October 15 – our trip to Napa in 1949

Napa

How all this began….

Well, I haven’t written for a while, been pretty busy at Mary S. Doten School, but we have a weekend free so we’re hopping in the car to go see Grandma in Petaluma. Petaluma’s a little farm town right next to Napa and we’ll go through Napa to get there. Mom was born in Petaluma; her mother – my Grandma – came with a whole bunch of sisters and brothers from Ireland to be school teachers in the Valley of the Moon, but a few moved from Asti to Petaluma and Napa so I have relatives all over Sonoma County!

I should tell you that Dad just came home with a new car, a 1948 Dodge sedan, gray. He keeps leaving the back-up light turned on and killed the battery a couple times. Our neighbor John Sala gave it a “jump.” We’re loading up the new Dodge to go to DodgeGrandma’s in Petaluma. My little sister Marilynn is old enough now to ride in a car seat hung over the front seat of the car. It will take about seven or eight hours to get to Petaluma; one of these mornings I’ll write about the Giant Orange and the stuff along Highway 40.

We’re off now – and I’ll fast forward the trip, took over seven hours this time, we stopped along the way a couple of times. When we got to Stornetta’s Dairy on the Napa Highway we knew we were close! (I heard that the dairy would be lost to a fire many years later, and it was as popular with the residents as were the California Missions and the wineries…) I wish I could write you more about that big fire, but this is 1949 and it wouldn’t happen for many more years so I don’t know anything about it.

We pass through Napa after turning off the old picturesque Highway 12. Napa is a tiny little town, like so many along our way. It’s got one main street and everything on the street caters to agricultural stuff – a John Deere dealer with big green and yellow tractors sitting outside. Boot and clothing stores, hand tools. Many signs are in another language, Dad says Spanish but Mom, who grew up 12 miles away, said they leaned toward the Portuguese language, as the town of Napa was heavily-Portuguese occupied. She said her hometown, Petaluma, was mostly Italian and Irish. There were many other little towns along the way between a place on the main highway called the Nut Tree that opened in 1920, and Petaluma to the north toward the Redwood Highway – Highway 101.

JohnDeereWe got through Napa and saw many grapevines along the way – acres of wooden frames with the vines hanging from them. There were big propellers every once in a while, and a lot of little pots. Dad says the pots burned kerosene and the big fans blew the heat over the vines to keep them from freezing. We went into Petaluma by a beautiful old brick building that looked like the Southern Pacific engine house in Sparks next to the roundhouse that was being torn down. The big building was the bag mill, where the bags for the crops and grain that supported all these little towns, were woven. The building was a real beauty.

Petaluma is a nice little town, much like Napa, with almost no one except for the full-time residents living there. Petalumans raised chickens and was known as the egg-capital of the west coast. McNear’s Mill processed the grain from all over the valley, and shipped it every morning aboard the Steamer Gold, from the end of the Petaluma River. Napans raised grapes, mostly for dining but also finding their way into the wine industry. People had been drinking wine for years but I guess never put much interest into grapes and wine – wine was red, and blush. A smattering (like that word? I’m not supposed to use it according to my teachers…) of men from San Francisco and Europe were starting to take more interest in grapes and wine, and were slowly moving to Napa. There were already some beautiful old buildings there operated by the few “vintners,” a hoity-toity word for grape growers. But I don’t recall wine as being that big a deal. But they sure had some pretty buildings and ranches – it would be a shame if a fire ever came along and burned them – they’ve been there since before WWI, some of them.

And I should write you that one of the big industries was making kegs – wooden barrels – out of oak wood for the wine to age in. This industry was really taking off! One guy even had an orchard for cork trees, because corks were necessary for bottling wine and most of them in 1949 came from Portugal. Hence, the Portuguese influence in Napa.

And speaking of wine, when we arrived in Petaluma, Dad sat on the front porch of Grandma’s house on Harris Street, which was an old railroad house that was moved across town and my mother came home from the hospital to it in 1916. Grandma joined Dad on the porch with a bottle of red wine that Dad picked up down Western Street at Volpi’s, and they laughed and giggled as usual while Mom freshened up.

Later that night, we loaded up in the Dodge, and with my great-aunts Isabel and Marge and Iola and uncle Vic and Earl and a few other relatives, in a couple other cars, and we all took off for dinner at the Green Mill Inn, which was a pretty popular roadhouse in Cotati. We went through Sebastopol, Calistoga and a few other old towns, all with some beautiful homes and businesses dating back to the turn of the century, and even to California’s statehood. Sonoma, for sure; Rutherford – we passed through them all.

And we’d do it many times again in the years to follow – Dad and Grandma on themost happy fella porch with a jug of red, Mom freshening up, all the old ladies sitting around Aunt Kate’s Bosendorfer upright piano that had come ‘Round the Horn from Galway, all singing the old songs they’d learned as children. Or, they’d have more red, all together, and commandeer the Green Mill Inn’s piano and sing of the Emerald Isle. Good times, in the Sonoma Valley. Possibly the prettiest part of California, I’d probably get an argument to that from Santa Barbarans, where I was born ten years before. In 1955 Frank Loesser would even write a Broadway musical about it, “The Most Happy Fella” (in the whole Napa Valley..)!

fireNapaBut beautiful country, old buildings, tree-canopied streets, some picturesque old rock wineries and quaint downtowns – Napa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Calistoga, Sebastopol, Stornetta’s Dairy, the bag mill, McNear’s grain elevator – I hoped that nothing would ever come along to alter it…..

C’mon back in a while, we’ll ride Highway 40 or walk the Truckee’s banks – I never know ‘til I start writing

POSTSCRIPT: I WAS REMINDED THAT MY “LITTLE SISTER MARILYNN” REFERRED TO AS “NOW OLD ENOUGH TO RIDE IN THE CAR SEAT,” RETURNED TO NAPA AFTER COLLEGE AND, WITH HUSBAND ERIC, TAUGHT IN THE NAPA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR OVER 30 YEARS!

Napa schoolhouse photo credit AP

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September 24 • Vine Street

karlatwhitaker…how this yarn began

Well, we went to the football game yesterday at the University of Nevada, and Nevada won the game, playing a team from the Chico State University. We’ve walked from our house on Ralston by Whitaker Park a couple times now – Nevada has won a couple of home games already this year. Dad says it’s because they’re in a good conference where all the teams are about even.

Today is Sunday and I’ve talked Mom out of going to church down where Ralston Street dead-ends into the Truckee River. Dad’s childhood buddy Bud Loomis’ mother was pretty much the founder of that church, and her family owned the land that it sits on. I’m getting on my new bike and riding down Vine Street because Grandma Gladys gave me a silver dollar. I’m going to get an ice cream cone at the Hale’s Drug store down on the Lincoln Highway.

