A friend – LeRoy Goodman – writes about Beebe and Clegg in Virginia City

I enjoy your weekly articles about Reno and the surrounding
area. Keep on writing! About Beebe and Clegg, I had the
pleasure of growing up in Virginia City after the War. 
Beebe and Clegg would store their vehicles at my dads
service station/garage (Virginia Garage) and he would
maintain them while they were gone. Beebe always bought a
new Oldsmobile convertible (red!) in Reno every year. Clegg
had a Bentley which they would take to the Bay Area when
they traveled if they did not use the rail car. T-Bone
Towser (the dog/St Bernard) would go everywhere with Beebe
in the Olds. The back seat was for T-Bone only. What a
sight! On Hallowe'en they would have a huge bowl of pennies
that every kid could take a very large soup spoon and see
how many they could get in the spoon. You got to keep the
pennies ( 40 to 60 cents) Also, every kid got a very large
apple to take home. There are many more memories of those
two but I will not bore you right now. LeRoy Goodman

Bore? No way - thanks for writing, LeRoy - KB

On the campaign trail with Judge Bill Beemer

BeemerFollowing several pathetic attempts by ersatz acquaintances to get the names of some mayoral candidate hopefuls into this column, for whatever benefit that might be, I feel that the time is upon us to speak of the greatest campaign publicity stunt ever orchestrated in our valley.

            Shortly after WWII, an energetic and popular young local boy by the name of William R. Beemer decided that he’d rather be Justice of the Peace of the Reno Township than the insurance magnate that he was struggling to become. Accordingly, he cobbled together an aggregation of sterling 30-somethings as a campaign committee, my father Karl the Elder its chairman, and they convened. With wisdom that can only be acquired by spending an evening at Brickie’s Tavern on West Second Street, this august committee decided that ordering clear plastic magnifying glasses, their lenses about the size of a silver dollar and their handles embossed with “Beemer for J.P” would be the way to go to get their candidate’s name out to the waiting electorate (embossing “Bill Beemer for Justice of the Peace” would have been prohibitively expensive.)

            The magnifying glasses arrived a fortnight later, and relying upon further wisdom attained in yet another evening at Brickie’s, it was agreed that the offspring of committee members could transport the little glasses to the local schools, to be then taken home to the voting parents. I was delegated to take a shoebox full of glasses to Mary S. Doten elementary school on West Fifth Street, a Spanish Quartette edifice built in 1911 to serve as proof positive that 5,000 Reno kids could endure lead-based paint, asbestos and the school cafeteria’s bill of fare until its destruction in 1971 (it was a twin to the present Mount Rose elementary on Arlington Avenue.)  Magnifying glasses were also dispatched to Reno’s other four elementaries, to Billinghurst and Northside junior highs and mighty Reno High School on the Lincoln Highway.

            Even the median students in the slow learners classes quickly deduced that if the magnifying glass were to be held two inches from any sunlit surface, a bright pinpoint light would appear, followed by a wisp of smoke, and with dexterity and practice one could fricassee an ant, write a name in a school handrail or lunchbox, or get the attention of the annoying little red-haired girl right through the shoulder of her smoldering blouse. This scientific experiment was being replicated at all of the Reno schools by the hour of the afternoon recess after the glasses’ arrival and distribution.

            The Reno School District’s board – the Washoe County district would not be created until a decade later – from their lofty head-shed in the classic old Babcock Building on West Sixth Street, spread the word, “Confiscate those God damned magnifying glasses, pronto!” Good luck on that, Superintendent; upon learning that that seizure was imminent they all went into the back pockets of our 501s. For a while. But to the unbridled joy of the Brickie’s Tavern campaign committee, the local papers – the morning Journal and the afternoon Gazette – both carried headline accounts of this upstart young insurance executive who with malice aforethought was attempting to systematically reduce the Reno District’s real estate assets to rubble with these devious little magnifying glasses. Substantiating the mantra that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all, William R. Beemer blew the doors off his opposition and marched triumphantly into the J.P. chambers where he would serve for four professional yet hilarious decades.

