August 5 – A hot time in the new town!

KF_headshotThe little kid’s first post

I thought Richmond had had some hot Bay Area summers until we moved to Reno last month…boyoboy, this town can get warm! I had been warm for a week already, and last night at three in the morning our neighbor, that grouchy old bastard Dr. Somebody from the University of Nevada was banging on our front door. Fortunately Dad was up playing his bagpipes so he was able to meet him at the door.

Dad went to Sears Roebuck on Sierra Street and bought a “swamp cooler” for our new house on Ralston Street, actually an old house built in 1902, new to us. I don’t QQQswamp coolerknow why they call it a swamp cooler and Dad didn’t either. But he and our next-door neighbor Mr. Sala went down the hill and came home with the thing, they said it cost almost forty dollars. It’s a big metal box with slots all over the sides that has some straw pads behind them, a fan to pull air into it, blow the air over the pads, which are soaked with water. Dad went to Mr. Horgan’s hardware store on Commercial Row and got a valve and some tubing to hook to the hose bibb out in front, to get water to flood the straw pads.

They put the output side into the little bedroom in the front of the house where my baby sister Meri’s bassinet was, that was Mrs. Shermerhorn’s beauty shop before Dad bought the house. They plugged in the contraption, let the water get the pads wet, and turned on the fan.

Air, first warm, then cool, and finally almost cold, came into the room, and within an hour the whole house was cool and comfortable. Mom thought it was too cold and beefed. Imagine that…

It was 100 degrees outside but nice inside. Dad said that most houses in Reno and Sparks, if they had “air conditioning” at all, had swamp coolers. Some had some permanently installed on the roof. They were a good way to cool a house. Some commercial buildings, not very many, had all-electric units with no water, but they were really expensive to buy and run. Mr. Sala, who ran the buildings and grounds at the University of Nevada down University Terrace, said that in a few years most buildings and even houses would have electric air conditioners.

AwningMost houses in Reno after the war had big eaves on them, to keep the sun out more. And Reno was a town of trees, big ones, that made for a lot of shade. And most buildings and many houses had awnings, heavy cotton, often quite colorful and striped, that stretched on a steel frame that could be cranked up or down depending on the time of day. They were almost a staple (pretty big word for a little kid, huh!) on most homes and buildings. A friend of Dad’s named Mr. Quimby made almost all of them and did quite well. He had a big white house on Mt. Rose Street, the south city limits of Reno, on the southwest corner of Nixon Avenue dead-end. By the “Mapes Mansion,” Dad said Mr. Quimby’s house was much nicer, that the Mapes Mansion was a piece of crap. But Dad knew Mr. Mapes. And Mom got mad when he used that word. I’ll probably come back and erase it or she’ll be furious.

My new school at the bottom of the Ralston hill, Mary S. Doten, was one of four that were almost the same, that actually had air conditioning. It was a system that went back to the 19th century, where air that had been trapped in the basement for quite DotenPostcarda while and cooled was blown up into the classrooms. Those “Four Sister,” or “Spanish Quartette” if you read Mr. Van Tilburg Clark’s book “City of Trembling Leaves,” were known as the four most comfortable buildings in Reno!

Our cars didn’t have any air conditioning then, except for some really expensive ones. Many drivers did, however, get a little baby swamp cooler for cars, that one rolled up a window to QQQairconditionerhold on the passenger side, filled with water and plugged in to the cigar lighter, which all cars had. They worked really well. Our family would take a 1952 Buick across the nation and back in the summer of 1953 with a swamp cooler, which would get the Buick so cold we had to turn it offQQQwaterbag once in a while even across the hot Midwest states. Almost everybody had one of them.

The best air conditioners on anything with tires were on Greyhound buses, that had their own little diesel engines to run them independent of the buses’ main diesels. I’m putting the lady readers to sleep…

Dad took me to the coldest place in Reno that summer, actually in Sparks, a little railroad town to Reno’s east. There, two railroads, the Mighty Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific formed a company called the Pacific Fruit Express and had made Icehousea building to make and store ice for the trains hauling produce – mostly from California to the east coast, but a little known fact Mr. Swart told Dad, was that trains hauling strawberries from the East Coast to California had superiority even over passenger trains, who had to go to a siding to let the strawberry train pass! Pretty neat, huh?