Vine Street is about the last street west in Reno, with just a bunch of fields on the other side. Mr. Weichman and Mr. Probasco are starting to build some homes along Eighth Street, which most people now call University Terrace. And Mr. Novelly is also building on some new streets that he named after himself, Novelly Street and Raymond Drive. So I ride west along Whitaker Park and down the steep hill west of Washington Street. At the bottom of the hill is Vine Street, which goes south to the Truckee and north to a big ranch owned by Dr. Raphael Herman. He came up from Los Angeles and named Rafael it for himself.

I ride toward the Truckee River, where there are mostly just houses where some of my friends live like Bob Broili and the Burr kids and Dr. Reno’s kids. He’s not from here but came here after he graduated from the doctor school. His wife’s name was Rhoda – she was a good friend of my mom’s and was really mad at me when I said that her last name was Hogg before she married Dr. Reno. I paid for that until mom died in 2004. But it was worth it.

I should have mentioned that at the bottom of the Washington Street hill there wasglobe_gas_pump a service station and a little market called the Quality Market, but everybody called it “Quilici’s.” It had a gas pump outside that the men pumped by hand until they could see the level of gas on a big round glass dome. When they got it up to the number of gallons they wanted to buy, they would call Mr. Quilici and he’d come out and see for himself how much gas was in the dome, and they’d pay him. Then the men would put the hose into their cars, open the valve and let the gasoline drain into the cars. It was fun to watch. My mom didn’t shop there because she didn’t speak much Italian and that’s about all anybody spoke in that store (most of the patrons came down the hill from Little Italy).

The other market that I rode past on Vine Street was at the corner of Sixth Street. It was a hot little after-school place for the kids who went to Mary S. Doten elementary school like me or the older kids who went to Reno High a little further east on Fifth Street. It was called the Santa Claus Market because it was the only market that stayed open on Christmas Day! It was made of river rock and painted silver. I wish Dad or somebody had taken a picture of it but I never found one.

Pedaling now further south on Vine Street, I get to Hale’s Drug Store in a brick building on the northwest corner of West Fourth – the Lincoln Highway. Dad’s friend Mr. Locke opened that Hale’s Drug in a little two-story building that was owned by Chester and Lincoln Piazzo who had a sporting goods store downtown where they charged all the kids about double what Mr. York and Mr. Burke charged for a jock strap at Mt. Rose Sporting goods or Reno Sporting Goods on Plaza and Virginia, but that’s where the schools made us buy our stuff.

Hale’s had one of the most popular lunch counters in Reno. In a couple years Dad’s friend Mr. Ramos would move his drug store from downtown across from Dad’s office on California Avenue, but right now this was THE place to go. I ordered my ice-cream cone. And got a lot of change back for the silver dollar (Dad calls them “Cartwheels”) that Grandma Gladys gave me.

SP_locoI walked down the short block to the train tracks, and sat on the curb. Sure enough, an SP train came in with one of those new-fangled “diesel-electric” locomotives pulling it.  I read later in a guy’s weekly newspaper column that the last steam engine in scheduled service went through Reno in October of 1949, so I was lucky to remember seeing (and hearing!) them.

There’s one more street beyond Vine to the west, called Keystone, but it’s a short little street that only goes from the south side of the SP tracks down to the Truckee River, where it dead-ends into Riverside Drive by McKinley Park School. There’s been talk of extending it north of the tracks to connect with Peavine Row, but Dad says that’s about ten years away. Right now the only businesses west of Vine are Mr. Caton’s Reno Press Brick factory and Keystone Fuel, and the Union Ice plant. Bob & Ray’s Chevron station is across from Hale’s Drug. In a few years the Piazzo brothers will build Plaza Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Vine, and Mr. Parker will build the Gold ‘n Silver restaurant on the southeast corner. To the east and west of Vine Street are mostly auto courts, which they’re starting to call “motels,” and some of the nicest apartment houses in Reno.

So, it’s a happenin’ little corner. But I’d better walk back to Hale’s Drug Store and start the ride up the hill to home – it’s Sunday, so we’re going to the Toscano Hotel downtown on Lake Street with the next-door-neighbors, the Salas! Their little red-haired daughter Michelle is a hot little number. They just had a newborn son, named him “Mike.”

C’mon back in a week or two and well ride from 740 Ralston to somewhere else!!!

 

It’s the Real Thing

Coke truckNary a codger my age, nor a codgerette, if that spell-checks, didn’t lurk around the high south window of the handsome brick building at Center Street’s intersection with South Virginia, watching the parade of green-hued clear bottles down the conveyor line.  They marched like sparkling soldiers in lockstep from west to east, our left to our right, being squirted four-at-a-time full of Coca-Cola, to then disappear from view just as another machine capped them – poetry in motion.

            But, the precision parade of these African kola nut-shaped little vessels wasn’t what we gathered there for.  Periodically one bottle would get screwed up in the cadence and take down the three soldiers adjoining it and the whole parade would come to a halt.  And that, readers, made our wait worthwhile, for the white-coated old bottler minding the parade would pull those bottles from the line, glance out the window at us – outwardly feigning great disdain for our barefaced supplication – and give a gruff nod to the door on Center Street.  Inwardly we knew he was grinning wide at the opportunity to give us a free bottle of Coke and hie us on our way.

            And – we’d look at the bottom of bottle to see what city it was originally bottled in – any kids’ worthwhile Coke bottle collection had a number of bottles with big east coast cities’ imprints on them, having migrated west along the Lincoln Highway.

shoshoneplant            That big sunlit south window, with the gleaming stainless steel conveyor and piping – the bottles changing from glistening clarity to jet black as they were filled – was a focal point of any drive around Reno until the plant moved out onto Vassar Street in 1972.  And, in the convoluted logic that frequently drives this column I’ll mention here that what triggered all this is that the subsequent occupant of the bottling plant, Restaurant Equipment and Supply – RESCO, if you will – just vacated the building, to move out to the old McMahan’s Furniture on East Plumb Lane.

            Les and Stanley Farr bought two businesses in 1924 – the Shoshone Soda Works and Diamond Springs Drinking Water Supply Company.  They built a brick building in 1927 on South Virginia Street for the soda operation, hand-bottling a number of regional brands of carbonated beverages. Les’ son Curtis became the sales manager.  In William D. Rowley’s book “Reno: Hub of the Washoe County” a Mean Joegreat old picture by Lauren Wood appears, depicting the original Shoshone building, looking kind of lonely ‘way out on South Virginia Street – but recognizable as part of the existing structure.  In 1930, long before Coke Taught The World To Sing and Mean Joe Greene tossed the kid his Steeler football jersey in one of most popular TV commercials ever made, Coca-Cola franchised the Farrs to bottle Coca-Cola in the northern Nevada market.  They sold the Diamond Springs water operation to another company in 1944.