  • • •

Justice of the Peace Bill Beemer was – at the time of his passing in 2001 – one of the most knowledgeable authorities of the lore of our valley that ever passed through it, his wisdom usually conveyed in an atmosphere of side-splitting humor. The Judge used one long-standing remark to close the many memorial services that he officiated. He would remind us in his clarion voice that there is no expression of a lasting goodbye for death in the Paiute language; the closest expression that existed for that sentiment was “…see you next time,” a pleasant euphemism for a farewell to a departed friend. He’d then recite that expression in the Paiute tongue. Those of us who had attended the many services that he officiated knew that that closing was part of the liturgy, and we anticipated its arrival as the final, posthumous compliment to a friend – the Judge bestowing that farewell upon them in the patois of the Paiute tribe.

            Having heard Beemer eulogize too many friends, always concluding with the Paiute farewell, I took the bull by the horns one night at a conservatively-libated Sigma Nu Christmas dinner. “I’d like to work your Paiute farewell into a column someday. Say it slowly in phonetic English so I can write it down.” (The Paiute language has no written form.)

            He paused. The assembled brotherhood waited. I extracted a pen and found a napkin to record it for posterity.

            Bill stared at the floor, then at the ceiling, as if it were Heaven. A hush fell. He then spoke softly: 

            “I have no idea.  I’ve never done it the same way twice.”

            Such was the humor of our friend, Judge Beemer. 

            See you next time, Bill. Have a good week, and God bless America…

text and Beemer photo © 2015 RGJ


Happy Bill Howard, The Nugget’s Flagpole Sitter


‘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


Some old recipes from the Washoe Medical Center Ladies League cookbook ~


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RenoAlsoCooks It’s a book produced by Washoe Medical Center’s Women’s Auxiliary no later than 1959, for Gov. Charles Russell signed the dedication. It’s over 400 pages of handwritten recipes, from local men, and ladies whose first names were all Mrs. (Except for Mrs. Norman Biltz, who used her own name Esther…)

Added Nov. 29. 2017: For more information about the Washoe Medical Center Women’s League, click here Tombola Days


Thursday day night 12/10, Mrs. Cavilia, who knows her Italian sauce, shares a secret above




Muriel Kafoury checks in on this Tuesday Dec. 8th, with some Crab Creole – whoops, crab’s a little hard to come by at the moment with the ban on in the SF Bay. But save the recipe. And here we have a Household Hint, and some artwork!



On this gloomy first Sunday of December we see a recipe for which I have no idea what it is, but have selected it for the neat penmanship and also because the contributor, Mrs. Norman Biltz, violated 1960s convention and signed it with her own name, which was Esther. Should anyone know what it’s for, lemme know. It appears to be for leftover fish



Saturday afternoon 12/5, good college hoops on the tube, cold outside, need some dessert for the stuff we’ve been cooking, here’s two from Leola MacDonald and Mrs. H. Lownes Jackson whose name I don’t know but she makes a mean dish of ice cream, load up on the brandy if you want



On this Friday, Dec. 4 I bring you with great pleasure two pecan recipes, not picon like we get at Louis’ or the Santa Fe, but nuts – these are from Cherry Luce and Hazel Herd. Go for it!



Thursday, Dec. 3, happy to bring you Gov. Charles Russell’s favorite chicken dish, a recipe from his wife. I knew her, sort of, as a child knows an adult; her name was Marjorie, and she was Clark Guild Jr.’s sister, Judge Clark Guild Sr.’s daughter, born in Yerington and a great Nevadan. Here’s her recipe, try it: 


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Wednesday late: Here’s a couple from Sen. Clifton Young’s wife, Loretta, and U of Nevada president Minard Stout’s wife Ruth (?)



