Guy W. Farmer: A ‘must read’ for true blue Nevadans
Prolific Nevada writer and book publisher Stanley Paher has just published a beautiful coffee table book that is a “must read” for true blue Nevadans. And if you don’t know what a true blue Nevadan is, you should probably go back to California.
Paher’s new book, “Nevadans, the Spirit of the Silver State,” is a lavishly illustrated tribute to the people, past and present, who built our unique state and made sure it wasn’t East California, as suggested by our detractors. The author’s Nevada is a strong, independent state that fiercely defends its independence and Old West heritage. As my longtime friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning Reno journalist Warren Lerude, wrote in his introduction, “Stanley W. Paher has had a glorious love affair with Nevada … over the past 45 years. In reading this book you are part of the romance.” I certainly have been as I read about our state’s colorful history and western traditions, and you are going to be too.
Paher describes his book as “a topical history of Nevada emphasizing individuals and events which helped shape its first 150 years. It was soon evident that I had to call upon knowledgeable individuals in specific fields to round out Nevada’s story.” I’m honored to be one of those individuals with a page 72 comment about the 1963 Frank Sinatra gambling license revocation case, which was a major milestone in the history of Nevada gaming control.
Many of my oldest and dearest friends are also quoted in Paher’s book. Among them are the late Las Vegas gaming attorney Bob Faiss and his lovely wife Linda, who recalled a holiday season road trip through Mina on U.S. 95.
“We slowed down for the little town of Mina, where people were hoisting big tinsel decorations onto street lamps along the highway,” they wrote. “In a place that some might describe as in the middle of nowhere, that moment was more awe-inspiring than the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City. We were filled with the spirit of Christmas — and of Nevada.”
We’ve all had our special Nevada moments. One of mine was a starry night in a rustic B&B in remote Unionville and another was the night I watched the midnight train roll through Gerlach. I won’t bore you with the details except to say they were true “only in Nevada” moments, the kind of moments and memories Stan Paher captures so well in his new book.
I was pleased to see a memorable Nevada quote in Paher’s book. It was written by my favorite Nevada author (with apologies to Paher and Lerude), Bob Laxalt, in his 1976 history of the Silver State.
“I find myself reflecting whimsically on how very much like the sagebrush the people are,” he wrote, “setting down their roots and thriving in unlikely places, hardy and resilient, stubborn and independent, restrained by environment and yet able to grow free.” Which reminds me of a long ago evening full of good food and picon punches with Laxalt and Lerude at the iconic JT Basque Bar & Dining Room in Gardnerville, but that’s another story. And if you don’t know what a picon punch is, you’re not a true blue Nevadan.
The Carson City pages of Paher’s book feature historic photos of the Capitol Building, the State Museum (formerly the U.S. Mint), the Edwards House, and Stewart Indian School. Paher writes Carson dates back to 1851, when five tired gold miners took up farming in Eagle Valley.
Stan Paher tells Nevada’s story and illustrates it as only he can. Every Nevada history buff should own this book.
Guy W. Farmer has been an adopted Nevadan since 1962.