November 5 – Selling houses after WWII

KitCarsonHotelWell, we got through Nevada Day and Hallowe’en so I’ll write a little more. I should mention here that some grownups got on my case because they couldn’t find some of the stuff I’ve written in the past, so I’ll make it easy. Below these writings on the last sheet of paper I print ‘a writer’s vignette’ and if you ‘click’ on that, whatever that means in 1947, all my older stuff will come up together and you can just scroll around, find something you want to read if there’s anything like that here, and enjoy. There’s also a ‘search box’ on the bottom of my binder paper and if you write something you want to read about in the search box and ‘click’ on it, all the similar stuff may open in the binder.

Grownups have asked me why last Super Bowl Sunday when I started writing, or for that matter a decade ago when I ‘posted’ all these stories, why I didn’t do a better job of cataloguing and indexing my ramblings. The simple answer is that I’m only six years old and didn’t know any better, plus I didn’t expect it to last very long anyway. If you’re looking for something I’ve written about in the Gazoo or here or any other site email me and I’ll see if I can find anything to help you. Email, whatever that is, is kfbreckenridge@live.com  .

Anyhow, this morning I’m writing about the job that Dad got when he got back to Reno after WWII, working for Charles Skipper as a real estate man. (He worked in a shipyard in Richmond, where I spent the first five years of my life.) Now I’m six, going to Mary S. Doten School and live on Ralston Street across from Whitaker Park.

Dad takes me on Saturday mornings to what his friends call the ‘multiple listing QneQservice.’ They meet at a little diner on South Virginia and Stewart Street, and trade descriptions of the new houses that they’ve ‘listed’ this past week. The number of bedrooms, whether it has a sewer or a septic tank, two bathrooms on some of the bigger ones but not too many houses in Reno or Sparks have more than one bathroom . They put whether the houses have coal or oil heat, and a few of the newer ones in Sparks with gas heat from the gas retort at East Sixth and Alameda Street (in a few years they’d change that to ‘North Wells Avenue.’) The men told each other how to show the house, where the key was hidden, and what furniture or automobiles went with the home. A lot of houses were sold ‘furnished’ and cars frequently were part of the sale. They’d write down what ‘escrow company’ the owners wanted to use. And who owned the house – in 1946 most homes were owned by ‘John Doe et ux’, for the wives’ names were seldom on the homes’ titles (nor the loans!)

PolaroidDad bought a brand-new camera for his real estate work, called a ‘Polaroid’ that would make a picture of a house for his friends. One of their problem was making enough copies of the information, because there were probably 25 real estate men in town and a good typewriter would only make about six or seven carbon copies, so they had to type these ‘listings’ two or three times. Dad’s new Polaroid camera was stolen in 1948, but the guy who stole it wasn’t too smart and hocked it in San Francisco. His problem was that there were so few Polaroid cameras in existence this one stood out to the cops in San Francisco so they caught the thief and Dad got his camera back.

I made a lot of friends at these ‘multiple listing’ meetings, the children of the real estate men – John and Jimmy Gibbons’ mom was a real estate lady, one of the few inJimGibbons Reno or Sparks, and had to change her name from Matilda to Mat Gibbons so people wouldn’t know that they were calling a woman broker. I got Jimmy’s picture in here somewhere.  In the same token Marilyn Harvout, who drove here big sedan by Braille, used ‘Merlyn’ on her signs. My dad’s number was 9195. In NewUnderwoodabout 60 more years I’d give that old phone to my friend Emerson Marcus. Emerson sent me a picture of that phone taken in 2017 with an old typewriter I got in a hock shop in Oakland. (Emerson, of course, wouldn’t even be born for about 50 more years!)

