THE HOLY BIBLE I quote the following:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it came to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
"And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife."
From the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy, Chapter XXIV.
A BOOK OF SHORT STORIES AND INFORMATION
Author of "The Wife's Lesson" "Feminine Philosophy" Etc. Etc.
SCENIC VIEWS by VAN-NOY INTERSTATE COMPANY OF SAN FRANCISCO
1921 Lilyan Stratton Corbin
I dedicate this book to all good husbands and to my own in particular..... L.S.
Part 1. Social and Industrial Life
Part 2. Reno Tragedies
Part 3. Reno Romance
Part 4. Reno Comedies
Part 5. Reno and its People
Part 6. Nevada Divorce Laws
Part 7. Sons of the Sagebrush
I do not guarantee the statements and information contained in this book, but they are taken from sources which I believe to be accurate.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Washoe County Court House, Reno, Nevada One of the Court Rooms in Famous Reno Court House Palisades Canyon Showing Humbolt River Lovers' Leap Blue Canyon Truckee River Canyon Off to Donner Lake Amid the Snow at Truckee, California Donner Lake Truckee River Dam Honeywood of the Wingfield Stables Views of Reno's Public Play Grounds University of Nevada General View of Reno, Looking N. W. Wingfield Home The Truckee from Riverside Drive Looking North of Virginia Street Glenbrook Cave Rock Lake Tahoe Lobby of the Golden Hotel Mt. Rose School Reno National Bank Building Interior of Reno National Bank Elk's Home Y. M. C. A. View of Nevada University Campus Facsimile of Round Trip Ticket from New York to San Francisco Renoites as Seen by a Reno Cartoonist Riverside Hotel, Reno, Nevada Captain J. P. Donnelly, Former State Police Superintendent Senator H. Walter Huskey Governor Emmett D. Boyle of Nevada Governor's Mansion at Carson City Frank Golden, Jr.
The magic little word "Reno" makes a smile creep over the face of anyone who hears it mentioned, as a rule in recognition of the one thing for which it is known. I have smiled myself with the rest of the world in the past; in the future my smile will have a different meaning.
I have lived in Reno. I have felt the pulse of its secret soul, and have learned to understand its deeper meaning, and it is therefore that I am able to uphold my intimate conviction in an attempt to change the world's opinion of Reno and its laws from ridicule to admiration. And if my book has any reason for being, it lies in this attempt.
Those whom fate forces to visit "the big little city on the Truckee River" will find in this book a great deal of carefully gathered information for which before my pilgrimage I would have been so thankful, and with the aid of which so much worry and heartache would have been saved.
This book is not written with any intention whatsoever to propagate divorce; I want this clearly and conclusively understood, so that there can never be any misunderstanding.
To me there are three things sacred above all others: the first is motherhood; the second marriage; the third is the home.
He or she who promiscuously profanes these sacred things is unworthy of them and must pay the severest penalty.
My book is meant to be an appeal for happiness and health; an appeal for peaceful homes, happy and contented husbands, happy wives and mothers of happy, healthy and well bred children.
After all, unhappy and discontented human beings are unfit physically and morally to produce the best work and the finest healthiest children. The children are the forthcoming bearers of the world's burdens and responsibilities. To them belongs the future, and already too many social problems of the present age are due to the unhygienic and illogical mating of the human male and female.
The divorce courts should only be appealed to as a last resort, to free some tortured soul from a life of misery, caused by humiliation, shame and hatred, the very essence of all evil. When the sacred state of matrimony becomes so profaned and degraded that it soils everything it comes in contact with; when even the minds of our children are poisoned and distorted by the atmosphere, and the last ray of hope has vanished, only then the hour has struck to ask the law for justice; to appeal to the judge for redemption for humanity's sake.
Why have I written my book in parts, and why has each part its individual interest and charm? Because readers may choose any part or parts that especially interest them. If they are not interested in the book for the information it gives, they will always find the short stories and tales of Reno interesting and amusing.
Part 1. Social and Industrial Life: Is written to acquaint the intended colonist or visitor with every phase of social and industrial life. This is very important to know for many reasons. First the law requires that one go to Reno for some other reason than divorce. So you may go there for instance to become a student; it is a healthful and therefore a fine place for study. The well equipped university gives ample opportunity; and if one is taking one's children, which often happens, it is well to know about the schools. It is well to have some other purpose in view when joining the Reno Divorce Colony, and to carry that purpose into effect. Also if one is not blessed with over much of the goods of this world, one can earn one's way while waiting. This part contains much information that is practical, useful, essential and interesting.
The industries are very important. There are plenty of pleasant positions to be had; plenty of opportunity for business, as you will learn by reading this part; also many sorts of amusement, so that no one need be bored. It is best to keep busy; busy people seldom get lonely; lonely people often are too much in quest of companionship.... Moral, don't play with fire; and if you do get into trouble don't blame it on the "altitude." Reno's altitude has been somewhat abused by colonists in the past; loneliness is much more to blame for the unhappy state of mind so often experienced out there, and loneliness is mostly the result of idleness.
Part 2. Reno Tragedies: Consists of a few short tales of people who have been members of the divorce colony. Whilst the comedy part describes characters who find life is all froth, who skim its surface, so to speak, those portrayed in this chapter are people who take existence seriously; who want to drain the cup of life to its last dregs! If one listens as one reads one can almost hear the steady heart throbs.....
These are not exactly blue law stories, but as many great authors have taken the liberty of depicting things just as they found them in real life, my humble self has availed itself of the same prerogative. These tragic little tales of the divorce colony should be dear to you as they are to me; they are most appealing sketches in life.....
Part 3. Reno Romance: Relates the story of a fair Virginian whose youthful mistake is righted through the Reno divorce courts. The fair heroine is reunited with her girlhood sweetheart, and they live happily ever after; a short story depicting another type of Reno divorce case.
"Let us begin dear love where we left off, Tie up the broken threads of that old dream."....
Part 4. Reno Comedies: Has been written to give the reader, whether a would-be colonist or not, a glimpse of the humorous side of the occurrences in this much-talked-of little city. Happiness after all is not a question of the place, because "the city of happiness is in the state of mind." However, any person, place or thing that has not its funny side becomes rather dull, to say the least, and likewise the mind that cannot appreciate the humorous side. This part consists of a few plain tales from the humorous side of the lives of departed celebrities of the divorce colony, and should be amusing and entertaining to any reader. Naturally fictitious names have been used.
Part 5. Reno and Its People: Is meant to give prospective residents or visitors an insight as to just what kind of place they may expect to find, and to dispel any fears that the accommodations would not be comfortable. It will acquaint newcomers with the kind of men and women one finds oneself associated with in daily life, which to strangers in a strange land, is most important, I think. Newly arrived colonists, perhaps lonely and heartsick, will not find it quite so hard to go to a strange country, if they know in advance that the people are generous, big hearted and sympathetic; progressive and interested in all things that stand for the betterment of humanity.
Part 6. Nevada Divorce Laws: Gives the reader any and all information required to secure a divorce in Nevada; and besides it contains the opinion of many great thinkers on the question of divorce, coupled with a plea for universal divorce law. One should find this an interesting chapter, whether a prospective colonist or not; its contents, however, are absolutely indispensable for anyone anticipating divorce in Nevada, and consequently ought to be read most carefully; more especially so, as for the actual legal advice in this part, I am greatly indebted to one of Reno's ablest lawyers, Senator H. Walter Huskey.
Part 7. Sons of the Sagebrush: A few short biographical sketches of men I met, read about and heard about during my stay in Reno. It is well to know the kind of men we may come in contact with, both in business and in a social way; most certainly it is well to know the type of men we may have to come in contact with in a business way. For that reason I have written a few little sketches of these men. Among them are lawyers, judges, mining men, hotel men, politicians and pioneers. Aside from giving some useful information this part is interesting for its character studies and its amusing little incidents.
LILYAN STRATTON. November, 1921.
SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL LIFE
Dull in Reno? Why no; how can one be bored in this delightful "big little city," when here you will find a concentration of all the most picturesque phases of life—a conglomeration of gaiety and tragedy, humor and drama, frivolity and learning! What a fertile field for the psychologist and sociologist.
It is wonderfully interesting not always to turn to books only, with their rigid, lifeless rules and laws; books can only convey to us the things someone else has learned! Those who desire a real understanding of human nature's handiwork must work and play on human mountains, in human fields and human swamps.
Being an ardent student of life and character, I have found Reno highly interesting and amusing, and dear reader, if you will do me the honor to accompany me through the following pages of this chapter, I am sure you too will be interested.
First we will visit the restaurants, cafes and hotels which are teeming with the vigor of life, vibrant and pulsating; and if you know and understand human relationship, or wish to, then you may overflow with sympathy, laugh in conviviality, or perhaps weep in the privacy of your own room for what is and for what might have been....
