Alicia Barber writes of the Golden Rooster that once adorned John Ascuaga’s Nugget

RoosterMosaicHi, Karl –

I enjoyed your column today! On a hunch, I checked the extensive online archive of the dearly departed University of Nevada Oral History Program (UNOHP), which interviewed Dick Graves in 1978. He discusses the rooster mosaic and its creator, Larry Argiro, on p. 119-120.

Placing the UNOHP archive online was my proudest accomplishment as director of the program and I’d love for more people to know about this great resource for state and local history. The shortcut to reach the archive is and the interviews date back to the mid-1960s. Every interview has been digitized and can be searched online, printed, and downloaded.

The direct link to Dick Graves’ oral history is a bit unwieldy, but it’s and you could link to that online, but in print, I’d just give which takes you to the search page where you can search by name.

Here’s the excerpt, but the entire oral history is fascinating—the story of the golden rooster, the origin of Trader Dick’s, etc.



Alicia Barber, Ph.D.,    Stories in Place LLC


Graves: One item that I forgot to mention on the new Nugget was the mosaic of a rooster. This was on the outside of the building, close to the main entrance. This was fourteen feet high and was executed by Larry Argiro who is a professor of Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz. It contains thirty thousand pieces of Venetian glass and laminated—some of the pieces of glass are laminated with gold leaf. It was very beautifully done, and he came out and helped install it on the front of the Nugget. It still is there today. I can’t recall just how I found out about Mr. Argiro. I think it was from some article that I read about him or something, someplace, but he did do a fine job and it still is a beautiful piece of work—looks like it had just been put up.

 UNOHP: How long did it take him to complete the rooster?

 Oh, I would say several months. It was all in various colors, and it wasn’t particularly meant to duplicate the golden rooster; it was just a large, beautiful rooster with quite a bit of gold in it. There were lots of colors in it.

 He did it on site?

 No, it was done in New York, and then shipped out—he brought it out on the plane and it was done in sections on plywood, and then these were put up. He supervised putting them on the front of the building.

 Do you recall the total cost of the piece of work?

 No, I don’t, I don’t have that at all. It wasn’t cheap by any means, but it really added to the front of the Nugget, the huge statue of Last Chance Joe was on one side and the Golden Rooster over on the other and then with the names of some of the restaurants on the front of the building, made a nice-looking, pleasing-looking building and a pleasing entrance to the building.



More on Wells Avenue – (hey, why write when I have some damn good readers…?)

SMFoodKingHi Karl,
To answer John Harding’s comment about the market across from the Post Office at
Wells and Ryland in the 1960’s, it was the FOOD KING.  Just inside the door on the south side, was a most wonderful deli and an older lady made delicious sandwiches.
I never asked where she was from, but I bet she came from back east, because no one had anything like it at that time.  My dad worked nights and I think he spent many a lunch hour down there and enjoyed her sandwiches and conversation.
As to the Dairy Queen being on Wells in the 60’s, I sort of think the first Dairy Queen was on the east side of Wells and probably down around Casazza Street.  This was before Park Lane Mall was built.  If it wasn’t a Dairy Queen, it was a place that served ice cream.  Maybe someone else can remember?
There was a small hardware store near FOOD KING and the POST OFFICE and it was BOGART BROTHERS SUNDAY HARDWARE at 215 South Wells.  Originally, a small building very close to Wells Avenue and then later, they built a much
larger building more to the west. Carl Bogart and his brother Larry ran the place and they had a very nice selection of nuts and bolts and I was always down there buying nuts and bolts, for a project I was doing.  Carl was very friendly but Larry
was a crab, so I tried to buy from Carl.  Carl became the Mayor of the City of Reno later on.
FARMERS BROTHERS COFFEE was at 135 South Wells and just north of BOGART BROTHERS HARDWARE.  They were there for many years.
Another place on South Wells in the 1960s [actually pre-WWII! ed.] was NEVADA NURSERY at 26 South Wells. The guy that owned it was an older Japanese and he was always smoking a cigarette and the place was somewhat run down, but lots of character.  I believe his last name was Fujii. [Correct; Kay Fujii] No high pressure sales and he knew his plants, that’s for sure.  Businesses like his made Reno very quaint and I wish he was still around.
Martin Schuster