            They added on to that old building in 1939, and again in 1941, the latter addition incorporating the showcased bottling line on the south wall.  That high window in later years was bricked over, its silhouette still discernable.  (There was a little more room on the corner in those days with a little wedge-shaped park; Center Street, then two-way would later become one-way north and a turn lane took out part of the sidewalk.)

            The Farrs, to their credit, maintained their building beautifully – landscaping, the stainless-and-glass gallery to the south, and on the Virginia Street parking lot a fleet of immaculately maintained yellow-and white, with red trim, cab-over-engine – (OK, ladies: flat-fronted) – delivery trucks with racks for the wooden bottle containers, hauling Coke from Susanville to Lake Tahoe.  (How’d you like to have one of those delivery trucks restored in time for Hot August Nights – what a showstopper that would be on a cruise.)

            Research – ahh, that ugly word – brought a few tickles.  The Farrs, coöperating to  plug the local debut of “Grapes of Wrath” at the Granada (where admission, according to an ad in a March, 1940 edition of the Nevada State Journal, was 10 cents or 25 cents, regular or loge) offered a free Coke with admission.  Henry Fonda and a Coke, what a deal.

            Leslie Farr passed away in 1977, four years after his son Curtis’ death in 1974.  They created a beautiful building for our local landscape, putting a great deal more pizzazz into it than the minimum necessary to do their job.  Those ol’ bricks have served RESCO well for over 30 years, and we wish that company 30 more good years on East Plumb Lane.

            And – the old bottling plant remains a highly visible building with a lot of potential.*  Hopefully some user will come along to rescue and  restore it, maybe even un-bricking some of the windows to light up a slick little mini-mall or the lobby of a community theater…

           *Postscript: In 2017, we call it Junkee’s!

JunkeeFacia

text © RGJ 2006

Junkee’s facia photo courtesy Junkee’s website 

 

 

September 1  • Labor Day!

BaffertHow all this began…

 

Boyoboy – it’s been a busy summer with a lot going on, now the whole family is off in the ’41 Chevy for the Elks’ annual picnic at a place at nearby Lake Tahoe called Fourth Creek. It’s almost by the bottom of the Mt. Rose Road, by a beach across from a place where Hyatt hotel will be built 50 years later. Today in 1948 there’s nothing for many miles in either direction – west to the state line and “Crystal Bay,” or east all the way down to where Highway 50 hits the lake. Nothing.

The picnic is fun with swimming and lots of food. The lake is really pretty. We go 1941_chevvyhome toward dinner time down the little two-lane road that will close when the first snow hits at Thanksgiving, and be closed all winter. It’s hard to believe on this sunny afternoon that a rainstorm would occur in a few years so quick that a couple would drown when their car was swept off the highway on the other side of the mountain, by the Boy Scout campground in Galena. Flash flood. Scary.

School will be starting for me next Tuesday – all the schools start the Tuesday after Labor Day every year. Last weekend Dad went to Mary S. Doten School down the hill from our house with a whole bunch of other dads for a work day. The school’s principal Rita Cannan ran that show, what a tyrant she could be, a little tiny woman telling all these big guys how to rake and stuff. And she really got on them when they crossed Fifth Street to Beetschen’s Cottage Grocery and got a load of Sierra Beer. Wowee, what a ruckus. But, it was being played out all over town, with dads helping get the five elementary schools, B. D. Billinghurst way out on Plumas Street and Northside, in the middle of downtown Reno. And Reno High School, over a couple blocks from our house on Fifth and West Street ready for us next week.

Mr. Minetto, the janitor at Mary S. Doten always had the shiniest hardwood floors of any of the Spanish Quartette schools every year. I’ll never smell floor wax again without thinking of him!

Our family went to the last fireworks show at Mackay Stadium last Friday night. I think we hit most of the Friday night fireworks this summer put on by Harold’s Club. I’m told that in another year a friend of Dad’s named Tom Wilson who writes Harold’s Club’s ads would get rid of the apostrophe in their name forever. I think that’s what that little comma is called anyway. We also walked over to the final Reno Municipal Band night at the Quadrangle at the University. The band was at the “Quad” all August; in July it’s at the park in Virginia Lake, which only opened about eight years ago. It’s a fun show.  Mr. Tinkham, “Tink” Dad calls him, always plays John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars & Stripes Forever” march at the end, and leads all the kids on a march around the Quad. I heard, but don’t know now ‘cuz I’m only a little guy, that my classmate Glenn Little would take over the band in the 1980s and lead all the kids around Wingfield Park. But I don’t know that yet. Oh, and there was always watermelon at the Quad and the park for us! Pretty cool…

And I might add that starting on Tuesday if you’re at the University and not in your senior year, you better not walk on the Quad or you’ll be “laked” – thrown into Manzanita Lake. The first time you’ll walk on the Quad is to get your diploma at graduation!

Reno was in the national news over Labor Day weekend because there was a “strike” by the restaurant workers downtown on Labor Day, when none of them came to work on this busy weekend. The men who live in Reno weren’t about to put up “with that crap,” as Mr. Sala called it in the newspaper, so a bunch of businessmen – and some of our mothers – went to the restaurants and worked, cooked, cleaned tables, brought food to the tourists, and made the people from out-of-town comfortable. That might be the last time I ever knew my dad to cook anything. And it all worked. The restaurant workers came back to work in September and life went on. And after Dad cooked they said Grace after dinner.

HOGReno also made the news when the motorcycle club from Sacramento and Oakland came back to town. A whole bunch of guys – “Badass Dudes” Dad called them and Mom really hollered at him for using that word – all converged (pretty big word for a kid, huh!) at the park in Wingfield with their black leather jackets with stuff on the back, no helmets and with sleeping bags and set up housekeeping. They all rode Harley Davidson motorcycles. Many of them were leftovers from the Army after the war ended a few years ago. They made a lot of noise with their motorcycles’ motors, and swore and drank and scared everybody. But what was funny for us kids was that all they really wanted to do was have fun. We rode our bicycles to the park and they were pretty good guys (they didn’t smell too good!) but they showed us how their motorcycles worked and were pretty fun. The police came and screamed and shouted and raised hell but really should have just left them alone. They came back for four or five years, and camped in the park. Someday I’ll write about the Gypsies who came to Idlewild, same thing – just leave them alone and all would be fine, but no, we just couldn’t do that… (And Mom said that I can’t write “hell” anymore as long as I live at 740 Ralston Street.) Mom was counting nickles, dimes, and quarters on the kitchen table when she suddenly got very angry and started shouting and crying for no reason. Dad said to me, “She’s going through the change.”