The fashionable restaurant is not a large pretentious place, elaborately decorated, but there is something in the atmosphere which is not tangible but which we yet can sense. Who are all these people? and if each told his own story, how tremendously interesting it might be! Unconsciously, you know that the atmosphere is distinctive; that things are different; so many interesting personalities grouped into such a small place is something most unusual.
Over in the corner is a New York banker; his strong, handsome face marked with character lines and crowned with white hair: the stamp of long years of struggle in the financial world. See, he is smiling across the table at his companion, and his face is almost boyish as he chats and laughs. Such a companion! I wonder what fate has sent her to cheer the desert city; a modern Cleopatra, even more beautiful than she of Egypt: a radiant beauty, this dark-eyed queen of the Orient; ruby lips and teeth of matched pearls; hair black as midnight, and fires smoldering in dreamy eyes as if in pools of mystery... Bored in Reno? How could one be?
This is only a cafe such as you might visit in any other city. One might see the same banker and the same Oriental beauty in a New York cafe. But there they would not be nearly so interesting; for such people to be in Reno means either a domestic comedy, tragedy or romance. Each one is a puzzle, and one finds oneself intent upon divining the mystery embodied in these personalities, as they come and go like shadows on a screen.
Now the waiter comes: there is something unusual about him also; one can't help noticing his big, powerful form as he bends over the table to take the order; he is a New York chauffeur working his way free from a nagging wife, so that he may marry a popular society belle. You can forgive her, can't you, for admiring his handsome physique; a Greek god he is in spite of his Irish brogue and bad ear for grammar.... But then she probably does not hear much of that, and won't if he is wise.
That little woman over there with the carmine lips and black eyes, she is the wife of a Methodist minister and is here for the "cure" of course, like the rest. She is going to hitch her matrimonial wagon to a vaudeville "star" by way of a change! "The very day I get my decree," she told me.
There comes an interesting couple. I think the woman is Moroccan. Doesn't she look a barbarous relic with those immense rings in her ears? You feel that there should be one strung through her nose, too. There is a story abroad that she is the consort of a well known millionaire of Chicago; after several unsuccessful attempts on her part at stabbing him, he is giving half his fortune in alimony to get rid of her. The other night at Ricks' she threw a plate at a man because for five minutes he paid more attention to her woman friend than to her.... A dangerous playmate, methinks!
That charming little lady in a symphony of blue, surrounded by a company of admiring friends, is Mme. Alice, a Broadway opera star; her story is very interesting indeed. No, I dare not tell; it is sufficient that you should know that she is a gentle, sweet little mother, although she looks a mere girl herself. She has a voice of unusual quality and dramatic sweetness. I have had the pleasure of hearing her sing at several concerts which she gave for charity. She is extremely generous in that direction and always draws a packed house. She got her divorce while I was out there and passed on like the other shadows on the screen. The last I saw of her was when she was singing the "Battle Cry of Freedom" in the Hotel Golden lobby, as her decree had been granted. Her face was just radiantly happy as she repeated several times: "I am free, I am free."....
At a table, back in the shadows of the palms by the piano, sits another interesting little lady from gay New York. She is also a singer of note and the wife of a well known author. She has taken a mansion on the banks of the Truckee, and brought along her retinue of servants. Of course she is beautiful, the golden haired, blue eyed type, with a complexion like tinted rose leaves....
Who is that lone man at the table just opposite? Ah! that bearded gentleman with light hair, wearing a black tie; an artist-looking sort of chap? That is a world-famous portrait painter. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his beautiful bride at Cannes, Southern France, some years ago. Yes, he does look rather forlorn; there is a pathetic droop to his mouth. No, he is not here for a divorce; one of the exceptions.
He arrived a few days ago from Tangiers; it was while there that he received by registered post his wife's summons in her divorce suit, and he took the first ship back to America to fight the suit and to try to win back his beautiful wife, who, by the way, is also a talented artist. But alas! Cupid is a stubborn little beggar; though blind as a bat and not very large, yet he has a will of his own, and won't be driven or led....
Though the man seated over there is apparently very interesting and is internationally known as a great artist and an exhibitor in the Royal Academy in London; though he must have loved his wife very much, to have traveled half way around the world from the northern coast of Africa to Reno, in order to try and bring about a reconciliation, still the beautiful wife has gone on with her divorce, which was finally granted, though bitterly contested!
And so there he sits as though lingering over the grave of a great love. Bow down, ye Gods, and weep....
The hotels also are filled with interesting types; the pretty girl at the news-stand today suddenly disappeared! Yes, she got her divorce! In her place is the homeliest man you have even seen, and all the traveling men look disgusted and buy their papers from the newsboys in the street. The hotel stenographer has also taken her departure, and now we see a dainty blonde in place of the statuesque brunette. The brunette has gotten her divorce and has gone to San Francisco to marry a millionaire sportsman, so I hear.
The beautiful lady with the sparkling black eyes, between that little boy and girl, is a violinist. They have the rooms over mine, and for several months I have heard the patter of tiny feet and childish free laughter; but I fear the mother does not laugh so much. I have been told that she lives in constant fear lest her husband come and take the children from her. In this case, I am told, there is a chance of reconciliation. I hope so with all my heart!
The tall, handsome old gentleman speaking to her is a retired civil engineer; very wealthy I believe. He lived twenty-one years with his first wife who died; after some time he married again, but after one year of married life he is here for the "cure." He is an enthusiastic sportsman, a good horseman and very popular.
The Court House is the next place of interest to study character, to find interesting personalities and new types. You may go over any day and watch some poor victim's case being tried. If one is doing time one self, it is a very good way to obtain inside information, though it is a bit like being at your own hanging..... not exactly, of course, but enough to make the anticipation peculiarly gruesome. Each searching question of the judge seems to draw the noose around the plaintiff's neck tighter and tighter; you will hold your breath: a word, and the six months' exile and more are all in vain..... Not until the final decision, "Judgment for the plaintiff," is pronounced do you heave a sigh of relief.
Each day the divorce mill grinds the steady grist, and it is there that one has a splendid opportunity of studying personality and character. The wife who is nagged and abused; the one who is obliged to support herself and her children; the one who has outgrown her charms; the luxurious beauty who has spent her husband's fortune and is preparing to spend another in the same way; the wife who has made a mistake and found the right man at the wrong time; the wife whose husband another woman has taken; the wife of a drunkard or a gambler. The husband who is nagged; the husband whose wife is a spendthrift; the husband whose wife wins prizes at bridge and neglects her home; the husband whose wife has deserted him when he needed her most....
Naturally the stories you hear from the "aspirants" are always plausible; and so they go by, the endless passing show.
Next we will go to dinner; we will dine at the Hotel Golden tonight; they have just opened their new restaurant, and the food is excellent; so is the cabaret. There are two beautiful girls, new arrivals, who sing very well indeed; one is tall and fair and more than usually interesting. This beautiful girl sings with wonderful expression; a sweet tender passion, expressing at the same time a great love and a world of sympathy .... It is said that out of suffering comes sympathy, out of pain tenderness....
This girl might well burst into fame on the heart throbs of her songs; they are the voice of a soul which has suffered much, loved much and has become all tenderness and all sweetness.
Another interesting type whose story will be told at the Court House in a few months.
There is a violinist who is exceptional also; he draws the bow over his violin, and low, sweet strains of music come floating to our ears; then the music will suddenly change to the wild ecstasy of joy which will compel you to notice the player. When you look at him, you will know that his soul is not there; your heartstrings will quiver until the music stops; then you will suddenly find that you have forgotten to eat, and that the food is cold.... But you ponder on: you wonder who that artist-dreamer is; he must have been leading his love through poppy fields, kissing away from starving lips love's hunger, while he played.... Yes, he is here for the "cure."
After dinner we will go to the theatre. There are several theatres, but the large productions usually go to the Majestic, which is modern in every respect and has seating capacity of more than one thousand. All the New York productions that make the Pacific Coast Tour play Reno. All the eminent musicians such as Kreisler, Misha Elman, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and others, stop here on their Western tour, and their concerts are always well attended and tremendously appreciated.
Tonight we will hear the Boston Symphony....
You are surprised at the large ultra-fashionable audience; there are as many in evening dress as one would expect to see at a New York first night; here one can't tell the members of the Divorce Colony from the residents. They are an aggregation of well dressed, appreciative people, anxious to enjoy the evening's wonderful music.
Dancing is the next in line of indoor amusements; most of the hotels and restaurants have splendid floors and excellent dance music. At Wilsonian Hall there is a beautiful ball room, and those who wish to learn the latest steps will find an expert teacher in Mrs. Wilson who takes special trips to New York every season in order to become acquainted with the very latest dances. Her classes and receptions are patronized by the best people, both of the Colony and City, and are very interesting and popular.
