Remembering Don, by John Metzker – September 25, 2014

NoukJohn Metzker is one of my oldest friends, and can write with the best of them. I’m pleased to have this old friend write on this page, about another old friend…KB

I met Don Manoukian in the Fall of 1952. I was a freshman at the still-new Reno High School, and, at 13 years old the youngest kid in school. My sister (now, Marylee Fulkerson) was a Junior and a classmate of Don’s sister, Jackie (now,Powers). Don’s younger brother, Noel, was a peon-Freshman like me. We Freshmen spent time wondering if those Seniors were really going to be pushing us into the hallway lockers, as was widely rumored. (They didn’t.) In those days, First Period was “Home Room” and we all sat in alphabetical order, a natural meshing of the Manoukian and Metzker youngsters.

            To say that Don was god-like probably understates the situation–he was god. He was captain of the Huskie football team, holder of the state record in the shot put, honor student and President of the student body. And – much more importantly – he would stop and talk to me in the hallways. You’ve probably heard the expression “shining with reflected glory”? Well, that was me with my Freshman friends. “Hi, Johnny. How ya doin’?” He would say. He was so kind and generous. Looking back, I can see that his reaching out was intentional.

            After Don graduated from Stanford and later finished his successful career with the Oakland Raiders, he turned to professional wrestling, which was still enormously popular, especially on regional television. Don (“The Bruiser”) was the bad guy. When he would be introduced at the beginning of a match, the crowd would all boo him. We watched his matches on television and a couple of times, live. The wrestling performances were great, but the best part was the press interviews, afterward. The interviewer would almost always manage to work in a question about Don graduating from Stanford. Don had developed his own kind of thuggish patois for interviews. “Yeh, dats no big deal. Anybody c’n graduate from Stanford. No big deal,” he would say. I don’t recall that anyone really got the joke. Sports writers for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Green Sheet were spluttering about this oaf and members of the Stanford Alumni Association found it uncharacteristically hard to adequately express their displeasure. Don commented on this for a wrestling publication. “Holy Christ, it made them crazy.”

            In 1983, my family planned a family-only, 80th birthday dinner for my father at San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club. I had arranged for a “mystery guest speaker” – Don Manoukian. I have to add that my mother’s sister’s side of the family was (and still is) somewhat more refined and mannerly than my mother’s side of the family. Don said that he would fly down for the night and insisted that his expenses be his birthday present to Dad.

            Anybody who has ever listened to a Don Manoukian program will not use the adjectives “refined or mannerly” in their description of the presentation. Don, by then, had known our family for decades and knew some juicy tidbits to bring up. His comments that evening were somewhat bawdy – and to some members of the family, somewhat shocking.

            Don Manoukian was truly one of my life heros. I am so glad that I made it a point to tell him that on more than one occasion. And I’m sure that the account of that bulky football player riding his motorcycle into the Stanford library wearing nothing but a jock strap was just malicious gossip.

Patty Cafferata’s Sept. 23 column about Nevada’s Star

CafferataNevada’s star was born in 1864

By Patty Cafferata

On Oct. 31, 1864, Nevada joined the Union, and the 36th star was added to the American flag to represent the new state. As part of Nevada’s 150-year celebration of statehood, the Nevada Museum of Art has assembled a major show with the clever title of “The 36th Star: Nevada’s Journey from Territory to State.” The show includes exhibits borrowed from the National Archives, the Nevada State Library and Archives, State Museum and State Parks.

This historic showcase of Nevada’s beginning history is underwritten by the E. L. Wiegand Foundation.

Some of the earliest documents on display include Territorial Gov.

James Nye’s letter describing the promise of Nevada. Among other attributes, Nye stated that cities were springing up like “gourds in the night,” a reference to gourds that bloom only at night. He mentioned the state’s valuable assets of mining, agriculture and lack of debt. President Abraham Lincoln needed a copy of the state’s constitution before he could proclaim Nevada was a state. Fittingly, four of the 44 pages of the original state constitution are on exhibit. Two copies of the complete document were sent to Washington, but neither copy arrived in time for the presidential election to be held on Nov. 8, 1864. Lincoln believed he needed the votes from a new state to be reelected. Since neither copy arrived, the state telegraphed the document to Lincoln. The thick 175-page telegram is displayed in its own showcase, and Nevada’s records for transmitting the telegraph also are in the case. Once the telegram was received, Lincoln signed the Proclamation of Statehood on Oct. 31, 1864, and this document is in the exhibit. While a replica of the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery, signed by Lincoln, is in the exhibit, the original five-page document will be at the museum from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 and on display for a limited number of hours over the four-day period. Related to the proclamation is Gov. Henry Blasdel’s letter dated Feb. 16, 1865, to Lincoln, notifying him that Nevada had ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. The show includes photographs from one of the three most famous Civil War photographers. Two sets of certain Timothy O’Sullivan’s photos are on display. In the first group are pictures of the Civil War, and the second group contains some of the earliest photographs of Nevada between 1867 and 1872.

Various artifacts in the show include three 36-star flags; a map of the boundary between California and the Nevada territory in 1863; a photo and sword of the Commander of Fort Churchill Joseph Stewart; the Muster Rolls of the 1,200 men who volunteered during the Civil War and served in Nevada; a navy blue soldier’s coat of a Nevada volunteer; and Blasdel’s photograph, engraved cane and pocket watch. In a place of honor in the show and on loan from the Nevada Historical Society is the Gridley flour sack auctioned off to raise more than $275,000 for the wounded Civil War soldiers.

Reach Patty Cafferata at and http://easternslope publisher.com.

© Reno Gazette-Journal, Sept. 23, 2014