Another little friend was Dee Garrett, whose dad Bill Garrett was a real estate man. \And one of Dad’s best buddies Gene LaTourette had a son John. We all used to play together while our fathers met at the Q-ne-Q, on the front lawn of the Kit Carson Hotel across Virginia Street, which I understand later became the parking lot for a hotel called the Ponderosa, and even later a strip shopping center. (The Kit Carson Hotel is pictured above)

This might be more than anyone wants to read about the real estate business, but unless somebody objects too much I’ll write on another day about all the lady real estate agents in Reno and Sparks getting together in the ‘Trocadero Room’ of a new hotel downtown called the El Cortez, the tallest hotel in Nevada right now. They ElCortezgathered to learn how to survive in the real estate business and get along with men like George Probasco, Wes Weichman, the Novelly brothers and the Ramsay brothers who were building the new houses, and the banks and savings and loans where people got their money to buy the houses. Right now it’s hard for a woman to stay in the real estate business so a trainload of ladies came up to Reno to meet and show them how to get along. I’ll ignore what Dad said about that, or what Mom said about Dad. In a few years they’d name their group the ‘Womens Coucil of Realtors.’ But not now yet.

Speaking of Dad, he says I’m going to get my tiny ass in a sling, whatever that means, for not telling people where I’m stealing these pictures for this journal. Most of the photos you see are from the Nevada Historical Society, the one of the Kit Carson Hotel is supposedly from the University of Nevada Special Collections, although it’s been on calendars and documents for many  years. The painting of the Q-ne-Q is by Hilda (Hildegard) Herz, of the Herz Jewelers family, who was quite an accomplished artist in her day. I’ve written about her before, and am proud to include her art in this column.

And that pretty much wears me out for now. Soon I’ll write of the ladies with the furSuffragettes coats, feather boas and hatchets gathering at the Troc to show the men who’s boss! Come back and read that, or whatever comes to my mind next….

 

 

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Let’s go bowling….

BowlingShirtI walked into the Nevada Historical Society earlier this week in my vermillion shirt with the black short sleeves, Sascha the Hamm’s Beer bear embroidered on one pocket, “Walker & Melarkey’s Flying A” across the back and the shirt-tail hanging out. NHS head librarian Mike Maher looked up.

            “Writing about bowling next Sunday are we, Karl?” he asked, laconically. I replied in the affirmative and descended into the abyss of the microfilm grotto.

For the king of old bowling alleys, we’ll focus on the YMCA, then located in downtown Reno on East First Street between Virginia and Center. The earliest reference I could find about bowling in Reno was in a March 1909 Nevada State Journal, and not in the sports section but the society page – bowling was fast becoming an acceptable diversion for young ladies, nationally and here in our valley. “Clubs,” which I surmise we now call “leagues”, were forming in town. And Thursday evenings were now reserved for ladies at the Y, which was open for bowling every night but Sunday.

Print references are scarce for quite a number of years following 1909; the Downtown Bowl at 130 North Center Street pops up in a few sports pages’ references to tournaments. But, in the April 19, 1937 Reno Evening Gazette, pay dirt: We read of the phenomenal new “Reno Recreation Palace” ballyhooed on South Virginia at Ryland. I was unfamiliar with that stately pleasure dome, and opened a Sanborn map expecting to see eight or 10 city blocks devoted to civic revelry. But I found only a bowling alley we knew as the Reno Bowl, which adjoined a theater we knew as the Tower Theater. A movie theater in the same building as a bowling alley is a specious use of space, sound-wise – many of us recall a dashing and tuxedoed Errol Flynn sweeping a gowned Maureen O’Hara off her Guccis on the Lido deck of a luxury liner; violins soaring, the full moon on high dancing on the liner’s wake as the palm-lined island faded into the background on the Tower’s silver screen.

Contemporaneously as Errol planted a major lip-lock on Maureen, a bowling ball on the other side of the paper-thin wall crashed into the pins to complete a turkey as the inebriated keglers in the Reno Bowl bellowed and whooped and high-fived each other. Romance may not be dead, but at the Tower Theater it was frequently in ICU.

