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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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January 9, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 9, 1997
 

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10 Thursday, January 9, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Editorial ii i i ii Ushering out the old, welcoming in the new ...some different strokes for different folks By Robert Lowes Ever since I was a kid growing up in the historic Gold Rush country, it was a New Year's Eve tradition in our family to listen to the melodic strains of Guy Lombardo and his orchestra and hear the symbolic count down from Times Square as the illuminated ball descended to Welcome in the passage of yet another year. Those, of course, were back in the Golden Days of radio, long before the advent of television. Little did anyone imagine that little Las Vegas, then only a dusty desert railroad stop on the arid Mojave Desert, would someday rival the Big Apple for international attention in welcoming in the New Year. But now, thanks to the many miracles of modern communication, with only a slight con- cession to the time differential, both coasts were united to celebrate the approach of the New Year as the symbolic ball descended on the bash in New York's Times Square, while western revelers converged in Las Vegas to usher out the old and welcome in the new with several spectacular booms and loud bangs. No matter where you were when the big hand and the little hand found themselves joined together momentarily at the same place on the clock at midnight last week, those distant locations were joined together in wishing a Happy New Year to most of the western world. Our Asian friends will have to wait until the end of the month - January 31 to be exact - for their traditional Chinese/Japanese New Year celebrations to begin. By that time, according to reliable pollsters, more than half of the Occidentals who made serious resolutions for the new year will have either broken or seriously bent their vows to be better human beings in the future. If like they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, there's more than just a few of us who have managed to build our own freeways. There's little question that the busy folks down at the Las Vegas Tourist and Convention Authority would like the rest of the world to believe that every night is "New Year's Eve in Las Vegas," and by comparison they do make a point. This year in particular, they gave their big city rivals a challenge for civic celebrations that won't be easily forgotten. Blowing up the old 1 l-story Hacienda Hotel on the south i i * An Epitaph* Sheriff E. T. "Hefty" Sanderson I don't like saying good bye, especially to an old and admired friend whose loss will be felt by many. There's a sense of implied finality in saying those particular two little words. That's why I far prefer to say "so-long," no matter the length of the anticipated separation. Besides, I've had to bid too many farewells to my friends recently. Elmer T. "Hefty" Henderson, four-time sheriff of neighboring Min- eral County to our north, was everything his longtime nickname could possibly imply. In life, the 80-year-old former sheriff would do anything he could to help a friend, but never hesitated punching out an enemy if that's what it took. With his recent passing at Hawthorne's Mount Grant General Hospital following a brief illness, it was the end of an era for law enforcement in rural Nevada. I learned of "Hefty's" demise from mutual friend Jack McCIoskey, the retired editor-publisher of the Mineral County Independent News, and an octogenarian himself, who along with another since departed friend "Bud" Soper, former owner-operator end of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip with some 2,000 explosive charges early Wednesday last week certainly cre- ated as much noise and attention as did the thousands of well- wishers who converged to witness the time-honored annual event on Times Square. Locally, an estimated crowd of 200,000 looked to the southwestern skies as fireworks illuminated the midnight skies above the desert metropolis. Flames erupted from windows of the landmark building, which quickly crumbled to earth in an enveloping cloud of dust - all that is except for the south- ern most wing of the building that remained standing to be demolished without fanfare by a huge wrecking bali early the next morning. Actually, demolition of the 40-year-old structure, an aging dowager by Las Vegas Resort-Casino standards, took place 3,000 miles away and three-hours earlier to accommodate television networks and to coincide with the eastern time differential to allow a simulcast of the two coast-to-coast events to additional millions of worldwide viewers. While those two widely separated events were tough acts for any community to follow, that didn't mean they