Don’t tangle with the Truckee…


On the RGJ’s website tonight, Dec. 9:

A report of two missing children in the area of Crissie Caughlin Park prompted a search by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office RAVEN helicopter and the dispatch of Reno Fire Department water dispatch teams.

The boys, who were last seen about 2:45 p.m., were found safe by the sheriff’s office at about 3:08 p.m. and the search was called off. The boys were 8 and 12 years old.

Now, we go back a year or two, to May 21, 1953, wherein we read in the Nevada State Journal, that,

two brothers were fishing near the 2800 block of Idlewild Road on May 16th when they decided to wade across the river.

The younger boy, Jay, slipped and fell, and his brother plunged after him. The swift current carried both youths downstream. Steven’s body was taken from the river opposite the buffalo pens at Idlewild Park, and Jay’s body was retrieved near the Sierra St. Bridge.

Witnesses who testified yesterday were Sgt. Larry Mumpower, resident of a rest home near the drowning scene, who tried without success to save the children;Sam Saibini, battalion chief of the Reno fire department; Richard Rowley, who went into the river at the Sierra St. bridge to retrieve the younger boy; Bob Williams, contractor, who was in on both rescue efforts, and Dr. Leo F. Convino, who testified as to the cause of death.

And here in real time, we amplify some of that paragraph from the Journal: The rest home where the retired police sergeant resided was later known as the Elges Convalescent Home, which has long since been razed and is now the site of an uncompleted condominium development on Idlewild “Road.” Sam Saibini was a popular BC for the Reno Fire Department for many years, who in several of my older columns was cited for bravery in some of Reno’s humdinger downtown fires. The late Richard Rowley was an extremely popular guy locally, a skier of note, a Realtor of long standing and my parents’ neighbor on Dartmouth Drive. Bob Williams made the news in the early 1960s following a fracas in a downtown courtroom, ‘nuff said. Dr. Convino, I know not of.

The Journal story continues in italics: It was estimated by Williams that Steven was in the river for 18 minutes before his body was found at the park, while the younger boy was said to have been in the water more than 50 minutes. Chief Saibini, Williams and the other witnesses said every possible effort was made to revive the youngsters, without avail.

Steven and Jay were the only children of Mr. and Mrs. Ray E. Cairns, 1010 W. Seventh St.

And how do I, the anthologist with the failing memory remember this? I’ll tell you: I lived on that fateful day at 1095 University Terrace, University Terrace being originally Eighth Street, and the Cairns brothers lived one block from me – I was in Steven’s class at Central Jr. High. Our little northwest Reno rat pack lost two friends that day.

Those friends were the same ages as the two boys fished out of the Truckee yesterday. How nice that 60 years from now, no one will be writing about them…


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