Tuesday night, Dec. 1: This is a humdinger, which appears to be very close to Danish aebel skivers, which take the basic pancake to the closest thing to heaven at breakfast – if you’ve been to Solvang, near Santa Barbara, you’ve probably tried them. Bookmark this one, you’ll like it (it’s from Mrs. Thomas Harvey, known to many as Maxine!)



Monday night; here’s one for trout from Gilbert Vasserot. This was a specialty dish on the menu of his (with partner Joe Patrucco) Eugene’s Restaurant on South Virginia Street 


Here’s Gilbert! Gilbert!


Sunday afternoon, ‘Niners struggling, too cold to go outside much so here’s two more, from Mmes. McDonald (McDonald Carano) and Johnson (Chevrolet)   TOUCHDOWN ‘NINERS!!!


On Sunday Nov. 29, Here’s a couple, from Walt Tobin and Dr. (Bart) Hood



Added Saturday, The Ohio State beating Michigan, here’s a recipe from Harold Cafferata. Love his penmanship! And the recipe doesn’t look bad either…




Horsley on the Fun Train…!

FunTrainGordon Horsley, pictured at the right below, is a Reno guy, pure and simple, all over the place all the time, Reno High Alum Association, Harrah Auto Museum trustee, great taste in columnists. And drives a classic Dodge with an old Harrah license plate. He took the time to send this:
Boy you really hit home on the Sunday column.  I could write a book report on my ties with this one but I promise not to.
Some highlights….
Don “BoomBoom” Burke I first met when he ran the Reno Chamber office in S.F. and got the fun train started.
Jud Allen, (who hired Don),  his widow Glenda and my wife are the best of friends.
When the RSCVA was formed Roy Powers brought Don to Reno to be a sales manager for him
As time went by Don later came to work for me at the Kings Castle as a sales manager and was my best man when I Horsleymarried my wife in Virginia City.  His wife Carol and my wife were business partners in Convention Activities, a convention services company that my wife and I took over and ran for 30 years.  Don’s widow Carol is still living in Reno and another of my wife’s best pals.
The fun train is still in operation run by Key Tours out of Walnut Creek but not anything like what you wrote about.  TheyNouk charter buses from us now and then to get the people from the train station to the various properties.
Boy what a event when you got Don Burke and Don Manoukian [at left] in the same room or on a golf course.  One a 49er and the other a Raider.  It was a cherished  part of my life I will never forget.
As always Karl….many thanks for the memories..

Neil Brooks and Barrie Schuster write of Tony Pecetti

Tony PecettiThe lead is from Neil Brooks; it produced a comment from Barrie Schuster that’s so good that I posted the comment as a second part of this post. Enjoy!
Hi Karl. Your Sunday column reminded of a story from the past. In 1940 Model Dairy was inspected by the Reno Rotary Club and as noted by the Nevada State Journal the following: Eating in the barn where the cows are milked, members of the Reno Rotary Club enjoyed a luncheon yesterday at the Model Dairy as guests of Ernest Brooks, newly elected President of the club. Tony Pecetti furnished accordion music during the luncheon and Brooks spoke briefly on dairy activities. The luncheon was served by the Y.W.C.A., George Siri of Silver State Bakery cooked it and John Blum of the Nevada Packing Company furnished the meat.
Members of the club took the opportunity to inspect the plant. Hugh Herd presiding.
How appropriate for Hugh “Herd” to preside!
Enclosed is a picture on an envelope of the function and also a caricature by Lew Hymers of Tony Pecetti.
The above was from an old friend, Neil Brooks, who is one of the most prolific and reliable contributors I have. Neil’s family owned Model Dairy for many years, and he even got a street named after him, Neil Road. Thanks, Neil, as always; you make writing this fun!!!
Next, welcome please, Barrie Schuster, with more about Tony Pecetti:
Great article Karl. I am going to send a copy to Tony Pecetti’s niece in Nebraska. She is currently making copies of photos of her uncle for me. I’ll share them once they arrive. Tony built three brick bungalows on Mann Street (now Wonder Street) in 1925 .He lived in a tiny one bedroom house behind them in the alley for 45 years. I have been living in one of the brick bungalows for eleven years now and own one of the others plus his old house as well. In my quest for information on Tony Pecetti, I have been overwhelmed to find that nobody has a bad thing to say about him. He seems to be the most well liked human being I have ever researched. Nearly every photo I have seen of him shows him with an ear to ear grin. I wish I could have met him, but he died the year before I was born. Tony’s sister Katie married Philip Curti and they lived one block away in the brick “castle” at 137 Burns. Jeannie is the youngest daughter of Philip and Katie and she rented the house I live in from her Uncle Tony in the 1960’s. She told me that Tony was a man ahead of his time. He rode motorcycles in the 1920’s (Harley Davidsons) and filmed lots and lots of movies of everyday life: scenes from the old Reno rodeos, inside the El Patio Ballroom and all around Reno. She has most of them. I’m hoping to get them transferred to a format that can be shared with all the lovers of Reno history.

