Well, I’m back home on Ralston Street after my Olympic story. I just got an envelope from one of my neighbors, Don Hartman, who lives up a couple of blocks from me kitty-corner from Maynard’s Market or the Pub ‘n Sub, whatever they call it now. Here’s what he wrote me on binder paper:
Hi Karl; You often write of Reno when you were a little boy….great stories. I am writing this on the Reno site as folks in 2080 might, who were ten or 12 years old in Reno in the early 2000s. In a sense, it is a future look at Reno and I bet some will be true. If you do decide to post it…you may correct any grammar, spelling, etc….. thanks for letting me borrow that time machine that you mentioned last summer [pictured below], that let you look a little into the future so you could write about stuff that happened after 1946 when you were older than six-years-old. I’m afraid that I cranked it up too far, to the late 2000s, and hope I didn’t bust it. But I walked around Reno like you do after I turned it on, even though I’m a couple years younger than you, and here is what I wrote. You can use it if you want for your friends in Reno. See you at Mary S. Doten school down the hill…Don….
How many remember when the Reno airport was off Plumb Lane? Fun to watch the planes take off. Now to watch planes, we have to go to the new airport in far north Spanish Springs…….
How many remember when UNR had one campus on Virginia Street? Now there are two… the old, north campus and the new one where the airport once was. I drive by the new campus today and marvel at the veterinary school and law school but still think of the single old UNR campus.
How many recall when UNR north campus had a lake called Manzanita Lake? We use to go there to catch crawdads…sadly it was filled in years ago to built new dorms.
Do you remember those pools at Idlewild Park? I took swimming lessons there and was later a lifeguard in 2029 when I was in college… Too bad they filled those pools in for tennis courts.
How many remember an event called “Hot August Nights”….my Dad use to take us there to see the antique and classic cars. Too bad it ended in 2045. August is not the same in Reno anymore.
How many remember you could get a breakfast at the Squeeze Inn in NW Reno (the place is now a real estate office). A family of four could eat a wonderful breakfast there for under $50 with tip……..today, lucky to find a breakfast anywhere in Reno for a family for under $200.
How many of you recall the Reno Arch? As a kid, I use to love to look at those lights. I understand today, the arch is located at the new UNR South campus.
I remember how fun it was to pile into the family car and Mom would take us to Meadowood Mall to shop and eat at the food court. Now we have driverless cars and the mall itself is gone…..Google regional offices today. I sure miss it when Mom and Dad drove us around Reno back in the 2000s. Kids today in Reno have no clue how cars were in the good old days in Reno and Sparks..
How many of you remember when the area from th former Stead Airbase to Cold Springs was nothing but sagebrush and a few ranches? My Grandpa use to take us there to target practice when I was a kid. I was shocked when I drove out to that area recently. Nothing but homes! A blanket of homes called Peavine Highlands from Stead to Cold Springs. I understand when the new Red Rock Parkway is completed, there will be five thousand more homes built in the area. Please give me back the good old days in Reno in the early 200s!
How many can remember old downtown Reno? It was so run-down. My grandpa would take me there on the River Walk and the homeless scared me. Luckily, they renovated the area and it’s now condos and office buildings.
Do you remember how cheap groceries were? My Mom would shop at a place called Safeway (now gone)….she could buy a week’s worth of groceries for the family for $150 – $160….now it would cost $850 a week and a drone will deliver groceries. It was so fun to go to Safeway in Reno and ride in the cart as Mom pushed me around the store.
How many of you remember John Ascuaga’s Nugget before it became the “Nevada Biltmore,” and the Grand Sierra before it became condos on one wing and the “Sierra Hampton Hotel” on the other wing? I think they were going to demolish the Nugget about 15 years ago and it lay dormant and run-down for many years. So glad the building is still there even though it is no longer the Nugget. I remember both when I was a kid. Great places back in the day. My late Grandpa told me when I was 10, that he used to order a giant burger at the Nugget many, many years ago when he was in college.. …forgot the name of the burger… I recall kind of an odd name for a burger; I might even say an Awful name…
It used to be so fun to ride the bus down Virginia Street or the bus to the airport off Plumb Lane. Today, we have to take light rail especially if we want to go to the airport. I miss the old buses in Reno especially those blue ones UNR use to have back in the day.
