The Corner


Boots on the Ground

Outside the Elko, Nev., courthouse (Jay Nordlinger)

Those boots you see on the courthouse steps up there? There are many more where those came from, in Elko, Nev. I show some of them in Part IV of my journal today. This fourth part is the journal’s finale.

I thought I’d share a little mail with you, beginning with a note from Rick Brookhiser: “When I first listened to Hank Williams, I realized that, although country contributed one of the streams that became rock, two things got lost in the flow: yodeling and three-quarter time.”

This, from my friend Tim Saunders, I very much appreciated:

I disagree with what you said about the Mills Brothers. You called them the greatest pop group of all time, then claimed you were indulging in hyperbole. As someone who was listening to the Mills Brothers in college when everyone else was listening to the Allman Brothers, I think saying the Mills Brothers are the greatest pop group of all time is merely stating an obvious fact.

From another reader:


Your journal has brought back memories of an Iowa college teenager spending a summer in Elko working for the Bureau of Land Management. That was 50-plus years ago.

A hundred memories to share, but I’ll recount just two, related to one of the town’s primary “industries” in those days, which to my credit (?) I was able to resist, unlike a pre-engineering co-worker of mine who each Monday would share too many details of his weekend exploits.

Betty’s BB Club was on the walk between my summer rental and the BLM office. On one occasion, I passed by a big rig truck parked outside the club with its engine still running. The cab was empty.

Elko held a regional rodeo in the summer, just like my hometown in Iowa. Much to my surprise, bare-back riding was sponsored by Betty’s BB in the program.

From another reader, who grew up in northern Nevada but has been living in Virginia:

… There’s so much more to the state than Las Vegas and Reno, both of which are increasingly Californicated. …

There are ghost towns scattered across the state. … In Pershing County, there’s Unionville, where my great-great-grandfather was the blacksmith. (One of his daughters had an arrow scar across her forehead from an Indian attack that occurred while they were crossing the Great Plains.)

I love Nevada, but I won’t be coming back because of the influx of people who didn’t like where they were living, moved to Nevada, and tried to turn it into the place they couldn’t stand living in. I hope to be living in Montana by this time next year.

One more:


… When that kerfuffle broke out after Harry Reid insisted that the federal government fund the cowboy-poetry festival, I thought it was foolish — the festival, I mean. Your journal has changed my mind. (Hangs head in shame.) …

I hope you don’t mind a small recommendation: the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, nine days of wonderful Celtic and Celtic-inspired music, dancing, and culture. … And Cape Breton is a lovely island. (Full disclosure: My family has deep roots in CBI; my dad was born there.)

Thank you, all!

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