Bud Beasley


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day; The score stood 4-to-2 with but one inning more to play…

A cub sportswriter penned a ballad during his lunch hour one springBeas day, dropped it on his editor’s desk – “Use it if you want it” – and forgot about it. Two weeks later, on June 3rd, 1888, the saga ran full-page in the San Francisco Examiner and twenty-four-year-old Ernest L. Thayer’s Casey at the Bat entered the great pantheon of our national pastime, winning him an inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But it would be a half-century later that a true ballplayer would bring Thayer’s work to life, from memory and at the drop of a hat, in ballparks, team buses, Little League award barbecues, school classrooms and wherever else the Boys of Summer gathered (that not politically incorrect, but a collective for the girls and boys gathering for T-ball at Swope School through to AT&T Park because they love the game) – when Bud Beasley paused at Thayer’s words, But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said:, a delighted crowd of kids of all age and gender boomed out, Strike two!, for fifty years.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place; there was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.

RG-J columnist Guy Clifton penned a superb bio of Bud and I won’t even attempt to embellish it, but Bud was our kind of guy – our teacher, mentor and coach for 38 years of us strong at Reno High School, and in later life deeply involved in many youth organizations, a stalwart of the RHS Alumni Association, a bastion of influence for the Good Old Days club, and a fireball to the very end.

We’ve got to include at least one Beas anecdote: On the ropes while pitching at Sacramento’s Solons Park in a Pacific Coast League game in the 1930s, Bud returned a dinged-up ball to the catcher for another. He got it, but a couple batters later the new ball left the park on a pop foul. The catcher sent out the ball Bud had previously squawked about, so he returned it yet again to the catcher for a better one.

That ball eventually left the field of play, and the catcher threw out a replacement, guess what, the same bum ball Bud had refused twice before. Bud pointed to a fan high in the bleachers above first base and threw the offending ball to the lucky guy for a souvenir. The ump sternly summoned Bud to home plate to render an admonishment, and Bud recalled that he, the umpire, the catcher, and the batter all struggled to keep a straight face for the benefit of the crowd and the dignity of baseball. Such became our sport whenever he was in the vicinity.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt; Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

On Bud’s ninetieth birthday he visited Bud Beasley Elementary School – a gathering crammed with tykes agog over seeing the real Bud Beasley, right here in their multipurpose room. I think he spoke to every one of them individually. Inevitably a teacher toward the back said, “Mr. Beasley, how ‘bout Casey?” and Bud, sensing that it was coming, as it had been in a thousand gatherings before, grinned and answered the call: The outlook wasn’t brilliant…

If not ten thousand eyes, then at least four hundred, grew wide as the smallish man, already in his later innings, wove the tale of Casey in the animated, vibrant way that Thayer could have only dreamt that anyone would deliver it 112 years after he so casually wrote it. And I noted not just a few adult eyes growing a little misty and that wasn’t from the chill December air.

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville – Mighty Casey has struck out.

