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Free lunch on the Comstock - Browse our Digital Collections


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									 Page 28 Henderson Home News and Boulder City News                                                                                                                                              Thursday, February 25, 1988

  Nevada Historical Society's'This was Nevada'series                                                                    ^

                          Free lunch on the Comstock
                            by PhilUp I. Earl .                                     to lay *off employees, a measure which in turn affected merchants             Mrs. Mathews estimated that the cash outlay, averaged $15 a day,
                   Nevada Historical Society Publicist/                             they dealt with.                                                           but subscriptions brought no more than $^10. On May 25, a group
    In the late winter and early spring of 1877, the mines of Nevada's                 Mine superintendents in operations which somehow managed to             of amateur thespians put on a benefit for the soup ktichen at National
  Comstock Lode entered upon a borasca phase. Production had peaked                 stay open first discharged single men, then married men without            Guard Hall. The militia unit's band played that night, the actors per-
  in the fall of 1876, but the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco              childen. Some unmarried men voluntarily gave their jobs to friends         formed an oho and several skits and a full stage production of "Com-
  did not reflect the beginnings of hard times until the Consohdated                with families, while others simply took their last pay and bought a        ing Man" was offered. Attendance was poor because of a lack of publi-
  Virginia faUed to pay its monthly dividend of $1,080,000 in January,              ticket on the first train out of town. Those who remained hoping for       city, however, and the women realized only $11 for their efforts.
  1877. The stock in other mines took a dive in subsequent months and               a mining revival soon found themselves starving on the streets, beg-          On May 26, Mrs. Mathews decided to close down, but learned that
  thirty-five of them shut down, throwing hundreds of miners and mill               ging a meal here and there or contemplating a venture into crime.         the London Restaurant had just gone out of business. The owner
  hands out of work. Businessmen dependent upon the mens' trade began                  Businessmen and artisans were daily inundated by dozens of men         brought over three hundred pounds of bread and corned beef that
                                                                                   seeking work, and citizens venturing downtown found themselves con-        afternoon, so she remained in business another four days. During the
                                                                                   stantly pestered by men trying to get together enough money to eat         last days, she and Mrs. Beck put up lunches for about a hundred men
                                                                                   on. City police began arresting the men as vagrants, filling the jail      leaving town to seek work elsewhere.
                                                                                   to the point that the justice of the peace could sentence no new of-          On May 30, they divided up what food was left, distributed it Jp
                                                                                   fenders without letting others go. City expenses for boarding the men      a half-dozen poor families and closed up shop. According to her calcula-
                                                                                   cut into allocated revenues, so the cityfathers put their fourteen poUce   tions, they had taken in $176 in cash and spent $243.80, they
                                                                                   officers on half-pay. When they threatened to quit, they were reminded     themselves making up the $67.80 deficit. Mrs. Beck's husband of-
                                                                                   that there were dozens of men willing to replace them.                     fered his shop to any other group which mi^t be interested in carry-
                                                                                   As the depression persisted, the number of burglaries and late-night       ing on the relief work, but none came forward, so he removed the
                                                                                   assaults increased. There were also several suicides by men out of         stove, benches and tables and resumed his carpentry business.
                                                                                   work. Many Virginians gave Up going out in the evening, and rumors
                                                                                   were soon circulating that plans were afoot to put the town to the
                                                                                   torch. The members of the Virginia Relief Committee were expending              ^^^^^^^^^^'t^^^^^'t^^'t^'t^C'et^'Ctct^^
                                                                                   an average of $1,700 a month to feed, clothe and shelter some seventy-
                                                                                    five families, but they were down to $117 in their accounts by the
                                                                                   end of April. Several donations amounting to $2,085 from wealthier                LAS VEGAS BOAT HARBOR'S
                                                                                   citizens got them through the month of May, but it soon, became evi-
                                                                                   dent that something more must be done.
                                                                                      Among those Virginians who felt that they could wait no longer
                                                                                   was Mrs. Mary M. Mathews, a widowed operator of a B Street lodging
                                                                                                                                                                       ON THE WATER
                                                                                   house. Noting a Dayton hog farmer carting loaves of stale bread out

