Food for thought on what really counts

Last week, I wrote about how badly I have wanted to cook noodles in the Oodles of Noodles event in Dayton. My husband, Carl, and I were all set to make four-cheese fettuccini Alfredo.

Those attending didn't see me; I didn't make it. Carl, who has some heart issues, began feeling ill Friday, but thought it would pass. He felt worse Saturday morning as we were loading the truck.

Right away, Oodles of Noodles lost its importance. So did selling raffle tickets to raise money for the Virginia City fireworks, and even writing for the Nevada Appeal.

We stayed home, Carl rested, took his medicine and began feeling better. While I'm sorry I didn't make the event, I'm also relieved, and have been reminded of the most important part of my life.

•••

I'm going to be a little lazy now and let a few letter-writers do most the rest of the column. Their letters are better than anything I would have written.

Earlier this week I wrote a story about an old house in Virginia City that was to be torn down. I talked to some residents, but only one had memories of the family, and he obviously didn't remember everything, and got a few things wrong.

Well, the family that once owned the house read the story online, and sent these e-mails. I was very moved by Ross Sargent's letter. It's wonderful to know that others, even those who have moved away, loved the Comstock as much as I do.

Karen,

Thanks for this wonderful story (whenever I spell the word story I always want to put an "e" in it from my days on the Comstock).

This little "shack" and Virginia City were my tap-root as a young boy growing up on the Comstock. My father, mother and I came to Virginia City a few months after Pearl Harbor. The restrictions imposed by the federal government on what materials had to be shifted to the war effort, resulted in a lot of mining operations being shut down. One of those mines shut down was the Standard Mine in Bodie, California where my father, Jake Sargent, worked. However, there were still a few mines operating in Virginia City so we moved there in early 1942 and continued to live there until 1952, when my mother and I moved to California in the wake of my father having been injured in a mining accident.

The little home on D Street was the source of many wonderful memories. Growing up and playing with kids like John Flanagan, Bob Del Carlo, Bob Bowman, Joan (Gallagher) Petrini, Bob Clark, Doris Gerbatz, Charlene Young, Fred Andreasen, Jim Obester and many others shaped me in many ways. Having the benefit of wonderful teachers and mentors like Hugh Gallagher, Sadie Smith, Doris Hansen, and Walter VanTilburg Clark also developed my values for later life.

The house itself was small but my mother, Olga (who is still living at 94, south of Tucson, Arizona), cooked many wonderful meals in the very small kitchen on a wood and coal stove. In the winter of 1948, when the city was snowed in for weeks and the flume froze over for weeks on end, we had to melt snow on that stove in order to have drinking water. There was indoor plumbing and a toilet with a gravity flow tank above the toilet that you would release with a pull on a chain.

My dad, when putting supports under the house, in an attempt to level the floor in the late 1940s, did discover a number of artifacts. Among those was a pristine $25 dollar gold piece, minted in 1861. Also were a number of square nails, some six inches long.

The best times were during the spring season when the crab apple tree was in bloom and you could sit outdoors and look down Six-Mile Canyon toward the Breaks O'Heart Ranch on the banks of the Carson River. The early morning sunrises also gave us a wonderful view.

I also remember fondly spending so many wonderful evenings, as a kid, with the Nicholson family who lived in the Mackey Mansion across the street. Ruth Nicholson was the granddaughter/descendent of the owner. Both she and Craig, her husband, were wonderful people who taught me how to play canasta.

The summers gave all of us kids an opportunity to earn money by selling souvenir newspapers to tourists arriving in VC. John Flanagan and I would take a number of such papers and hawk them to tourists as they got out of their car. I bought my first shotgun from money I made in the summer of 1949 from the sale of such papers.

I will always have fond memories of that house and Virginia City.

Thanks again for the stor(e)y!

Ross Sargent

And from his daughter:

Hi Karen,

Just a few corrections. My Aunt Carolina also lived at the property with my Dad and Grandparents. She has been deceased for the past 25 years. My Dad worked for State Senator Patrick Johnston. I'm sure Pat would appreciate the elevation to Congress but that was not the office he held. Also my father moved to DC after Pat termed out of office. His job now has nothing to do with her Chief of Staff job.

Hopefully I can get there from Oakland the first weekend of June. I hope it has not been knocked down by then. I mean if anyone should get to sift through the debris, I think I have a better claim than Lane Puckett. ;)

Thanks!

Deirdre Sargent

Now, my story about the Sargent house. In 2003 I ran Virginia City's Christmas on the Comstock celebration, including the Gingerbread Social and Auction. I even made a gingerbread house, which, a few hours before it was to be displayed, caved in.

I retitled it "The House Across from the Mackey Mansion" (the Sargent House), and took third place in the contest.

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