The “Kietzke” name

KietzkePlat

My old buddy Mike Riley asked what the Kietzke name alludes to on the street; here’s a ditch map showing some old property ownerships in Reno. The major street of course is S. Virginia; the Nevada Stock Farm almost dead-center in the picture was on the s/e corner of S. Virginia and Airport Road (Gentry Way). The Kietzke ranch may be found just above the “19” section number and went to the east to Hubbard Field (Reno airport). Its east boundary line forms the alignment for the present Kietzke Lane. 

 

 

 

 

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Coming home (c. 2005)

SMFoodKingA new/old face appeared at the Seven Ayem Senior Moment Krispy Crème BS & Kaffeeklatch early this week.  Mike Sommers had returned to Reno for the Reno High all-school reunion next Sunday – his first trip “home” of any duration since leaving for a 35-year teaching career in Garrison Keillor country.  He had already covered more ground and seen more old friends than I see in a year, and his insights into our valley were thought provoking.  Always looking for a column idea, I put his questions in quotation marks and our responses in open text.

            “When did the MGM become the Hilton?”  Right after it quit being Bally’s – come back next year and it’ll be a big condominium [Grand Sierra Resort]. “I saw where they’re tearing down the Sparks Theater this week – we used to go there to meet all the Sparks High chicks – how can they do that?”  Right, like the Majestic and the Granada theaters – no more. “I miss a chili-cheese omelet at Landrum’s.”  Take your car title there for a loan, seven stools to serve you.  “And the Turf Club with the trumpeter on the roof?  Where do you go for pastrami sandwiches?”  The building got trenched.  Try the Coney Island for a great pastrami. (Our trench, or Trench, capitalized occasionally lately, blew Mike’s mind.  [That’s not the half of it; try telling an intelligent person from somewhere else about STAR bonds! We didn’t even go there…] “What’s wrong with train whistles and a car getting pushed sideways a block occasionally?  We grew up with that.”

 “I haven’t heard any Air Guard 101s.  Are they overseas?”  The Guard parked the Bus 109Voodoos for RF-4s in 1976, sent those to the boneyard in Arizona and have herded C-130s around since.  “I came in from Stead and saw a great big jailhouse on, what, Parr Boulevard?  Don’t they still have a jail on the top floor of the police station on East Second Street?”  Nope, we’ve got more bad guys now than we did 40 years ago. Funny how we all remember that penthouse on East Second Street.

The Kietzke roundabout  and Da Del Monte Lane      . 

            “I went to see our ol’buddy [so-and-so] in his law office, out somewhere on the end of Kietzke Lane in a complex I didn’t even know where I was.  Wasn’t the conventional wisdom that attorneys all had to be walking-distance from the court house?”  That happened like Topsy – one day it seems most of the bigger firms had bailed downtown in favor of the newer buildings with decent parking.  “I went by Moana Lane and South Virginia and got lost – no Sierra Pacific building.”  Progress – now they’re out south of DeLucci Lane by Home Depot. And they’re not Sierra Pacific anymore, either.  “There’s a Home Depot that far south?  Nawww…”  That ain’t the half of it – there’s a new one even further out south by Damonte Ranch.  “I meant to ask about that – wasn’t Mimi’s Hideaway on Del Monte Lane?  What happened to that?”  Changed it to “Neil Road”; too much confusion with “Damonte” two off-ramps south.  “Why didn’t the Highway Department just use another name for Damonte from the git-go?”  Welcome back to 2005 Reno, Mike. If you like that, you’ll love Zolezzi Lane now; too bad the Texans building Arrowcreek didn’t. Most of our town, you see, is for sale (we didn’t know about the firehouse yet…)

Where’s the roundhouse?

       Washoe_street   “I was out in Sparks, coming back from a mini-city called Wingfield Springs.  That old pit you could see from the freeway is beautiful.”  Hats off to the City of Sparks – they did the Sparks Marina right, as Sparks does most else that they tackle, thank [retired] City Manager Shaun Carey.  “And that beautiful old S.P locomotive shop – can’t they try to save that?”  Whoever they is, they is trying.  Last we heard the City of Sparks and Q&D Construction – you remember our old classmate, Norm Dianda, the “D” of Q&D? – were working on a joint venture with Union Pacific Railroad if everyone can get their plates clean enough to pursue it.  (“Q” was the late Babe Quadrio.) [Dunno about that one in the present economy. Hope springs eternal.}

            “Weinstock’s at Park Lane?”  Refer back to the Sparks, Majestic and Granada theater yak – pretty classy-looking theater on the old Weinstock site [becoming known as seagull gulch].  Yecch.   “Answer Man, on Peckham Lane, best hardware store in Reno.  How can the town do without it?”  Refer to Home Depot and Lowe’s.  “Is that bowling stadium downtown really all a bowling alley?”  You’re kidding, right?”  Nope. And at some times it’s actually full of bowlers, with spare time on their hands.  Think about it. But we don’t know; we can’t roll there. We’re just residents.