                                                                                                                                                                   BOAT SHOW
                                                                                   of the back of a restaurant one day, it occured to her that much edible
                                                                                   food was being wasted. She thus conceived the idea of starting a soup
                                                                                   house. Discussing the matter with Mrs. Rachel Beck, the wif^ of a
                                                                                   local furniture maker, they decided to give it a try.
                                                                                      Mr. Beck had an unused shop at 23 North B Street which he offered
                                                                                  to allow them to use, so they rounded up stoves, benches and tables
                                                                                  and began to solicit restaurants for unused meat, bread and vegetables.
                                                                                                                                                                          FEB 25-28
                                                                                  Other merchants saved vegetables and a few gave them all their broken
                                                                                  packages of pepper, tea, soda, spices and other grocery items. The
                                                                                                                                                                   VEGAS WASH • LAKE MEAD
                                                                                  town's butchers also kicked in, bringing over all their meat scraps,                         See the new 1988's
                                                                                  soup bones, stale hash and cuts of meat they could not sell, and the
                                                                                  operators of a local dairy furnished several gallons of milk daily.
                                                                                                                                                                                  in the water.
                                                                                      Housewives all over town donated dishes, tableware, pots and pans,
                                                                                  and a few volunteered to assist in the preparation of meals. The soup
                                                                                  house opened on May 5 with a sign over the front door reading "Free
                                                                                  lunch for the poor." Twenty'inen were fed that first day and more
  Mary McNeil Mathews, a widowed Virginia City lodging                            came when word of the free meals got out, sixty men showing for
  house keeper who fed the podr and unemployed in Virginia                        breakfast on May 14 and a hundred on hand for dinner.
  City in 1877.                         Nevada Historical Society iIlu8tratioii       By that time, Mrs. Mathews had worked out a subscription system
                                                                                  to raise money, merchants buying a number of meal tickets at twenty-
   Nevadans flock to state's community colleges                                   five cents each and passing them out to men on the street who hit
                                                                                  them up. This system pleased those Virginians who believed that some
        Because 1988 marks the 20th anniversary of the.estabhshment of            men were using the money they raised on the streets for hquor. Those
    communitj colleges in Nevada. University of Nevada System                     men who were obviously intoxicated were turned away by Mrs.
    Chancellor Mark H. Diiwson has asked citizens to join in celebrating          Mathews, but some walked back and'forth outside untl she considered
    the month of February a.s "'Nevada Community College Month."                  them acceptable. One, however, continued to bother her, returning
        The acknowledgment of the services Nevada's four community col-           a half dozen times and asking "Am I sober enough yet?" until she
    leges provide to the state comes m conjunction with a national effort         admitted him.
    to celebrate the achievements of the institutions and their students.             The women were feeding whole families by mid-May, wives, children
       •'Our four community colleges will join more than 1,200 other com-         and all coming to eat, and they were also sending out pails of soup,
    munity, technical, and junior colleges throughout the United States           platters of meat and loaves of bread to the homes of those who could
    m celebrating National Community College Month during February,"              not bring themselves to appear in pubhc. Whatever was left at the
    Dawson said                                                                   end of the day was given to the Chinese and the Indians who hung
        "More than four million Americans enrolled in community college           aroimd outside at meal time.
    classes last year, representing 431 percent of all undergraduate
    students and 55 jaercent of all first-time freshmen in the United States.
    Of these students, nearly 29,000 students are enrolled in the univer-
    .sity system s community colleges; Clark County, Northern Nevada,
               Meadows, and Western JJevada."
       The numbers of Nevadans choosing to pursue higher education in
   community colleges ia growing at a phenomenal rate, Dawson said.
       "Our abUity to provide diverse programs and specialized services
   makes community colleges an affordable option for everyone."                                            MANPOWER*
       Dawson said the role of community colleges has expanded in the
   last 50 years to keep up with the nation's changing needs. In this                   •LIGHT FACTORY WORK
   time, the number of community, technical and junior collies has grown
   from 553 in 1937 to 1,222 in 1987.                                                     •HEAVY INDUSTRIAL
       'Because we are community-based, we are responsible to meet the                • SECRETARIES • TYPISTS
  needs of specific gerjgraphic areas," explamed Dawson. Through educa-
                                                                                  |F0/? INTERESTING TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENTS IN
  tional partnerships with local business and industry, and Nevada's
                                                                                      THE HENDERSON AND BOULDER CITY AREAS
  pubUc schools, we are working to keep up with the changing (educa-
  tional and technical demands of our residents and provide them with               MANPOWER TEMPORARY SERVICES
 ijje education they need to succeed."                                                 30-A Water St.    HENDERSON, NEVADA
 :• The community colleges' abiUty to respond quickly to change and
                                                                                   CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT      565-5554
 initiate progranis to m^^t the needs of business and individuals has
  given these institutions the opportunity to broaden their educational
       "We literally have something for everyone at our community col-
  leges," said Dawson. "We offer high-quality programs, including
  associate in arts degrees, certificates of achievement, the first two                    HENDERSON DISTRICT PUBUC LIBRARY
  years of a bachelor's degree, career education, and personal enrich-                                   INVITATION TO BID
. ment classes                                                                                              BID NO. 88-1
      "()ur programs are attracting a broad cross-section of rural and ur-
  ban Nevadans. Men and women, young and old, attend classes during                       NEW JAMES I. QIB80N LIBRARY FOR THE:
  day and evening hours Our 28,785 students include women return-                          HENDERSON DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY
  ing to school after raising their famiUes recent high school graduates,
 employees interested in upgrading their job skills, retired adults, and
                                                                                    THIS PROJECT PROVIDES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION
                                                                                    OF A 15.500 SQUARE FOOT. SINGLE-STORY UBRARY.
                                                                                                                                                                        SUMS                         SnJMmt y
  pers<Mi8 preparing for a second career, Dawson said.
      "We are proud pf our students and our service to Nevadans, and                            ESTIMATED COST: $1,350,000.00
 invite them to join with us in celebrating Community College Month."               PREBID CONFERENCE: 10 A.M., MARCH 1,1968. in th«                                      ALL PRICED TO
                                                                                    City of H«nd«rson Conferenc* Room at 243 Wator
Air Force agrees to upgrade test site road                                          StrMt, HaiKtoraon. Navada 89015.                                               LAS VEGAS BOAT HARBOR'S