Those who take their pleasure in life a little more seriously will find an excellently equipped public library, thanks to Mr. Carnegie. There is also a very fine collection of books at the University of Nevada, which is conveniently located in a very beautiful part of the city. I should like to pay a passing tribute to the University staff. They are as fine a set of professors as one could possibly desire to have. I had an opportunity of attending some of the lectures during the Summer Course and found them exceedingly interesting and well delivered.
Of special interest to women would be the Century Club, a well organized body of the best women in the city. They are interested in home economics, child welfare and improvement of social conditions generally. They own their own spacious club house, which has a large assembly hall, lecture room, banquet hall, service kitchen and large grounds facing the river, with tennis courts and other conveniences for entertaining.
There is also a Suffragette Club which is known as the Civic League, and is also instrumental in promoting public welfare. The Mothers' Clubs or Associations too, are better developed than those in many a large city; a fact which rather agreeably surprised me and proves how decidedly progressive are the women of the West.
And now we will have a look round and visit the out-of-door attractions, which are many and varied. In summer, there is Belle Isle, a beautiful little amusement park on the banks of the Truckee, almost in the center of the city and the scene of many jolly carnivals. The city park is also a pretty little spot, and here are given many festivals and concerts for the Red Cross and other charitable organizations. It is a delightful place to spend a summer afternoon or evening. The gay music, flying colors and beautifully tinted light among the branches of the trees are all an inspiration to free happiness. There too it is delightful to sit when all is quiet, and watch the moonlight on the snow-capped mountains, while the warm summer breeze stirs the leaves above and the distant rushing waters of the Truckee float out to you like fairy laughter on the summer air.
Nature has many delightful surprises in store for the new arrival in Reno; when you have strayed out to Moana Hot Springs and have taken a refreshing dip, you will agree with me. I thought the water was heated until a friend explained that it came gushing out of the ground almost boiling hot and had to be cooled off for the pools. There had been Jeffries' quarters during his training for the Jeffries-Johnson fight.
From Moana one can see Steamboat Springs; these springs can be seen from a distance of several miles, owing to the fact that they send a steady stream of hot steam into the air, which spreads over an area of a mile or more; it is a strange sight to see this stream ascending into the clear atmosphere from the roaring regions below. The various hot springs to me are the most wonderful part of nature's loveliness. Here one may watch lonely colonists and native maidens dive and play in the water whilst listening to their laughter. An early morning dip in the pool and a swift canter back to town will start your blood tingling; clear the city-cramped lungs and fill them with Nevada's fresh invigorating air. It will make one feel like a two year old and add ten years to one's life.....
Ricks, the famous road house, and training quarters of Jack Johnson, the black champion prize fighter, is within walking distance of Reno. Its chicken dinners have helped to make the place famous. There are private rooms for those who seek seclusion, a splendid dance floor, and I am told that here the mechanical pianos grind out waltzes, one steps and fox trots, whilst glasses clink far into the night and parties of colonists make merry.
Farther on is Laughton Hot Springs, another popular bathing resort. This place is mostly patronized by motorists and equestrians and is more fortunate than the others in its location. The little rustic hotel is built in the cosiest nook, just at the bend of the river; the fine old trees bend their graceful branches over the rushing waters in which the majestic mountains reflect their wondrous beauty. Here one may obtain private dressing rooms and bathing pools, or a party of two or more may have a number of dressings rooms opening onto the same pool. The water in the pools changes every fifteen minutes. I am told there is a continuous inflow and overflow, which empties out into the river.
What a wonderful spot to build a modern structure with beautiful steam rooms, modern dressing rooms and marble bathing pools, in place of the crude board sheds which rather spoil the natural beauty of this place of many charms, where one may bathe in the hot springs pool, fish in the river, wine, dine and dance! What more could the soul in exile wish for?
If you wish for seclusion, seek a tranquil spot on the banks of the river; dream to your heart's content, watch the silvery moonbeams play among the branches and sparkle on the river, and listen to the sighing of the summer wind. I know of no place near New York endowed with so many of nature's charms.
Fishing in the river is good, but fishing in the mountain brooks and streams is much better, and one can take a pack-horse, ride up over the mountains and discover places which look as though they dropped right out of a picture book.
Rubicon Springs is such a place; a quaint old hunting and fishing camp, where a few nature lovers hide away from; the world every summer and really "rough it." I caught there some of the finest mountain trout I have even seen; I also saw a party of men bring in a very fine deer one afternoon, a feat which caused quite a little excitement among the guests.
This isolated spot cannot be reached by automobile, it being about fifteen miles from the main road over a rugged mountain trail.
There is certainly everything to be wished for in the way of out-of- door amusements in and near Reno. There besides motoring, riding, fishing, hunting, swimming and dancing are the tennis courts and the golf links. The Golf Club gives many interesting tournaments and is one of the social centers in summer for the elite, as is the race track where one may meet the world and its wife. The track is good and the horses as fine as one can see anywhere, all of which helps to render this sport most fascinating.
Talking of horses reminds me of one of my never-to-be-forgotten rides to Laughton Springs. Those who have never seen a Nevada sunset, while riding over the Sierras at the close of day, can have no conception of its wondrous beauty. I will try to tell you about it.
We started one evening at a brisk canter over the swelling foot hills along the Truckee River, whence we could see Mt. Rose lift its stately head, clothed in royal robes of crimson and purple which half revealed and half concealed its snow-capped peaks and pine-clad grandeur.
As we rode over the mountains which tower above the rivers and the greenest valleys, a storm came up; storm clouds dark and threatening, the most imposing I have ever seen. In a short while the storm passed over and the last rays of the setting sun shone on three mountain peaks across the river and valley. It is impossible to imagine a more exquisite display of colors. I think it must have been like the light that shines on a happy mother's face when she holds her love-child in her arms. And then a rainbow encircled the illuminated mountains, like a beautiful filmy halo about the head of the Madonna, while beneath lay the Truckee; its water like silvery veins and sparkling gems, glistening and trembling in the golden light. And stretching away to the north and east lay the sagebrush plains, wrapped in the silence of a dying day and illuminated with the sheen of God's promise of a to- morrow to come..... A wonderful picture: Nature's own masterpiece!
The motor trips are the next in line of outdoor amusements and these trips will afford one the splendid opportunity of seeing, apart from the unexcelled scenery, the numerous places of interest. First, Carson City, the Capital; the State Penitentiary and the Government Indian School, also the Indian homes and reservations; you will find them all interesting. Carson City was founded in 1858 and was named after Kit Carson, the famous scout. The capital is thirty miles from Reno, fourteen miles from Lake Tahoe and twenty-two from Virginia City.
The elevation of Virginia City is six thousand feet above sea level. There you may don skin garments and go down three thousand feet in a mine on the famous Comstock Lode. The heat in some of the mines is so intense it is impossible to stand it for more than a few minutes at a time.
There is so much of interest in these famous old mining camps and in the strange freaks of nature. Here are the numerous hot springs and Pyramid Lake, an enormous body of water forty miles out in the desert, which possesses no apparent outlet although the Truckee flows into it. And apart from that, the development of agriculture and irrigation is interesting.
I will try and describe some of my motor trips through Nevada and California.
One fine Sunday we set out on an automobile trip to Virginia City over the great Gieger Grade, which has become so famous through the wonderful Comstock Lode from which over seven hundred millions in gold and silver have been extracted. The ride was most exciting, and the magnificent scenes unrolling themselves continuously upon each swerve round a sharp curve or a dangerous bend, just held us all enthralled.
Often I was reminded of Switzerland, and then as I gazed, more and more enraptured by the delirious orgy of multi-colored hues, and looked at the precipitous ascent we had made; at the heights we had yet to climb, and at the undulating peaks that stood like an army of sentinels guarding us on every side, I forgot I was in the land of Nevada. I had drifted into an Arabian Night reverie, and not till the forty horse-power winged horse suddenly lost its equilibrium and gave a most ungainly lurch, not till then did I redescend to earth. While the incapacitated horse partook of first aid to the injured, I got out and gathered some of the prettiest little flowers I have ever seen; all the more marvelous because nature takes care of them in some mysterious way which we cannot understand, since rain is practically unknown in Nevada. There was the beautiful spotless desert lily; the delicate desert violet, the fascinating yellow blossom of the pungent native growth—the sagebrush—and many others.