Electric Pinsetters? Ye gods; what’s next…

 On downtown Sparks’ B Street/Lincoln Highway/Highway 40 (and now Victorian Avenue) from Home Furniture’s new Sparks store – now Rail City Casino – and next door to the Elbow Room, where that wasn’t sawdust on the floor but last night’s furniture, came a new, post-war bowling alley. The Sparks Bowlarium opened on Jan. 18, 1949 with eight, count ‘em, eight lanes; in 1958 the building would be enlarged and the lanes doubled to 16. It then had a real twist: automatic electric pinsetters – the kid resetting pins in the “pit,” working two or three lanes and ducking inbound bowling balls for all his life – would soon be but a memory. (It should be mentioned somewhere that the alleys then, as today, had cocktail lounges, food service, and at most, child care and dancing.)

 A long way out on South Virginia, almost to the end of Reno at Moana Lane (before Moana even existed east of South Virginia) Reno got its first post-war bowling alley. The Town & Country (now High Sierra Lanes) was opened in April of 1958. I’m stumped as to its original lane count; it is clear in both the Gazette and the Journal that at least some of that alley’s original lanes were taken from the Downtown Bowl on Center Street between First and Second Streets, which closed that year. (I mentioned in a column a while back that that building downtown was taken over by Harrah’s for office space.)

Back to Sparks now, just off 8th Street – now Pyramid Way – to the newish Greenbrae Center – another new alley opens in August of 1960. The Greenbrae Lanes featured 24 lanes. And my Sparks readers are probably wondering if I could possibly deign to mention “Greenbrae Lanes” without also scribing “Driftwood Lounge” in the same sentence. That would be a travesty I won’t commit – the walls of the adjacent and fabled Driftwood could probably tell more tales than all the cocktail lounges in Reno or Sparks put together. The alley closed, but the lounge is still open for business [2016-?], and we’ll give the Archueleta family a plug here and our thanks for the decades that they operated it.

Keystone Avenue was finally cut through northward from the railroad tracks and the Starlight Bowl opened on West Sixth Street near Keystone on Dec. 10, 1961. It’s been a winner ever since; when it opened with 32 lanes it was the biggest alley in Nevada. Sterling Village Lanes, toward the north end of Valley Road near old Bishop Manogue High School, opened on July 10, 1964; it closed in the 1980s and now houses a small market. The big Kahuna of local public alleys is now within the Grand Sierra Resort; before it opened in 1978 as the MGM Grand its 50 lanes were shipped to Reno and installed temporarily at the Coliseum (OK, the Convention Center) for a summer-long national tournament, then were relocated to the brand-new MGM following that tournament.

Another big bowling alley opened in Reno in 1994 but inasmuch as they won’t let me bowl there I can’t reliably write about it. But, on this morning of the Sabbath, know that the family that prays together, stays together; the family that bowls together, splits. Have a good week, and God bless America!

A postscript that arrived after publication: “My friend Tom Case reminded us that at the end of a night of bowling, a tennis ball slit halfway around its circumference would quietly roll out of the pit toward the bowlers. The unspoken etiquette was to put a few pictures of dead presidents into the ball as a gratuity, then return it back down the gutter to the pinsetter.”

And a post-postscript: My editor-in-chief Linda Patrucco told me that her mother, an inveterate bowler didn’t fool around with a tennis ball, she just rolled a silver dollar the length of the gutter to the grateful pinsetter

©  Reno Gazette-Journal  May 14, 2008

 

A story of Reno resident Mel Vhay

Reed/Sparks High reunion info here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Bill Howard, The Nugget’s Flagpole Sitter

Howard

(click the pic for the recipes) 

‘Twas in the year of 1955 that the battleship gray and black-and-green high-reach crane trucks – Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Bell’s respectively – set a spindly 60-foot pole on the north side of B Street in Sparks just across the street from the Sparks Nugget’s brand-new building, set guy wires to keep it vertical, and then lifted a replica of a shiny gold nugget as big as a Chevy Suburban to the top of the pole.  On that nugget they set a platform, and finally a canvas tent on the platform, then aimed floodlights up to illuminate it.