Anyway the summer is coming to an end. The Reno Recreation Department hires mostly college kids, and a few high school kids, to run the park programs like across Ralston Street from my house at Whitaker Park, the tennis program with Mr. Fairman and free tennis lessons at Wingfield, and the Reno swimming pool in Idlewild and Deer Park in Sparks. With all the kids starting at the schools and the University, there’s no one left to work so they’re all closing!

Been a good summer had a lot  of fun, learning to write better. Come back once in a while maybe I’ll write another story about Reno after the war. Lots left to write about. See ya….

 

 

July 21 – Northwest Reno is growing… 

karlatwhitakerThe six-year-old kid’s first post…

Been a long time since I could get to my notepad and write of more of what it’s like in my new town. One big news break is that Dad and Uncle John got me a bike – actually, they found a used bike and spray painted it blue in a friend of Dad’s auto painting shops, and they used some blue paint that the customer was getting his car painted.

They made the brake work, by pedaling backward, and went to Monkey Wards downtown on Sierra Street and bought some new hand grips with “Schwinn” spelled out on the rubber, and a new seat and some tires.

Pretty neat. I learned soon that after the war steel was still hard to get and bike factories weren’t back in production yet, so like most of my friends I had a used bike with some new parts. It’s a little bike, but I’m a little guy, and now I can get around all over town quick.

The afternoon that I got it I rode it on University Terrace from our house on Ralston Street, and crossed Washington Street. There’s a big hill there, and after only one block on my new bike I fell off of it and took a chunk out of my knee that would leave a scar the rest of my life! I got back on my bike and kept riding along University Terrace, beyond Vine Street. That was almost the end of Reno north of the railroad tracks. Most of the houses that I rode past had been built recently, just after the war, and didn’t have any grass or trees yet. They were fairly small with a garage for one car but not much else.

I rode past Sunnyside Drive, which hadn’t been paved yet where it met University Terrace. A lot of friends of mine’s fathers would soon start building a house for a family named Kotter. Reverend Vernon Kotter was the pastor of the Lutheran Church and these men had just finished building a church on California Avenue at Belmont Street so the church could move out of the Masonic building downtown. Now they were building his house on the northeast corner of University Terrace and Sunnyside. I got to know his kids; his daughter Marilyn was in my class at Mary S. Doten School. She was really funny. And her dad was a good guy – he’d become the resident pastor of Reno High School in years to come, and come out and bless our ball teams and stuff.

A street called Canal Street turned to the left off University Terrace. A lightning storm had just started a fire that burned the house at that corner pretty bad and there were some men there trying to fix it. Riding all the way to Peavine Row I could see where the flood came, as I heard it did every summer for about 10 years, from the wash on Peavine Peak. The water came down every summer and flooded the neighborhood about six inches deep, finally getting into the Orr Ditch down the street. The street would later be paved, and even later get the name “Keystone.” Keystone Street back then didn’t come north of the railroad tracks, and in time would be cut in to meet Peavine. I’ll have to tell you someday about our swimming hole at the brickyard “pit” between the end of Seventh Street and Highway 40. We’ll go back to that.

Some friends of mine lived at the south end of Peavine where it stopped at the Orr Ditch. Their names were Cairns, and on a Thanksgiving Day both brothers drowned in the Truckee River. A man out on Idlewild Drive found them both. It was a real shocker but we sucked it up and went back to school on Monday. I heard that someday there would be a crowd of “grief counselors” at school to make us feel better. But we remembered the Cairns brothers without counseling.

CableBackhoeThere were some old barns on the west side of Peavine, and one day they were bulldozed by Mr. Games’ dozers and trucks. A new market went up there, a big one. The Gastanaga family built it, and in years to come would enlarge it. It was one of the new “supermarkets” being built in Reno, like my dad’s friends the Sewell brothers were building a supermarket down by the high school on Sierra Street by Fifth.  Across University Terrace to the north, was the Rosasco chicken ranch, in a house that in years to come would be rebuilt as an eye-doctor’s office. Imagine that; an eye doctor thinking he could make a living anywhere but downtown Reno! What will happen next, I ask.

The Rosasco ranch owners had some cute granddaughters whose names were Pam and Jan, about my age. Pam was fun and her sister was quite a singer, I think she married a guy named Frank Savage and sang all over town. Remind me and someday I’ll write the story of how I was riding Mr. Thompson’s horse and trampled about 20 chickens and Mrs. Rosasco read me the riot act in Italian. Mr. Thompson was a neat guy, a childhood friend of my dad’s, and was an attorney or something and got a building named for him years later downtown. But he sure had a big palomino horse in 1952.  A mean SOB too.

1950GMCdumpMy dad’s friend Mr. Novelly was building a lot of houses west of Peavine Row, on a street that he named for himself, Novelly Drive. His first name was Ray, for Raymond Drive. They sold a lot of houses. He built a lot of houses, bigger ones, on the top of the Peavine Row intersection with Sunnyside. My dad sold him some land for the Metzker family and sold the City of Reno some land for a street, named Irving after my mother’s maiden name Irving. They were pretty nice houses.

Mr. Games, whose first name I think was Earl, did all the digging of foundations for the houses on Irving and Novelly, and later on Whitaker Drive when Mr. Weichmann and Mr. Probasco opened that street and Keegan Circle up and paved it. Mr. Games’ brother ran the shovel that was already 30 years old then, and could dig a foundation for a house with a full basement, a hole for the furnace oil tank and the trench for the sewer and water lines to the streets, in about a day. He was good. I heard Dad say that natural gas was coming to that part of town soon but back then they all had oil heat.

smudgepotIt was always exciting to see Mr. Games’ trailer with the shovel on it, drive up to a vacant lot, because we knew a new house was going to be built. We used to steal, or at least move around, the little smudge-pots that the men would light every night to mark an open trench where a car might fall into it. We quit doing that the night that a  police car drove into a big open hole that he didn’t see in the dark. We were too scared to come out of our rooms for several days and play…

I should add before I go to bed, that in the summer of 1960 when the big fire took out the power lines between here and California and Reno was without power for three days, that somebody got a whole bunch of those smudge-pots out of a building they were stored in when they quit using them, and they filled them up and lined out an approach path to guide airplanes into Reno’s airport when the landing lights were out of business.