The railroads built a building out of concrete on the south side of the trainyard that we’ll tour someday. It had some gigantic refrigerator units to cool water in big 46-gallon tubs to make ice, then they’d store the big ice cubes in another part of the building. A train with produce from California would be spotted by the icehouse, and the cubes spread out on some long planks, where men, lots of men, many U of N students, off-duty firemen and townsfolk worked part time to slide the cubes to the hoppers on top of the cars and be dropped in to keep the stuff inside cold.

When the plant was running making ice it was Sierra Pacific’s largest customer. It had four wells to supply it with water. It was built in 1920, and worked until 1958; of course I don’t know that now because I’m only a little kid. Dad took me in with Mr.Swart and I froze my little butt off when it was 100 outside!karlatwhitaker

 

Anyway, Reno was really hot that summer but I still enjoy living here. Come back in a while and we’ll get on our bikes and ride somewhere again!

Mount Rose School artwork © Roy Powers, used courtesy of Jackie Powers

 

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 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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May 7 • The Sunday in 1948 that downtown Reno burned

karlatwhitakerHow it all began…

Well, I’ve managed to get into the doghouse with a bunch of my friends because I haven’t been writing anything down lately. I’m on the horns of a dilemma, an expression my dad uses that I have no idea what he means. The problem is I want to write about some stuff that hasn’t happened yet but it’s still only the summer of 1946, I’m six years old and still live on Ralston Street. So I’ve decided to just make believe about some fires and floods and stuff happening about Reno and to hell with logic and chronology.

I keep thinking that I ought to pay attention to what’s happening around Reno after the war so that someday I could write about it in a newspaper (we have two newspapers in Reno, the Nevada State Journal that comes out in the morning and a separate paper the Reno Evening Gazette, an evening paper). Someday maybe I Pascuccicould get a job writing in one about stuff like this. And get some friends to help me; my friend who actually hadn’t been born in 1946 named Gene Pascucci (pictured) sent a little story about Mackay Stadium that I’m going to put up when I get this letter to you written. He always said he’d grow up to be a dentist…we’ll see!

Reno150Somebody said  then that when Reno turned 150 years old in 2018 there will be a big party. I probably won’t even be around then but I’d like to contribute something to the celebration if there is one.

One thing happened that was pretty historical, on August 15th of 1948 – Dad was mowing the front lawn with the push mower on this Sunday morning, Just before noon we could hear a lot of sirens downtown and a big plume of black smoke came from downtown, just east of Ralston Street. I knew it was a big fire, so I hopped on my bike and started toward downtown. Jimmy Doll and Johnny Molini were on their bikes too. We pedaled toward the smoke while every fire truck at the firehouse on Commercial Row came out toward the smoke. Boy, would I get in trouble for riding off when I got home. Maybe I won’t even go home…

It was Sunday morning, and people were getting out of church, all the churches were downtown then – St. Thomas Aquinas, and along Church Street west of Chestnut [Arlington]. Years later I’d count seven churches within two blocks of St. Thomas. And all had people in them, and all were getting out about the time the smoke started. By the time we got to the fire there were probably already 400 people there, according to the fire chief. And all were in the firemen’s way.

Santa_Fe_HotelThe fire was in a building on Lake Street across from the Toscano Hotel behind the Greyhound terminal, where my grandmother would arrive a couple times a year from her home in Petaluma to visit my mother. She actually liked my father better than she liked my mother and they used to sit on the porch of Ralston Street and drink wine and laugh ‘til it was pretty late (she was from Ireland, which explained that). But they’re another story for another day.

The fire was growing incredibly fast and soon enveloped the buildings across the alley south of the Santa Fe Hotel [artwork credit Roy Powers]. The buildings had been bought by the guy who was going to move the bus station across the alley from Center Street to Lake Street. The buildings were going to be torn down but the fire was doing a pretty good job of wrecking them right now. Then somebody hollered, “There’s dynamite in one of the buildings!” and the firemen and all the churchgoing folks started to run away. There was no dynamite, they’d learn later, but something did blow that building higher than a kite and scattered burning building and roofing material and metal and glass a block in every direction from the fire. It blew the windows out of the Mizpah Hotel across Lake Street, and some more buildings nearby. There were a lot of civilians injured by that, and I heard that St. Mary’s and Washoe General Hospitals called all their employees and doctors to work on Sunday, helping over two hundred people until well after midnight, with burns, broken bones from the walls falling, and cuts from the flying glass. The paper the next day gave their names and many were Chinese – probably from the Mandarin – or Basque, from the Santa Fe. Most of the herders were away on this summer day.