            “The diversion dam – waterfall – downtown next to the bridge on Belmont by NoukWingfield Park – that was iconic with Reno for so many years.   But the rapids are neat too.  Did a flood do that to the dam?”  Actually, a computer designed the rapids, Belmont is Arlington and Wingfield Park, formally Belle Isle, is Barbara Bennett Park, but the kayak course and the swimming hole it created by serendipity, probably did more for getting folks downtown than did the Men’s Club.  Our city did good. 

            “The University campus has grown.”  Understatement of the year.  “The Bruce Thompson Federal Courthouse.  Is that Jeff’s dad?”  Yup, our classmates Jeff, Judy and Harold, kids of Bruce and Ellen.  Got his own courthouse.  “That black thing on Liberty Street – Close Encounters of the Third Kind leftover?”  The Nevada Museum of Art.  Beautiful on the inside, Mike – I gave him a guest pass.  Knowing him, he’s used it.  Ditto the Harrah Auto Museum – he’ll go there also.  “The city hall in the old FNB building on First and Virginia?  Naww…”    Yeaaahhh.  Have fun parking your pickup in the high-rise garage next door.

            Time grew short.  Mike’s insight – of that which we saw over three decades whileInez he saw condensed into a week’s touring – gave us a new view of our valley.  We agreed to meet at one joint that had survived the racking and wresting of change, Mama Stempeck’s Halfway Club, for lunch.  And Inez didn’t let us down.

            Have a dandy week; goodnight from New York, Peter, and God bless America.

Peter Jennings passed away August 7, 2005

 

A story of Reno resident Mel Vhay

Reed/Sparks High reunion info here

MelVhayMy original hed for this tale was “A story of Reno resident Mel Vhay, who was originally married to architect David Vhay, then married Don Powers following David’s passing, and was the daughter of the Mackay Statue and Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum.” I saw it in print and decided it was too wordy, even for me. So, you read the above hed. My contemporary  Des Powers sent me an extremely well-written e-mail about Mel Vhay, so I here post it for all to see:

Thanks for the update on the development of your column on the Holiday Hotel’s “Mug Hunt.”  Newt Crumley’s wife, Fran Crumley, and Mel were very good friends.   As you likely know, Mel’s dad was Gutzon BorglumBorglum [pictured to the right], sculptor of Mt. Rushmore and friend of Clarence Mackay.  Hence, the statue that Gutzon sculpted, of his friend Clarence Mackay, that stands on the Quad to this day.

Mel and my dad were married in 1990 until my dad’s passing in 1995.  Our mom passed away in 1988.  While married to my dad, Mel’s name was Mel Borglum Vhay Powers.  Kind of a long one, so she went by Mel Powers during those years.  I was very fond of her and felt very close to Mel during the years I knew her.  Mel was immediately very welcoming to my sisters and me, and to our extended families.  She was a remarkable woman and lived a very interesting and fascinating life.  She told a few stories over the years about how the concept of what became Mt. Rushmore came about, and some stories from the days during her father’s  sculpting of Mt. Rushmore.  She told the story of when she met President Franklin Roosevelt when he came to the dedication of Mt. Rushmore in 1941.  The stories she told still have me absolutely riveted to this day. 

[Here, I’ll interject a thought: Mel and David Vhay’s son Tink lives in Reno with his wife Muffy. I haven’t spoken to Tink but would surmise that he and Muffy were aboard for this also. ed.]

For me, in addition to being my step-mother who I loved, she was a living connection to significant times in American history.  In 1991, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mt. Rushmore was held at what Mel’s family affectionately refers to as “The Mountain.”  I went to the celebration with Mel, my dad, many of Mel’s family and a few thousand others whose names I don’t recall.  President George H.W. Bush presided at the celebration.  The celebration was in July 1991.  President Bush had already nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and the President could not hold back including in his official remarks, on the 50th anniversary of Mt. Rushmore, some comments on how important it was to see that Clarence Thomas received approval from the U.S. Senate for his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.  Well, as we know, the rest is history.

The seat I received for the celebration entitled me to a “third-class” view.  Mel and my dad were “down in front” enjoying a “first-class” view right in front of the podium and across the aisle from John Sununu.  Mel took some pictures of the speakers at the lectern on the podium.   I know that he was quite busy with other matters and likely overlooked getting many of the “small things” in his life done on a timely basis.  Anyway, I found a very nice viewing position on the top of the roof of a utility building.  As I got settled in, a young man, dressed in Army attire, who was apparently an ROTC cadet or a 90-day wonder in training, approached me and said, “Sir, you need to move”.  My response was, of course,

“Why?”  His response to my response was, “Because the Secret Service says you have to.”  I continued my protestation by saying, “I’m just sitting here and have already gone through security”.  He said, “Sir, you need to move.”  So I did, most likely with my movements being observed through various types of scopes held by various agents associated with various federal agencies.  I found another place to view the festivities, but it was not as nice as that spot on that roof.