            The Nugget casino south of B Street was tiny compared to the Nugget of today; no I-80 freeway over the building, just B Street out in front doubling as transcontinental Highway 40.  No elephants; this was pre-Bertha.  Last Chance Joe had just arrived to keep an eye on the happenings out in front.  And pilgrim, did he get an eyeful as Happy Joe Howard, the last of the great pre-war flagpole sitters arrived to begin his ascent to the platform atop the tower on August 4, 1955, where he would stay longer than any flagpole sitter would ever sit.  Flagpole-sitting was a rage that died out somewhere in the 1930s, probably for good reason, but the Nugget’s then-owner Dick Graves, already well-along in the process of selling the Nugget to John Ascuaga, was a showman, attuned to every PR stunt in the book. 

            Howard soon became accustomed to life on top of the highest building in Sparks.  He became the darling of the local media and the West Coast scribes when his time on top of the gold nugget started to look like a serious attempt.  A month, two months, dragged by, the number on the base of the “flagpole” being changed daily to indicate the number of days he had stayed there.  The summer of 1955 arrived and the world was in turmoil, but local notice was paid first to Happy Bill Howard, so high above B Street, drawing crowds of people who would stop on the highway to look in wonder at how he could possibly keep doing it. 

            Casual visitors could speak to Happy Bill on a phone provided by Nevada Bell, from the base of the tower to his lofty perch.  Several times daily a truck from the Nugget arrived to lift a basket of grub – the best fare of the Roundhouse Room or an Awful-Awful burger from the Coffee Shop, maybe an iced pitcher of piçons from the Nugget’s long-gone Basque Bar, the day’s edition of the Reno Evening Gazette, and letters from his fans.  He had a radio, no TV.  For reasons unknown to anyone, a band of local idiots tried to incinerate Happy Bill by burning down his tower, forgetting that the Sparks Fire Department and Police Department were housed nearby on C Street then.  The fire laddies doused the fire and Sparks’ Finest threw the perpetrators into the hoosegow for a few nights.  

            Time marched on into the dog days of August.  The West Coast press still loved it, and afforded the Nugget the ongoing publicity in the Bay Area that Dick Graves had hoped for.  Happy Bill’s birthday arrived, with accompanying hoopla and a cake from the Nugget’s bakery, songs from the local media and fans. 

          And the unexpected occurred – Happy Bill woke up with a hell of a toothache one morning, and the Nugget summoned respected Reno dentist Arnold Johannes to his aid.  In a display of humanitarian emergency not one bit concealed from the adoring press, Dr. Johannes was lifted in a Jacob’s Chair-harness with his black bag of drills, pliers, wrenches, laughing gas and an Blue Cross form to Happy Bill’s side, to administer on-the-pole medical aid.  I suspect that the rest of the late Dr. Johannes’ career, excitement-wise, was downhill after that procedure…

            As the leaves turned to gold on the trees lining the Reserve in Sparks, the evening winds turned wintry.  Happy Bill’s reign over the little town was coming to a close, although not for lack of interest – the town and the media continued to embrace his effort, but the simple fact was that his flagpole had no heat, and the night was rapidly approaching during which he’d freeze his celebrated buns off.  Leaving on a high note started to become realistic.

            In a round of PR embraced by Reno and Sparks and the San Francisco press, by then including Herb Caen and Terrence O’Flaherty, Happy Bill Howard was returned on February 12, 1956 to Mother Earth by the same Nevada Bell snorkel truck that had set him atop the flagpole, 204 days – almost seven months – before.     

            Bill’s work on earth, or in this case above it, was done – his effort was vastly successful in putting the little burg of Sparks, known before by very few in the Bay Area as being a little east of Reno, wherever that was, permanently onto the map.  For his efforts he was awarded $6,800 and a sterling silver belt buckle as big as a penny postcard engraved with Thanks from the Sparks Nugget in a very public ceremony.  To our knowledge, he never sat flagpoles again.  And Sparks, whatever it been before that, was defined as a destination town; Dick Graves departing, a legend named John Ascuaga soon to arrive.  .