How many recall, that Reno was so safe to raise kids? I used to walk or ride my bike sometimes two blocks away in the 2000s. Not sure if kids could do that today in Reno.
How many remember the old Reno High School? How many attended Reno High? I loved that old brick building at Booth and Foster Drive. The new RHS is nice, but I miss the seeing the old one when we’d drive by with my Dad. My Dad even took us there to watch high school football.
Do you remember when your parents could drive you to Lake Tahoe for the day?. Sure a pain today as there use to be so much traffic to Tahoe, they started toll roads. My Dad would be so upset.
How many recall that Aces Stadium that once was in downtown Reno? How many went there as a kid?. My Dad took us to games at that downtown stadium. If you went to Aces games, do you remember when your Dad could buy a hot dog and drink for you for only $9.00? Last time I took my grandson to the new Aces stadium located near Verdi, it cost $35.00 for a dog and drink. I miss Reno of the 2000’s.
I recall it only cost me $9.00 for a child to go to the movies in the 2000s. Heck, I took my granddaughter to the movies the other day and it cost $30 just for her….and, damn, popcorn at the Reno theaters with butter cost eight dollars in the good old days. Lucky my granddaughter did not ask for popcorn as today it is $40 for small buttered popcorn.
I use to love to watch the mail carrier come to my house on Ralston Street. So cool to wait for my new video games to arrive in the mail or a letter from grandma who did not know how to use a computer. Can’t understand why there are no more post offices in Reno like the good old days.
In the 2000s we had computers, but Dad loved to read a large, flimsy magazine-type thing called a “newspaper.” I can barely remember what they looked like when delivered to my house on Silver Crown. Drive.
How many remember a place called Wild River or Wild Island (I forgot the name). It was a wonderful place in Sparks where my Mom took us for birthday parties. You could swim there and slide there and even drive bumper cars. I think it was torn down sometime around 2035 to make way for a large warehouse. I sure miss that place.
Remember when Reno was a fairly small city back in the 2000s? I loved the old Reno back then. I heard Reno and Sparks now have close to a million residents.
How many recall that big whale near the river? I thought it was a real whale. As a kid, I thought it was cool.. My Dad said the whale was a waste of money. I think that whale now is at the new Reno airport in Spanish Springs.
It was such fun when, if I were a good boy, my Mom would take me to a place off McCarran called “McDonald’s.” I will never forget the thing for kids called Happy Meals. The toy meant so much to me. I think the last McDonald’s in Reno was torn down years ago.
Bring back the good old days in Reno!!.
Karl….The real reason I wrote all this essay was NOT to look into the future, NOT to be cute or silly….I actually wrote this piece to show that…..MEMORIES ARE ALL RELATIVE…………… !
And, in response to Don, Karl writes….Don.. as you know I welcome and encourage guest columns. This one of yours was wonderful, ran almost with no editing, and I hope will be the first of many you send up from Sacramento! Keep the time machine and crank out another column ASAP. See you on the deck of the Pub ‘n Sub when it warms up!!
Written February 7, 2002 (©RGJ) rewritten, combined and updated February 8, 2018
Some readers may have watched NBC’s Olympic Opening Ceremony coverage from Salt Lake City last night .
CBS carried an earlier opening a little differently 42 years ago [2018: 58 years] at Squaw Valley. I quote from the official VIII Winter Games’ brochure, published – writer unattributed – prior to the opening ceremony: “…A fanfare of trumpets, crisp against the mountain snow…2,000 doves of peace flutter skyward…and all eyes are on Little Papoose Peak as Andrea Mead Lawrence bears the Olympic torch down the hill on the final leg of its journey from Norway.
“She passes the torch to a speed skater who circles the speed skating oval once, then holds the flame aloft and lights the Olympic torch…the Olympic prayer is preceded by chimes high in the mountains… the 2,645 voices and a band of 1,285 pieces render an impressive God of our Fathers.”
A nice prediction, but the real drama preceded the event. What the writer didn’t foresee was that there was no snow at all until a day before the Games’ opening on February 18th, 1960. Fallback plans were being made to use Slide Mountain for the downhill events. Then on the 17th it snowed – boy, did it ever. It was cloudy and still snowing an hour before the Opening Ceremony. And windy and bitter cold – the musicians’ trumpet valves and trombone slides froze. The 2,000 doves, caged in two flatbed trucks brought by Walt Disney Productions (who staged the opening ceremony) chirped “no way” and stayed perched, waiting for the trucks to haul them back to balmy Anaheim.
