An old friend meets its end

W Fifth

In the mid-1960s northwest Reno was the area to move toward – Sproul Homes were in their heyday on land west of what was once “Peavine Row,” now known as Keystone Avenue. And Keystone itself had only recently been brought north of the railroad tracks, right through the middle of Reno Press Brick’s pit where we used to swim on warm summer days.

Commerce naturally followed the folks to the area – the Keystone Square west of Keystone – Uncle Happy’s Toy Store and a few restaurants, the Keystone Theater, a Security National Bank and an Albertson’s supermarket. And a few other stores. On the east side of Keystone, the big Keystone Owl Rexall run by Frank Desmond and Jim Henderson, two great guys, and  Frank is still with us.

A Shakey’s Pizza Parlor on West Fifth, from whose parking lot I took the picture above (OK, Shakey’s has been gone for a while, but I could still smell the pepperoni and sausage, and hear the Reno Banjo Band playing in the background.)

In the building in the picture, some old friends: To the east/right in the photo, P&S Hardware, Gene Parvin & Bill Spiersch at your service. If a person put in a sprinkler system in the 1960s, P&S probably installed it, if George Warren Plumbing didn’t. One of the best hardware stores in Reno, maybe in a tie with Commercial Hardware on East Fourth Street, Shelley’s Hardware out in Sparks, and Builders & Farmers Hardware on South Virginia Street across the street from Sewell’s. Love to have P&S back in business, or their other location in the Village Shopping Center (Commercial Hardware opened a satellite in the Lakeside Plaza but it didn’t last long…)

Next to P&S to the west was Wright’s Painting & Decorating, Bill Wright at the helm of that business, and sadly, Bill has left us as has Gene Parvin, mentioned above; Gene a victim of a vehicle crash In the wine country of Sonoma a dozen years ago.

Wright Paints was the Ameritone dealer, with an array of wall coverings and draperies and blinds. A fun place to shop.

And, how can we forget the Cue? The burgers at the Cue & Cushion were generally acknowledged to be Reno’s best, then, and by those who remember them, even today. The rich and famous, and us poor working stiffs, mingled for lunch at the Cue for many, many years. And, if you wanted to re-buckle your Knickerbockers bee-low the knees, hide a dime novel in your back pocket and give yourself an iron-clad leave in a three-rail billiard game, thanks Professor Harold Hill, the Cue had the best pool tables in town, a town where billiard parlors were tumblin’ down after WWII. Don’t know where you’d go for a game now save for some armpit bar – pool seems to be  a thing of the past.

And, the thrust of the whole post for today, is, that the West Fifth Street Center, a name we never knew that it had, is going, going, gone. Remember well all the landmark businesses and buildings embodied in today’s post, because little parts of our town are slipping into distant memories. Drive by the old P&S Hardware this afternoon and check it out, then cross Keystone for a root-beer float at the Coffee Grinder in the Keystone Square, and tell Nick hello if you see him.

We gotta keep a few memories alive; (this one’s for you, Misha!)

One thought on “An old friend meets its end

  1. Here’s a comment I received by e-mail from the lady to whom I dedicated this piece to:

    Oh yeah..
    I used to go to the Coffee Grinder, on Sat./Sun. mornings for the BEST Irish Coffee, this side of San Fran..

    Is there any place, here, now., to compare?? I do a pretty “mean” one, but the ambiance, just isn’t the same.. (Ya had to be at LEAST, (!!!) 1/2 hung-over to appreciate the Grinder..) Then the bartender would bring you, something smothered in bacon, grease, eggs, gravy, and God knows what, that if it didn’t kill ya, after you ate it, you wished you were DEAD..!! Something like Louie’s Basque Corner, after a GOOD parade with the Shriners.. :):):)
    AHHH!! Those were the days!!!
    Love ya..

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