            I thank several readers for inquiring about Happy Bill Howard and inspiring this story, [the late] Fred Davis – the Nugget’s longtime (1958-1972) publicity director, Sparks native Don Stockwell – he of the ironclad memory, the Nevada Historical Society, John Ascuaga, Nugget executive secretary Nancy Trabert and publicist Beth Cooney for their help with this yarn.

© RGJ, a long time ago

 

OK, I GOT THE MESSAGE; I’LL UPDATE THIS SOON! KARL The old mom-and-pop groceries – we get mail…

Washoe_streetONE OF THE JOYS OF BEING A DRIVE-BY COLUMNIST IS READING SOME OF THE MAIL THAT THE COLUMNS PRODUCE, AND AS TIME PERMITS I LIKE TO GET PERMISSION OF THE SENDER AND POST IT – IT’S PRETTY COOL STUFF AND THE READERS HAVE GONE THROUGH A LOT OF WORK TO SEND IT, SO IT DESERVES TO BE SEEN AND ENJOYED! WHAT FOLLOWS ARE A FEW OF THE RESPONSES TO THE RECENT BOMBARDMENT OF GROCERY STORE MEMORIES, WITH A LOT OF INFORMATION THAT I’D OTHERWISE HAVE NO WAY OF LEARNING NOR PUBLISHING. E-MAILS COPY AND PASTE TO WORDPRESS IN A WEIRD WAY I DON’T COMPREHEND, SO IT’S A LITTLE MESSY…PERMISSION TO REPRINT HAS BEEN GAINED FOR ALL

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Sparks’ retired fire chief Don Young writes, 

“Karl, enjoyed your story on Sparks grocery stores. I worked for Kellison’s Market in 1949 or 50. I stocked groceries and delivered them in Milt Kellison’s new Ford pickup while he was flying a P-51 in the Korean theater. The manager was Elton Williams who went to Old Orchard later. The meat cutter was Marvin Edwards who later had his own meat market in Reno.”

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My old post-war northwest Reno neighbor Pat Randall checks in:

“I enjoy reading your columns regarding Reno’s history when it was smaller than it is now. I remember many of the markets in your most recent offering. I hope you will include Quilici’s in your next column. As I recall , it was located on the southwest corner of Washington and 7th Streets and three blocks from where I grew up. There was a butcher shop in the rear and out front was a manually operated gas pump. The gas was pumped into a calibrated glass container on top and then gravity fed into the car’s gas tank. My brother worked the pump and worked the hose one summer in 1947 or ’48. The building was old even then and the wood floors creaked when walked on.  I moved from Reno in 1955 so I doubt that the place still exists; but I would like to visit it again thru your writing.  Thank you for your work.”

