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Washoe and Reese River

Monday, November 16, 2009

The crazy thing about this series of ads is that I'm pretty sure I don't even have them all. But after some serious searching this morning, I finally figured these were enough for now. If I run across another treasure trove, I'll add 'em in.

These ones remind me of Hair Dye and Eyebrows, with Reese River as the "Hair Dye" and Washoe as the "Eyebrows," except that these were about fifteen years earlier.

Washoe - Over three months and the promised likeness not yet received. Reese River.

Washoe - Now, could you doubt me? I cannot forget. Peace can only come from one source. Shall it come? Reese River.

Washoe - Send eight or ten words that you will recognize in print. Reese River.

Washoe - You promised that under no circumstances would you wait longer than May. Come to me. Reese River.

Washoe - Did you not read July 24 and 29 and August 5. Write soon. Reese River.

Washoe - As somebody else has used my usual "words" in Monday's paper, please send me several new words. Did you see my notice last Friday? Reese River.

Washoe - Did you not recognize in Personals, February 10 and March 3, the new words you sent? Tell me, without delay, if you remember my post office box, so that I may move next month. Reese River.

Washoe - I cannot understand why you have not written since March 18. Reese River.
Oh Reese River, I can understand why Washoe hasn't written since March 18! And I can understand why this was, I believe, the last ad in the series.

So much stuff to talk about these two. First of all, a modicum of research informed me that the names actually do have some meaning, though I don't know if they are actually relevant to the people involved. The Washo people are a Native American nation mostly located in Nevada and California, and Reese River is located in, guess where, Nevada. Were these two actually Native American or from (or in) Nevada? This I don't know. But these pseudonyms are hardly the most bizarre or odd nicknames we've ever seen. There was, in the late nineteenth-century, a fascination with all things Native American by whites, largely (and sadly) because many whites believed that Indians were all going to die off soon, so they were seen as relics of a lost era. But whether or not that had any bearing on our heroes is impossible to say.

Another interesting thing about these ads is their longevity. This correspondence lasted over a year - which is why I'm pretty sure I'm missing a lot of them. That's very impressive, considering that the Canoes and Eyebrows of the world didn't make it longer than about four months. So despite whatever problems they were having by the end, they definitely managed to make what apparently was a quite complicated relationship work for quite some time.

Now the most intriguing thing that I'm sure you noticed was the "words" that Reese River keeps referring to. Well, there are some ads that appear to match the dates that he/she mentions in at least some of these ads. If you want to see what they are...come back tomorrow!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Ms Avery November 16, 2009 at 9:54 AM  

Poor Reese River. That's painful to watch.

Pam November 16, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

I know - keep reading tomorrow too!

mario November 17, 2009 at 2:58 AM  

Is it apropos to quote Mark Twain?I think I will quote twice, first from Roughing It:

"This was all we saw that day, for it was two o'clock, now, and according to custom the daily 'Washoe Zephyr' set in; a soaring dust-drift about the size of the United States set up edgewise came with it, and the capital of Nevada Territory disappeared from view. Still, there were sights to be seen which were not wholly uninteresting to newcomers; for the vast dust-cloud was thickly freckled with things strange to the upper air - things living and dead, that flitted hither and thither, going and coming, appearing and disappearing among the rolling billows of dust - hats, chickens, and parasols sailing in the remote heavens; blankets, tin signs, sage-brush, and shingles a shade lower; door-mats and buffalo-robes lower still; shovels and coal-scuttles on the next grade; glass doors, cats, and little children on the next; disrupted lumber yards, light buggies, and wheelbarrows on the next; and down only thirty or forty feet above ground was a scurrying storm of emigrating roofs and vacant lots.

"It was something to see that much. I could have seen more, if I could have kept the dust out of my eyes.

"But, seriously, a Washoe wind is by no means a trifling matter. It blows flimsy houses down, lifts shingle roofs occasionally, rolls up tin ones like sheet music, now and then blows a stage-coach over and spills the passengers; and tradition says the reason there are so many bald people there is, that the wind blows the hair off their heads while they are looking skyward after their hats. Carson streets seldom look inactive on summer afternoons, because there are so many citizens skipping around their escaping hats, like chambermaids trying to head off a spider.

"The 'Washoe Zephyr' (Washoe is a pet nickname for Nevada) is a peculiarly Scriptural wind, in that no man knoweth 'whence it cometh.' That is to say, where it originates. It comes right over the mountains from the West, but when one crosses the ridge he does not find any of it on the other side! It probably is manufactured on the mountaintop for the occasion, and starts from there. It is a pretty regular wind, in the summer-time. Its office-hours are from two in the afternoon till two the next morning; and anybody venturing abroad during those twelve hours needs to allow for the wind or he will bring up a mile or two to leeward of the point he is aiming at. And yet the first complaint a Washoe visitor to San Francisco makes, is that the sea-winds blow so, there! There is a good deal of human nature in that."

And second, from a personal letter:

"If you are in the tract business, William, take no chances on Washoe; but you can succeed at anything else here."

Pam November 17, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

mario - These are great! Thank you! I'm not sure they're entirely apropos, but I'm glad you shared anyway.

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