was not his bag and in fact a waste for Breslin when he had such an obvious head start over most alienated novelist-types in dealing with the real world.

And having just worked like a trooper on his first one, no matter how cute or transparent his motives in cooking it up, it was predictable that he would defend his labor and always sharp skill from some penniless idealist who thought the stuff second-rate. For all I know, he had felt uneasy along about writing a burlesque gangster camp when he knew the soiled backstage story, and my piece merely prodded his shame. What happened was this. Jewboy was in if you had any taste for the brown of life, which I did and which Breslin certainly did.

When I came to write my piece I stuck in the phone call to punctuate the fact, rub in the fact, that here was a major man more interested in pulling a swiftie on Hollywood and running his fingers through the bread than in sculpting what I then thought had to be his stone destiny: big, graphic, nonfiction truth books written with the punch of old-fashioned fiction.

My old song! I was sore at Breslin for that cynical streak which to my mind had made him cop out on the best part of his gift and I wanted to get under his skin by giving him a mirror-image of What Makes Jimmy Run. Since , copies of the review had already been printed and he was now bared to the world for being an honest roughneck with his mouth, if not especially his book, this naked integrity was just too much for an unofficial mayor-type like Breslin to put up with.

That prick Krim knew he was more of a Jew-lover than Krim himself and the perverse atheist was trying to disgrace him. Like a movie, all this million-dollar stuff was shaking in N.