Then – and I kid you not: As the chorus started to sing through the gloom, the clouds parted and a brilliant sun – which we hadn’t seen for three days – glowed above Little Papoose then eventually lit up the valley as Mead Lawrence (pictured right) descended the slope with the torch. She did hand it off to the skater, who took it around the track. (One glitch: As he lit the flame, it flared as high as the nearby pine trees, scared the hell out of him and he fell off the tower. That’s show biz…)
The program writer mentioned chimes and the chorus, maybe not knowing of the yodelers and the Alpenhorns – a half-dozen of these ungodly loud instruments, surely the Swiss’ revenge to the Scots’ bagpipes, waited high above the valley and began at once to play (you don’t hear an Alpenhorn – you feel it under your boots!) The sky by then was fully bright and blue, the pine trees green, the new-fallen snow pure white. The five Olympic rings hung above Blythe Arena, framing the Tower of Nations and the burning cauldron (a replica of this peristyle had been built in Newt Crumley’s Holiday Hotel – now the Siena – parking lot.)
From a valley bereft of snow two days before, to a breath-taking winter scene, filled with that ethereal, incredible Alpine sound. River and plain, and mighty peak – and who could stand unawed? As the summits blazed, I stood unfazed at the foot of the throne of God…”
I wish I had written that, but poet Robert Service beat me to it by about a hundred years in his Spell of the Yukon. And this Disney fellow was good, breaking that sunshine through like he did. But his doves never did leave their cages.
A note to readers, added Feb. 2018: You will note there are few graphics in this text – I didn’t take many pictures, and the few I can find I sold and thus are copyright-protected, which I will respect even after 58 years! Sorry…..
• • •
The Games were underway in Squaw Valley and the eyes of the world were upon us. Bill Harrah had opened up a brand new casino at Lake Tahoe’s south end, and Red Skelton inaugurated the South Shore Room just before midnight on New Years Eve of 1959 and continued into the newyear. (Liberace and Marlene Dietrich would play the room during the Olympics.) Lee Frankovich had renamed the Riverside Hotel’s showroom the Olympic Room; the Will Mastin Trio with a new fellow named Sammy Davis Jr. would head up the Mapes Sky Room. A leggy local fashion model named Bobbie Bender wrote a segment in a ski magazine about appropriate dress for snow, and another fashion article told of the new ski-pant style called “Bogners,” described by someone (Herb Caen?) as an ankle-length bikini and eponymous with German Alpine ski racer Willi Bogner, Jr.’s father. A guy named Don Dondero was taking a lot of pictures for the world press, of racers Penny Pitou, Heidi Biebl, Betsy Snite and Joan Hannah. Knowing Don, he’s still got the negatives, and weirder yet, he can still locate ‘em. [Don passed away, but his family can still locate them…]
(Before proceeding, I should thank my friend Don Stockwell of Sparks for loaning me a box of Olympic memorabilia, which enabled a lot of honest research on this piece.) It develops that Olympic hype is not new. Be advised that Absorbine was the Official Liniment of the VIII Winter Olympics, while Listerine, the Official Mouthwash, kept Carol Heiss and Toni Sailer from buffalo breath on the high Sierra mornings. (An older person can tell you of those Olympic idols.) The Renault Dauphine, sold at Retzloff Motors on South Wells Avenue, was the Official Car of the Olympic Games. Skater/commentator Dick Button had hair. And he was already annoying. The Bavarian Inn was on Fulton Alley downtown and catered to the Nordic oom-pah crowd. Double rooms were 12 bucks at the Holiday Hotel, no vacancy though. Long-forgotten facts: The cross-country and biathlon events were held at Lake Tahoe’s McKinney Creek. And, there was no bobsled or luge in these VIII Olympics.
Luce & Son of Reno, the liquor wholesaler to the local establishments for many decades, pushed the Tahoe Toddy, the official drink of the 1960 Winter Olympics. I have the recipe and I’ll include it here next week. I owe it to readers to test it first before endorsing it.