My next motor trip was from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara; there the scenery compares with that of Nevada as an exquisite water color compares to a grand old oil painting. We went spinning along over a perfect road from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, and I felt that America might well be proud of this wonderful state. Surely none other possesses such a variety of climate, or such a variety of beauty. Hardly do I dare attempt a description of all this magic scenery. It seemed a dream to me; just color everywhere. Green valleys and turquoise skies; snow-capped mountains and rosy sunsets. For many miles we wound round and round the mountain side, through orange groves, laden with golden fruit, tucked away in the emerald green foliage, and fruit orchards abounding with spring blossoms. And then we came to the Pacific Ocean which stretched far out into the infinite, reflecting the rose-colored sky just at sunset. The dream of it all is still with me. I could hardly realize that a week before I had been flying through the pure white sparkling snow in the same state; and yet, here I was only a few hours away.... One sojourning in Reno should not miss a trip through California while in the neighborhood of that glorious state. San Francisco is only a day's journey by rail, and the trip is truly worth while.
Reno is not without its out-door winter sports; it has the advantage of being only thirty-six miles from Truckee, California. While flowers are blooming and birds singing their spring songs in Southern California, the Snow Queen reigns at Truckee in the mountains, six thousand feet above the sea. Here people from San Francisco and other large cities gather to indulge in winter sports, such as skiing, tobogganing and sleighing, and many professionals go there to display their art in skiing and skating; the Switzerland of the West, I would call it. It was all too fascinating and too beautiful: six feet of snow everywhere, and everything sparkling white in the sunshine.
Once I started out to see Donner Lake, which reposes between Summit, the highest point on this trip across the Great Divide, and Truckee. We were in a sleigh drawn by a team of huskies: real Alaskan dogs. I have ridden pretty much everything from a broomstick to a bronco, but this was my first experience with huskies. I thought it was going to be hard work for the dogs, but they frolicked about in the snow with their pink tongues out, showing all their teeth as though they were laughing in fiendish glee and enjoying every moment of it.
Truckee is only about thirty-three miles from Reno by automobile, and the distance by train is thirty-six miles, so there should be no excuse for not visiting this American Switzerland.
Another point of information which I discovered and think will interest you quite as much as it did me, was that most all the great moving picture companies go to Truckee to take their Alaskan scenes. And now whenever you see a beautiful arctic picture on the screen, you will realize that you are not looking at the frigid regions of Alaska, but at the glories of California.
The Snow Queen knows, however, that when she tires of her realm of snow, a really, truly fairy land awaits her only a few hours distant, where she may play Fairy Queen and wander through fields of golden poppies, filling her arms with spring blooms, in beautiful Southern California.
In Reno itself moonlight skating parties on the river and the University pond are popular also. Dull in Reno? Absurd!
Nevada is necessarily a mining state. Apart from the $700,000,000 in gold and silver taken from the Comstock Lode, Nevada's mines have supplied the world with thousands of tons of other materials, such as lead, zinc, etc., and thus when one thinks of the industries in Nevada, it is quite natural to think of mining first. There it is in the air. Everywhere you are confronted with specimens of ore: in the offices of mining companies, in your lawyer's office, on the doctor's desk, on your friend's dressing table, next to the Bible in the minister's home. A chubby baby will gurgle and coo over a piece of this polished rock, and hold it in a little pink fist; old, white haired men will feebly finger a rough specimen streaked with green and amber. The spell of Nevada.....
Walk out over the desert or ride over the hills, and as far as you can see, the sides of the mountains are perforated with holes made by prospectors; thousands and thousands of them, every one representing a hope. A promoter will take a piece of this beautifully colored rock and explain to you about the percentage of gold or copper it contains, the cost of extracting it and the enormous profits to be made; a friend will show you a marvelous specimen and explain that he or she owns a half interest in the claim which is sure to turn out at least half a million..... Then you will perhaps think of Robert Service's "Spell of the Yukon" and you will understand the enthusiasm and spirit of optimism.
After all, why should they not be enthusiastic and optimistic? The whole state is piled high with mountains which look just like the ones in which so much gold and other valuable minerals have been discovered; if they are the same on top, why are they not the same below the surface?
Tell us, you opal colored mountains of Nevada, what stores of precious treasures are you guarding from the greedy hand of man and how soon will you throw open another door of your treasure house?
After having lived in the West and visited the mines and talked with the old-timers, I can easily understand the fascination of prospecting and mining, and why, in spite of all the hardships it entails, so many have become enslaved by the spell of it.
The Crystal Saloon, at Virginia City, was built during the days of the first great boom, and on its register are many names of famous people. Under the year 1863, I saw written the following: "Clemens, Samuel L., Local Editor of Territorial Enterprise..." Mark Twain!
The old-timers will tell you stories about Mark Twain's adventures in Nevada's mining camps almost as funny as those he himself wrote about in his book "Roughing It."
In the register of the Washoe Club, organized in 1875, are the name of Thomas A. Edison, Fred. Grant (son of General Grant), and many other famous names.
I have been informed of a new discovery in connection with the native plant, the sage-brush. I am told there are splendid prospects for the development of potash and denatured alcohol from the huge sagebrush fields of the state.
The principal business of Reno consists of banks, hotels, shops and restaurants. The shops do the city credit; they are up-to-date and well kept, and you will find almost every kind of shop. The electrical stores display every new electrical device on the market. The stationery shops are equally well equipped; the candy stores most tempting and excellent in every way, and the music store, hardware, drug, corsetiere, gents furnishing, shoe, fancy goods and department stores, the hair dressing parlors and florist shops are all up-to-date and as fine as you could find in any city twice Reno's size. The grocery stores and butcher shops and markets are of the finest. These places employ hundreds of people and the department stores send their buyers to New York and Paris.
Reno has two daily papers, namely, the "Evening Gazette" and the "Nevada Journal." The "Nevada Journal" belongs to the Associated Press and has its private telegraph wires by which it receives the news direct.
The hotels and apartment houses are always well filled. They are up- to-date, well kept and flourishing; the cafes are constantly being enlarged. The real estate business is also progressive; one may rent splendidly furnished houses, or modest cottages, or apartments at very fair prices. There I first saw the automatic elevator, the kind that you ring for and that runs down by itself and opens its own door; then you get in, press a button at the number you wish to get off at, and the elevator runs itself up to the floor indicated, stops and opens its door. The same apartments have beds that fold up automatically into the wall, leaving nothing in evidence except a beautifully paneled mirror.
The Reno Commercial Club, which was founded in 1907, is made up of a body of the representative men of the state, who are organized to encourage educational and social intercourse, and to aid in social and material up-building of the city and state.
Its executive board is as follows: Charles S. Knight, H. H. Kennedy, Tasker L. Oddie, B. Adams, Fred Stadtmuller, R. L. Kimmel, E. H. Walker.
The Club's efforts are continually directed toward the encouragement of new enterprises, the securing of capital for new industries and investments; the dissemination of literature regarding the resources of Nevada; the building of good roads and cooperation with other states for a national highway; the immigration of settlers upon the agricultural lands of the state, more intensive farming, expansion of dairy interests, fruit growing and other agricultural industries.
The Commercial Club is always obliging in extending the courtesy of its information bureaus in matters pertaining to the affairs of the city or state. Write to it!
Nevada has made very broad strides in the direction of agriculture owing to its irrigation development. The Easterners somehow have an idea that Nevada has made very little progress since pre-historic days; that the West is still wild and wooly and consists of cow-boys, cattle ranches and rattle-snakes; but this impression is very erroneous. The picturesque cow-boy is practically a thing of the past, and so is the highwayman; the picturesque stage-coach with its four to six teams is almost forgotten; and I did not see one rattle-snake during all my exploits in the mountains and over the deserts. What has become of all those historic things which we so closely linked with the wild and woolly West of the past? They have retreated into oblivion before the great wheel of progress.....
It is a mistaken idea to imagine that because Nevada is such a mountainous country it is unsuitable for agriculture. There are many broad green valleys, flourishing and producing splendid farm products. This of course is the astonishing result of artificial methods of irrigation. Alfalfa and potatoes are Nevada's greatest crop; wheat, rye, oats and other cereals are also grown. Some of the ranches have splendid orchards consisting of pears, apples, plums, cherries, etc., and the production will undoubtedly increase as greater irrigation developments are introduced.
What irrigation will do for the parched deserts of the West remains as yet to be seen, but when I stop to consider that all the famous spots of California owe their beauty almost entirely to irrigation, then I dare predict great things for the desert states.
In a 1918 issue of the United States Geographical Survey Press Bulletin is an article which is particularly interesting for the possibilities it suggests at once to the reader for the utilization of waters. It reads as follows: "'Underground Water in Nevada Deserts.'
"In Nevada the bedrock forms a corrugated surface consisting of more or less parallel mountain ranges and broad intervening troughs that are filled to great depths with rock waste washed from the mountains. These great deposits of rock waste were in large part laid down by torrential streams and are relatively coarse and porous. Because these deposits are porous the rain that falls upon them and the run-off that reaches them from the mountains sinks into them, and the valleys in which they lie are exceptionally arid. These deposits, however, form huge reservoirs in which the water is stored and in which, to the limit of the capacity of the reservoirs, it is protected from evaporation. So well is this water hidden that its existence was not suspected by many of the early travelers, and even today long desert roads on which there are no watering places, lead over areas where ground-water could easily be obtained.