   U. S. Senator Chic Hecht (R^NV)     he said, "with the result that we            Bida wlU be recaivad at tha Handarson DIatrict Public
announced recently that the Air        will have a new, widened road bed            Library, 55 South Watar Straat, Hendaraon, Novada
Forcj' has agreed to his request       with drainage culverts and a new,            89015, on March 18,1988. Blda muat ba tinfM-atampad
that the road connecting the           wider gravel surface."                       at 3:00 p.m. or bafora. blda timo-atampad at 3:01 or
Caliente area with the Nevada            A total of $4-4 millimi has been           aftar will ba ratumad to tha biddar.
Test Side be upgraded and              allocated for the project.                   Ptana and apaclflcatlona ara availabia at tha Hand«r-
widened to allow safer and eaaier                                                   aon Distrfct Public Library, 55 South Watar Straat,                                            4635 BOULDER HWY
access for residents of the area          Hecht said the Air Force has
 who work at the test site.             agreed to allocate funds for the
                                                                                    Handaraon, Novada 89015. for tha aum of 160.00 for
                                                                                    aach aat of plana and 115.00 for oach aat of apacHica-
                                                                                                                                                                                    SALES 451-2992
   Hecht said he was happy that
 the Air Force had agreed to im-
 prove the road.
   They're going to completely
                                        project as part of the mitigation
                                        for the Groom Mountain Land
                                        withdrawal which he said be
                                        hopes Congress will approve
                                                                                    tkma (rafundaMa), thara wHI ba a $15.00 charga for
                                                                                    piana and $10.00 charga for apoclflcationa H mailad
                                                                                    (naHhor mailing charga la rvfundaMa).
                                                                                                                                                              i                     MARINA 565-9111
                                                                                                                                                                                    Authorized concessionaire
                                                                                                                                                                                   of the National Park Service
rebuild all 42 OOHIM from the town      before the end of the current con-                 HENDERSON DISTRICT PUBUC UBRARY
of RadMl to Test Site Gate 700,"        gressional aeasioa.                                      HENDERSON. NEVADA                                                i.>>33y^^^^^-^-^^^^^^^-\^-^-^yAY^-^-=^-^YA>

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