The Twilight Zone: Leaving the 1960 Olympics just for a moment – I write this an hour after the 2002 Super Bowl broadcast, where John Madden bid Pat Summerall into a happy retirement. One of the resources in the Stockwells’ Olympic memorabilia box is a January 4th, 1960 Sports Illustrated, its lead story an account of the famous Colts-Giants football game, the game where a young Giant place kicker named Pat Summerall kicked three field goals…
They’re having no more fun in Park City and Salt Lake City right now than we had working up at Squaw Valley so we’ll probably go back to Squaw Valley next weekend. I’m on a roll.
Have a good week, and God Bless America.
ADDED FEB. 9th – THIS COLUMN LED TO A 13-MINUTE RADIO INTERVIEW ON KNPR FM 94.1 HERE
• • •
The View from KT-22, 1960
President George W. Bush’s invitation to the children of the world to convene in Salt Lake City, extended in that magical Olympic opening telecast last Friday night on NBC, must have put readers in the mood to reminisce about the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics. The e-mails and phone calls with your recollections following last Saturday’s piece were welcome and wonderful.
A favorite Squaw Valley moment came from a favorite Reno High sweetie of mine, a comely lass named Sherry (Cannon) Butler, now a Southern California denizen who picks this column up off the internet. Sherry, using her considerable feminine wiles, scored a ticket for the semifinal hockey match, the U.S.A. versus the U.S.S.R. Remember now, relations between these two superpowers were plumbing new depths in 1960 and the whole hockey match was seen as a metaphor of world politics, but that wasn’t what Sherry remembered most: It was the slightly disoriented inebriate seated next to her who spent the entire match rooting for “Stanford”. Apparently the Russians’ jerseys looked a little like the Cardinal. At least to Sherry’s bleacher mate. Many of you remembered that contest, on the closing day of the Games – a real thriller – and the final score, 9-4, (the U.S.A. won.) That score remained on the scoreboard at Blythe Arena until the arena collapsed in 1983, a “maintenance accident” that should have landed Squaw’s management in the hoosegow. Did a Russian skater die in that match? One of you resurrected that rumor that flourished for a decade following the Games. Their goalie got slammed into the wall with a crash you could hear on top of KT-22, and many thought he died. Don’t know myself, but if he was alive, he was damn sure counting birdies on his stretcher ride out of the arena.
And just who was Andrea Mead Lawrence, the skier who carried the torch down Little Papoose? Sorry, I should have fleshed that in for the younger readers: Lawrence won the Slalom and Giant Slalom at the Oslo games in 1952 and was the 27-year old darling of the American skiing scene in 1960. One anonymous caller corrected me, rudely, that it was Tenley Albright who skied the torch down the hill. Not likely; Albright was the ladies figure skating Gold medalist in the 1956 Games at Cortina (Italy). Maybe this caller is a Stanford alum.
The reigning jumper during many prior Winter Olympics was the Finn Juhani Karkinen, a star jumper in the Oslo and Cortina (1952 and 1956) Games. USA’s Gene Kotlarek, who won the Gold in Squaw and Innsbruck (1964) jumping wore classic, as in baggy, Nordic-style ski apparel and hit the 80-meter jump like a herd of turtles with his arms out in front of him, his knickers rattling in his own 50 mile-an-hour breeze. Imagine his surprise, (and jump hill steward/judge Jerry Wetzel’s), when the Japanese jumpers hit the inrun wearing new skin-tight Spandex flight suits, their hands at their waists. And they glided like silent birds… Not enough good can be said about Wetzel, the late Reno ski-store co-owner (with partner Hal Codding). And, as some old 1960 newspapers remind me, the local employees of Nevada Bell, then a local company, donated their time generously, and Bell made time available to them. They basically ran the communications for the Olympics, with fewportable radios back then that I recall. One volunteer who has to be included, although I haven’t permission to use his name, was a college guy from the Midwest who came to Squaw as the operator of the brand-new Zamboni. He lovingly tended the ice rink and speed skating oval and now lives in Lakeridge. Truly, the hero of every American male (a Zamboni’s a guy thing.) I should probably do a stand-alone column about Squaw Olympic volunteers. Virtually the whole town of Reno and certainly the University of Nevada came to a standstill, providing labor to the Games. White Stag ski wear donated the officials’ nylon parkas with the Games’ logo, probably a thousand of them, color-coded by work assignment (Nordic, Alpine, gatekeepers, communications, Ski Patrol, judges – things were pretty well organized.) I recently dug my red (Press) parka out, and pulled a “Sparks Nugget – Two Fine Restaurants” matchbook from a pocket. I’m donating it to John.
I mentioned “Bogners” last week – a reader pointed out that the namesake for these ski-pants (Willi Bogner) competed in the Squaw Olympics (Downhill, 8th place). Another reader reminds us that Vuarnet sunglasses got their name from the gold medalist in Downhill (Jean). Several of your recollections were of the Indian snow-dances in the valley – the Shoshone tribe sending a team of their best dancers. They did well – it snowed beyond belief for twenty-four hours preceding the opening. And the valley “parking lot” – many remembered that fiasco: Sawdust was mixed with snow and compacted, to make a solid, non-slip surface to park on. Worked great for the Games’ chilly first week, then it warmed up and thawed the second week, and, well, there’s probably a couple of heavy DeSotos and Packards still out in that valley somewhere. Yikes, what a mess!
Last week we promised to reveal the Tahoe Toddy, the Official Warmer of the Olympic Games, according to Esquire magazine, March 1960 edition. Here goes: garnish a glass with lemon twist, pour in four ounces of very hot water, add a level tablespoon of batter. (That’s batter, not butter.) Batter up: 4 teaspoons brown sugar; 2 teaspoons butter (that’s butter, not batter.) 2 dashes of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of allspice, and 2 teaspoons Bols Orange Curacao. Serves four. (Oh, and did I mention one ounce of Early Times per drink.) Have three and the butter and batter won’t matter.
Of course, as we learned in a column last summer, it would be easier go to Eugene’s restaurant on the way home from Squaw Valley, where bartender Cliff Challender could make us a Toddy from memory. And, we might see Eugene’s owner Gilbert Vasserot (right) entertaining the athletes from his native Switzerland, notably favored skater Madaleine Chamot. (Eugene’s hosted the prestigious International Olympic Committee at a luncheon prior to the games, a feather in Reno’s cap.)
Wrapping up Squaw Valley
Stop the presses! An email and a phone call arrive into our lonely writer’s garret in the God-forsaken desert, regarding our visits to Squaw Valley during the 1960 Winter Olympics. One’s from an old friend, the other from an Incline Village resident who called me a male chauvinist for the way I worded a passage. Imagine that.
What offended her was that I identified by name the 27-year old darling of the 1960s slopes, Andrea Mead Lawrence, the twice-Gold medallist skier who brought the torch down the hill during the Olympic opening ceremony, but then I left the male speed skater that Mead Lawrence handed the torch off to to remain in obscurity.
Frankly, I skipped over a whole bunch of people in that description of the opening ceremony, including Vice-President Richard Milhous Nixon, who declared the Games open, and Karl Malden, who recited the Olympic prayer. But the skater? He fell into relative obscurity, and only after uncharacteristic and tedious research can I offer that his name was Kenneth Henry, which should make Henry’s mother and the Incline Village reader happy.
• • •
The phone call came from my old buddy Buddy Sorensen, who helped me with a couple of names: Gene Kotlarek and Juhe Karkinen. I’m glad he called, because it prompted me to write what many of us know: When local skiers gather in the warming hut to speak of the golden days of 1950s-skiing, Buddy’s name comes up prominently with Dick Buek, Jack Bosta, Jon Madsen, Dick Dorworth, the late Harry Ericson (right) , Lynette Gotchy, Linda Smith Crossett, Rusty Crook and a bunch of other guys, as a Far West Ski Association official and coach, Nordic Director, sometime Falcon coach and a mentor to a hundred local skiers that went on to regional and national prominence. Our area and our sport are indebted to all of them.
Another name and anecdote that came up in the past few weeks was that of George Kerr, known by many as Harolds Club’s photographer/host, when mighty Harolds and Harrah’s ruled Reno. George clicked thousands of golf tournament and celebrity photographs, many going ‘round the world on wire services, and was known as a linguist:
Just prior to the Games, he was asked to be available as an interpreter. “You speak several languages, don’t you?” George was asked. “Actually, I speak only two: the King’s English, and Nevadan.”