Ha! The old ways still work. I’m going to bed – that bike ride wore me out! – come back in a week or two and we’ll yak some more.

contact the six-year-old kid at KFBreckenridge@live.com

If you want to read about that big 1960 forest fire above Truckee, click here

Added Sunday morning: My little lifetime buddy Hank Philcox, who grew up a couple doors from me after my family moved to Sunnyside Drive, wrote me a letter on binder paper, I’m including it here: “Your description of the history of our neighborhood brought back many memories. You mentioned the Cairnes brothers…. Steve was in my class. He and his brother Jay were trying to wade across a swollen Truckee River with another classmate, Dee Rytting, when they lost their footing and were swept away by the current. I was actually in Idlwild Park when they pulled Steve from the water, and I didn’t recognize him when they asked me if I knew him. Still feel bad about that. Steve and I used to go shooting our BB guns together in the farm field at the corner of 7th and Keystone, which is where his family lived.

I also remember the floods that continued to come down the wash which is where Elmcrest and Novelly Drives were placed. One time I was playing Ping Pong with Tom Weichmann when we saw cars floating down Elmcrest. We jumped on our bikes to the water and a six-foot wall of water hit the house at the east end of Elmcrest. Funny part was the flash flood washed out a pig farm upstream and there were pigs washing down the street and when the waters passed, they were running all over the neighborhoods clear down to Vine Street.”

Thanks, Hank…KB

 

July 4  • The Fourth of July!

White Hats 1

The first post….

This is a fine how-do-you-do? Dad took off with Mr. Blakely and Mr. Corica to work at the Reno Rodeo, which is always on the Fourth of July. And I’m home with my baby sister and my mother on Ralston Street. But not for long! I’m takin’ off down the hill to see what’s going on downtown this holiday weekend with all the people in town for the rodeo! HA!

LoudspeakerTruckSo Dad, while you’re opening beer cans for the Jaycees at the rodeo grounds in the heat and the dust, I’m off. Walking down Ralston Street I can really see a lot of cars, more than usual, on West Fourth Street. Most of the better motels built after the war are either east or west of town. I got to stay In one a couple weeks ago when my Aunt Isabel came to Reno from Petaluma, down by the San Francisco Bay where Mom grew up. She stayed at a motel with a swimming pool and that was the first pool I ever swam in. I’ve swum in the Russian River by Guerneville but the pool is pretty neat too.

Coke truckI walk toward downtown and get to Virginia Street, where the rodeo parade is starting to march. There’s a big truck down by the railroad tracks with a loudspeaker on the roof. Some of the gasoline companies, and the Auto Club, or Three A or whatever dad calls it, have these trucks and send them around the country to rodeos and parades and stuff where somebody wants to talk to a bunch of people. I cross the highway at Virginia Street, the busiest intersection in Nevada. I better go home before I catch hell for sneaking off.

Many have accused me of dogging it this Fourth of July weekend because I haven’t written anything new. C’mon, I’m only a little guy and it’s a holiday and it’s hotter than a bride’s breath so I’ll post soon, soon, soon….beside, I’m trying to listen to a New York Giants baseball game on the radio – everybody says that some day it will be on a “television” set right in our living room but today it’s on KOH, live from Detroit. Hard to write and watch at the same time.

Harolds Club BuickI was asked what’s around the bend on these little walks we’re taking. Well, I can tell you – I want to get Dad to take me down to Harold’s Club – note that as I write this  in the 1940s it’s still using an apostrophe in the name. In a few years it will go away. If we can walk down on a Saturday morning between 10 o’clock and noon, Mr. Smith closes the second floor of the casino so that kids can go in. I want to see the “Roaring Camp” stuff that Mr. Smith bought from Mr. Stagg and all the old guns and saddles the blue Buick station wagon with the steer horns and stuff. There’s supposed to be a bar with silver dollars in the bar. I’ll tell you all about that soon.

Another story is going to be about learning to swim in Reno. I’ve received a lot of letters from readers at our home on Ralston Street, asking me to write about old swimming places like Reno Hot Springs and Lawton’s west of Reno (pictured), Idlewild Pool in Reno (the new one, not the big pond on the west side of the park that was the first LawtonsTowercommunity pool). And Baker’s Stables a long way south of Reno and Deer Park in Sparks, that only opened right after the war. And I also have some notes about the people who gave us swimming lessons, like Marcie Herz, Rick Burgess at that new pool at the Riverside Hotel and some of our friends like Billy Berrum who show us about swimming at Moana Springs. Billy’s a good guy, only a little bit older than me, maybe ten years old. (And in a few years Mrs. Conrad would slap me for writing “older than me” when it should be “older than I” but I’m too young to get hung up on grammar.

Dad still goes down to Sparks a lot in his business, and one day got me in to the railroad’s locomotive shop. I got to climb up onto a cab-forward steam engine. They30070 cab forward were working the shaking tank in the shop and I got to see (and feel!) that. And they’re starting to tear down the roundhouse at the south end of 8th Street in Sparks, (later they’d call it Pyramid Way). Writing is funny, in Reno it’s written “Eighth Street” which is up by the University but in Sparks it’s written “8th Street”. I’ll never make a very good writer.

Dad’s friend says that we should take a good look at the old steam locomotives because pretty soon they’ll all be those boring streamliners. I didn’t know it then but the last steam engine that would roll through Reno and Sparks on a revenue basis would be pretty soon – late October of 1949. After that we only saw them in the winter pushing plows or pulling heavy trains over Donner Summit. I’ll try to find a picture of one for you.

We got out to the new airport a while ago and Dad drove right out onto the runway so we could watch the Nevada Air Guard land a couple of P-51 “Mustangs” – little fighter planes. And we watched a United Air Lines DC-3 take off for San Francisco. And we went up into the “control tower” on the second floor of the United terminal and hangar. That was pretty cool and I’ll try to write it down.

Brandon Crawford just got a home run in Detroit. Thank God that the horrible “replay” hasn’t been invented yet. But then TV hasn’t either.

C-119We had a little excitement in Reno and western Nevada last winter – it got really snowy and the cows and sheep couldn’t get to their pastures to the Army Air Corps brought in a bunch of huge freighter airplanes that had doors in the back, and all the men of Reno and Sparks met out at the airport to load hay into the planes to drop to the livestock. We’ll read about that. Dad got to go on a couple of their flights.

