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Huston revisited

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My son, Mark, reads my columns on the Internet each week. He also read the column by Chuck Nash where he referred to my article about Nevada being the birthplace of the actor/director John Huston. Since Nevada is also Mark's birthplace, he was surprised to know that he shared that distinction with the famous director of such movies as "The African Queen." He wondered why he had never heard about this before.

Then when he read Nash's column on the Huston bathtub he called me to ask what our tourism committee does to promote this fact. Mark spent his youth in Butler, Mo. when Lester served the churches there and knew that Butler touts being the birthplace of the science-fiction author, Robert Heinlein, with signs all over town pointing to his birthplace. Since the birthplace of John Huston is still standing, he wondered why there was not more attention to his story.

I remembered that one of the other instructors at the Elderhostels where I lead a class, had asked me several times what the people in Nevada say about the legend of how the Huston's happened to be in Nevada at the time of John's birth. I confessed that I had never heard the story. But my instructor friend (who lives in St. Louis, Mo.) filled me in on the same facts that Joanne Saathoff had written in the Nevada and Vernon County Heritage book.

Joanne has further evidence about the story that Walter Huston's father-in-law won the Nevada water and electric utilities in a poker game and talked Walter into moving from New York City to Nevada to manage the utilities. In her extended family there is a distant relative of John Huston and she took some information to Chuck Nash to show that her story was not a fabrication. As hard to believe as that story is, it adds to the possibilities of a point of interest in our town.

I don't suppose Ginny Nash would like to have tours of her bathroom so that folks could view the tub where the toddler John Huston was bathed, but the story Nash told about how he salvaged the tub when the house at 404 S. Adams had some modernizing done, adds to the interest of the whole story.

Mark also suggested that perhaps John Huston's daughter, Anjelica Huston, might be persuaded to come to Nevada to view the birthplace of her father. He could see an interview with her about the Huston family and get her "take" on the utility ownership story.

Since three generations of this family are very well known it does seem that Nevada might be able to create a little interest in having tourists stop to see the birthplace and hear about the story at the museum.

Surely somewhere in the history archives there is some factual evidence about the story. When a resident of St. Louis had heard the story and Mark and I, both natives of Nevada, didn't know what he was talking about, it seems that something is wrong.

Now if anyone wants to immortalize my birthplace you will have to go to the corner of West Cherry and Ash where the old Ammerman Hospital once stood. I spent the first nine days of my life there as nurse Emma Cavenaugh insisted that my mother needed a rest after delivering her eighth child.

I don't think they have created the sign yet however.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus