A Journey Through The Memory
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The Ghost Town Of Bodie
52 Lodge Lane
Now this mild, softly spoken Irishman - whose tongue had been tempered by the various local accents of the places he had lived - never divulged much about his past - he just went for a quiet whisky to the local hostelries - read his daily news - passed the time of day - sometimes had a game of darts and generally got on with his host community. It was mere co-incidence that his servant girl was called Clements and had nothing to do with the fact that he had just returned from Mississippi - I imediately tried to associate her with Samuel Clements, that great storyteller from Mississippi (Mark Twain). But that has nothing to do with my story! the point is he had rubbed shoulders in his past life with 'The Bodie Man' Was he responsible for circulating stories about this mythical? and totally awesome 'Bad Guy'.
What had he been doing in Mississippi? Had he been visiting members of the 'Tobin Clan'? it is known that the Tobin's had connections in the deep South. Why even some of the 'Black Slaves' had taken the name of Tobin from their white master. The 45 year old farmer Peter TOBIN was such a possibility. He lived with his wife Jennie, Daughter Ella and their two sons Alfred and Stephen Tobin... but they were a black family with European sounding names... living on a farm in Alabama in 1880... I'm not saying that all the white folk in Alabama where plantation owners - they were not... Eliza TOBIN was a fine example - an Irish migrant who kept house in Mobile, Alabama, whilst her Irish compatriot Patrick Condon was a baggage master... but what was James Tobin doing in North America? Well 50 miles south of Lake Tahoe, in California, near Bridgeport and Highway 395 near the Nevada border - there was a town called Bodie which was named after Waterman S. Body (sometimes known as William S. Bodey) and he was the man that discovered gold there in 1859. The townsfolk changed the name to Bodie to ensure the correct pronunciation...
At the time that the town was founded mining along the western slope of Sierra Nevada was in decline... Prospectors wanting to 'see the elephant' (prospect for gold) in 1859 discovered a rich lode known as the Comstock Lode at Virginia City, this started a huge 'gold rush'...
The town boomed by 1877 and by 1879 boasted a population of about 10,000 with 2,000 buildings. This was not a normal expanding town with normal and expected lawlessness as was the case across the West in those days This was the most wicked, god awful place in the country and the badmen were the baddest most ornery critters one would wish to avoid, outdoors was the 'the worst climate of all'. One little girl, whose family, (it might have been James Bodin's daughter, Mary), was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: 'Good-bye God' I'm going to Bodie." The phrase came to be known throughout the west.
The town had over 65 saloons to offer relaxation after a hard day's graft. Killings were almost a daily event and the - toll bell that rang the ages of the dead when they were interred rang on and on and on.
There were all the typical scenarios seen in a typical Western Movie - this was the archetypal template... stage hold-ups, street brawls, murders,
It was referred to by The Reverend F.M. Warrington in 1881 as 'a sea of sin, lashed by the tempest of lust and passion.'
Every other building on the mile long main street was a saloon. Seven breweries were working day and night to keep the booze flowing. Horse carriages brought in 100 barrels of whisky at a time.
Although gold was being mined - the town was better known for its lawlessness - and then the gold dried up - bankruptcies were common place - two great fires took their toll, (1892 and 1932) ... but the town had been finished long before either occasion in 1882...
and who was the bad man of Bodie? Some say Tom Adams... some say Washoe Pete... and many would agree that possibly it was both...
But 'The Bodie Man' probably still lives on... rest in peace mama - you only did it to protect me...
But did my Nin get the idea from James Tobin?... its to much of a co-incidence for me to deny... I gotta find out why James was in North America at the very time of the gold rush... I know that many of the miners came from Ireland... probably Kilkenny - the best miners in the world... and I know that the Tobin family were amongst the Miners... even Jemmy Tobin who was a Jockey... what does that say about Bodie?
So have I made this up? or is the Bodie Man still around? perhaps he still haunts the Boone Store and Warehouse... built in 1879 - two years before James Tobin came back from America???
Oh by the way! Bodie is now a famous Ghost Town!!!!
Don't believe me... then here's a picture of the Famous Lawyer who defended the Bodie Man...
Pat Reddy was the best lawyer that Bodie ever produced.. He saved many a wicked baddy from the rope... He was well respected by the lawless fraternity of Bodie - that meant most of the population... and here's a lady of the evening... her name was Roma May an she was the toast of Bodie's red light district.
Rosa may paid for her sins by being excluded from the official cemetery
These Pages are provided courtesy of Wes Paul Gerrard
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