There should be great joy in all the Mudvilles of baseball this World Series week, for we had the pleasure of Bud’s knowledge, wisdom and humor, on and off the diamond, for 93 years. We all know that Mighty Casey fanned in the ninth stranding Flynn and Blake in 1888, but last Saturday morning Bud Beasley was ruled Safe, at Home.

Have a good week; tag up on the infield flies and God bless America.

[Bud died July 17th, 2004]


© RGJ 2004




An old friend writes of Jessie Beck, (of the Riverside Hotel, not the school…!)

John White, my old Sigma Nu fraternity brother and owner/loving caretaker of the 20th Century Building on West First Street contributes the following, and I’m grateful to him!


jessie3Enjoyed today’s column, as usual.  It reminded me of the years when I was counsel for Beck Corp (I handled Jesse’s interests during the three way exchange – Pick Hobson, the Overland; Bill Harrah, Harrah’s Club; and Jessie Beck, the Riverside).

Attached is a blog about Jesse which, based on my memory, is pretty accurate. 
Every once in a while I read about some woman who claims to be the first this or that in Nevada gaming and it makes my blood simmer.




Jessie Howard, a thirty-four year-old divorced mother, came to Reno to work as a roulette dealer in Harolds Club in the late 1930s. While on vacation in Texas, Pappy Smith had offered Beck a job after he spotted her quick mathematical skills while she was working as a cashier. After coming to work at Harolds Club, Beck soon rose through the casino ranks, building a reputation for friendliness and good business sense.

Her third husband, Fred Beck, owned and operated the keno, poker, pan, and horse race book concessions at Harolds Club. Jessie took over the operation when her husband died in January 1954. She lost the lease to the concessions in 1970 when Harolds Club was sold to the Hughes Corporation.

Jessie Beck bought the Riverside in 1971 for $3 million and hired a staff of former Harolds Club employees who had quit or been terminated by the Hughes Corporation. She spent most of her working hours roaming the casino floor, sometimes staying as late as 3 A.M. Frequently, she took over a 21 game and dealt for hours.

Beck, who was known as the Gambling Grandmother of Reno, spent untold thousands of BeckDancershours and thousands of dollars doing favors for servicemen in Viet Nam and all over the world. The Award of Merit, the highest honor the Defense Department can give a civilian, was presented to her in 1968. In 1969, then-governor Paul Laxalt named her a Distinguished Nevadan.

On March 10, 1978, spokesmen for the Riverside Hotel and the Overland Hotel announced that Harrah’s was purchasing the Riverside so it could trade it to Overland, Inc., for that firm’s old hotel-casino site at Center Street and Commercial Row. Pick Hobson was licensed to operate the Riverside the following month. This transaction was favorable to all parties, because it allowed Jessie Beck to retire from gaming and Pick Hobson to get back into the gaming business, and it gave Bill Harrah the key piece of real estate he needed for the parking garage in his multimillion-dollar expansion on North Center Street.

Jessie Beck died on July 17, 1987, at the age of eighty-three. She was a lifetime member of the St. Mary’s Hospital Guild, the Washoe County Medical Center League, and the VFW Auxiliary, and she was active in the Republican Party.

Shortly after her death, Harold Smith Jr. said of Mrs. Beck, “She was a credit to the gaming industry, to Reno, to the state of Nevada and to all concerned. We all held her in highest regard. Jessie was a lady.” And Helen Mapes, wife of former casino owner Charles Mapes, described Mrs. Beck as “a very gracious person; a loving, caring, generous person. And she was a very good businesswoman.”

Here’s a postscript: I asked John if I could use this in the website and he acquiesced, with this nice short aside about Jessie:

“Jessie was a good woman. She had a nice place out by Virginia Lake, but often
(too often she would say) ended up sleeping in her room at the Riverside,
being too busy to spare the half-hour it would take to go home and come back.
She was often busy dealing 21, for if a player was winning what she
suspiciously thought might be a bit too much, she would take the cards and
deal herself.”

