Wholesome . . . Delectable . . . Enchanting
by David W. Toll
You might think that a state with so few celebrities to brag about would make a big deal about a movie star who called Nevada home. But Edna Purviance, who starred with Charlie Chaplin in the pictures that elevated him into the first rank among movie stars, is now almost forgotten here. It seems especially strange because she was not only a famous movie star and for ten years Chaplin’s leading lady, and his lover, she was his best and most loyal friend until the day she died.
Born in Paradise Valley October 21, 1896, Edna moved as a youngster to Lovelock where she and her sisters Bessie and Myrtle helped their mother keep a boarding house after their parents divorced.
She graduated from high school herself in 1913, and wasted no time shaking the dust of Lovelock from her heels and getting to San Francisco.
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by Lisa O’Kelly
When this roadside sign caught Jane Hilton’s eye in Dayton Nevada back in 2002 she decided to capture the image as an exemplar of the deadpan humour of the sagebrush state. “Little did I know how pertinent it would feel almost two decades later, after two months of lockdown,” she says. “It’s all about the timing, isn’t it?”
Hilton made her name documenting US culture, in particular the American west, over the past 20 years. At the time she took this photograph she was directing a documentary series for BBC Three called Love for Sale about sex workers in Nevada, the only American state where prostitution is legal.
Nevada’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some 300,000 Nevada residents filed jobless claims during the first month of the state’s nonessential business shutdown.
That figure would normally be typical of the number of requests made in a full calendar year. The state’s unemployment rate reached 16.8 percent by late April, the highest in Nevada’s history.
Local and state tourism authorities are feeling the pinch and responding with salary cuts, furloughs and some layoffs. Recently, the Nevada Division of Tourism was among agencies to lay off workers.
by Heather Young
One hundred miles east of Reno, Nevada, there is a town. You can’t see it from Interstate 80, the road I traveled with my husband and children twice a year as we drove from California to Idaho to visit my parents, but we stumbled upon it one day when the pumps at the Exit 105 Chevron were broken.
Lovelock, it’s called. “Lock Your Love in Lovelock,” says the billboard on the interstate. As I drove from the Chevron to the Two Stiffs Selling Gas convenience store on its short main street I slowed the car. I needed to see this town in its entirety. I needed to imagine the lives of the 1,847 people who lived there, in the middle of the barren desert, so far from anyone else.
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Overheard at the Taildragger Cafe in Carson Valley: “I’ve never been afraid. Paralyzed with fear, yes. But not afraid.”
Enroute to Bodie and Aurora
On a drive like this into new country there is no discernible meaning to anything you see. It is what it is, and beyond that are only question marks. Around the next corner, up the next grade, into the next canyon: more question marks. We were in no hurry — that was the whole idea after all — so we welcomed opportunities to stop. Even without a pronghorn to slow us down we paused here and there as we pleased, for a snack, for a photo, for a walk with the dog.
At the top of what’s called the Aldrich Grade we noticed what appears to be a solitary grave a few feet from the road.
Really? Or did some cosmic joker arrange the rocks like that and then drive away laughing?
Either way there was a pile of quarters at the head of the grave, four or five dollars worth in front of the lichen-covered ‘headstone’ standing on edge.
Big bagful of question marks added to our collection and on we go to Bodie.
Overheard at the Gallery Bar in Elko — “People don’t alter history any more than birds alter the sky, Billy. We just make brief patterns in it.”
I just stumbled across your tale of Indian Johnny [in NevadaGram #99] with appropriate news clips. I had looked into the situation myself, although not in that detail, back in 1971 when I began working for Mike O’Callaghan.
When he moved into the governor’s office, that picture of John Sparks sat on the table pictured. He asked me about it, I researched it, and told him. Some days later I walked into the office, clearly of course the office and table in the picture, and found Mike sitting at the table looking at the picture. He said, “I think I’ll keep this here. It says that there have been tough decisions made in this room. Life and death decisions. And that is my job now, but other men have done it before me, and others will afterward.”
I think he found comfort in that picture during his eight years in the office. Occasionally the picture would be moved to a side table. Perhaps because of a meeting, or papers spread out on the table. But Mike would always move it back to the table.
Among the many things I don’t understand is why so few people from Las Vegas are visiting the rest of Nevada.
So when I got an inquiry from a Las Vegas family wanting some suggestions for their upcoming weekend excursion there, I couldn’t hold back: Caliente was a division point for the railroad, and scheduled to be developed as the ‘new Sun Valley’. That never happened, but there are a handful of State Parks (rated from good to wonderful) and the somewhat ghostlier mining city of Pioche — once the toughest town in the west — to enjoy nearby.
And here’s something you might not find for yourself — in Panaca there’s a fabulous warm water pond open to all. Drive in off US 93 on Nevada 319, which becomes Main Street of this little Mormon town, and take a left on Fifth Avenue. You’ll drive north almost a mile before you see the pool on your right.
Plenty of parking, no admission fee, open to all. What could be simpler and sweeter than that? Now that I think about it, this is probably one of the few vestiges of the Old America that you’ll see in the modern world — not just the warm water swimming hole (it’s in the mid-80s), but the philosophy behind it.
You should visit all three towns there on US 93, plus Cathedral Gorge and Kershaw-Ryan State Parks, following your own interests and impulses as you go along. There’s a visitor center in the Caliente railroad depot to give you more ideas and information.