Dennis Cassinelli: The night before a Comstock Christmas

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the mines,

The men heard the whistles that signaled the time.

From the bowels of the earth, they were pulled to the top,

Up out of the shaft, then they came to a stop.

From the Chollar and Yellowjacket they came,

From the Savage and Belcher, and some with no name.

With lanterns in hand and dirt on their faces,

They started their hike to their favorite places.

The frozen snow sang as they walked or they rode,

Up the hill to the bars of the old Comstock Lode.

They went to the Delta or the Boston for action,

Others to the Bucket for their satisfaction.

Saloons and bars were their gathering places,

When drinking and gambling and hoping for aces.

Some men ordered whiskey, some ordered wine,

Cold beer was a favorite — soon all men felt fine.

John Mackay came by with handfuls of dollars

And passed them around amid cheers and hollers.

From Dayton came Sutro through his tunnel of rock

And joined in with the miners to drink and to talk.

The big shots showed up and bought a few rounds,

While girls of the evening came out on the town.

At midnight, the whistle of the Lyon heard clear,

Across the Divide announced Christmas was here.

The bells of Saint Mary and Saint Paul’s soon did ring,

Calling the faithful to worship their King.

The miners raised glasses to toast and to cheer,

And remember the fellows who were no longer here.

In the east, the clouds parted to reveal a star bright,

The men went to see in the cold winter night.

And when they returned, they raised up a cheer,

“Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!”

This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, who can be contacted on his blog at All Cassinelli’s books sold through this publication will be at a discount plus $3 for each shipment for postage and packaging.


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