I could not be with you and Hank Philcox [below right] long on July Fourth as my mom had to drive me to a house off Wells Avenue where Frank Greco’s Accordion Band float awaited me. A large flatbed hay truck donated by Belli’s ranch carried Greco’s Band. About 40 chairs were arranged on the flatbed for the players. The day before, we squeeze-box players decorated the truck into a float…….chicken wire strung around the bottom of the truck even around the outside of the wheels. The 30 or 40 kids put their strong keyboard-playing-fingers to work by shoving napkins into the chicken wire and after many hours……a beautiful Fourth of July float for Frank Greco’s Accordion Band!
So, I left you and Hank and climbed aboard Frank Greco’s Accordion Band flatbed/Fourth of July float and we were off, all dressed alike….black pants, white button-down, long-sleeve shirts, red vests and cowboy hats. The big truck carrying 40 kids with their accordions joined the parade around the State Building in downtown Reno. The truck would drive us up Sierra Street (two-way then!) following the mounted horses, Black Maria paddy wagon, cheerleaders, clowns, Native Americans, the sheriff’s posse and even, I think, Dr. N. A. “Tink” Tinkham’s wonderful Reno Municipal Band.
The parade would then march from Commercial Row to Virginia Street and south toward First Street under hundreds of colorful banners strung across the street – RENO RODEO! All the while we kids pounded out and squeezed out Sousa’s Washington Post march, Anchors Away and When the Caissons go Rolling Along. The parade would wind down First Street to Center and eventually to Valley Road – all the while we squeezed ourselves, by now much wilted from the hot sun, to the Reno Rodeo grounds.
The Reno Fourth of July parade would halt at the entrance to the big, dusty, hot dirt area that would soon feel the hooves of bucking broncos and bulls and clowns protecting the cowboys who were flung far and wide off a bull or bronco. And there we sat under the blazing son. Keyboard too hot to touch. Hot air building-up in our squeeze box.
By then I wish I had ditched Frank Greco’s Accordion Band float and gone with Karl and Hank to the cool Idlewild pool. My parents packed a large ice chest with Mason jars of cherry Kool-Aid that would somewhat revive the squeeze-box kids and finally the truck and the whole parade would circle the dusty rodeo field while we kids squeezed out God Bless America. By then, I was so tired and hot I did not want to go to the wonderful fireworks display at Mackay Stadium hosted by Harolds Club. But after drinking more of mom’s cold cherry Kool-Aid, I was ready to meet Karl and Hank along with Willie Molini at University Market and walk over to the University of Nevada campus to enjoy a Reno, Nevada Fourth of July authentic fireworks show above the old Mackay Stadium.
Many thanks, Don; we always look forward to your writings and recollections…!