Tahoe Pine Nuts: Henry Comstock had a Nevada sense of holiday humor
Some called him a windy-no-gooder, others called him a human wine cellar, but nobody had a more sophisticated sense of holiday humor than ol’ Henry Comstock. Allow me to cite one singular example…
During the holiday season of 1863 some Virginia City boys discovered an old sourdough in his coyote hole, frozen, so they sent for the Cutter Sled out of Carson to fetch him. And when the boys from Carson arrived, there he was, his coffee was frozen, his beans was frozen, and he was frozen too.
They tried to lay him out in the bed of the sled, but he wouldn’t go. They said he was stiff as a carpenter’s working bench. So they pulled a blanket over his shoulders, put an old slouch hat on his head, and sat him up on the bench behind them. Then off they went, giddy-up for Carson…
Well, long about Gold Hill they was a little parched, so they stopped at the thirst- parlor there for a restorative, to sweeten the bilge waters a little. Besides, it was snowin’ & blowin’ somethin’ terrible.
As they walked inside, one of them Carson City boys winked at his partner and says to the boys at the bar, “We’ve got this old hardtack out here on the sled who says he’d rather stay out there in the snow, than to come in here and drink with the likes of you!”
One of the Gold Hill boys takes the bait and says, “Well I’ve got a yeller-boy that says he’ll take a shot of whiskey with me!” And he slams a five dollar gold piece down on the bar.
The Carson City boy says, “I don’t think so.” And with that, out they went…
Well, the scene that followed was most amusing, as your own Nevada imagination can tell you, and once those savants had had their fill of that defunct they went back inside, all except for Henry Comstock.
Henry waited ‘til those boys were all back inside, then he took that old sourdough and put him inside a snow drift where he’d be safe. Then Henry pulled the blanket over his own shoulders, put the old slouch-hat on his head, and climbed up onto the bench, to wait.
Pretty soon here come the two boys and they giddy-up for Carson. Well, long about Silver City, it’s dark now, one of them reaches inside his duster, pulls out a flask, and says, “How ‘bout a sip?”
And that’s when old Henry Comstock said, “Don’ mind if I do!”
Well one jumped off the Cutter this way and the other jumped off that way, and the pony just jogged on into Carson on his own, to the Magnolia, which was the first groggery he come to. And that’s where Henry Comstock waited for them two boys.
Well, long ‘bout an hour later, here they come, draggin’ in with the longest faces on two men you ever saw, and Henry Comstock bought those two gentlemen a drink.
And do you know, that tradition has been perpetuated here in the Silver State to this day. Yes, even today in Nevada, if somebody’s gunna take advantage of you, they’re likely gunna buy you a drink afterwards … maybe beforehand if you’re lucky…
Have a happy Tahoe holiday!
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.