Source: Reno Evening Gazette, 31 Mar. 71; Nev. St. Journal, 10 Mar. 78, 18 July 87 (obit.)



Feedback about my Sunday RGJ column<

Back to downtown Reno we go

Lerude's Wigwam


One of the bright spots in taking walks downtown is that you readers always prompt the next few columns, and this week we’re finally getting to a stockpile of “you forgots” and “where weres?,” thanks in advance to phone books, Sanborn maps, Polk City Directories and newspaper ads and a few friends. And in the 1947 photo above, you’ve probably already noted that Sierra Street carried two-way traffic, by the black coupe pointed north.

            You forgot Bello’s Tamales, capitals optional because I don’t think it never really had a name, just word-of-mouth advertising.  The best tamales in town, out on West Second near Washington in an old brick house, corn growing in the back yard, chickens to the west, with a gleaming pressure cooker in the immaculate basement.  Father would travel from Ralston Street and place an order in the morning, picking a plump Rhode Island Red sunning itself in the side yard, then return, probably have an Acme beer or two at Brickie’s across the street, then take the tamales up the hill to home.

            A tamale always tastes better when you look the major ingredient in the eye on the morning before you eat it.  And the steel Acme beer can is worth more now in an antique shop that both the tamale and the beer were in 1950.

            Where could you buy a Willys Jeep, now in civilian production following WWII?  Why, at Steinheimer Bros. Studebaker at Fourth and Sierra.  And don’t confuse that with Wiley Brothers Cars, on Plaza Street.  Where was Dermody Appliance?  On Arlington, then “Belmont”, between West First Street and the tracks.  John A. Dermody went from Whirlpools to warehouses, and I’ll stick my neck out by saying that Dermody Partners is now probably the biggest real estate taxpayer in Nevada. You forgot Duffy’s Tavern.  Not really; we didn’t walk Commercial Row, between Belmont and West Street, where William Bendix tended the bar. Not really. The main fire station was across West Street, on the northwest corner.  Chief Van Meter saved the bell when the belfry was removed, and it’s now displayed on the corner by the new station on East Second and Evans. [This is obviously an old column. We might be one of the few town in the world to tear down a modern fire station and build a ballpark with the revenue and taxes leaving Reno.]

            You forgot Chism’s Ice Cream.  I could never do that, a popular, longtime Reno family’s business on West Street, next to 7-Up Bottling in the attractive modern glass-fronted building. What does 7-Up stand for? I don’t know, but I’m sure a reader will tell us. [None did.]

            Faithful reader [the late] Kellene Gallagher asked once about the USO clubs; one venue they used was the Tropics on Center Street, which I think I tangled up in one column with the Palm Saloon on Lake Street (in Bill Fong’s casino), and got away with.

            You forgot Reno Mercantile, better know as Reno Merc.  No, we wrote earlier that it was on the southeast corner of Sierra Street and Commercial Row, in the oldest commercial building in Reno. And I didn’t even get challenged for that statement; the Masons built it in the 1870s. Landa Electric? On West Street south of the tracks – once upon a time if your clock or mixer would quit you’d take it to Landa Electric to be repaired. Once upon a time a clock or a mixer could be taken apart and fixed – now they’re molded in one piece and we buy a new one. If it was a big motor, we’d take it to Brown-Milbery, then on Sierra, now on Gentry Way, (known then as Airport Road – couldn’t resist throwing that bon mot in…)

            The one person in town who remembers T.D. Tuthill Inc. asked me where it was.  Never heard of it, but finally found it in mid-block on West Fourth Street next to Ruth Ryan’s Dance Academy. Fine little lady, Ruth was; many remember her brother-in-law, Gordon Sampson, a much-decorated stuffy Canadian of great swagger who was the president of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad at the time it suspended operation, which was either an honor or a career-ender, depending on your point of view. Wrote his own flowery obit. His life would make a good column for my RG-J compadres who write about people. I’m a street guy.

