Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I went to the Jamestown Heritage Celebration over the weekend mainly to see the Wagon Train, but I also met a charming character by the name of Linda Teigland Clark, a tinhorn gambler. I hadn't a clue what a tinhorn gambler does, but here you see it. The tin horn is designed to keep the game honest. The guy with the poke bets he can roll all the numbers in the box, from one to 10, before he rolls something he can't play. He tosses his dice into the top part of the tin horn (funnel) and it lands on the table beneath the bottom half of the horn. So, a roll of a deuce and a seven gives the gambler a choice, to play a nine or play a seven and a two.
However, Linda explained, old time tinhorn gamblers learned to cheat and faro dealers held them in contempt. Thus the negative conotation of a "Tinhorn Gambler."
Linda was so much fun to talk to, entertaining and chock full of gold rush stories. Which brings me to her book, The Small Window, available at Amazon.com, Alibris.com and others. Its the story of a Tuolumne County town named Hardluck and details the struggles of a family on a wagon train to California. Above, she offers a piece of candy to a smiling loser, but her game is honest. Like most gambling games, the odds favor the "house."
Another author on the street, historian Sylvia Alden Roberts also has a book about black gold rush history, Mining For Freedom.
Below, musicians entertained the folks on the street, instigating some impromptu dancing.

The tap dancers below executed their fast stepping routine to a caller like square dancers and were quite talented.

These young violin and fiddle players were as much fun to watch as listen too, but for me, the tinhorn gambler was the most intriguing. I'm crazy about games of all kinds and I loved that tin horn.

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