Yeah, Idlewild Park, for sure. I’ll write about the zoo at the park, and our class going to the Old Home Dairy across the street from the park, where we get a lot theCalifornia Building milk around Reno. And the fishing derby. Virginia Lake has a new park too. We’ve gone to some Reno band concerts out there in July, in August they’ll all move to the “Quad” at the University where we can walk from our house. Dad and Mom know some people who play for that band. And we get watermelon during the show and get to march to a Sousa march around the Quad with Mr. Tinkham the bandleader. And the grownups – can’t sing worth a darn but they end with “Home Means Nevada.”

Got to go to the neighbors’ for some hot dogs. Fireworks tonight at Mackay Stadium, Joe Battaglia and the Men of Renown will do the National Anthem as usual. Sorry to bail on you  early but the game’s tied at 3-3 and the barbecue’s starting.

Be safe out there, come back once in a while….

 

June 26 • Remembering some early Reno sawbones…

aaameds

How this all began…

Some of you have emailed me that I haven’t written a story for a while. That’s probably mostly due to me breaking my left leg on May 10 and being unable to walk around my new town from our house at 740 Ralston Street. I’m grateful to Dr. Peter Althausen for fixing my feemer, the big bone in your leg. He works for the Reno Orthopedic Clinic and in a while I’ll tell you a little bit about them. And I’m also grateful to Dr. Wlodarczyk for writing a column for me last week and helping meMadScientist get my head out of my ass insofar as chronology of my stories. I’m going to start taking his advice. Some of you mentioned that Dr. Wlodarczyk’s photo resembled another person who was in a movie 40 years later; that movie was probably “Young Frankenstein.”

I’m a lot better now and am walking around on a walker and supposed to be getting a cane soon instead. But I learned a lot about post-war Reno’s medical stuff in the past few weeks. One doctor I came to know is named Frank Russell. He has a little office in Sparks, a hoot and a holler east of Reno (hoot and holler – I love that expression of my Uncle John’s!) Frank is what I guess grownups call an old-fashioned family doctor, and does a lot of work for the Southern Pacific Railroad. His wife Fran is also his nurse. He takes care of everything, and his advice is most often “If it’s wet put something dry on it; if it’s dry, put something wet on it…” He’s a pretty cool guy. I didn’t know it after the war as I write this, but in years to follow I’d have two sons and Dr. Frank would deliver them both (actually and grammatically, which I try to be to keep Mrs. Conrad from rapping my fingers with her switch, a doctor delivers the mother, not the sons, but that’s a battle I’d learn to lose for the rest of my life!).

My leg was for the purpose of this story  set by two doctors at St. Mary’s Hospital down the street from our new house on Ralston Street. One doctor was Dr. Jack Palmer, a pediatrician. But he does it all: General Practice. He’s a neat guy and dad says he’s a pretty good golfer. His kids, Grace, Jayne and Pete would become my lifelong friends.

The other doctor who worked on my leg (with Dr. Althausen,  who in reality did the whole thing many years after the other doctors had passed away) in this tale was Dr. Wesley Hall who had a little office near St. Mary’s Hospital, across Elm Street from Dr. Palmer’s.  Most doctors in Reno practiced alone, and had little houses for offices. Dr. Hall was a wonderful man, whose wife E’lise would live on until 2017. He Smoking Report Anniversarywas from the south and came to Reno after the war. The coolest thing I remember about Dr. Hall was that one morning my dad saw in the Nevada State Journal a picture of a couple of famous people who I didn’t know, but dad and mom did. The man in the picture was a singer, I think. But I remember my dad saying, “That’s Wes!) It turns out that Mr. Dondero, a friend of Dad’s in the Jaycees, took the picture for Time magazine at the Riverside Hotel in 1951. The magazine and the newspaper ran the picture, no one noticing that Dr. Hall was visible over the singer’s right shoulder, in a national magazine! And that photo has run once a year since then, and I always notice Dr. Hall. Pretty neat.

St. Mary’s Hospital was just down the street from our house and was the lead hospital in town. It started as a school, St. Mary’s Academy run by the Dominican Sisters. When the University of Nevada moved in from Elko fewer ladies went to St. Mary’s Academy and Bishop Whitaker School but to Nevada University instead, and there was a big health scare in the 1910s and the school quit being a school and became a small hospital, run by the nuns, called Sisters’ Hospital. In a few years it became St. Mary’s Hospital.

The other hospital was a long way out on Mill Street and started as a part of the county’s poor farm, then became Washoe Hospital. It came close to closing in 1949, but a guy who knew how to run hospitals moved to Reno and dad sold him a house. His name was Clyde Fox, and he started a club for Reno’s ladies to join and raise money to keep the hospital from having to close. Mr. Fox and all those ladies started a really neat thing called Tombola Days in the park across Mill Street. They had lots of games and booths and music and in later years a guy from Sparks brought two elephants named Bertha and Tina and gave us kids rides. And the fire department set up its new hook-and-ladder and let us climb up the ladder. Tombola Days went for many years; soon I’ll tell you more about it.

But the good news was that Mr. Fox saved the little hospital, which became the Washoe County Hospital and later Washoe Medical Center and then some name after that I was too young to know. And the ambulances would go to either hospital. They were run by off-duty firemen from Sparks in an old Navy ambulance but it worked!

As I wrote above, most of the doctors had their own little offices, and then started going into larger buildings with three or four of them together. One was behind my dad’s office on California Avenue (he’d moved by then from A Street in Sparks). Three of his friends who were “orthopods” according to dad bought an old barracks from the Army that had been on East Second Street by Washoe General Hospital, and moved it to the northwest corner of Marsh Avenue and Humboldt Street [it’s still there]. Their names were Jim Herz, an old Sigma Nu; Jack Sargent, and Bill Teipner. They called it the Reno Orthopedic Clinic. They were great guys, all; fine historians, Herz the curator of an incredibly-complete photographic history, and Teipner, a golfer with “million-dollar hands as a surgeon, and a four-bit backswing as a golfer.” Teipner performed the first hip-replacement surgery in Nevada.

And 50 years later, a member of their nascent clinic – Pete Althausen, one of the foremost hip surgeons in the world now, would give me a new femur/hip bone. Pretty neat, huh? And the little clinic has a hundred employees in four locations now. (Of course, I didn’t know all this then….)

Many of these one-room doctors found their ways into our lives – Dr. T. C. Harper on West Second Street did the employment physicals for almost every business in Reno and Sparks. He aforementioned Frank Russell was the Mighty S.P. Railroad’s doc. Dr. Roland Stahr was a good guy; had an office at the dead south end of Sierra Street (originally Granite!) that got hit by cars a half-dozen times until Sierra Street was swooped around to join with Plumas Street south of California Avenue.  Doc Stahr was a good guy.