I told Pat that Quilici’s was included in the second column, which was submitted but not yet published. She responded with an account of our old neighborhood: 
“I lived at 1025 University Terrace, just west of Canal St. We moved there in Oct. 1941.  University Terrace was unpaved west of Vine St. and ours was the last house on it. The street ended at our house. Keystone was called Peavine Road and it was also dirt and it dead ended at 6th St. next to my grandmother’s house. When WWll ended construction of houses in the area resumed and now my old house appears to be in midtown. My family name is Randall and most of us were born in St. Mary’s. I knew a guy named Cal Dorothy who lived near the top of Ralston hill across from Whitaker Park His mother ran a beauty parlor there at one time’
What about the market? Will it be part of your next article?”
I assured her that Quilici’s was in the mill. And the beauty shop t the top of the Ralston Street hill that she mentioned? Here’s my response:
“The guy at the top of Ralston Street’s mother was named Shermerhorn and my dad bought that house (740) in 1946 right after the war. He turned her old beauty parlor room on the front of the house into his office (real estate and insurance). We lived there until 1948 when my dad bought the house at the end of University Terrace at the corner of Peavine Row, which was still dirt. (Its address was 1095). On Christmas Eve of 1949 we moved from that house to the top of the Peavine hill to the southwest corner of Sunnyside Drive and Peavine Row, the only house west of Peavine (I think the street was paved then to the top of the hill.)”
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Here’s a note from Fred Messman, whom I know from a speech I made at a service club in Sparks a year ago. Fred writes:
“My first job was as a bag boy at the Food Mart across from Deer Park on Prater Way in Sparks, started in 1962 while I was still in high school (Reno). I worked at that store, owned by Tom Kelleher until he sold it to Ron Gardner who called it Food King. (He ultimately opened another store on the corner of Wells Ave and Ryland, now a liquor store I think)
While I was working at the Food Mart on Prater a huge new store opened across the street to the east called “Safeway”, today it is PEP Boys auto parts.
I transferred to the new Food Mart they had on Kietzkie and Vassar which later sold to Washoe Markets who eventually consolidated and closed it running their last Washoe Market at 1251 South Virginia (now an antique store). I left for Vietnam in 1966 and when I returned Bob and John Games immediately hired me back where I eventually became assistant manager and then manager for that store until just before it closed. Our phone orders were a high priority and I made many trips delivering groceries in the early to mid 1970’s.
I have many great memories about the bakery and meat market at Washoe Market, truly a customer friendly and family store where we would order any item for you if we didn’t stock it. The butchers were celebrities behind the counter.
I eventually used my GI Bill to get a degree in wildlife management and became a game warden captain with the Nevada Dept of Wildlife and retired in 2009 after 28 years.
Please feel free to use any of the information above, edit it as you see fit.
I have been reading your articles for a long time, keep up the great work
Also, I have charge and payment receipts from my grandmother somewhere in the closet, did a cursory check and didn’t find them, from Akert’s and a couple other corner grocery stores, they lived on Keystone and I remember as a child walking to the store to pick up the day’s food, then they were able to buy a first-class Westinghouse electric refrigerator and a new wringer washing machine (early 1950’s).”
Didn’t have to edit a thing, Fred!
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And I’m reminded by the daughter of my favorite third-grade teacher, who was Mrs. Conrad in 1949 at Mary S. Doten Elementary, whose daughter’s name is Carolyn Darney. Carolyn phones, because Carolyn will buy a computer and start e-mailing when pigs fly, that Brickie Hansen’s sister (Brickie owned Hansen’s Market, mentioned in the column) became the wife of Reno mayor Tank Smith. Where else would you get information like that, I ask???
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Next up, a Reno High guy named Rich Steurer:
“Hi Karl. I was reading with interest your column on old grocery stores
> the last 2 weeks and wondered why you didn’t mention the two I worked at
