Bill & Effie’s: Take a good last look at Garson Road

BillIf you like the new moniker of “Arrowcreek” that replaced our favored old Zolezzi Lane intersection on South Virginia Street, or if you’re comfortable with renaming “Del Monte Lane” to “Neil Road” to keep it from getting tangled up with the Damonte Ranch off-ramp on the I-580 freeway, then you’re going to love what you’re about to read this morning. (I should say that the Damontes are legends in our valley and that Neil Brooks from Model Dairy is a great friend and an old column reader – the squawk herein is not for those people but of renaming streets whose names were part of our landscape for many years, all to accommodate progress.)
Out a few miles west of town there once was a little roadhouse called Bill & Effie’s – good food, some lodging, diesel fuel – and a beacon for every over-the-road trucker on Highway 40. To access it you turned off the old 40, and later off the new Interstate 80, on Garson Road.
While many thought that Bill and Effie’s last name was Garson, the fact was that the road, later an off-ramp, took its name from Chris and Ruth Garson, two Danes who had ranched the area for many years. Bill & Effie’s would one day become Boomtown in what was originally a modest change-of-name and ownership. As we know, Boomtown grew, and grew into its present size. But the Garson Road designation, happily, remained.
About 15 years ago a name-change request went before the Washoe County Commission, requesting that the off-ramp be designated “Boomtown Road”. The Garson family, who had earlier donated land to NDOT to enhance the road system, appeared at the meeting and a deal was struck to rename the cloverleaf as “Boomtown/Garson Road,” and that bit of our local heritage was able to live on.
But times change. Dirt is being moved on a grand scale on the old Garson Ranch at the boundaries of mighty Boomtown. Soon stuffed critters will climb the slopes of a mock mountainside inside a huge building, a sporting goods and clothing outlet that’s a-buildin’ next to Boomtown. They sell good stuff; I buy it liberally off the web but will do so less often when the store opens, because then I will have to pay Nevada sales tax on their clothes. So then, I’ll probably drive there and shop right at their new retail store to save the shipping charge.
It’s just a short trip from my lonely writer’s den, out Mayberry a hoot-and-a-holler, onto the freeway, then off again quickly at the Cabela’s Road off-ramp.
I’ll miss the old Garson Road – now scheduled to go away – a portent for us all that we were home from a trip to the Bay Area. But, if we’re going to grow as a community, we absolutely have to put some of these rural traditions aside.
This column was founded 18 years ago upon street names and the way we all hammer them up sometimes. One such that I never thought about until I received an e-mail from a newer resident a couple of weeks ago: “I keep seeing a Cashill Drive; isn’t our mayor’s name Cashell?” Bob Cashell is indeed our mayor, probably one of the most popular public officers Reno’s ever known, while attorney and state legislator Bill Cashill, who died, too young many years ago, was an equally popular guy in his time. And I’ll bet there’ll be a Cashell Boulevard someday; the two similar names driving motorists, UPS drivers and firemen nuts.
I typoed iconic schoolteacher Virginia Palmer out of five years in the classroom two weeks ago; she retired from Mount Rose School in 1977, not in 1972 as you read here.
And if the paper had left “Reno’s Finest” capitalized as I wrote it in the Babcock Building yarn, it would have made a lot more sense. An old nickname for any town’s cops is its “Finest,” and, well, I’m showing my age. Have a good week anyway, and God bless America.

© RGJ May 2007 ~ Photo credit KTVN