NevadaGram #53 – The Waver, A Guilty Conscience, Romance in Lovelock and Wine Tasting in Virginia City


I felt a sudden flash of — was it joy? — in Reno the other day when I saw Nevada’s only living saint performing his ongoing miracle.

photo by Guy Clifton
“The best feeling there is in the world is to feel love in our heart, then share it with the world”

The Waver! Ed Carlson was walking along West Liberty Street, smiling and waving at the oncoming cars. He’s been doing this for more than 30 years, and for most of that time he was a familiar figure along US 395 between Reno and Carson City, smiling and waving, smiling and waving. In the early days he provoked astonishment, suspicion and sometimes resentment from the drivers he greeted, now almost all of them smile and wave back.

In an article by Reno Gazette-Journal writer

Guy Clifton I learned that before he came to Reno, Ed had hitch-hiked across the USA — blindfolded. Clearly this man is capable of mighty deeds.


Once he got here he became a familiar figure striding along beside the road, waving and smiling, as he made his way from Reno to Carson City and back again. His greeting was a gift that he gave endlessly. “Thirty-two years ago, I had an awakening,” reads a note he hands out in response to questions. “It came to me that I should start walking and be love. I should express love by waving.”

photo by Larry Milham
A crisp morning at the Old Yella Dog Ranch. Photo by Larry Milham.

His expression of love has lifted the spirits of tens — hundreds? — of thousands of us ordinary mortals as we briefly connect with him, take his benediction, and are swept past enlightened, however briefly and imperfectly. Thanks, Ed.

In 1987 a lowdown thief was cutting a grave enclosure with a torch in the Gold Hill cemetery when he set the brush on fire and destroyed most of the tombstones, grave enclosures and other artifacts and mementos that had weathered there for a century and more. It was a terrible act but it hasn’t been the only one.

photo by Mike Greenan
A close look at the crystals. Photo by Mike Greenan.

The Catholic Cemetery at American Flat, Lower Gold Hill contains the Fox

family plot, which had formerly contained

engraved tombstones for:

Mary E. Fox, d. November 25, 1910, 76 years 1 month 23 days old

Joseph P. Fox, miner, died of consumption on May 27, 1898, 35 years 2 months 11 days old, buried by his mother (Mary)

photo by Max Winthrop
The Fox family plot in the “new” Catholic Cemetery, Gold Hill.
Ignatius Fox, killed in a tunnel on December 15, 1883 13 years 6 months 11 days old, buried by his parents

Paul F. Rousch, d. April 28, 1906, 14 years, 1 month 25 days old.

The markers were intact at least until the middle 1960s, but are now gone. Only a single pediment with the name FOX remains.
Last year, members of the Comstock Cemetery Foundation found a rain-stained envelope in the enclosure. In the envelope was a handwritten letter dated March 26, 2005:

My dearest Fox family,
What I did to your family eleven years ago is of unspeakable disoner, and unfatheable understanding. I never knew you and you never new me. There is no excuse for my actions. The hardships you must have faced to better your familys life must have been grave. You came to a land witch you never knew and made somthing of yourselves, and then I came and snatched your honor and memories from you. All I can do now is try to ask for your forgiveness and try two rediam myself befor your eyes. I promise to try to do right by you now. This is a start and far from the end of my reperations to you. Your family will never be forgoten by me. Mabey one day we can reach a mutial understanding of are lives. But till that day my promises to you are your right to your eternial exsitence before gods eyes. I will try to do right by you —————
I will repay my depts to you as long as I live —————
Jay Sch(ultz?)

A romantic interlude in . . . Lovelock? Yes! It’s not as farfetched as you think. While in China to open the new Nevada tourism office there, Nevada Tourism Director Bruce Bommarito encountered the Chinese tradition of symbolically locking one’s love by fastening a lock on a chain. In the Yellow Mountains, miles of lock-laden chains snake through the landscape, and he realized the custom, would be a perfect fit for Lovelock.

photo by Max Winthrop
The architectural curiosity of the round Pershing County court house has been Lovelock’s main magnet for visitors since it was erected in the early years of the 20th century.

“Locking your love is a beautiful sentiment,” he says, “and we hope it will entice travelers to leave a lasting symbol at Lovers Lock, and then stay and see what else this picturesque high desert town has to offer.”

Uh-oh. After two or three minutes the novelty of the round court house wears off, and while the food at La Casita is scrumptious, an intimate tete-a-tete is difficult to achieve. Sturgeon’s is a traditional small town Nevada casino with all the amenities, including cigaret smoke and jingling slot machines, where romance seems a distant concept.

Nevertheless, the Commission on Tourism is helping Lovelock to build a marketing campaign around Lovers Lock. The campaign will offer cards for Lovers Lock visitors to tell their story and a Web site to publicize them. Free heart-shaped locks are available at many businesses in Lovelock, and Robin and I are headed there February 14 to get one.

Quick notes from beyond the mountains: The first of a series of wine tasting events to be held in Virginia City over the next several months will take place on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise building from 3 to 6 pm. Cost is $30. Future tastings will be held May 20, 3 – 6 pm at the Historic Fourth Ward School; June 17, 3 – 6 pm at the old Crystal Bar & Comstock Fireman’s Museum; July 28, 5 – 8 pm at St. Mary’s Art Center; and August 12 – V & T Railroad, train ride and tasting. Events are priced at $30, exce4pt the train ride which is $37. Series ticket: $120.

If you want to rent a car in Wendover, try to be first in line. There is only one rental agency, located at the Days Inn, and it only has one car to rent.

And if you need a map showing the hotel casinos on and near the Las Vegas Strip, here’s a good one.

Overheard at the Owl Club in Eureka: “It was so cold yesterday I saw a lawyer walking down the street with his hands in his own pockets.”

Happy Highways,

David W. Toll




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