"In a desert valley, even where no wells have been sunk, it is generally possible to ascertain and outline the areas where ground water lies near the surface and to make an intelligent forecast of the depths to water in other parts of the valley. If a sufficient number of observations are made, it is also generally possible to form a rough estimate of the quantity of water that is annually available in such a valley and to predict to some extent the capacity of wells, the quality of the water, and the cost of recovery."
To anyone familiar with Nevada, there are dozens of such desert reaches which must instantly suggest themselves to the mind, and it is interesting to speculate, not altogether idly, on how advantage might be taken of such conditions. The Bulletin particularly speaks of one of these areas:
"In an investigation recently made by O. E. Meinzer, of the United States Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior, in Big Smokey Valley and adjacent area near Tonopah, Nev., the character of the vegetation and other surface criteria show that the ground-water stands within ten feet of the surface over an area of 130,000 acres. The measurements made indicate that tens of thousands of acre feet of water are annually contributed by mountain streams and by rainfall to the underground reservoir, and that about the same quantity of ground- water is annually discharged into the atmosphere through the soil and the plants in the shallow water areas. It was estimated that in an area of 240,000 acres the ground-water lies within 50 feet of the surface and that in an area of 335,000 acres it lies within 100 feet of the surface. Detailed maps were made showing the location and extent of these areas."
Nevada, because of its peculiar geographical and climatological situation, will always need to irrigate its land to produce crops. Where irrigation waters are available, the soil has proved abundantly fertile, but Nevada has been handicapped by a lack of water for these very soils which would be capable of producing the best crops.
If, perhaps, underlying those fertile though now arid areas there is such a reservoir of untapped waters as the Bulletin describes, there must instantly occur to the mind the question: "Cannot these waters be made available?"
Elsewhere in Nevada great arid areas have been reclaimed by tapping such underground reservoirs and raising the waters to the surface for irrigation purposes with gasoline motors, where they have not flowed of their own accord, in artesian wells. Nevada has not ventured far into this field because it has not felt the necessity. But why wait on necessity? Why should not Nevada attempt to reach this water? It could easily do so and so add much valuable fertility to the state's already important resources.
Of course, if these new irrigation resources of the state were to become sufficiently utilized, then there would seem no reason why Nevada should not be one of our best agricultural states.
The Truckee River is a splendid asset to Reno. Fed by the eternal snows of the Sierra Nevadas, with a fall of 2,442 feet between Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake, it affords a water power equalled by few rivers in the U. S. A. Its power plants now supply light and power for all near-by mines; Mason Valley, Youngton, Virginia City and the Comstock Lode; yet these power stations do not generate one-tenth of the power that could be obtained. It is said that it would easily be possible to develop 40,000 horse-power within five miles of Reno.
This means that Reno has great advantages as an industrial center, and as water power is known to be low in cost and as there is an immense quantity of iron ore in the state, it might eventually be considered a fine place to manufacture war supplies, especially for use on the Pacific Coast.
The Southern Pacific Shops are at Sparkes near Reno and are of great advantage to Reno merchants. These shops do the general repair work of the Salt Lake Division of the Southern Pacific; they employ between five and six hundred men at an approximate payroll of $125,000 per month.
The Verdi Lumber Company near Reno employs from 350 to 400 men in its mills, box factories and logging camps, at a monthly payroll of approximately $25,000.
In addition to these industries there are the Reno and Riverside mills, and large stock yards and packing houses. Nevada is a noted stock growing state for great droves of sheep, hogs and cattle; Nevada's beef is famous throughout the United States.
Reno, as well as all Nevada, is proud of the world-famous Wingfield racing stables, and not without reason. Mr. George Wingfield is a great connoisseur of horseflesh and has spared neither pains nor expense in order to add the best thoroughbreds to his stock. Even as I write, the news reaches me that an expert has left for England to purchase for Mr. Wingfield four mares and a stud, Atheling, a great English favorite.
At present Mr. Wingfield has in his stables about 75 horses. I had the privilege of visiting them some time ago, and made the acquaintance of some of his prize yearlings. They were wonderful animals, just as fine as any I have ever seen, and I think I know and understand horses pretty well. There is one, Honeywood, a beautiful stallion, who was the winner of the Cambridgeshire stakes at Newmarket, England, in 1911. I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful animal.
The fact to be deplored is that the Federal and State Legislatures are not taking sufficient interest in the reforestation of Nevada; they should enforce the planting of two or three trees for every one that is felled. I believe some such law is now in force in the state of Washington and elsewhere. Near the big mining camps in Nevada around Reno, the mountains have been literally stripped of all their trees in the development of the mining industries. It has been a case of: "All Take and No Give."
And now we come to "Divorce" which, if not actually an industry, can all the same easily pass for one, for there is no doubt but that the influx of prospective divorcees, of both sexes, contributes a goodly portion toward the financial welfare of Reno. Not only do hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops reap an abundant harvest from the luxury- loving wealthy colony, but even real estate prospers, as many "aspirants" rent cottages for the "season."
Lawyers are kept busy all the time; the banks are opening new accounts for every patient who comes to town, and therefore on more mature consideration, why should we not call it the "Divorce Industry"?
After all, what's in a name?
RENO HAS ALL THE ADVANTAGES OF A BIG CITY WITH NONE OF ITS DISADVANTAGES
The following is a reprint of a circular prepared by the Reno Chamber of Commerce:
Location—Reno is situated in Western Nevada, twelve miles from the state line, and on the borderland of the lofty Sierras and Nevada plateau. The city lies in a fertile valley through which the beautiful Truckee flows, and is surrounded by high mountains.
Area of Reno—Three square miles.
Population—Power company, telephone company and school census show over 15,000; government census, 12,016.
Climate—Winters short, moderately cold and open, with very little snow. Cool, dry, delightful summers, with cool nights, allowing refreshing sleep. No thunderstorms, hail, fogs or earthquakes. Average number of days without a cloud in the sky, 195; partly clouded, 105; and cloudy, 65. Doctors prescribe Reno's sunshine, dry atmosphere and altitude for health.
Railroads and Rates—Three railroads enter Reno; the Southern Pacific, the Western Pacific and the Virginia and Truckee, affording the city transportation facilities enjoyed by few Western cities. At the present time Reno enjoys full terminal rates or better for goods shipped from Eastern points and the distribution rates to the Nevada and Eastern California territory are also very favorable. All three roads furnish ample freight handling and side track facilities.
Highways—Reno is the center of the highway system of Nevada, and an important station on three transcontinental highways; the Lincoln Highway, the Overland Trail and the Pike's Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway.
City Government—The government is a municipality with a mayor and six councilmen elected by popular vote. Appointive officers are city clerk, chief of police, chief of fire department, city engineer and city health officer. The city attorney is also elected.
Industries—Reno is not an industrial city, but may be termed the office of the big industries of the state. Its biggest industries are a packing plant, machine shop and foundry, soap factory, planing mills, brick plant, flour mills and railroad yards.
Financial Strength—The six banks in Reno have a total capitalization of $1,745,000 and total deposits of $14,782,751.92. Total resources amount to $18,363,651.94. The clearings average $4,500,000 monthly, indicating that Reno does a business of a city at least twice its size. Of the six banks, three are national.
Tax Rate and Indebtedness—The tax rate of Reno, including state, county and city taxes, is $3.55 and the bonded indebtedness $433,000.
Jobbing Center—Due to its central situation Reno is the jobbing center for the territory of Nevada and Eastern California. Reno has several warehouses and wholesale grocery, automobile supply, produce, tobacco, building materials, hardware, bakery and confectionery store.
Cost of Living—The cost of living is about the same if not lower than in the Middle West and Western communities. The surrounding country supplies Reno with wholesome and cheap food and Reno's location on the main lines from the East and California enables the merchants to sell imported goods at a reasonable figure. One person can live well on $75 a month and the average family of five lives on $150 a month.
Housing Conditions—Like most of the cities of the country there is a shortage but not an acute one of apartments and small homes in Reno. However, the amount of building done in Reno this year was almost three times that of any previous year, and the housing problem is expected to be solved by the summer of 1921.
Health Conditions—The clear, dry air, altitude and sunshine of Reno's climate are especially beneficial to health, and persons with lung trouble find relief in Reno. There are no tenements or unsanitary conditions and the city health authorities enforce the laws strictly. Dairies, restaurants and bakeries are inspected regularly, and no refuse is allowed to accumulate in streets or yards. The water supply is pure.