            An argument, and glad it came up because others might have noted it also: “The California Market was on California Avenue, not North Virginia Street as you wrote.” You’re right; there were two California Markets, one downtown, the other at California and Lander (now My Favorite Muffin) but in its day it was actually named the California Avenue Market. My father worked at the market – rode a bike delivering groceries to the residents of that neighborhood. George Minor opened it, Charlie Bradley and Fred Antoniazzi owned it later.

            You forgot the Bundox.  OK, OK – that great restaurant and bar, where not a few business deals were cut, was opened by the late attorney E. F. “Bud” Loomis and his wife Cebe, and stocked with Chinese artifacts that Bud brought out of China when it was closed to Westerners before WWII (he had been overseas as an Envoy to China.)  Another great story for a people-writer.  He also owned the Oriental-influenced River House Motor Lodge. [And you can use the “search” window below to find a story about the Bundox.]   

            Roy Stagg’s Roaring Camp?  Across East First Street from the Bundox, much earlier.  Next to the Reno Bus Lines terminal and shop. 

• • •

I’ve quite a few inquiries left over – If yours didn’t get addressed, be patient.

            Next Saturday we might return to Sparks – one of the most respected and meticulous railroad historians in our valley, Dale Darney, contributed information about the elevating of the Sparks Southern Pacific yard which supplements the information I used for last week’s column.  And I’ll throw in a little teaser: We’ll also elaborate on the call girls that Southern Pacific employed in the post-war years.**  Fear not; this is still a family column, you’ll get a chuckle…  Fly your flag on June 14th, and God Bless America. [Guess I should note that in 2014 as I re-post this, let’s fly the flags for Memorial Day!]

**and since you won’t see the sequel to this column, I’ll explain in 2014 that the railroad’s call-girls in Sparks were the ladies who would get on the phones and stick their heads into the bars and restaurants in Sparks, to get the trainmen back to the yard to crew a train they were assigned to. And here you thought I was writing about hookers…

© RGJ June 1, 2002



I’ve been saving some responses to Karl’s columns about the old days……here are a few, mainly referring to his piece on the Squaw Olympics and the Vagabond Bus.
Ty Cobb

Bill Rose:

I was thinking of our Squaw escapades last week.  In the context of “what are these jerks thinking of bringing Winter games back to Squaw/surrounds.”  There were so few attendees (I think at least 10% of the entire fan base stayed at Madsen’s Brockway house)  that it was hardly worth mentioning.  As you allude to — can you imagine what kind of a nightmare that would be in today’s setting? 

A couple of things I remember, other than getting into the USSR/USA hockey match — I know you remember the Russian hockey player walking by us as we piled out of the bus looking at us and saying,  “Nyet. nyet”!!   The other one is watching Carol Heiss doing compulsory figures in the open at Blythe.  I stood 10 feet from her.  Badges, badges?  We don’t got to show you no stinking badges.




Larry Heward


Thanks. I remember some of it. Do you remember the official hostesses for the Olympics? Michele and Michon Cardinal.

Lovely girls.



Sharon Quinn

Oh yes, I did have a pair of black Bogner ski pants. They were stretch and cost $50, my mom had a fit. My friend Joanna Quinn Darrow from Newport, also had a pair. Fun memories.

Dave and I drove to Squaw, parked in someone’s driveway, snuck through a backyard, crossed a creek and entered the Olympics and enjoyed the day with no tickets.



From Bob “Bubbles” Brown in Washington, DC


    Many thanks for forwarding Karl’s RGJ col on “Little known Facts About the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.” Fondly remember many locals–most Sigma Nus–such as Dorworth, Bosta, Ericksen, Wetzel, ad infinitum!


