Back to the printed page.

The Blue Parrot

The Blue Parrot Cafe, as seen in “Casablanca”.

In many ways, I am right back where I started. Writing, that is…

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have written for school newspapers, newsletters, press releases, online columns and of course, right here on this very blog.

It’s been a bit of a throw back moment for me in the last few weeks as I have taken time to compose a few items for the Bulletin, published at the Dickens Fair. Published in a style that definitely steps back in time. Printed on a pair of vintage printing presses, using movable type. All laid by hand and lovingly crafted for passers by at the Fair.

A hobby of mine – okay one of many – is to look for information on my ancestors, using various newspaper databases found online.  In particular, I find myself searching through newspapers from the Silver State, dating back as far as my family or people sharing the same surnames found themselves in Nevada. I tend to be amazed at these people coming west to find a life there. The years since have taken me out to visit some of the places these folks lived in. And to be honest, there was not a lot then and there is even less now in some of those places. If you had nothing else but friends and family, I guess you did what you could to survive. No organized support beyond those people. You either made good or you moved on in search of something better.

As an example, let me share the tale of Jonathan Sandon Walker. Born in Bootle, in Cumbria in the northwest of England in 1842, he was one of nine, possibly ten children. He went on to be apprenticed to two trades. That of the stone mason and the brewer. I do not know what led him from England to the Americas, but he came to New York in 1869. From there he made his way to Grass Valley, here in California. A short time later, he was in Eureka, Nevada were silver-lead ore had been discovered as early as 1864. Using his brewing experience, Jonathan ran a series of saloons around the district including at Eureka and Mineral Hill. He was not particularly successful. I believe these “businesses” were little more than tents, as he was burned out and flooded out several times.

But reading the various local newspapers of the day, I get an idea of life in that part of Nevada. Indeed, rugged, but full of amusing incidents as well as tragedies and moments of joy.

Taking more than a bit of inspiration from those early editions, it has been a pleasure writing a column and occasional stories for the Bulletin.

And who knows? Maybe 2016 will find me filling these pages more often. One can only hope…

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