John Harding (added Saturday Feb. 13), Eric Nummela and Martin Schuster remember Wells Avenue

PhotoComingFollowing last Sunday’s column about Wells Avenue in the 1970s, I received some pretty well-written and comprehensive letters. They came from Martin Schuster, whose posts we’ve included before, from by buddy barrister Fred Atcheson, from local engineer John Harding, from John Gascue (former principal of Reno High School) and Eric Nummela, my childhood friend since 1950. I have permission to post them all, and am doing so starting with Martin’s. The others will probably come up in the next day or two or over the weekend. I hope you’ll come back and enjoy them all!


 Really liked your South Wells Ave piece and I have to admit it brought back so many memories. I was 9 when our family moved from Nevada City to Reno in 1968. We lived in a small brick house on Kirman Ave just north of the Veterans Hospital (when Kirman and Locust Streets were one-way streets in the opposite directions as they are today). As kids we spent a lot of time on Wells. I do not recall Posey’s or Wayne’s Drive-in but definitely Deluxe Laundry. [I think I screwed up Wayne’s Drive-in; it was across the street from the present Peppermill, now Clary’s – ed.]. We did not go to Deluxe; my mom went to a small dry cleaner on the southeast corner of Wells and Thoma which is now St. Ives Florist. Froggy’s was a great place but I do not remember it as a Gulf station and I did not know that the Vassar St, church had been relocated, I also do not recall it being a restaurant. Obviously as a kid the Dairy Queen was a favorite and I have had my fair share of Peanut Busters and Dilly Bars there.

I remember both Humphrey’s and Baker’s furniture stores and that mom preferred Humphrey’s but I only recall Eagle Thrifty on the east side of Wells. That was a great place and that basement was nothing short of awesome and of course Earl’s, Sierra Custom Sound and Lear-Higdon are very familiar but I seem to recall a vacuum cleaner store in there also. [yes; later – ed.] I remember many of the other little stores you mention but I had totally forgotten about Murdock’s, man was he grumpy. I really got a chuckle about Art Remple TV shop. I totally recall the RCA Victor terrier’s on the side of the building [Nipper!] but as kids we used to sneak up the alley alongside his shop and steal the large empty boxes from the old console TV’s they set outside to make forts out of. Once he caught us and chased us up the alley but we got away. We used to go the Ryland post office all the time and the store across the street, I can’t remember the name and I keep thinking it was another Eagle Thrifty but that does not seem right.

 It is amazing how South Wells keeps coming back into my life. When I was in the 8th grade we moved to Washoe Valley but when I got to high school we were bused to Wooster High and the McDonald’s was the hang-out of choice and I cannot tell you how many times I was there and how sad it was when it closed. The other hang-out was the Woolworth’s at Park Lane, they had fantastic burritos. As life progressed I lived in Carson and then back to Washoe Valley but the office I currently work at is at Holcomb and E. Pueblo, just half a block from Wells.

 John S. Harding


Hi Karl,

 I worked part-time for the US Post Office from summer 1962 to summer 1964. After one week at the main post office downtown, I was sent to the Peavine Station – the one at Ryland and Wells – which handled all the parcel post. I started at 4:30 PM and drove a truck around to all the substations (University campus, Washington St, Valley Hardware (is that right?) in the shopping center at California and Booth, and one on S Virginia. I collected all their mail, dropped everything except the parcel post at the main office, and took the parcel post to the Peavine Station. By 10:30 (end of my shift) all the outgoing parcel post had been sorted and dispatched. 

After about a year or so, a new parcel post station was built at 2nd and Kietzke Lane [later to become a fabric store, on the east end of Kuenzli Street  – ed.] 