In truth, George could say “Say Cheese” in seven languages, not counting the King’s Nevadan after a Tahoe Toddy at Eugene’s. He did Yeoman duty during the Games.
• • •
A week ago I wrote of my red Olympic parka, the color assigned to the Press whereupon a friend accused me of posturing as a hotshot. In truth, I was a grunt, working with seven other University of Nevada grunts who could ski, backpack, snowshoe, yodel and a few less upstanding qualities, and we were assigned “Weasels” (seen at left) – open Jeep-sized tracked vehicles built by Studebaker, loaned to the Olympics by the marines at Pickel Meadows Winter Training Center. We ran all over the valley, typical cargo being endless paperwork, clipboards full of race results, times, schedules, a dead Longines timing clock, an urn of coffee destined for a CBS camera crew at the jump tower, somebody’s glove that was left in a limousine, a pair of snowshoes, three reels of communication cable, box lunches for the slalom timers and a very important person needing to be somewhere else (a very important person being almost anyone in Squaw Valley beside us.) We mentioned earlier that CBS carried the Games, but in 1960 only 15 to 30 minutes each day – taped – in reality not even videotape, but movie film with sound on a different recorder, the big tanks of film and huge batteries somewhere in the back of the Weasels, to be processed in the Bay Area and aired that night.
I’m waxing (skier-term) sentimentally toward the close of the 1960 and 2002 Games, with an observation about how things have changed in 42 years [and now in 2018, 58 years!], as we watch on NBC tonight – a production not filmed, but digitized, sent not to Sacramento by courier for processing, but to a satellite for instant broadcast. The clocks, timing, and standings are instantaneous, not delayed hours by the lag between the start house and the finish line and virtual longhand computation. A tiny camera gives us a real-time pilot’s view from a bobsleigh (the sleigh built from materials developed by NASA). Ice dancing and the half-pipe. How the sport, and the way we view it, has changed in 42 years…
• • •
They were wonderful weeks in our towns’ heritage, and we wish the children of the world now convening at Park City the fun, success and memories that we continue to enjoy.
text © RGJ and Karl Breckenridge; ski jumper photo from handout; license plate issued to Ed Pine, Sr., photo courtesy Jack Pine; Andrea Mead Lawrence, photo © Getty Images; Tower of Nations & Olympic Flame © California State Parks – State of California; Harry Ericson and Gilbert Vasserot, from KB
Well, it’s been a year since I got bored waiting for a ball game to come on to Dad’s Philco radio and started writing about what was going on in Reno and around our house at 740 Ralston Street across from Whitaker Park. Now it’s the same thing, but this year it’s a Sylvania radio Dad bought from his friend Mr. Saviers at his store on West Second Street and West Street. Mom said he should wait for “television” to come to Reno but Dad said that would be a couple more years so he bought the Sylvania. The game starts in three hours, between the “Patriots” and the “Eagles,” which I can’t even find in my almanac now.
A lot has happened in the past year; and more has not happened also. There’s some stories I’d like to tell, but since I was only six when I started that “column” and it was only 1946, a lot of stuff hadn’t happened yet and I tried to stay in the time frame. I realized that would just drive me crazy so I started fudging the year up to like 1950. Now, it’s a year later and I’m going to be even less limited by the year – I’ve stories to tell you. We have moved now; to Sunnyside Drive, at one of the most northwest corners of Reno, with only a few homes to the west or the north. My new neighbors are Henry Philcox, Hugh Barnhill, the Foley sisters, Tommy Weichman and some new kids whose dad just bought a lot from my dad on Irving Circle, named by my dad for his uncle Irving. There’s six kids in that family, all close to my age; they’re moving in from Loyalton and their parents Ken and Helen Metzker own a big lumber mill west of Reno. But Henry’s my closest neighbor, and friend.