Joining Mel and my dad on the trip was Fran Crumley.  Fran was a delightful lady and always very warm and welcoming to my sisters and me.  I occasionally saw Fran at family events subsequent to the Mt. Rushmore trip and I was always greeted warmly by her.  Fran had a great amount of class and I have remained impressed by her to this day.

MackayStatuePerhaps sometime you could write a column on Gutzon Borglum’s connection to Reno and the Comstock.  Gutzon Borglum, in my view, has yet to be fully recognized for his place in American history.  His connection to Reno and the Comstock’s history, in my recollection, has received only very brief references, if at all, over the years.  His impact on American history lives on to this day.  For example, in a conversation with her, I asked Mel why Teddy Roosevelt is on Mt. Rushmore along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.  Teddy Roosevelt, while a significant American and a significant American president, to me, was not in the same category, in terms of their impact on American history, as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, yet he is with them on Mt. Rushmore.  Mel told me that Teddy Roosevelt is on Mt. Rushmore because, in her father’s opinion, he made very significant contributions to America, which he did, but also because Teddy and Gutzon were friends of long standing.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Footnote: Mel (Mary Ellis) Vhay Powers, who resided in Lakeridge Terrace, passed away in September of 2002. 

Good words from a man not a writer, but a CPA. The letter goes on with some personal information. But Des’ point is well-taken; Borglum, who had local roots, is a person who should MtRushmore30061 Mt Rushmorehold a higher place in local lore. We know of Mt. Rushmore, and of the John Mackay statue on the Quad. Few know that Borglum was tapped by the National Park Service to re-sculpt the hand and arm of Lady Liberty, who was originally sculpted by Bartholde holding the torch in an awkward position, and thus was redone to the present appearance. I’ll work toward more Borglum stories as time marches on. And, I thank Des for a great letter. KB

Reed and Sparks High Class of 1976 + ’77,’78 and ’79 Reunion – save the date: Friday, July 29

raidersI’ve been called a cheerleader for Reno High School, been reminded that there’s other schools in the valley, and been criticized for not including them in columns. To allay that accusation, I’m glad to post this letter that I received today from Debbie Rossi. I’m glad to post it on this website for all to enjoy! Lightly edited, Debbie writes (beautifully, I might add!):
Edward C Reed High School opened in 1974 – at Sparks High School. In the summer of 1975, before school began, the parents and students of Sparks High and the yet-to-be opened Reed High were sent letters explaining that Edward C. Reed High School – the building – was not complete and would not be able to house students until later in the fall. So the solution was to house both schools at Sparks High School.  Sparks High’s schedule for all the students, administration and teachers was seven-ish in the morning until noon and for Reed High students, administration and teachers, 1:00 p.m. ending at 5 p.m. 
Since a majority of the new Reed students were rezoned from Sparks High (we also metreedalum new friends from Wooster – the Hidden Valley area, and from Hug High – the North Sparks area) we were very familiar with the school. Both Sparks and Reed doubled up in lockers. We decorated in separate halls for big events and did our best to respect our unique situation. 
We chose our team name, school colors and elected our first-ever school officers – all within the walls of Sparks High School. In addition to students moving schools, many of the teachers, administrators and staff moving to Reed were from Sparks, Hug and Wooster High Schools.
On the first day of the second semester – the opening day at Reed – we drove or walked, for what seemed like miles, down Baring Boulevard.  The school was built down a long, wide street. There were no homes, no stores, nothing between McCarran Boulevard and the school. Reed was designed quite differently from the other high schools, with really wide hallways and bright colors.  We were overwhelmed those first few days and weeks. Fortunately, we began our first day at the new school with the friends we had already made while we were at our temporary home.
That year was 1974. We were Juniors. We were the top class as Juniors and Seniors. When we were freshmen, we were the first Freshman class to be moved up from Jr High  to High School- rather than the traditional three-year. Jr High School. That is the year Jr. Highs in Reno/Sparks became “Middle Schools.” So we were also the novelty to the upper class men. We were the first to dip our toes into that new direction in high school. So we were the novelty in high school. Actually, that first year, seniors had the option to not go to Reed and many took that option and stayed at their respective schools- Sparks, Hug and Wooster to graduate.
This year, in honor of our 40th Class Reunion – We are getting together on July 29th with the three classes behind us – the Classes of ’77, ’78 and ’79 – to celebrate with us. And on Saturday July 30th, we will join Sparks High Class of 1976, as we have always celebrated all of our reunions together and to celebrate our unique high school history, our friendships, and our 40th year of life after graduation.
Happy 41 Years to Edward C. Reed High School….from very unique beginnings to where you stand today! To all the faculty and the students of today and yesterday! A toast – and a little history to remember ….. To all of us in the first graduating class and to our friends for life – Sparks High School – Class of 1976. In our hearts the memories are a little dimmer, but it still just seems like well, last week now. 
Good words, Debbie – many thanks!