The California parcel post had to be sorted into sectional centers. I can’t remember exact numbers anymore, but there were hundreds of California post offices and about 32 sectional centers – and I was the only parcel post employee who was able to memorize what went where. The five or six busiest days before Christmas would get really hairy. We all, even the part-timers, would work extra hours. Whatever time I came in, there would be a mountain of CA parcels waiting to be sorted. If necessary, someone else would be assigned to do the substation collection and I would go to work on the CA parcels. We always made the dispatch time of 7:30 PM!


 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>….Martin Schuster’s letter follows:
Hi Karl,
Some more for South Wells, in the early 1970’s.
MODERN DRUG and SPORTING–320 S Wells.  In the 1960’s, when you went
in, they had a tube tester on the right side.  I bet you remember taking the tubes
out of a radio or TV and testing them?  They were there in 1971, but not sure
if the tube tester was still there.
In that same building, there was OAKMAN’S at 310-320 S Wells, and they had
blueprint service as well as other services.  I still remember the big machines
for doing the blueprint service and the smell.
At the southern end of the building, was a Bell of Nevada building and where
some station and PBX crews and trucks were housed.  Bell of Nevada didn’t
mark some buildings, so maybe many people didn’t know it was there.  You came in
to the back of the building from Ryland Street and drove into the building
and only went out on the Wells Avenue side.  The exit was in front of the sidewalk
and you had to stop and beep, in case some pedestrians were going across.
They might have had a mirror and as I recall, sometimes a foreman would direct
traffic going out in the morning.   It was double story for offices and upstairs, you
could look south and see Bevilacqua’s  storage lot with big timbers on the grounds.
After the remodel years ago, the end was demolished and I think a parking  lot was
put in.
Our family lived on Roberts Street in 1961 and I think I remember them building
the offices on the southwest side of Roberts and Wells.  It seems to me Wells
Avenue was still two lanes at that time.  On the north east side of Wells and
Roberts were the Yparraguirre  Apartments and the old guy really kept them
in great shape.
Down the block going south was Vogue Cleaners.  And next to them was a Chevron
Station in the 1960’s and a Shell Station on the same side, but on Taylor and Wells.
Taco Johns and a 7/11 now occupy the spots.  Not sure when the filling stations
were gone.
In the 1960’s, Craig’s Cafe was south of the Shell Station,  but was probably gone
by the 70’s.  There was a swimming  supply store at that location later on.
Seymour’s, a small convenience grocery store, was on the south east side of Wells
and Moran.  It was there in the 60’s,  Lou. [Roy Powers did a painting of it.]
I still remember going down to the old Post Office at Wells and Ryland.  They had
the nicest lady ever, behind the counter.  A real sweetheart.  She must have enjoyed
her job!  Later on, it was a NAPA store and they had a machine shop for brake turning,
etc.  Maybe Fess Motor Supply?
Thanks for the article today.
Martin Schuster

A friend – LeRoy Goodman – writes about Beebe and Clegg in Virginia City

I enjoy your weekly articles about Reno and the surrounding
area. Keep on writing! About Beebe and Clegg, I had the
pleasure of growing up in Virginia City after the War. 
Beebe and Clegg would store their vehicles at my dads
service station/garage (Virginia Garage) and he would
maintain them while they were gone. Beebe always bought a
new Oldsmobile convertible (red!) in Reno every year. Clegg
had a Bentley which they would take to the Bay Area when
they traveled if they did not use the rail car. T-Bone
Towser (the dog/St Bernard) would go everywhere with Beebe
in the Olds. The back seat was for T-Bone only. What a
sight! On Hallowe'en they would have a huge bowl of pennies
that every kid could take a very large soup spoon and see
how many they could get in the spoon. You got to keep the
pennies ( 40 to 60 cents) Also, every kid got a very large
apple to take home. There are many more memories of those
two but I will not bore you right now. LeRoy Goodman

Bore? No way - thanks for writing, LeRoy - KB