Some stories can be devoured time and again. Knowing the outcome is irrelevant. The story is so riveting that each time the reader is tricked into thinking it could end otherwise.
I’ve found these in fiction — Gone With the Wind, for example — and also in non-fiction. The rags to riches to rags story of Horace “Haw” Tabor is such a tale.
The heyday of Leadville, when it was ruled by the Silver Kings, is so fantastical that it reads like fiction. The hardscrabble miners; the extraordinary boom; the devastating bust. A more talented writer could not have crafted such a plot; indeed, it was a case of life inspiring art.
A couple years back, driving through Leadville, I stopped in on Temple Israel, the restored syna- gogue where the town’s Reform Jews once prayed. Bill Korn, head of the Temple Israel Foundation, has done a marvelous job. The tem- ple certainly looks different from the last time I had been in Leadville, circa the early 2000s.
Korn walked me through the exhibit. One item that stuck out was a menu from a B’nai B’rith party held in the Gay Nineties (must’ve been prior to 1893, when silver crashed). The extraordinary menu contained foodstuffs mysteriously available in the 1890s at over 10,000 feet, miles from any ocean, but also non-kosher seafood that would never be seen on the menu of any Jewish religious institution today. Aside from insight into the religious sensibilities of the time, the menu revealed the extravagance, the decadence of that brief era, when it seemed that fortune would never fade.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at email@example.com
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