To wrap this up and go out and play in Whitaker Park where I see my buddies gathering, I’ll mention a doctor I remember – he lived four doors from our house – whose name I’ll skip out of deference to his family who might read this, a doctor who I’m told three times a year I should write a column about. I haven’t in print, but will make brief mention on a website. I don’t need to be told much about it. We came home from Lake Tahoe one 1954 summer Sunday to a host of cop cars and vans in front of the doctor’s sumptuous house in Northwest Reno. Seems that his wife was found in a bathtub, a possible drowning victim. Whoops; a number of her bones in the neck were broken. Murdered. This sort of thing didn’t happen in 1954 Reno, and traffic up our lazy street was incessant for a week.

The doctor went to the state prison. But lo; in college, possibly 10 years later, I’m pumping gasoline for Standard Stations in Kings Beach.  A man in a fine car comes in; I fuel it up and he hands me a Chevron credit card. I glanced at it – yikes – I’d just pumped that doctor’s car full of Supreme.

Ten years later. Enough – come back in while, we’ll stroll the old streets once more….

 

 

June 8 • The “kid” gets professional help

…how it all began

Welcome to the six-year-old kid’s collection of early Reno memories. The “kid” is indisposed this week and has asked me to forego the HIPAA restrictions of a doctor-patient relationship, and craft a message to explain a current dilemma in his life. I hope the reader will understand.

 Permit me to introduce myself; my name is Dr. Wenxiu Wlodarczyk, earlier of MadScientistPrague, Czechoslovakia and presently domiciled in Reno, Nevada. I am engaged in the practice of child psychology, having received a Doctorate in Child Nueroses from the University of Prague prior to World War II, and an advanced degree following the war from The University of Southern North Dakota. I have come to America under the Tillotson Act as a refugee, escaping a brutal relationship with the diva of the Vanemuine Ballet in Estonia, who is as most Estonian divas in the 22.8 stone (320 pound) range with a foul temper and a crappy cook to boot.

 I am happily living in the Belmont Apartments facing California Avenue, and maintain a psychology practice at One East First Street in the First National Bank building, on the top, third, floor. It is right across the street from the new hotel that the Mapes family is building. I also have a relationship with Mr. Sam Ginsburg in his appraisal business here in this building, and work closely with Dr. Randall Ross of the Reno School District at the Babcock Building with all those little nutsos in the school system. I am licensed to sell automobiles in Nevada with Pio Mastrioanni, am the duly empowered Consulate to the admiralty of Estonia by President Truman, and play fourth-chair cello with Dr. N. A. “Tink” Tinkham with the Reno Municipal Band. I was first chair cello prior to WWII with the Philharmonisches Staatorchester Mainz in Prague until our symphony was decimated by the bomb from a Luftwaffe music critic.

 I am in a relationship with one of the elevator operator ladies of the bank building, who, like the elevator operator in the Medico-Dental Arcade next door, is short in stature, as am I. I am 1.37 meters (4’6”) tall, tall for an Estonian cello player.

 Now then, to my treatment of young master Breckenridge. He came to me voluntarily, and told me in the greatest of confidence that while other six-year olds are content to blow up outhouses, fill paper bags with cow-manure, light them and ring a person’s doorbell and watch him stomp out the bag, move park benches around and other childish activity, he enjoys writing. But – he started writing as if school was starting in 1946, and has attempted to maintain a chronology, speaking only of what is known as of the time it’s written, and maintaining a time-of-year…lately he’s been writing of school starting at Mary S. Doten School which happens in September, but all the while it’s spring in Reno and his writings should be of summer. And some in a time-frame after 1946 – maybe later in his short life.

 He is bothered by this, and came to me, as a noted local child shrink, for my guidance and advice. I am working basically for free, for the promise of when he writes his first book about Reno, if ever; when he gets a paycheck from the local paper for doing a column, HA!, I said to that, and his pay for playing banjo in some place in his vivid imagination that’s going to have a Friday-and-Saturday Summer night “melodrama” – the place known as the “Liberty Belle” or something like that, so God only knows if I’ll ever see a nickel for listening to him babble.

 But, I told him, stick with the dream, throw the clock and the calendar and the seasons out the window and just sit down and write all he wants (I also told him that he ought to learn how to type!)

 So – if you ever see him writing again, throw away the time of year, relative to the past segment. Throw away the year 1946, or ’48, or whatever. Don’t look for any logic, is my advice, and you and Karl’s scribbling will get along just fine…!

 

    

 

 

May 26 • Making new friends, for life..

..how the story began

karlatwhitakerWell, we’ve lived in Reno almost two months now and I’ve started school at Mary S. Doten School down the hill from our house at 740 Ralston Street. My baby sister is almost out of her bassinet, and the little red-haired girl from next door has a new baby brother a few days ago. I don’t know this in 1946 but he’d go on to be a dentist in later life. But I’ll write about them later.

I was playing in Whitaker Park across the street from our house and a car drove up and a guy in a suit got out. He had a great big camera and asked if he could take my picture. I said, “Sure!” and he did, up against a tree on University Terrace with the Eichbush mansion in the background. He asked me where I lived and I pointed across Ralston Street to the first house  down from the corner. He said he’d bring me a picture, and then got back into his car.

A few days later there was a knock on our door just after Dad got home from work in Sparks. Dad went to the door. The man with the camera was standing there with an envelope. He started to give dad the envelope then both men let out a holler: “Bud!” “Karl!” They talked for a half an hour and Dad got him a beer and they kept talking. Dad finally  introduced “Bud” to Mom: “This is my childhood friend, Bud Loomis!” Dad said. “We were buddies before the war…” They talked and talked what seemed like all night.

It turned out that “Bud,” whose real name was E. Frandsen Loomis, graduated from Reno High like my dad did in 1931. Then he went to some school called “Stanford” and became a lawyer. He was a great fan of China, and went to China to be an advocate for American companies doing business in China.

But China got mad at the outside world, and in some year, maybe 1937, closed its borders to Westerners like Bud and threw them all out of China. Bud came home to Reno and brought a whole lot of Chinese stuff with him, Dad thought maybe “bootlegged,” whatever that meant. Bud’s love for China continued. He and his new wife Cebe took the old carriage house for the Reid mansion on Court Street and turned it into a Chinese house and they lived there. It was right across the Truckee River from some land that Bud’s grandfather Andrew Frandsen, a sheep raiser, owned. There were and still are some steps from the Court Street mansion criss-crossing the hill down to the carriage house.

