A 1960 Chrysler 300 and a website you’ll enjoy


I’ll never understand the World Wide Web – several years ago I posted a long tale of old Reno car dealerships and how they morphed around the valley. Later, I took the site down and it went to neverland somewhere never to be seen again.

This morning I get an e-mail from a friend in Texas, with THAT website, now under a different URL (web address). It still exists! The car above (a 1960) is one once owned by Andy Drumm, who many readers will remember as the predominant state highway contractor from Fallon (Silver State Construction) who could get anywhere in the State of Nevada in about three hours in his series of Chrysler 300s, all black with a white trunk lid. Those was cars, boys and girls, a fur cry from Chrysler’s wussy 300s of today – these were the muscle cars of yesteryear, when men were men and ships were wood, and sheep were scared. I thank my friend for the website; here’s the address, click on and enjoy a trip back in time in Reno


And if you see a black 300 in your mirror, get the hell out of his way! (Bill Harrah had a fleet of them also, for his execs – a half dozen, I’d guess, in the early 1960s) The car you see in the photo is one of Drumm’s cars that now belongs to my friend, now hauling-tail in the Lone Star State.

The Dania Hall/Reno Little Theater


On August 24th of 1894 the Afdeling Waldemar Lodge #12 of the Dania Society held their summer ball at Laughton’s Resort west of Reno, all 120 or so of the members and their attendant brides, and the gala was considered by most accounts as a success, save for Hans Block and Peter Rasmussen winding up with a broken wrist and an amputated thumb, respectively, during a vigorous old-country Danish dance. But notwithstanding those inconveniences, according to the Reno Evening Gazette a day later, all were looking forward to next year’s party.

This has little to do with today’s column. Continue reading

South Virginia’s Nevada Stock Farm



In days past Hill & Son, August and Fred respectively, have crept into my writings, in connection with building what we now call the Redfield home on Mt. Rose Street, that a duplicate of August Hill’s brownstone in New York City following his migration to Reno in the 1920s.  Later they were the builders of Hill & Son’s Motel, which was gradually absorbed into the Peppermill.

            I alluded in earlier columns to a dude ranch they owned and operated on South Virginia Street.  Following a little legwork, some help from August Hill’s great-grandson, Reno attorney Richard Hill, a pleasant afternoon in the deep catacombs of the Nevada Historical Society, and finally info from a book I’ll name soon, the time is upon us to learn of the Nevada Stock Farm.  But – we have to go back to 1915 and start the yarn with a reference to George Wingfield, Owner and Operator of Nevada.

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Meeting our staff, continued…


Our PUBLISHER, Slim Dickens, the seventh and illegitimate son of Charles Dickens, was born in 1941 in Santa Barbara and taken to Reno after WWII by Gypsies.  He was educated at Harvard and the Sorbonne, and is fluent in four languages, none save for English now still in use anywhere in the world. A journalism major while at the University of Nevada, he wrote for the New York Times under the direction of the Sulzberg family and was associated with several wire services, attached to troops of the French Le Légion étrangère in the North African theaters of El Alamein and Tobruk, where he is pictured in a steamy village bistro with the Underwood Standard that accompanied him through Africa and his hasty departure from Dien Bien Phu in 1957

A student of clothing design, he is pictured with a scarf embodied in the dust cover of his third book Hat in the Cat, a 1946 commercial failure that writer Theodore Geisel revised some years later to Cat in the Hat, and now remains in print worldwide. Dickens, an eternal optimist but slow to deliver, plans his annual re-birth of the Blue Plate Special in 2013, this time as the Ol’ Reno Guy, embodying the time-honored BS that has made it a marginally-accepted local alternative to drawn-out NFL coaches’ challenges, excitable weathermen, school district news in printed in Spanish, optimism for the local college football team and the incisive restaurant reviews of new joints with hipster names and no parking by clever writers new to the local marketplace

Reno’s Food King “super”markets


What ever became of the Food King markets – this is a test – you drive past them weekly, some daily, all still stand in Reno. OK, the Bavarian World, at E. Sixth and Valley Road, an unlikely spot for a supermarket in 1961, and some say less-likely as a spot for a German restaurant today.

Out on South Wells Avenue at Ryland, the busy Mini-Market on the northwest corner was our second Food King location. That neighborhood once was a thriving home of middle-of-the-road Reno residents and their families. And finally, at Keystone Avenue when it was first developed north of the railroad tracks, the third Food King opened, probably the largest market in the northwest serving the newly-developing Sproul Homes.

It was a supermarket, later a restaurant, now heavily re-built as Ben’s Fine Liquor, known better by most of us as Ben’s Discount Liquor, or just plain Ben’s – eponymous with Ben Akert, still a heck of a guy we see around town quite a bit – try Simon’s or the Coney.

And there you have them. And we inspired ourselves about Ben’s – maybe someday soon we’ll do a piece about the metamorphosis of Akert’s Market on East Fourth and Alameda!

Cal Pettengill in Venice


Possibly inspired by an earlier post about Greco’s Reno Accordion Band, we see here a 1958 photograph of Cal taken in Italy when he spent a summer away from the University of Nevada and Sigma Nu fraternity, to labor as an accordionist for one of the larger gondola operators in Venice, performing, and occasionally singing, in weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals held on the canals, many all on the same afternoon and in same venue, a characteristic of Italian celebrations.

Cal was the musical director for the old Blue Plate Special and may again take up those duties if I can figure out how to put music on WordPress. He remains available for private parties on a limited basis

Don’t touch your dial; the difficulties are with the columnist: The birth of TV in northern Nevada




The Team You Knew and Trusted

Ahh, it’s five o’clock on any weekday, time to squeeze the remote and bring the tube to life, Pat and Sarah in living color, weird creepers running under their elaborate newsdesk, a picture-in-picture image of a news-making scene above their heads, a white contrail trailing under weatherman Dick Stoddard’s pinkie as he explains what some phenomena somewhere is doing for the first of four times he’ll explain it in the next hour, and replays of sports from around the nation, all in stereo sound, slo-mo, and right here in your media room.

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The first day of Spring, sort of…


Some people new to this town are running this sprinkler system Friday morning; the scene reminds of Zhivago’s castle at Yuriatin, a beautiful ice-covered palace in the Urals. This however is within a patio home project near Swope School, which probably will need a couple of new trees – high noon and they’re still frozen