> as a student at Reno High.
> My dad worked downtown in the 50’s & 60’s, and was good friends with the
> butcher at Washoe Market. He asked my dad if I was interested in a part
> time job at the Washoe Market on 4th and Vine Streets cleaning up the
> butcher shop after school, which I was and worked there for a year or
> so. I then found a temporary job working odd jobs for friend of my
> dad’s which paid a little more than the $1 an hour. When that job ended
> the Washoe Market on So Virginia and Pueblo hired me there, again at $1
> hour. That saw me thru High School. Remember when they had sawdust all
> over the floors? Anyway, thanks for the memories, Rich.”
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Lynda Morris chimes in – Lynda is the daughter-in-law of the late Betty Morris, whom I mentioned in a column about schools two weeks ago (Betty was the popular Kindergarten teacher at Jessie Beck Elementary School, saddled with my two sons, among several thousand others. She was immensely popular, and I once nominated her (unsuccessfully) to have a new school named for her. Lynda writes,
“We certainly enjoy reading your column. The recent article, “What Goes Into an (Alma Mater’s) Name?” was especially interesting to me and my husband, Guy Morris. Guy’s mom, Betty Morris, was my much beloved mother-in-law, and we have always hoped that a school would be named after her. Guy and I both taught in the Washoe County School District for over 31 years, and yet we do not know the procedure for the naming of new schools. If you have any information or know how we can spearhead a movement to get a school named after Betty, we would appreciate that information. Guy worked as a school counselor at several middle schools in the district, retiring from Traner Middle School. I taught at Orvis Ring for one year, moved to Vaughn Middle School for five years, and then retired from Reno High School after 26 years as the head librarian. Two of our sons graduated from Reno High and we also find it annoying to see Huskie spelled Husky. Thank you for clarifying that in your article. Guy and I have only the best memories of growing up in Reno, attending local schools, and graduating from the University of Nevada where we were active in ATΩ and Kappa Alpha Theta.
“In your November 1, 2015 article about grocery stores, I saw the market listed that my father, Leonard R. Carpenter, owned in the 1950’s. (He came from Las Vegas on a football scholarship to attend UNR in the late 30’s) The Reno Public Market was a venture for him after he stepped down as the U.S. Marshal for the State of Nevada. He continued his employment with the U.S. Marshal’s Office as a deputy, but desired other employment and hoped it would be a family business for his dad and my mom to carry on. Although that did not work out, I have fond memories of the time I spent in that market during my childhood and especially when it flooded during the 50’s. Ironically, my brother-in-law is Bert Pincolini whose family owned Pinky’s. I believe much of the enjoyment we receive from reading your column comes from realizing how connected we are to this community. Thank you for your historical research and interesting writing and yes, God bless America!”
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Here now, Nancy Mull. Nancy refers to a Washoe Market on Wells Avenue that I’m trying to find. Thanks, Nancy!
Hi Karl,
I’ve been enjoying reading and reminiscing about the old little grocery stores in Reno.  My mother worked for Mr. Churchill at his store so it was a kick to see it mentioned.  As I recall, the store was narrow and had a wooden floor.  Very old-fashioned.  Fresh produce. 
She also worked at the California Market on North Virginia Street.  It was on the west side, close-ish to 4th Street, right downtown.  Southworth’s was a short distance south.  There was a butcher shop in the back and I may be wrong, but I think it was run or owned by a Jolly of Butcher Boy fame.  This was in the 50’s when a kid could wander around downtown safely.  We lived on West St. across from Central Junior High (maybe it was Reno High then), next door to the Jewish synagogue. 
Another grocery store she worked in was the Washoe Market on Wells Avenue. 
What a cool stroll down memory lane.  Thanks!
Nancy Mull
Here’s Nancy’s placement of the Washoe Market:
The Eagle Thrifty grocery store was across the street from the store where my mother worked.  It was in the building across the alley from what is now Lucke’s Saloon.
 
