Let us begin with a ghost story. In 1872, fourteen-year-old Agnes McDonough announced that she was communicating with the spirit of her deceased father. She was part of a community of Irish Americans who settled in Virginia City, Nevada, home to the fabulous Comstock Lode and the Big Bonanza (giving its name to a famous television show). Crediting her father’s ghost, the young girl revealed insights about the afterworld, all scrutinized by a local priest who hoped to control the sensational aspects of the incident.
In the summer of 1960 at the age of five, I joined an honored folk tradition by telling my first Comstock lie. It was about a sex worker who had transformed into a legend of the Wild West.
alking deep into a mine, when the last gleam of sunlight is eclipsed by the next turn, reveals the overwhelming weight of being underground. When all signs of the outside world are gone, the bulk of the mountain above seems even more menacing as it threatens to crush the wooden supports that keep miners alive. […]