Labor Conditions—Labor conditions are good in Reno, which is the shipping point for the labor of the mines, lumber mills, ranches and construction camps of the Nevada and Eastern California territory. There is always work to be found in the trades and unskilled labor markets. The supply of office and store positions is about equal to the demand. There are no strikes or other quarrels between employer and employee in Reno. The trades are on a union basis.
Schools—There are five grammar schools, a kindergarten, business college, high school and university in Reno. Plans are now being perfected for the establishment of a junior high school which will take care of the eighth grades and freshman high school classes. The scholarship standard is high and the best laboratory and playground facilities are offered. The teachers are paid salaries above the average, enabling the schools to maintain an efficient teaching force.
Churches—There are twelve churches as follows: Baptist, Congregational, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Christian Scientist, Lutheran, Methodist, Methodist Colored, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Spiritual.
Hotels and Apartments—Reno has excellent hotel facilities with three large, first-class hotels and forty smaller hotels and apartment houses.
Clubs and Civic Organizations—Headed by the Reno Chamber of Commerce there exists a live and aggressive group of civic and other organizations in Reno. Enumerated they are the Rotary Club, Lion's Club, Woman Citizen's Club, Italian Benevolent Society, G. A. R., Women's Relief Corps, Nevada Bankers' Society, Nevada Historical Society, Nevada Livestock Association, Nevada Mine Operators' Association, Reno Clearing House Association, Nevada Highway Association, Y. M. C. A., Y. W. C. A., American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Reno Grocers' Association, Reno Automotive Dealers' Association, Washoe County Medical Society, W. C. T. U., Spanish War Veterans, Washoe County Farm Bureau, Washoe County Tax Payers' Association, Truckee Meadows Water Users and Washoe County Bar Association, Twentieth Century Club, Reno Nurses' Association.
Fraternal Organizations—Ancient Order Foresters, B. P. O. E., Fraternal Brotherhood, F. O. E., I. O. O. F., Daughters of Rebecca, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Pythias, Ladies of the Maccabees, Loyal Order of Moose, Masonic Orders, Modern Woodmen of America, Royal Neighbors, U. A. O. Druids, Woodmen of the World, Women of Woodcraft. There are four lodge buildings maintained by the Elks, Masons, Odd Fellows and Woodmen of the World.
Public Buildings—Reno has many imposing public buildings, among them the county court house, city hall, public library, post office, Y. M. C. A., high school building, churches and university buildings. A new post office and Federal building is contemplated, and $100,000 a year is being spent on new buildings at the University.
Theatres—Reno has four first-class theatres: The Rialto, Majestic, Grand and Wigwam. The first is a combination vaudeville and picture house and during the show season the best road shows are brought to Reno by the management and staged there. The other three are motion picture houses which secure the highest class films to be had. Their combined seating capacity is over 5,000.
Publications—Two daily newspapers, five weekly journals, and three monthly journals are published in Reno. The Reno Evening Gazette and the Nevada State Journal give full Associated Press reports.
Parks and Playgrounds—The city maintains two parks and one playground, and there is a playground at each of the public schools. Wingfield Park is a recent acquisition given the city by George Wingfield and consists of a beautiful island of over two acres, situated in the Truckee river within three blocks of the business district. The city is now improving this park and connecting it with the playground on the shore. The playground has three tennis courts, swings, and teeters and is used constantly during the year. In addition to the municipal parks the children of Reno have all outdoors to play in.
Hospitals—There are three hospitals in addition to the county hospital and the state hospital for mental diseases. The St. Mary's Hospital is also a training school for nurses. With a staff of thirty- three physicians, these hospitals are well able to take care of any emergency and the most expert treatment can be obtained in Reno.
Libraries—Reno has a Carnegie Library, University Library, county law library and the high school library. The Elks Club, Y. M. C. A. and Chamber of Commerce maintain reading rooms.
Telephone—The Bell Telephone Company of Nevada furnishes telephone service in Reno with 3,729 stations in the city. Of this number 1,725 are business phones and 2,004 residence phones. The rates are lower than most cities on the coast. The company plans to spend $300,000 in Reno the coming year in a new building to house its exchange. Long distance communication with most of the points in Nevada is also provided.
City Water Supply—The city water supply is taken from the Truckee river by the Reno Power, Light & Water Company, twelve miles west of Reno, and is of the purest quality. It is snow water and is treated by a purification plant near the outskirts of Reno. Two large reservoirs store the water and give it ample pressure for distribution. A monthly rate of $2.75 for an unlimited supply of water is charged each residence. This allows for irrigation of small gardens and lawns.
Gas and Electricity—Gas is manufactured by the Reno Power, Light & Water Company and distributed to nearly every home in the city through thirty-one miles of mains. The minimum rate is $1.10 a month and averages $2 per 1,000 cubic feet. Electricity is sold by the same company for light and power purposes from three hydro-electric plants on the Truckee river. For domestic uses the electricity is sold at seven to two cents a kilowatt hour, and for power at a minimum of five cents a kilowatt and as low as two cents for large users.
Street Cars—The Reno Traction Company has five miles of track in the city and connecting with Sparks, three miles to the east. Cars are run on the half hour during the day and on the hour at night until 12:30 a.m.
City Paving—Reno now has six miles of paved streets with five additional miles on the program for 1921. There are forty miles of sidewalks covering practically the entire city.
Sewers—Rena has thirty miles of sewers emptying in the river at a point below the city.
Shipping—The railroads entering Reno do a large business in the local yards, and Reno's importance as a distributing center is growing rapidly as shown by the following figures: Imports 1915, 155,000 tons of freight; imports 1920, 207,000 tons of freight. Exports, 1915, 45,000 tons; export 1920, 89,000. Several trucking lines also operate out of Reno to surrounding points and handle a large tonnage which it is impossible to estimate.
Building Activity—The building permits issued for 1920 totalled in round numbers $300,000, which is twice the figure of last year.
Contemplated Civic Improvements—The city council is working upon a comprehensive plan of civic improvements which includes paving work already mentioned, landscaping the river banks west of the Virginia street bridge, and improvement of Wingfield Park. A new bandstand costing $5,000 is being completed in the city park and close to $100,000 is being spent in purchasing an aviation field and building a hangar. A free tourist camp ground is to be modernly equipped.
Building and Loan Associations—There are two Building and Loan Associations in Reno. The Union Building & Loan Association and the Security Savings & Loan Association. Both offer material assistance to the home builder on long payment plans.
Fire Department—The equipment of the fire department is valued at over $75,000, and consists of the most modern fire-fighting apparatus. High speed motor trucks which can reach any point in the city within three minutes after the alarm is sounded, are used, and twenty-four men man the trucks on the platoon system. The department has a record of efficiency and the loss by fire is very low in Reno.
Police Department—Reno also has a very efficient police force of fifteen men. An identification bureau and emergency hospital is maintained by the police department. Only sixteen burglaries occurred in Reno in 1920, and eight of the perpetrators were apprehended. Eleven robberies were reported and six apprehended.
Reno Chamber of Commerce—The Reno Chamber of Commerce is an organization of 1,300 members employing a managing director, a secretary and a traffic manager on full time. These men maintain a credit bureau, mining information bureau and traffic bureau, and are carrying out a program of civic improvement and state development. The rooms occupy the fourth floor of the Reno National Bank Building in the heart of the city, and are used by some thirty organizations as a civic center. The business and community life of Reno revolves around the Chamber of Commerce.
Aviation Field—The municipal aviation field consists of some sixty acres of land one mile south of the city, and is headquarters for the aerial mail service. The county is building a hangar costing $30,000 and the government stations over thirty men at the field. Two mail planes arrive each day and are repaired and overhauled at the field. In the event of the mail service being extended to Los Angeles and the Northwest, Reno will be the point at which the mail transfers are made for these points.
University of Nevada—The University of Nevada is located in Reno, on a beautiful eminence overlooking the city. It is an accredited university offering for study all the regular courses for matriculation and bachelors degree in mining, agriculture, arts and sciences, civil engineering, electrical engineering and mining engineering. The teaching and scientific staff number 75 and the registration, 465 students. The state is expending $100,000 a year on new buildings at the University and it costs $170,205 a year to maintain from state and federal funds. Laboratory service is afforded the mining, agricultural and stock raising industries of the state and the University is looked upon with great pride by the citizens of Nevada.
Fishing and Hunting—The country surrounding Reno abounds in game and fish and outdoor life is the fashion. The streams and lakes are all well stocked with game trout and a good basket of trout can be caught in the Truckee river within the city limits of Reno. Deer, grouse, sagehen, rabbits, coyotes and wildcats are plentiful on the ranges and can be reached within a few hours from Reno.
