Idlewild’s buffalo zoo – Jean Myles remembers….

California Building........Added Jan. 9, 2009: On another day I'd probably load this letter into the "Letters" webpage, but old friend Jean Myles writes so well that this amounts to a stand-alone column (hardly Johnny-come-latelys; Jean and Dr. Bob Myles came here to assist in a medical office and have been Nevadans ever since. Jean writes, in a response to a letter from Phyllis Adler that's already in the "Letters" link: 

Dear Karl, I dialed into "Letters" on your website, and had a few good laughs. We are "Johnny-come-latelys," having arrived in the area in 1958, however, I find that we can answer one question. Phyllis Adler asked ... "What happened to the buffalo in Idlewild Park?" The buffalo were purchased by the Frank Russell Turner, a descendant of one of the original Irish families who settled in Sierra Valley and owner of the Turner Ranch at the west side of the valley on Highway 89/49. In the mid-1950s, a friend learned that the Reno Zoo was going to destroy the animals, and let Frank know. Frank was interested and made arrangements to pick up the seven remaining ill-cared-for animals, who became the biggest family pets anyone had ever had in Sierra Valley. The buffalo lived a life of luxury and ease in the lush meadows of the Turner Ranch.

However, buffalo do not like fences of any sort. For years they roamed the valley, not paying much attention to property lines or fences. By the time our family became regular visitors to the Valley, there were only three left. They delighted our children as we often met them on one of Sierra Valley's roads. If they were coming towards us, always three abreast, we stopped and waited until they passed. If they were headed in our same direction, we followed slowly as they ambled along, hoping that they would eventually turn so we could pass. One day, on our way to our cabin above Sierra City, we watched in amazement as the three leaned against the post and barbed wire fence along the highway. When they and the fence toppled over, the buffalo rose, shook themselves off and wandered down the highway. The children were whooping with laughter as we followed them down the road. Occasionally, the buffalo would migrate to another ranch and a phone call would request that Frank come and get his pets. He would agree to pick them up the following morning, if the neighbor would kindly round them up. Horses are skittish around buffalo, and, herding buffalo is has been likened to herding cats ... they don't go where you want them to. They would ultimately be contained in a corral, and Frank would appear early the next morning to find the corral empty ... to the chagrin of the other rancher and to Frank's great amusement. After one or two experiences like this, the ranchers  became very aware and just called to tell him where they were. He would meet them on the road and talk them into the truck.

They loved to ride. When he got to the ranch, he would let the tailgate down and leave them until they decided to get down. If he could not find them, they would eventually find their way home. Their exploits became legendary to Sierra Valley folk, and everyone watched out for them. As age overtook them, they died off one by one. We still find ourselves looking to see them grazing in the meadows as we drive along Highway 49 on our to the cabin. Enjoying your news and views, and reminisces.

Happy New Year ...  Jean Myles [A sad footnote to a great story: Dr. Bob passed away in June, 2014….a good friend to all of us - KB] 4


A friend writes of Joe Conforte…


I have friends who write excellent missives, and this is one such friend and one such missive. I’m running it as-received a day or two ago, with my thanks!

When we first moved to Reno, we purchased a small Westfield Village house on Westfield Ave, as it turned out right across the street from Joe Conforte’s “R & R” house for the girls who worked at Mustang.   We were very new to the Reno area, and very quickly found Reno a very interesting place to live.   Several other physicians lived in “the Village” or had purchased their first Reno house there.  We became friends with the Rosenauer and Guisto families, who also lived there.  Many Saturdays we would have “chowder and marching society” meetings at one house or another, sharing meals and family fun. And, we became friends with “the girls,” although they did not join in neighborhood gatherings.  

Conforte often stayed at the house, as he did during the court hearings.  When all the hullabaloo was going on, Bill Raggio, who lived around the corner on the corner of Robin and California Streets, drove to work down Westfield Ave every morning.  One morning I was in the front yard with the children as Raggio drove by.  He waved and called out,  “Has he left yet?”  We thought it was rather funny, because Conforte usually left early, beating Raggio to the court house.  That day he had not left early.  When he did leave, moments after Raggio drove past, he smiled, waved and called out a cheerful, “Good Morning,” as he followed Bill down the street.  It was an interesting neighborhood.

The girls were quiet neighbors, keeping much to themselves.  There was one funny incident when their cat went up a tree in front of the house.  Firemen came, the neighborhood gathered, and, to the delight of one and all, especially the children, got the cat down.  As one of the firemen started to place the small cat in one of the girl’s arms, the cat jumped down and went right up the tree again.  We were all laughing, and the firemen allowed as how the cat could get down by itself this time.  “When it gets hungry, it will come down.”  Sure enough, it did.  
Bob came home one day, with a fifty-dollar bill in hand and laughingly told me the story of two new patients, a couple who had come in to his office for general check-ups that afternoon both dressed in jeans and well worn cowboy boots.  Bob did complete exams on both of them, including drawing blood for certain studies.  (Docs did that then!)  When it came time, the man asked what his fee was.  Looking at them and their clothes, Bob said, “Well, lets make it fifty dollars for the two of you.”  At that point, the man proceeded to pull out a wallet full of hundred-dollar bills, handed Bob a bill and said, “Sorry, Doc, this is the smallest I have.  Hope you have change.”   Bob had to go across the hall to Drs. Greer and Lanning’s office to get change.  When he handed the man his change, the patient commented, “I know you are young, but I sure hope you are as good as you seem to be.  This is a real bargain.”  The couple became good patients, coming in regularly every year for their check-ups, and often laughed about that first visit.  Margo Frye, Greer and Lanning’s secretary/receptionist/jane of all trades, teased Bob unmercifully after he told her about the two patients.  
That year we were invited to go out to Margo’s home, an old stone building on a large acreage on the Old Geiger Grade Road, to cut a Christmas Tree.  We cut our trees there for several years, until Margo retired and moved from the wonderful building.  Families would gather one Saturday before Christmas, each bringing treats of some sort.  Margo had hot chocolate for the children, and hot buttered rum for the adults after they cut their trees.  There was always enough for everyone who arrived at the house, happily displaying a special Holiday tree on the tops of their cars, hungry and cold after trekking around the steep hills.  Margo’s mother lived there with them, a delightful old lady.  “Mom” went missing one day when no one was with her, and was found some time later in a steep sandy ravine where she had fallen.  (I know that it was one night, possibly two.)  She kept talking about the big kitty that had slept with her at night.  Curious, the sheriff’s officers returned to the spot and found very large mountain lion tracks all around where she had been found.  Without the “big kitty” that kept her warm at night, Margo’s mom would most certainly have died of exposure.  She was dehydrated, and I think that she had a sprained ankle, but she was otherwise unhurt.   I would say that that happened somewhere in the early 1960s, probably before 1966.  There was quite a write-up in the paper. 
By-the-by, on your walk down Virginia Street, wasn’t Grey Reid’s just between 5th and 6th on the west side of the street?  
Jean, when we were walking last weekend, Gray Reid Wright was still on West First and Sierra – we’ll visit it in a column some morning soon…Karl
Love your articles.  Keep them coming.  ‘Til later

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