Washoe County School Nicknames

See copyOur [late, July of 2003] classmate Tom Jensen (RHS ‘59) won the Silver Pen award a while back for his letter to the editor of the Gazoo, regarding the naming of two new Washoe County schools. I’ve opined in columns past that that honor should be limited to a person who received at least one paycheck from the Reno, Sparks, Galena, Glendale, Nachez, Gerlach, Steamboat, or later the Washoe County District. After talking to Tom, I have changed my position. I realize now that some weight should be given to a foreseeable nickname of any named school’s team mascot, worst-case example: the Echo Loder Odor-Eaters.

We could easily have been stuck with the Wooster Roosters, the Greenbrae Packers, or the Glenn Hare Cottontails. The Gerlach Holmes are elementary, Watson, as are the E. Otis (Vaughn) Elevators, the Donner (Springs) Partiers, or the Roy Gomm Bommbers, (opposed by Gomm’s Moms’ Club.) Or the Lemmon (Valley) Drops, the Lincoln (Park) Logs, the little Brown Jugs and the Lois Allen Wrenches.

We could have encountered the Alice Maxwell Smarts playing the Darrell C. Swope Dopes until they were all (Katherine) Dunn in; fortunately Swope inherited its “Panther” mascot from old Central Jr. High first. I was in the first Central student body, the one that chose that mascot. Our late classmate Margaret Eddleman (RHS ’57) designed the Panther-head logo that’s still in use at Swope even today. Then there’s our coach Bud Beasley; surely the students at the elementary school honoring him might have been called the Beasley Batsmen, for Bud at 92 years young still booms [boomed] out Casey at the Bat the way sportswriter E. L. Thayer meant it to be delivered: Strrrriiiike Twoooo!!

Pity that some of our favorite teachers and principals don’t have a school named after them (yet!). David Finch’s inevitable school’s feathered mascot is obvious, (at least to everybody but the late Finch, a legend albeit a man not long on humor. Read the chapter.) But how ‘bout the (Betty) Morris Chairs, a team to play against the Libby Booths? Betty was the dynamic kindergarten teacher for a score of years at Jessie Beck Elementary School, whose first principal was Jim Puryear, who was my nomination for a new school name in the last naming go-around. Central’s vice-principal Chester Green deserves a school, surely to be the Green Hornets, as does Central’s first principal – doesn’t this school board realize that we could have a playoff between the Chauncy (Burger) Kings and Robert (Dairy) McQueens? Seriously, Morris, Finch, King and Green deserve their own schools. And Puryear. And Gonda and Benson and Muth. And more.

But returning to the business at hand, if you don’t like those fast foods above, how about a (Ted) Hunsburger (Elementary) with fries but not French, or a Big (Effie Mona) Mack? Or the great elementary school team, the Anderson Split Peas? From southeast Reno, the (Edward L.) Pine Nuts, Potatoes (Robert) O’Brien from Stead or a slam-dunk nomination, the (Glenn) Duncan Donuts. The late Nevada historian/author/RHS teacher Effie Mona Mack never got a school name, by the way. Should have… Pet peeve of Reno High alums: It’s Huskie, not Husky; sportswriters and spellcheckers take note.

Galena High beat out Agnes Risley Elementary for the Risley Grizzlies. But Galena is a school that could easily merge with another school, as could Mount Rose Bullis Elementary, Florence Hunter Drake Lake, and Ga-Lena Juniper, whose mascot could be the Juniper Berries if the late Peavine elementary schoolmarm Bernice Berry doesn’t get her own school named after her. Bea was a dear lady, a family friend for 50 years, who passed away just months after her 100th birthday last September. Rose Bullis is the reliable archivist for the school district – if Rose doesn’t know about it, it hasn’t happened yet. And Rosie don’ know ‘bout this column…

A few notes are left over, of our late favorites Marvin Picollo, P.E.teacher Ed Van Gorder, and Nancy Gomes. They got their names on schools – Van Gorder Elementary’s mascots should probably be the SweatSox. Everyone remembers Marv Picollo as a fine administrator, and those of us who had him as an RHS English teacher recall that he could also ski our butts off come the weekend. This column started in fun but I now realize that there are scores of dedicated educators – many who don’t have schools named after them – who deserve some RHS alumni attention, like our late contemporaries Neil Fockler, Becky Rose and Kenny Vaughan, who left us, too young.

I was going to wrap this up by throwing in the (Mamie) Towles – a boxing expression, and pointing out that it’s a (Rita) Cannan – a premium brand of towel – but I won’t ensnare these two fine old principals who both had elementary schools named after them with that sort of hi-jinx. (Miss Cannan was normally a warm lady – a Mrs. See’s Candy-box look-alike – but I can still feel her icy stare when she cracked the whip at Mary S. Doten in 1948.) This ain’t over yet – stay tuned.

• • •

<p align=”center