LearBuildingAbout that time Bud’s mother, whose name was Anna Frandsen Loomis but we all called her “Dosh” later after the war, gave the land to her church and hired a Negro architect from Los Angeles to design a church. My family attended that church after the war, it was called the Christian Science Church, but my dad seldom went. I met the architect whose name was Paul Revere Williams when he visited the church in 1951 but this is only 1946 so I can write about that yet. Back to Mr. Frandsen:

Mr. Frandsen and his wife Cebe had all this Chinese stuff with nowhere to display it because the floods kept sweeping it out of their house. So they got some land from the Chinese people in Reno, for whom Bud acted as attorney, on the Truckee further east on Lake Street. He and Cebe would in a few years build a motel they’d call the “River House” with Chinese architecture and some artwork from China in every room. And they’d build a bar at the west end and call it the “Bundox,” a word he learned in China that meant “a remote place.” Bud and Cebe had more fun running the Bundox than he did being a lawyer so he almost got out of business.

Bud and Cebe had children, Drew (Andrew) and Del, who were about my age and we became good friends (they later had two younger sons). Del and Drew have both passed away, Drew killed in a theft of his automobile, but that was long after 1946 so I can’t write about it yet. Their cousins – Bud’s sister Mary Alice Blakely married Bill Blakely, another friend of Dad’s – were Jim, Janet and David Blakely who would also be my lifelong friends. His other sister Inez married Scoop Johnson an insurance man, and their kids also played with us.

But, this is about Bud and Cebe, and Bud’s mother Dosh. She built an apartment house further west on Riverside Drive, that Mr. Williams designed. And she ran the Frandsen Apartments on West Fourth Street that her dad built (he also built the Dania House, that later became the Reno Little Theater on Sierra Street.)

Anyway, they were my new friends, and Dad’s old friends, and became some of the closest friends of the family for many, many years. Dosh would take me in her 1951 Cadillac to get my driver’s license but that was long after 1946 as I write this.

And it’s all because of that picture that Mr. Loomis took of me, without even knowing who I was! Pretty neat, huh?

Come back once in a while and we’ll read some more about growing up in Reno. And the Blakely family and the Sala family and a lot of other stuff. But now I’ve got to walk down the hill to school. See ya.

May 18 • New wartime buildings all over the place

Nye

…how it all began

I’m back writing again, sure would like to learn how to “type” on a machine like a lady at our school has. School’s been going for a couple weeks now at Mary S. Doten elementary school a couple blocks from my house on Ralston Street.

The weather is really nice now, Dad says it’s the best time of year in Reno. Me and the little red-haired-girl next door have been playing in the park across the street. And there’s been a lot to see, big trucks going all over the place towing steel buildings around. Today they put one with a round roof on our playground at school. It’s called a “Quonset hut” – I think I’m spelling it right.

Dad says they’re all coming from a place downtown by Washoe General Hospital, an Army base called Sierra Army Depot. Apparently it was built by the Army right after World War II started, a few weeks after I was born. It was on a bunch of old meadows and fields between the hospital and the Truckee River. It grew fast until Quonsetthere were over 60 buildings there, mostly building made somewhere else out of steel and hauled in and bolted together. There were a lot of these Quonset huts like the one Mr. Bevelaqua and his two sons are hauling around on big trucks. Four of them wound up on East Fourth Street as a market, later it would be a good store for Twin City Surplus [below on the left]. There were square buildings also that got moved around Reno. Dad says if you drive east on the Lincoln Highway you can see a lot of them.

The Sierra Depot was built to fix Army cars and tanks and stuff that got wrecked in darrelthe war, and they would come to Reno on railcars. A lot of people worked there. They lived in a little village up east of the University of Nevada in little houses set in a circle that would be there 80 years later off Highland Avenue. Over 6,000 military trucks and tanks and stuff were hauled in and out of that base by the little brick hospital. After the war was was over last year the Army started to take it down immediately, and that’s why all these buildings are being moved every day. Two “barracks” – buildings where soldiers lived – were hauled to Ninth Street north of our home on Ralston Street to be a veterans’ center – Darrell Dunkel Hall they called it [above right]. That’s a funny name: “Dunkel”! They hauled a couple more to the corner of University Terrace and Washington Street for an apartment house, and one cut in half to the center of Whitaker Park for the kids to use for storing stuff and doing projects at the park. Apparently a lot of Reno parks got other halves of barracks. If one is a “half” why are two of them “halves” and not “halfs”? I’m having trouble learning how to write. So I’ll probably make a good reporter someday because my language is so crappy (I’m not supposed to say that word.)

TwinCityOne barracks went up to Little Italy that I wrote you about a month ago. It was for the Italian men that Mr. Ginocchio brought from Italy to work in the iron works on Chestnut Street. These little buildings went all over Reno and Sparks, all five of the elementary schools got one for extra classroom space, the University got quite a few of them. The hospital got a couple of the Quonset huts. In later years their first “computer,” whatever that is, would go in one of them. But this is only 1946 and I don’t know anything about “computers.”

Eventually, and it didn’t take long, all of the Army buildings on East Second Street were hauled to Reno and Sparks, and only two big Quonset huts were left – one would stay until at least 2017 beyond the hospital on the south side of East Second Street. That’s the last one.

Dad said the gates into the place were on East Second Street at Kirman Avenue, and the fencing ran all the way to a fence on the Kietzke farm. And the Army did a pretty good job of keeping it secret. There were no stories in the newspapers about it nor any photographs of it. It was a secret base right here in Reno, that 6,000 vehicles went through, but few knew anything about it.

And now the Bevelaquas are hauling it, building-by-building, all over! Of over 60 buildings, I’ve heard that over 45 of them were still around Reno and Sparks in 2000. But this is only 1946 so I won’t write about it. I can keep a secret also.

Aside from all that, life is good here on Ralston Street. The fireworks at Mackay Stadium are over for the summer but now there are football games. Dad likes 1946UNfootball and we’ve walked to a few games. Everybody is excited because the Wolf Pack’s new coach Jim Aiken is building a great team and St. Mary’s Gaels are coming to town. I got to go to the radio station last week and met Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Cafferty – he told me I could come in early some morning and listen to him when he went on the radio as “Cactus Tom.” I’ll tell you all about that soon.

There’s really a lot of things to write about coming up. Some new “diesel” train engines are starting to come through town and a new hotel is almost done right in the middle of downtown Reno built by a rancher named Mapes and his son, who Dad thinks is a hotshot punk. But Dad says the hotel will be the highest building in Nevada and will stay open for hundreds of years.

In my crystal ball, I can see Dad working on a giant haylift loading airplanes for cattle next winter in the snow, and a guy who owns a club downtown named Fitzgerald getting shot up by the railroad tracks. I’ll write about that stuff also. But now the little red-haired-girl next door wants to go across the street and swing in the park so I’m done today. See you soon….

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