Saturday. Parade day. A true testament to Tonopah, the Jim Butler Days parade was a bigger deal than we ever could have imagined. Participants from all over the county walked down Main Street with a palpable festive energy. But by far the favorite of all the participants were Diamondback Dave and Dusty—a real live silver miner and his pack burro that carried the new Mizpah logo on his back for all to see. I wanted (the exceptionally well mannered) Dusty to come into the Mizpah lobby during the wine tasting but 350 enthusiastic guests with empty wine glasses beat him to it.
After the parade we watched the mucking event, and the driller event, and a bunch of other things I’d never heard of but came away with new appreciation for how physically demanding life was in the early 1900s. Nothing proves the point better than watching a man load one ton of ore into a bin with in under a minute, using nothing but a shovel and a strong back. The closest I came to heavy lifting—aside from hauling linens up and down the stairs Thursday night with Megan—was engaging Fred in a friendly arm wrestling match. He let me win, and I’ll never admit how I bribed him.
We met so many incredible people, all of whom had stories to tell about the Mizpah. Some were of the Lady in Red, others of great meals and parties, still others about things I dare not put in writing.
Later that evening at dinner, we each went around the table recounting highlights from the day. For my part, it was the fabulous woman who walked up to me on Main Street and flashed a wedding photograph from 1895. She said, “Do you recognize this?” I’d never seen the photo, but at once I saw that it was of Harry Ramsey, my great uncle, and his first wife Demme. It turned out the woman with the photo was the granddaughter of Demme’s best friend, and she had more than just the photo. She also had a letter Harry Ramsey wrote to Demme’s family following her death from small pox in Rome, 1907. They were on a world tour following Harry’s silver mining success in Tonopah when Demme fell ill and passed away.
The picture and the letters, together with the other great stories from the day, reaffirmed our decision to return to Tonopah and buy the Mizpah, and did so in a way that no external or financial validation ever could.
After all was said and done, the Mizpah had a total 15 of us for the weekend and she held up grandly. In signature mysterious form, she sent us home with a significant token. If you’ve read my earlier posts you may know what’s coming next. In the lobby, during the wine tasting that followed the parade, I glanced down and noticed a pearl, just like the ones my brother found when he stayed here a few weeks ago. This one was rose colored though, and not white. And I should mention we’d vacuumed the floor three times prior to guests arriving. Sure, someone could have dropped it during the event, but it seems highly unlikely given otherwise spotless floor. For those of you who don’t know the significance of the pearl, please see the link to the channel three interview.