Not only do we have a new house on the southwest corner of Sunnyside and Peavine, we have a new car – Dad sold another lot on Irving Circle to Mr. Winkel, who owns a Pontiac dealership downtown next to the Tower Theater (I’ll have to write about that soon!) It’s a yellow-and-brown “hardtop convertible” 1950 Pontiac “Catalina” – the first one, and it looks like a convertible, inside and out, but has a regular roof but no window pillars. It has a lighted hood ornament, in the shape of an Indian, and I suppose that some year I’ll write that and someone will say “what’s a hood ornament?” and some editor will say “You can’t type ‘Indian’.” My sister’s little playmate Pam Lee sent a picture once of her dad’s drive-in on West Fourth Street, and I think that’s mom’s Catalina in the picture. I blew the picture up real big but still can’t see the plate, but can tell is has four numbers so it could be “3090” (Nevada added the county initial in 1954; I still have “W3090” on my Honda. Yes, with the “59” expiration year!
So I’ll write about a lighted whatever on the hood of the car in the shape of an indigenous person. Maybe I won’t write at all… By the way, what’s a “Honda”?
My Aunt Isabel in Petaluma, (California, where Mom is from) gave me a used Sears Roebuck typewriter for Christmas because she knows I like to write (someday if I can find my story, and I think I can, I’ll tell you about throwing Aunt Mittie off the Fourth Street Bridge in Petaluma under the props of the Steamer Gold. It was an exciting day for Petaluma).
My sister Marilynn and I didn’t like Mittie…nobody did, so far as that goes…
I’ve been contacted by readers about stories I ought to write. And some I will, others I know of also but since there’s family or feelings still around I stay away from them. As I did in later life. I know all about the man who drowned his wife in the bathtub; it happened two doors away from me. But it’s not a good memory to bring up. And yes, the two boys my age who drowned in the Truckee in 1952. We knew them both, they were brothers, lived a block from us on Seventh Street. They were pulled out of the water by a friend of my dad’s, Dick Rowley, and the other by a man named Bob Williams, who would later shoot up a courtroom in Nov. 1960 before he gave his wife half his business in a divorce. Dad said he should have given it to her… And I’ve been asked about the 14-year-old boy who drowned in Virginia Lake in 1952, June. By the Cochran Ditch outlet on the west side. Yes. True. But no story here
Yeah, there’s lots of stories. I sometimes wish, and probably will all my life that a few other guys would start writing stuff down too before it’s all forgotten!
MY GOD, IS THAT BILL BILICHICK IN A SUIT AND TIE ON TV?
Back to work. Pardon the outburst.
I met two of my little playmates Debbie Hinman and Karalea Clough yesterday at an old federal office building on Wells Avenue, that later became a place called Posie Butterfield’s and even later, Rapscallion. (But I don’t know about any of that in 1950 yet. And the moniker “Rapscallion” is probably like the Indian on the hood ornament or the man with the eastern European surname from Marin County who once told me that I couldn’t write “Paddy Wagon” in a Sunday column because it was upsetting to the Irish. I’m mostly Irish and responded that I didn’t give a shit what he thought. Boyoboy, will Mom be mad that I wrote that! And the Gazoo editor didn’t like it much more. Some day I’ll tell about the “Gazoo”.)
Anyway, back to the point, if there is one, Karalea is a librarian/researcher at the Nevada Historical Society in the basement of the State Building downtown, and Debbie was a switchboard operator with all those cords and plugs in the Reno Telephone building on the river, but recently went to work for Washoe General Hospital in their foundation department. Not bras and girdles, she reassured me, but twisting tails and scaring up $$$$$$$ to run the place with.
Debbie is a leader in Historic Reno Preservation Society, and is working on a “walk,” where she meets a bunch of people somewhere and walks around with them pointing out buildings and who lived there and stuff like that. She’s doing a new one next summer in the Country Club Addition of Reno, you know, almost out of town across from the Washoe Golf Course east to Virginia Lake. It got its name from the country club that was open briefly in 1935 until some rude gambler, possibly the owner, burned it down. Someday, but not yet, there would be tennis courts and an old folks’ home there. But not yet.
So, Karalea is going to drive (she has a car and a driver’s license!) and Debbie is going to sit in front next to her and take notes while I’m going to sit in the back seat and describe the neighborhood. The Reno Bus Lines run right down Watt Street; maybe they could pick up the people on the tour! Then we’re going back to that federal office on Wells Avenue for more milk and cookies and treats.
I hope her car doesn’t have a rumble seat. THERE’S another word like hood ornament!
This is getting out of hand – it’s too easy to write now that I have my typewriter. Come back and see me occasionally, or come by the federal building on Wells for a sarsaparilla!