Valley Farming—The valley in which Reno is located contains some 30,000 acres of fertile land, and is especially suited to the raising of garden truck, fruits, chickens and grains and grasses. There is a ready market for all the produce that is raised in the valley. A small farm of a few acres can be obtained within a mile of the city for a reasonable figure, and a good living earned in spare hours after work in the city.
Mrs. Smith did her little six months in Reno and the world's sympathy was with her, and the recording angel, I dare say, winked solemnly to himself and said: "Another domestic tragedy!"....
It is certainly a tragedy to be told outright by the husband one has borne children for and has been a good wife to, and has loved and cherished for the best part of one's life, to "cash in one's old face and make room in his heart and home for a younger and more fair." This was the case, apparently, with the Smiths.
And yet during my short stay in Reno, I have heard of more tragic cases than that of Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith had been left her child and money. We can't buy happiness with money, it's true, but we can at least buy comfort, and that is something after all. I knew of a different case where there was no money to buy comfort: a mother, with a baby in her arms and the one desire in her heart, to make it legitimate before it should grow old enough to understand..... I met this heart broken mother in a hospital in Reno, six years after her arrival there. I had heard about her and went to see the child.
"The divorce colony, all frivolity and gaiety," you say? Pardon me, I know better!
This devoted mother had loved the father of her child. She had left an impossible husband and gone with a man who had shown her sympathy, kindness and love when her life was all unhappiness. She had fought bravely for her freedom, but for some reason had been unable to obtain it. The months had dragged into years, the woman toiling day by day in a shop to support herself and baby, until years of work and worry had claimed their prize at last, and she had fallen ill; and it was then I heard of her and went to see her. I could still see traces of beauty in the now hardened lines about her mouth and sunken eyes. It has been said that "absence makes the heart grow fonder," but alas! there are too many cases where "absence makes the heart grow... yonder." The man whose wife she had hoped to become forgot her in less than a year and passed out of her life....
I shall never forget the day I saw this fatherless child, with her little pale face, rose-bud mouth and big brown eyes, which when she lifted them to mine were filled with unshed tears. I knew that this little lonely child of fate understood.... even at the age of six. I just wanted to take her in my arms and cry....
One beautiful morning a mother arose and called at the door of her daughter's bedroom. What, no answer? She opened the door and looked in. Why, the bed had not been slept in! The mother knew that Marjory had been despondent of late, and she knew why. Can you imagine the icy hand that gripped that mother's heart when she looked upon the empty couch. An hour later Marjory's beautiful young body was found floating in the stream that runs through the University grounds among the green trees, with sunshine filtering through and the birds singing their glad notes of life among the leafy branches. As pure and sweet as a desert lily, and as dainty as an apple blossom was this daughter of Nevada. He who said "Truth is stranger than fiction" well nigh spoke truthfully indeed.
Why wish to leave, Marjory, when you possessed youth, beauty and loving friends; when the month was June and all the world rejoiced? Indeed, why?
If Marjory's stiffened lips could have answered, she would have said: "Yes, but my lover proved untrue: yesterday he was married to the Queen of the Divorce Colony; today they are on their honeymoon, and I am in the great unknown...."
It is between the hours of twilight and night. The last fading light of the setting sun is reflected upon the waters of the Truckee River, in a silvery, rose-tinted hue, indescribable in its delicate beauty. There is a strange lady seated on the veranda of an imposing Colonial home overlooking the river. She is writing; sometimes she stops to gaze upon the glory of the sunset with great dreamy eyes, whose depths seem unfathomable. How the soft twilight glow enshrines her face! But now the sun has disappeared, yet the light seems still to cling about her beautiful form. In a brighter light you might see that her lips are crimson with the glow of youth, though her face is pale. Her hair, parted in the middle and dressed straight back, and her white gown give her the appearance of a Madonna. In her bodice, she wears a white rose which from time to time she caresses in a dreamy fashion.....
Just here Eileen—her name is romantic isn't it?—is attracted by a young man who comes up the street whistling as he walks full of the joy of youth and life. He runs up the steps, two at a time. The lady on the porch lifts her eyes just one moment, but womanlike she sees much in a glance. She sees that his eyes are of a wonderful dark blue; that his hair is thick and wavy; and that he is tall, straight and strong. How lithe and supple he seems, too, as he runs up the steps and disappears into the house. Has he seen the lady Madonna? She does not know. There is indeed something strange about this dark haired man; something out of the ordinary and fascinating....
The Holbrooks had been immensely wealthy at one time but owing to gambling and unsuccessful mining deals their fortune had dwindled, and at the death of Mr. Holbrook his widow had found that her sole possessions consisted of a beautiful home and three lovely children. Eileen Reed had come to Mrs. Holbrook with a letter of introduction from a friend in the East, and had been taken into the home for the period of her exile.
It was young Holbrook who had tripped up the steps and entered the house without apparently seeing her. Having a keen woman's understanding, I wondered if this apparent ignoring of the lady's presence was not what first caused her keen interest in the young man, for Eileen was not accustomed to being ignored. She bore her crown of beauty with added brilliance and grace because of the passing years, and was fully aware of her power to sway the will of those about her, and move the hearts of men with her irresistible charm and perfect splendor, alike persuasive, compelling and all-powerful.
She had never really loved: a poor girl of a respectable family, she had taken up nursing; had married a wealthy doctor, and had been in the position of the penniless but beautiful wife of a rich husband.
At dinner Eileen was presented to young Holbrook. I happened to be a guest at dinner on that particular evening, and noticed a slight effort on the part of the new arrival to interest the young man. However, young Holbrook was cordially polite only. After dinner they sauntered out on the piazza and chatted, for some time. During the conversation, Eileen got the impression that if he had expressed his opinion about divorces, it might not have been altogether complimentary. He had grown up in Reno and for more than fifteen years had seen the divorcees appear and vanish, and oh!—what a tale he could have told.
However, he evidently thought this woman different or at least out of the ordinary, and he was right; she was a most unusual and unusually interesting woman.
They drifted into a rather serious conversation; they spoke of the old-fashioned chivalry; the profound respect men had for women in the old-fashioned bygone days; he spoke of his father with so much reverence, dignity and pride, and this boy-man with all his premature experience, gave Eileen glimpses into a soul, into his soul, which was pure and clean and good.
Eileen was rapidly becoming interested in this young head of the household; she found herself listening most attentively to every one of his words. After hearing nothing but silly wordly chatter for years, it seemed good to listen to this man who seemed to have absorbed all the romance and mystery of the land of his birth. At one time he would speak like a boy of twenty; the next moment like a man of forty; always there seemed to be present two personalities, one the care-free, happy boy, the other the all-wise, far-seeing man, with a keen intellectual understanding of every phase of life.
So much were these two people interested in each other that neither noticed that it had grown quite late and a little chilly. Eileen shivered slightly and rather unconsciously; young Holbrook noticed it.
"Why, you are cold, and it is late; I am sorry I did not realize it," he broke out in astonishment as he glanced at his watch; "really you must forgive me for keeping you up!"
He extended his hand as he bade her good night. Eileen returned his good night in her most charming manner, though rather mechanically; something had come over her; she did not know it, but for the first time in her life she seemed to have fallen in love....
Much to my surprise and strangely enough after that evening these two people seldom met and were never alone together; it seemed to me as though young Holbrook avoided Eileen without seeming to do so. I could not understand his attitude unless he felt himself slipping and was trying to avoid temptation. I felt that his apparent indifference only served to fan the flames in Eileen's heart. She struggled with her wounded pride though there never was any outward sign of her feelings until she became ill.
The first day's illness brought a gorgeous bouquet of red roses. "Oh, why did he do that, and why did he send red roses, the emblem of love and passion?" and why did Eileen clasp them madly to her heart and drink in their sensual sweetness? For three long weeks Eileen lay ill with burning fever, and always there were fresh red roses, but he himself did not come until Eileen began to convalesce. And one day he came and stood by her couch, and looked down, at her. He saw that she was paler, but the lips were still as scarlet as the petals of the American Beauties on the table by her side. The rose-colored light cast a glow over the prettiest breast and shoulders God had ever moulded! They said very little; it would be interesting to know what their thoughts were.....
Shortly after Eileen came out of the hospital she sent a little token of appreciation to Mr. Holbrook, in recognition of his unfailing kindness during her illness. That same evening they met, by chance, and as he clasped her hand and thanked her for the little gift, the pressure of his hand sent a strange thrill to her heart; she stammered something in a tremulous voice and rushed away. Later in the evening they met, shall we say again "by chance", at dinner. They danced together, and the pressure of his strong arms nearly maddened Eileen.... Oh, why do we play with fire and why is forbidden fruit so sweet!
