An update and newer photo of the Black Mariah in the old Reno Rodeo parades

the restored Black Mariah

BRINGING THE READER UP TO SPEED: LAST SUNDAY, JUNE 20, I WROTE OF THE BLACK MARIAH, USED AS A PADDY WAGON TO HAUL PEOPLE WITH NO WESTERN ATTIRE TO THE KANGAROO KOURT IN EARLY POST-WAR RENO. I MENTIONED THAT FINDING INFO OR PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PADDY WAGON WAS DIFFICULT, AND RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING FROM JOHN EVANOFF, A LOCAL HISTORIAN WHOSE WEBSITE FOLLOWS HIS NARRATIVE. HE ENCLOSED THE PHOTO OF THE BLACK MARIAH FOLLOWING ITS RESTORATION; NOTE THE LETTERING IS NEW AND DOESN’T COINCIDE WITH THE ORIGINAL LETTERING DESCRIBED IN MY COLUMN FOLLOWING ITS RESTORATION. I’M GRATEFUL TO JOHN FOR HIS EFFORT; HIS STORY FOLLOWS:

John: Here I am with the Black Mariah in 1980 in front of the Eldorado. I was the vice-president of the Reno Jaycees and the new winner of the Nevada Jaycee-of-the-Year award. We worked tirelessly all year putting the jail back together and getting the Mariah back in shape for this and many other events. The Reno Rodeo was our most fun event though. We gave out Reno Jaycee Rodeo garters for a $1 or more donation to get out of our fun jail. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken next to the Mariah or while they were in the jail. Our Kangaroo Court enlisted the help of anyone who wanted to enjoy the chance to be part of this fun event every year. We had as many as five thousand garters sold as a get out of jail donations to help many Reno/Sparks charities each year. During the Reno Rodeo Parade, we threw candy and pins to the crowds along Virginia Street and won Parade Honors annually for our contribution to the festivities. We even towed the Jail one year and had crowd volunteers jump in to be part of the parade, after which we gave them a garter for participating.

Responding to my request to reprint the photo: Yes, of course. The jail was in total disrepair and we bought the supplies to bring it back in 1979. We took it downtown that year with the help of my truck and parked it on Virginia Street in front of the Horseshoe Casino and then the next year began to move it to more events. I left the Jaycees in 1981 after six full years of service and a friend told me they had problems with getting a permit for the jail so they put it away in someone’s backyard. The Mariah had engine problems and was tough to keep cool after just a half hour on the Rodeo Parade route so we had lots of water which we added constantly to try to keep it running throughout the day. I think one of the guys tried to get it back in shape a few years later but it cost too much to bring back and so it was parked.

Check out John’s column for other interesting facts about Northern Nevada… http://visitreno.com/evanoff/index.php

My column about all this is at http://www.rgj.com/story/life/2015/06/19/breckenridge-black-mariah-kangaroo-kourt/28980431/

AND THAT’S THE WAY THE COLUMN HAS WORKED FOR 27 YEARS – I DON’T KNOW IT ALL BUT HAVE FRIENDS AND READERS LIKE JOHN, AND BIT-BY-BIT WE WEAVE THE TALE OF OUR VALLEY! THANKS, JOHN…

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