couldn't try with celebrations of their own. Also on the eastern seaboard, for example, local media reported a "gazillion," translated by police to mean 1.9 million people, attended Boston's non-alcoholic First Night celebration, while west- ern partygoers had their last chance to imbibe on a boozy toast on the Gold Rush-era sidewalks of neighboring Nevada City over on the California side of the border. But before we leave the East, it was a lady named Oseola McCarty, who at the age of 88 is almost as old as the Times Square celebration itself, that threw the switch at one minute of the Montgomery Pass Casino, first introduced us to the legendary lawman. I was always grateful that we had met under such favorable circumstances as I soon learned not to push the sheriff for a quote after he once said "no comment." I was luckier than most inquisitive reporters who had to learn that lesson the hard way. Coincidentally, it was Jack's niece, Gall Hardy of Pahrump, who was among the first to remind me that her Uncle Jack, the late Judge Bill Beko, John Adams, Bud and Hefty, had now come to consider this new kid on their rural block as one of the so-called "good old boys." Coming from that bunch, I took her comments as quite a compliment. Even in their later years, it was quite a sight to see the three of them - Big John, Bud and Hefty - arm wrestle to see who would buy the next round of beer at Sanderson's popular Black Mammoth tavern-restaurant-motel in Silver Peak. A native of Wyoming, Sanderson spent his early years in Montana before moving to Nevada where he lived for nearly six decades, the majority of which were spent as a legendary lawman. Four times between 1958 and 1978, he was elected Sound like Nye County? to midnight that started the famous Times Square ball of lights descending a pole on its traditional count down to welcome the New Year as part of the nationally televised celebration. Miss McCarty, who hails from Hattiesburg, Miss., never made the cover of Time magazine like Nye's Sagebrush Rebellion leader Dick Carver, but Miss McCarty, as she is affectionately known down home, became an instant celeb- rity in her own right last year when she donated her entire life savings of $150,000 to the University of Southern Missis- sippi. When interviewed by her hometown paper, coinciden- tally an affiliate of the New York Times, she said she had never heard of the Times Square celebration before she was invited to officiate at this year's ceremony. Now that might be a bit hard for some to believe, that is, unless they spent some time in Hattiesburg orone of countless other small Southern towns. I know I wouldn't have believed such a thing possible until I went there as a young reporter during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. By way of explanation, the octogenarian honoree said she had a lifelong habit of going to bed by sundown, a trait easily acquired when all the sidewalks are rolled up by that hour. Also by contrast, the First Night festivities in Boston, the city that claims to have originated the non-alcoholic New Year's celebrations that are now common across the country, included no fewer than 43 indoor events plus scads of outdoor celebrations. I can feel my Boston-Irish ancestors turning in their resting places at the very thought of such a thing. However, 1996 was the last chance for merry-makers to have a boozy New Year's Eve on the historic streets of Nevada City, the northernmost outpost of the Mother Lode Gold Rush days. A new town ordinance, which became law on Jan 1, outlaws open drinking anywhere in town. "Some years ago, we also banned public lynching on our streets, another carryover from the Old West. We no longer live in that era," explained City Council member Sharon Tobiassen. So, my friends and loyal readers, wherever you are, how was your New Year's celebration? Sheriff of Mineral County, but he lost re-election three times because of high profile incidents, all of which were closely chronicled by McCloskey. "Just before one election," the veteran newsman recalled, "a local restaurant owner mouthed off to the sheriff and Hefty knocked him out. As a result, Hefty lost the election, but then came back to win again the next time." After retiring from office in 1982, Sanderson moved from Hawthorne to Silver Peak, a semi-isolated rural mining community in Esmeralda County where he opened the popu- lar Black Mammoth Bar, Restaurant and Motel. The long- time equipment operator for mines in the area did well as a restaurateur until losing the business in a bitter divorce and moving back to Hawthorne in his later years. REMEMBRANCE: In lieu of traditional offerings in his memory, survivors request that his many friends share their favorite storlles about Hefty and mail them to his son, Charles "Sandy" Sanderson, Route 1, Box 89, Crowley Lake, CA. 93546. A request in which we hope our readers will gladly comply. Shouldn't let'em run loose !