    However, my congratulatory e-mail to Karl did take issue with one fact, re: “Mouthwash Toni Sailor” taking more gold than anybody. My question to Karl was had he ever heard of a crazy young Frenchman named Jean Claude Killey (see ’68 and ’72 Winter Olympics). I believe Jean Claude is the guilty party!  [NOTE TO BUBBLES FROM KARL: KILLY AND SAILOR TIED FOR MEDALS, I DISCOVERED; SAILOR ACTUALLY IN THE LEAD WITH ONE MORE SILVER TO ONE OF KILLY’S BRONZES. AND NOTE THE SPELLING! PS YOU EVER GET THAT BOOK I SENT???]


    The Vagabond Bus at Blythe Arena was new to me. Of course, during the ’60 Games I had a job of much lesser importance, as the chauffeur and gofer for the 4 top UPI correspondents covering said Olympics. But the job had its perks–a parking place 3 spaces from the front door of press headquarters at Squaw; the run of the International Olympics Press Club at both Squaw and the Mapes Hotel (which is Olympiceese for the comp bar and food station). I also had a ski pass for all of the hills, allowing me to go up on the downhill, giant slalom and slalom course to watch–up close and personal. I recall meek and sweet Joan Hannah, a USA alpine skier, on a tough flush in the slalom, hitting the ice, taking a nasty spill, and declaring–not for attribution, of course–declaring loudly “f—in’ bumps” prior to finishing her run.


    Your Vagabond Bus at Blythe did stir memories of my association with the Vagabond Bus: For instance, sneaking the Bus into old Kezar Stadium at the East/West football game, and using my press card to get back in, after parking the Bus outside. Also, a Vagabond Bus visit to the Mark Hopkins on New Years Eve. Also, the Vagabond Bus as an entry in the Portland Rose Parade. And, for a local angle, giving the Security Guard at the Gold & Silver a spin around Reno on a Fourth of July weekend, enough said.


    Some ought to write a book about these treasured moments in “The Days in the Life of the Vagabond Bus.”


    How did the “Three Tys” gig go. I would liked to have been present, because I have many fond memories of “Georgia Peach” stories that your dad shared with me.


    I enjoy your col in the RGJ; gives me better insight–from a real expert–on foreign affairs. Keep in touch. Happy New Year!!!


        Bob Brown (in Washington)


From Allan Myer in Connecticut:

Yea while you were f~~ing around at the Olympics I was protecting your ass at Ft. Bragg.  


From Len Baldyga in Chicago:

Ty. Tsk, tsk. We used to use the same method to get into movie theaters in Chicago in the old, old days where the concession stands were outside the theater. I also had a press pass for the Chicago Bears and then Chicago Cardinals football teams representing the suburban Berwyn Beacon newspaper except the paper had been closed for more than a year. In preparation for this year’s U.S./Russia game my wife and I watched the “Miracle” about the Lake Placid game. Good flick. Cheers.Len

Triggers a lot of dusty memories! Thanks for sending it, Ty.



And this from Jackson Stephens:


I’ll bore you with only one personal incident that this piece brought up:

Fifty-one years ago next month my only child drew his first breath at

St Mary’s.  At that time fathers were not allowed to be present at the

birth, so I spent the night like George Gobel pacing the hallways (without

his copy of War and Peace, however) until Kris’ triumphant emergence.

By the time our new little family of three was united, and mother and

child were sleeping, it was close to noon and I was starving.  How

could a proud new father celebrate the birth of his first child in style?!

I chose the $2.95 “La Favorita” (taco, enchilada, chile relleno, rice

and beans) at Miguels on South Virginia.  I can’t remember whether

he showed me all his “flying saucer” pictures again or not.

I recollect two key guys opening the gates to free entrance: a very alert security guard named Ed Aimone and a high ranking ROTC cadet named Whitney Brown.

Ted Schroeder

My mom was the interpreter for the Finnish ski team for the Squaw Olympics, so we did get in with passes. The one fellow I met (Kalevi Hamalainen) won the gold medal in the cross-country. It was pretty cool to walk around with him, even if I didn’t speak Finnish.

Joanne Pollastro Walen