The doldrums of
day to day, life in the thriving town of Bodie could be quickly cured with
an old fashioned parade, food and game booths, athletic events, music,
dance, and more. On August 10, 2008, The Friends of Bodie will present a
vintage celebration in the same tradition of those days of yore, proving
once again that Every Bodie loves a parade! The old buildings are
delicate, and modern rules prevent the big bang-ups, but it's a good bet, a
good time will still be had by all who attend. For information on this
year's celebration, visit
In the meantime, let's step
back in time and take a look at one such celebration from the annals of one of
our favorite ghost towns' history books:
Precisely at midnight, July 4,
1880, the shrill sounds of thirty steam whistles echoed in the hills surrounding
the booming mining town of Bodie, California. The residents that woke to the
startling sound probably smiled to themselves, for this time, it did not signal
a disaster in the mines, but announced that Independence Day had arrived. Four
and a half hours later, the sounds of "Hail Columbia," "The Star Spangled
Banner," "Red White and Blue" and "America" could be heard from the observatory
of the Belevedere Iron Works, thanks to the Hoskins Brass Band. As the sun rose
over the west side of the Bodie Hills, the cannon at the Standard Mine was shot
off, waking the few Bodieites that had managed to sneak a few more z's after the
steam whistles blew in the 104th birthday of the United States.
Bodie was decked out in red
white and blue for the holiday, which would be celebrated more appropriately on
a Monday than the Lord's day of Sunday. Old Glory waved with the nearly always
present wind, and the rest of the day remained silent. The sound of a gunshot
or two was heard that evening, as a drunken Irish gunslinger by the name of
Paddy Carrol finally succeeded in terminating his forty years of life on earth.
The skirmish was incited by legislation that would rescind the resolution
opposing a parade of members of the Miner's Union in the upcoming celebration.
Paddy had his own ideas on how to stop the resolution, which ultimately caused
his demise. Those who knew the Irish man showed no regret over the incident.
dressed in their finery ride a horse drawn wagon during a parade.
An hour before dawn, on July 5,
"the thunder of the Standard M & M Company's artillery banished sleep". The
streets of Bodie were alive with patriotic displays. Main Street was decked with
evergreens, flags, and traditional red white and blue bunting. Two brass bands
played the musical odes to the country, followed by four snow white horses
pulling the Standard Mine's five pound cannon down the crowded board walked
street. The Babcock Engine I, Pioneer Hook & Ladder I, Champion Hose I and
Neptune Hose II represented the four Bodie fire companies, complete with
brightly bedecked new uniformed firemen. The Booker Mine, not to be out done,
also appeared with it's own miniature brass mounted cannon drawn by ten
uniformed boys under direction of Master Charlie Irwin who was mounted on a fine
pony. Captain Messick, the grand marshal, his mounted aides, and 214 Miners'
Union members serving as honor guard, were given a thunderous ovation.
Amongst the events of the day,
a track meet drew a huge crowd. Duncan A. Mc Millan was the prize Bodie athlete,
shining with his 15 pound hammer throw toss of 92 feet and two inches. H. Bell
followed second with his toss of 92 feet, 2 inches. Duncan's success continued
in three other events, including a tie with Lee De Camp in the standing high
jump at 4 feet 5 1/2 inches. The 40 foot, 8 inch hop, step and jump was placed
by Dennis Keeve. The hitch and kick was placed by Rod MGinnis, at 9 feet, 2
As usual for such events in
Bodie the festive crew known as The Horribles, paraded and orated around town
mocking all that went before them. Typically their antics ended at the Miners
Union Hall with great literary exercises including a "a Horrible Poem" a
Declination of Intentions and an oration such as the one we now quote from
Bodie Bonanza by Warren Loose originally recorded in the Daily
Bodie Standard July 9, 1880 as spoken by Horribles orator C. Staley.
|A group of "Horribles"
poses in Bodie.
Fellow rounders, cheek
gorillas, amateur actors, hoodlums, knights of the poppy, and superintendent
of the finest and best free lunch routes in Bodie.
We, today represented
the highest phase of triple X and double distilled cussedness to be found on
the coast. When I see your opium-belched, boozy-inflamed mugs gathered
around this rostrum, I feel that I was perfectly right in demanding in
advance the $500.00 Mr. Pope (chairman of the program committee) offered me
to deliver this oration.In this camp our mines are most ably managed on the
coast. Our superintendents know more today about sour mash, Santo Pedro,
poker, back streets, and scrub horse racing than any other class of men in
the country. They are broad in their views, painstakingly conservative, and
hold on to a four bit piece like a burdock burr in a bull's tail. They are
men of great understanding, wearing number 5 hats, and number 10 boots.
Think, four daily papers
in a town of 7,000 inhabitants. Pause for a moment and regard the mental
caliber of their editors and compositors.Turn your attention, I pray you, to
our saloonkeepers, all men of means.self supporting, making all their own
liquors, except gin. It takes too long to make - fifteen minutes.The various
ranch men who come here have been known to take four straight drinks, and
then go out and steal their own horses, saddles, and blankets and hide them
in the sagebrush.
One poor creature
accompanied by two riding and pack animals in passing through Bodie on his
way to Mexico unfortunately stopped at the Senate Saloon. He hoisted in half
a dozen drinks, fill a gallon jug and continued his journey. He said to the
Bishop Creek Vigilance Committee, who were anxious to know how he came into
possession of 300 head of horses between this place and Independence, and
that it was Bodie whiskey, and he was afraid it would choke him. He didn't
lie about it either.
When I look around on
your rum-sodden countenances, soulless opium eyes, like two gobs of putty in
a pan of starch, I solemnly promise and speak it with tears in my eyes, that
I will never do it again. Oh! My beloved, continue in the paths you have
marked out, don't miss a trick. See if you can't ruin some other saloon and
drive the proprietor into bankruptcy. Be as tricky as you can' remember, the
world owes you a living.
Amongst the events of the day,
a Cornish style wrestling tournament was held at the Bodie Hay Yard, with the
Hoskins Brass Band in attendance as James Snell , Jake Palkingham, and Con
Driscol took in first, second, and third prize. News stories also reported a
plethora of practical jokers, public drunkenness, and at least one shoot-em
ups. The evening fireworks were described by the Bodie Chronicle: "It must have
been made of sawdust or badly damaged powder.There was scarcely enough force in
the powder to carry the Roman Cannonballs above a man's hat." At least the
modern Bodie traveler need not worry about fire restrictions keeping him from
seeing such a sad display.
To read more about
Bodie, it's histories, and its celebrations:
by Warren Loose
Exposition Press - New York
Bodie's Gold - Tall Tales &
True History From a Mining Town
by Marguerite Sprague
University of Nevada Press
Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well
by Michael H. Piatt
North Bay Books
The Ghost Town of Bodie, A California State Park
by Chalfant Press
The Story of Bodie
by Ella M Cain