Two colossal celebrations collided in Elko this past Saturday night when the 45th Halleck Bar Party merged with Nevada’s Sesquicentennial Celebration at the best little museum in America.
As it happened 45 years ago, a magnificent bar and bar-back were donated to the museum on the condition that the museum throw a party once a year and serve Beefeater Gin. I still don’t know the history of the Beefeater association. Though I went there determined to learn about the Beefeater connection, I asked and asked, and drank and drank, and never did find the answer to that conundrum.
On Saturday morning I headed out from Tahoe at dawn with Fats Domino singing into the sunrise and me drumming on the dashboard. America’s second loneliest drive boring? I think not. Longtime Nevadans learn to discern and appreciate various shades of grey — not fifty shades of grey, but ten or twelve. Heck, I saw upward of a dozen dust devils at Rose Creek, and I fear there might be more dust devils than roses there this summer.
It gladdened my heart to hear my Nevada surname mentioned on the radio twice in five hours. Shania Twain sang a song, and then on a Christian radio station they quoted from Mathew, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, walk with him twain.” Yes, I am old enough to have been mentioned in the Bible.
Arriving at Nevada’s most engaging museum early, I was treated to a tour by the gracious and personable director, Claudia Wines. I found it interesting they had put on display a skull of Henry Halleck when he was a boy. They found it to be such an attraction that they put on display, in another room of the museum, a skull of Henry Halleck when he was a man. America does not call us “The State of Attractions” for nothing.
The entire town of Elko, those citizens over 21 years of age, turned out for the party. If anybody was left behind it was because they were in the privy when the truck left the yard.
The local high school chorus came out and sang a David Bugli arrangement of “Home Means Nevada” that brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to move to Elko and live in their museum forevermore.
Toward the end of the evening a distinguished looking Elko lady arrested me with her big brown eyes, and both of us being about the same age, well, we sort of fell in love, at least I did. When they blinked the lights for us to go home I was contented as a man with a stomach full of Beefeater can be, so I asked her for a ride to my hotel.
But as she was a stuffed mule deer, and a member of the Wanamaker collection, I had to leave her behind, and walk on foot to my hotel a few blocks down.
Were it not for the kindness of Lt. Governor Krolicki and Director Wines, I might have missed that party altogether. So I want to thank the NV 150 Commission and the Elko Museum staff for allowing Mark Twain to join in the fun.
I might not get to see another 150 years in Nevada, but God willing, and the Creek don’t rise, I might be lucky enough to get to another Halleck Bar Party in Elko…
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.com.