More e-mails may be added, if such arrive, if I get permission to use, and if they don’t rip me too badly for omitting a market. Which I did – sorry, it’s a space thing. 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial comes to the Hollywood Bowl!

HollywoodBowl                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Just testing to see if I can still make this computer work – the photo was taken at the Hollywood Bowl last night. On the stage is the LA Philharmonic, playing John Williams’ score from the movie (Williams, now 83, introduced conductor David Newman on a videotaped segment).ET_moon copy My overall review is that when Elliott rode his bike across the moon in that iconic shot from the movie with E.T. in his basket, causing 17,000 children of all ages to applaud and cheer, that for all the problems on this rock, life is really pretty damn good!

An update and newer photo of the Black Mariah in the old Reno Rodeo parades

the restored Black Mariah

BRINGING THE READER UP TO SPEED: LAST SUNDAY, JUNE 20, I WROTE OF THE BLACK MARIAH, USED AS A PADDY WAGON TO HAUL PEOPLE WITH NO WESTERN ATTIRE TO THE KANGAROO KOURT IN EARLY POST-WAR RENO. I MENTIONED THAT FINDING INFO OR PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PADDY WAGON WAS DIFFICULT, AND RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING FROM JOHN EVANOFF, A LOCAL HISTORIAN WHOSE WEBSITE FOLLOWS HIS NARRATIVE. HE ENCLOSED THE PHOTO OF THE BLACK MARIAH FOLLOWING ITS RESTORATION; NOTE THE LETTERING IS NEW AND DOESN’T COINCIDE WITH THE ORIGINAL LETTERING DESCRIBED IN MY COLUMN FOLLOWING ITS RESTORATION. I’M GRATEFUL TO JOHN FOR HIS EFFORT; HIS STORY FOLLOWS:

John: Here I am with the Black Mariah in 1980 in front of the Eldorado. I was the vice-president of the Reno Jaycees and the new winner of the Nevada Jaycee-of-the-Year award. We worked tirelessly all year putting the jail back together and getting the Mariah back in shape for this and many other events. The Reno Rodeo was our most fun event though. We gave out Reno Jaycee Rodeo garters for a $1 or more donation to get out of our fun jail. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken next to the Mariah or while they were in the jail. Our Kangaroo Court enlisted the help of anyone who wanted to enjoy the chance to be part of this fun event every year. We had as many as five thousand garters sold as a get out of jail donations to help many Reno/Sparks charities each year. During the Reno Rodeo Parade, we threw candy and pins to the crowds along Virginia Street and won Parade Honors annually for our contribution to the festivities. We even towed the Jail one year and had crowd volunteers jump in to be part of the parade, after which we gave them a garter for participating.

Responding to my request to reprint the photo: Yes, of course. The jail was in total disrepair and we bought the supplies to bring it back in 1979. We took it downtown that year with the help of my truck and parked it on Virginia Street in front of the Horseshoe Casino and then the next year began to move it to more events. I left the Jaycees in 1981 after six full years of service and a friend told me they had problems with getting a permit for the jail so they put it away in someone’s backyard. The Mariah had engine problems and was tough to keep cool after just a half hour on the Rodeo Parade route so we had lots of water which we added constantly to try to keep it running throughout the day. I think one of the guys tried to get it back in shape a few years later but it cost too much to bring back and so it was parked.

Check out John’s column for other interesting facts about Northern Nevada… http://visitreno.com/evanoff/index.php

My column about all this is at http://www.rgj.com/story/life/2015/06/19/breckenridge-black-mariah-kangaroo-kourt/28980431/

AND THAT’S THE WAY THE COLUMN HAS WORKED FOR 27 YEARS – I DON’T KNOW IT ALL BUT HAVE FRIENDS AND READERS LIKE JOHN, AND BIT-BY-BIT WE WEAVE THE TALE OF OUR VALLEY! THANKS, JOHN…

Bach’s “Shepherd on the Rocks with a Twist” pegged to headline the Reno Master Works Chorale’s Christmas show!

Sextette
We anxiously await the Sierra Nevada Master Works Chorale's Christmas offering next Saturday, Dec. 14th at the Nightingale Hall of the Church Fine Arts Building at the University of Nevada "How Great Our Joy." Our friend Larry Horning will be one of the leads, possibly in the role of the shepherd.

The doors open at 7 p.m. with a showtime of 7:30 p.m. Free parking will be available at the Brian Whalen Garage. General Admission is $20, Senior/Student $15, under 12 free.

This website has been afforded an early preview of the samplings of the music to be offered, including,

Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice,
an opera in one unnatural act
Fanfare for the Common Cold
Birthday Ode to “Big Daddy” Bach
The Abduction of Figaro, a simply grand opera
1712 Overture (often mistaken for a later work)
Toot Suite for calliope five hands
Suite No. 2 for Cello, All by Its Lonesome
Perviertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons
Shepherd on the Rocks with a Twist
Oedipus Tex, and Other Choral Calamities
Music for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion

(The program is subject to change by event night)
photo credit Richard Termine for The New York Times