I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my new digs, watching a bank of rain clouds turn a thousand shades of gray as an apricot sunset fades. I’m also enjoying the ambience of a small, clean and cosy space, the cusp of kitchen and bedroom/living room. Three steps down the hall is the bathroom, and immediately beyond is my husband’s shop.
This little place was built in six months. My husband acted as owner-contractor, and his constant attention to the process let us meet the Aug. 31 deadline for leaving our small oasis in American Flat, where the current Comstock miners’ heap leach outgrew our tolerance for noise, disruption, and gigantic, naked dirt piles.
At first, I hated the idea of losing our paradisal home. There were three ponds, a year-round spring, towering trees, garden, chickens, fruit trees, a shop, guest cabin, and small house — we loved our life. As the mining changed our lives, though, the thought of no longer maintaining the property’s aging infrastructure became increasingly attractive.
Silver City, just downhill from Gold Hill and Virginia City, had been home for 25 years when we moved to the flats. And 15 years later, it is again. The town has grown by two houses, and the old cemetery has a classy new fence across the front. There’s a community garden that’s thriving (since we finally got a deer fence, rustic and impromptu, though it is). There’s an arts program, and an occasional visiting artist-in-residence.
None of this is really new. I’ve worked in the garden all its life, and been on the Cemetery Committee forever. There’s an active community social life: soup night, musical events, town photos, rummage sales, Fireman’s Ball parties and other celebrations. Besides, we have three children, five grandchildren, and a five-month-old great-grandchild all living in town.
Life is full, and my home is just right, but the sad fact remains the corporation which ousted us from the flats has drill rigs reaming the tiny open pit behind the Dayton Consolidated Mill. This historic site sprawls down a hillside just across the canyon, right at the edge of town. The Lyon County Commissioners have been their great friends, even having the Master Plan rewritten specifically to allow mining in Silver City.
Corporations like this seem invincible, with big pockets, and the clout which they provide. However, my recent experience with the big one providing our telephone service has left me wondering just how efficient these huge entities actually are.
We waited six long weeks for telephone service. There were many conversations with many operators who gave us other numbers to call; technicians arrived on four separate occasions who had not been briefed about the job, had no paperwork, couldn’t find the connections, and left without completing the job. The wire was finally pulled, after we called the tech who supplied his contact number, pointing out the hookup points when he arrived.
Our Internet service provider is Pyramid.net, a small, local business, whose owner showed up throughout the six weeks whenever a new tech came. In the finale to this intricate dance, he waited with us for three hours for the telephone tech who finally came. Has any corporate CEO ever appeared on a job site and then waited all afternoon to complete a job?
What a difference! This independent company’s owner never kept me waiting, showed up, was gracious, and did the job well. In contrast, the big corporation floundered and dropped the ball on our project repeatedly. To me, the choice is clear: buy locally.
Susan Stornetta is a retired archaeologist and a long-time Comstock resident.
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