’Nevada History Through Glass’ by Fred N. Holabird
RIDGE WRITERS ON BOOKS Review by DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL
If you ever doubted that history resides in objects, you can find abundant evidence in Fred Hola-bird’s “Nevada His-tory Through Glass.” Beyond the necessary details of pricing for collectors, this surprising book tells the stories linked with bottles from whiskey dealers, breweries, dairies, soda, mineral water and ink producers and makers of special commemorative vessels.
It offers interesting facts and particulars about stores, businesses and merchants, as well as information about the towns and regions that developed around mining strikes and transportation hubs. As noted in the foreword, even a shard of embossed glass can recall “the daily lives of those who lived or worked, and certainly drank a variety of liquids” in Nevada. Photos of bottles abound, together with plenty of extras such as maps and reproductions of newspaper advertisements.
Pictures of bunkhouses and construction accompany the discussion of Hoover Dam and the beverage manufactured nearby to tie in with the 1930s engineering marvel. Labeled “Best By A Dam Site,” the drink earned a unique distinction: “The use of Coca-Cola on the Dam project may have been the single largest contract for the consumption of Coke in the Company’s history.”
Other nuggets of yesteryear emerge along the way, from the origin of whiskey in America to Wyatt Earp’s rarely chronicled adventures in Nevada when he owned a saloon until wife Josie put a stop to it and his gambling.
Holabird’s Volume I covers soda, whiskey, beer, milk and other bottles, while Volume II focuses on drug store bottles. Throughout, the author underscores the why of digging through abandoned garbage dumps to unearth the vestiges of times gone by: “History is the most important thing you will ever learn. It allows you to keep your checkbook. It allows you to remember your work. It allows you to learn and build on your ideas. History and archives allow us to find treasures. Treas-ures create stories. Stories spark dreams and imagination. Imagination sparks creativity. Creativity is the Engine That Drives the World. History is in Your Hands.” If this means broken glass resting in your palm, exercise caution but appreciate all that it represents.
You can buy “Nevada History Through Glass” locally at the wonderfully comprehensive Historic USO Building Gift Shop maintained by the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert. HSUMD members enjoy a discounted price.
This weekly column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the Califor-nia Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Pres-byterian Church, and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart,” is available at the Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, the Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and www.planetmojave. com.Story First Published: 2013-04-24