A strange woman this, with her dual personality: a Madonna and a lover of all things good and beautiful, but a Cleopatra when the passionate fires of her soul were stirred; and this night, a passionate love that lacked all reason, dominated everything else in her being. When they had parted and she was alone in her room, sleep refused her offices: twelve: one: two.... and her eyes still were staring into the darkness.... Not a sound; all was quiet. She rose from her couch, her hair streaming, her body all aglow. She donned a flimsy, rose-colored dressing gown, opened her door, crept silently down the hall and went bodily into young Holbrook's room. In a dressing gown and slippers he sat, reading a magazine; he must have been restless, too. "Why Mrs. Reed—Eileen—what is the matter?"
"The matter is, Boy, that I love you with all my heart and soul." And as he held her in his arms he whispered: "And I love you."
For the first time since he had held her in his arms early that evening her reason asserted itself for a moment, and she pressed her hand over his lips to stifle the words. She had thought of poor little Marjory and her white face in the stream, and of a thousand other reasons why they should part. There were sacred promises on both sides to be kept. "But be mine," she pleaded, "just for tonight."
He held her in his arms; she was his very own, and she counted his heart-throbs as they beat against her breast. He scented the perfume of her breath against his cheek, and drank deep of the wine of her red lips, as she whispered again her sweet confession through a mist of tears.... "The Woman Thou Gavest Me!"
No one could better grace love's throne, nor rule more royally. Voice so low and tender and heart so warm, all herself she gave, and gladly, thoughtlessly, recklessly. Is it true that all humanity means to do right though often wrong: that the heart at times must obey the mandates of circumstances and environment: that even the purest and best succumb to temptation? Another day, and reason rules!
He was engaged to a girl who had been his little sweetheart as far back as he could remember. He had carried her books and pulled her sled and fought her battles, and now he surely would never break her heart. There is duty; an invention of the Devil, but it must be met, though hearts break and burn; though we wander through a desert of hallowed love and damning desire. This dream was to end. For months those two beings faced their little world with only a nod as they passed by; not even as much as a hand-clasp. Who can tell what the man thought, or if he cared? But the woman wept out her sorrow in my arms. Confession is good for the soul, so it is said; there is joy in a heartache sometimes, and sweet content in tears. She told me how she lay awake and listened for his footsteps. If he came into the room her heart would almost cease beating. She almost fainted once when she met him coming in with his fiancee... but in silence she suffered; pride and duty ruled.
"How exquisitely he tortures me," she said. "He uses roses as his weapons.... But what think you of this my friend? I shall bear his image into life! What matter laws and customs, and sins forbidden.... I shall be happy again when I hold my baby in my arms"....
So terribly shocked was I that I could only gasp in amazement, but when I looked into the face of the woman, behold.... the Madonna!
There seemed to be a spiritual light illuminating her face and she was far away in the land of dreams, looking into the face of her blue-eyed baby; born of a great, great Love, sacrificed to Duty. Life.... What a tragedy! Fate, did you say? Thank God for Time, the healer of all wounds. As someone has said: "Never a lip was curved in pain that could not be kissed into smiles again!"
Just half an hour before she was leaving Reno, as we were dropping the last of the little silver toilet articles into her small traveling bag, and gathering up the odds and ends here and there, the telephone rang. At Eileen's request I answered. A manly voice said: "Mr. Holbrook speaking; I would like to come and pay my respects to Mrs. Reed if she has a few minutes to spare, and will permit me!" Of course she would, poor girl; she looked as though heaven had suddenly opened and beckoned her enter. I left them alone.
Whatever was said must have taken the bitterness out of the parting, because it was a sweet-souled, courageous girl that joined me ten minutes later, to take her departure for life's everlasting battle fields; to begin anew. Perhaps she knew his love would crown the awaiting beyond with divine fulfillment......
When I saw her off on the Eastbound train, she answered my questioning look by taking a small photo from her bodice—"No, I have not forgotten," she said with a smile that was more tragic than all the tears the world has ever shed. "Here, next my heart, I shall carry my love always, but there is his duty and mine, and so much do I love him, that I want to bear all the pain myself...."
Being a trained nurse, Eileen when she got her divorce went to France with several other Red Cross nurses, "where," she said, "I shall try to mend my broken heart while I help to patch up some of our mutilated soldier boys. My only hope is that I may be of some use, and I feel sure that my own miserable little wail of bereavement will get lost in the shuffle, when I am face to face with the tragedies of the battle fields..."
Shall we forgive her? Yes, if we follow the teachings of the Nazarene..... I sometimes hear from Eileen; she is somewhere in France, and so is young Holbrook, I am told! I may yet continue their story some day. Methinks it is a promise; a whisper across the miles of unrest; a pledge of the fulfillment of a prayer; a surety for tomorrow's sunshine! Already I can see a smile in the East: may I hope, and hoping believe?....
"To Helen, my full blown rose, spirit of perfect womanhood, my inspiration and guide; to her whose love exceeds all others, to her memory I bow my head in everlasting devotion and admiration...."
Thus spoke a man who had watched the train disappear eastward with the body of his sweetheart, four years prior to the writing of this book. When I think of all the tragic stories of the divorce colony, Helen's was perhaps the most pathetic. She was the daughter of a wealthy family in New York State. She ran away when only sixteen, and married a man whom she thought she loved, and for years she struggled to find happiness, ignored by her people because of her choice of a husband. She found herself poverty stricken and unloved, paying the price of her folly. What a pity that we must be young and know too little, and then grow old and sometimes know too much! Ideals are simply mental will-o'-the-wisps, of which we are always in pursuit, but which we see realized but seldom.
For ten long years this woman faced neglect, humiliation and days and nights of anguish in her efforts to fulfill her duty, until she could stand it no longer, and crept back to her father's door to ask forgiveness. The millionaire father sent her to Reno, with ten dollars a week to live on, and a promise of forgiveness if in future she would promise to live according to his wishes. Poor little Helen! For years her heart had been starving for love, and now Reno meant to her the call of honor and duty, the sworn obligation of her family. But, alas, Helen was beautiful: a girl who had only just become a woman; whose sufferings had only served to develop a strong personality with an intangible charm; whose whole being suggested unnumbered possibilities of mind and character. Her face was like a lily, so fair, and almost classic, yet showing unmistakably the warm heart and emotional nature of the woman. A wealth of golden hair that crowned her regal grace, and eyes that had stolen the tenderest blue from a turquoise sky beneath the shade of modest lashes. Appealing lotus-like lips, rosy- ripe and moist with the dew of promised bliss; sensuous curves and graceful feminine lines..... such a woman was Helen. And he! Six feet of Western manhood; a graduate of Yale, and still an athlete at 35. A man with the highest ideals of fine, clean, strong manhood. He had gone West shortly after leaving college and had made his fortune, but he liked the West and its people, and there he made his home. The rough mining life he had led had worn off a little of the drawing room polish of his younger years, which made him even more fascinating, and something had turned his raven-black hair just a little bit gray at the temples.
This man sat in a lawyer's office one afternoon, his wide brimmed Stetson pulled low over his eyes, and a cigar between his teeth, when a rather timid little blonde lady entered. He removed both cigar and hat and stood up. Jack Worthington was the man, and he was presented to Helen by his old friend, Dick Sheldon, who was also Helen's lawyer.
Were you ever alone in a strange land, sitting between the four walls of a barren, stuffy room with the blue devils swarming thick around you? That had been the case with poor little Helen for two long weeks before her meeting with Jack Worthington.
Two whole weeks!....it had seemed an eternity to this beautiful woman, with the wreckage of her youth staring her in the face: a youth which should have been all sunshine and flowers. She had risked all for the price of love and lost....
"Gee! Some woman!" said Worthington to Sheldon when the door closed upon Helen, after a private consultation with the lawyer.
"What's the matter, old boy; captured at last, after all these years? Well, they say: 'the longer you wait, the harder the blow!' But I'll have to hand it to you, you're a good picker. That little woman is an angel if there ever was one in Reno, and you will be a lucky boy if you can win her!"
Two days later there was a little dinner given at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon, and strange to say, Helen and Worthington were among those present. From that time on it was Jack who chased away the shadows and kept Helen amused. There was something wonderfully sweet and soothing about this strong, self-reliant man of the West. Life cannot exist without sunshine, and this man was slowly becoming the sunshine of Helen's life, with each walk in the moonlight along the banks of the Truckee, and with each ride through the wonderful, silent places, while they enjoyed Nevada's matchless sunsets, and glorious freedom of open country.
In spite of all Jack could do in the way of chasing away the shadows, Helen continued to grow more like the lily and less like the rose. It was terribly hot in Reno as the summer months came on, and there were reasons why Helen could not have all the comforts. Worthington, with his thousands, was hopeless. She should be up to the lake where the cool, fresh breezes could fan the roses back into her cheeks, but how could he manage it?