We were all skeered, ‘cause we knew we were in trouble for coming down here. There were a lot of rumors – one was that the fire chief had died. He was a nice guy, Mr. Evans, who let us kids climb all over the apparatus and slide down the pole on 1947 Fire ladderCommercial Row (I’m adding a picture of a brand-new fire truck Reno bought, an American LaFrance 1948 hook-and-ladder). But Mr. Evans was OK; the chief who died was Sparks Fire Department’s chief, Frank Hobson. And two other Reno firemen died when the explosion hit – Glen Davis and Earl Platt, who both still would have family around Reno 70 years later. Sparks had sent its two engines and a pumper to the fire to help, Sierra Pacific Power, the Red Cross, the Army Reserve, Nevada Bell and the airbase north of town all sent help also. And Isbell Construction and Southern Pacific Railroad sent some big cranes and Caterpillars to knock the brick walls of the buildings down.

The power company turned up all the pumps nearby to raise the water pressure which by then was falling all over town north of the Truckee. But the buildings kept burning, and the firemen worked mostly to save the Santa Fe Hotel across the alley and the Mandarin Café to the south. And succeeded. It took over five hours before the flames quit and it was overnight before anyone could even get close to the buildings.

When all the dust settled the next day, Monday, five people had died in the fire and some 270 had been treated, with 39 people admitted to the hospitals. Most of the downtown and the schools were closed. It would become known as the Lake Street Fire, or by some the Greyhound Fire, and would stand as the biggest fire in modern times that’s ever occurred in Reno in terms of injuries and fatalities, (there would be one nine years later* on Sierra Street that would do more property damage.) But now it’s only 1948 and I don’t know about that one yet.

The fire was put out; the burned-out buildings would become the site of the new FireMagnoliaGreyhound station, that building still there and now owned by Harrah’s Club. Frank Hobson’s flag-draped casket would pass in front of my dad’s office on A Street in Sparks in the hose bay of a Sparks pumper, and Johnny, Jimmy and I would ride our Schwinns back up the Ralston hill, where our parents, not knowing whether or not we’d perished in the fire, soundly spanked us for taking off to the fire. (I might add, as we had a couple weeks before, when the old downtown YMCA burned down, but that’s another story for another day!)

But it was pretty exciting. Come back once in a while, we’ll tell another story!

*Here’s the story of that fire that was nine years later

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April 19 • Fireworks at Mackay Stadium!

…how it began

KF_headshotSchool starts but it’s still summer in my new town of Reno, and Dad wants to go to the stadium at the university by our house on Ralston Street and watch the fireworks! They’re put on every Friday all summer by a night club downtown owned by a guy named Harold, so it’s called “Harold’s Club.” In a few years he’d quit putting that little comma up high between the “d” and the “s” but that wouldn’t happen until 1949.

It’s Friday, so dad and I are walking down University Terrace toward the university. Mom’s staying home with my sister Merilynn, she’s still in a bassinet. We walk past my friend Bill and Margaret Eddleman’s house and then around a big curve. There’s a rock wall on the south side of the street and no sidewalk. Just below that wall the Orr Ditch is flowing full. The wall was built a few years ago as a government project to keep men working after something called the “depression,” when everybody was out of work. I heard that they also built a big lake with an island in the southwest corner of Reno by the old airport that was turned into a golf course. We’re going to go to there someday. I’ll tell you about that when we get there. I’ll write about it.

But tonight is fireworks, and they are free to watch. We walk past Mr. Goodwin’s house, a friend of Dad’s who owns the Kentile floor covering business in Reno. He’s the president of Reno’s banjo band, and there’s about 20 guys out in his front yard playing banjos and we can hear them from around the corner.

We get to Sierra Street and cross it and walk down to Virginia Street. It’s the main highway to a town called Susanville. We keep walking to University Street, the next street, and go through some big granite pillars with dates on them, a gift to the university when every graduating class donated some landmark with their class’ date on it. Then we turn left and go up the hill into the university itself.

There’s a couple of cannon at the top of the hill, and two twin buildings, called Morrill and Stewart Hall. We keep walking up past a big grassy park about as big as a couple blocks downtown. Dad said it’s called the “Quad,” or Quadrangle. Dad says MackayStatuethe Quad copied a design by Thomas Jefferson for the University of Virginia’s campus. All around it are a bunch of old brick buildings where kids go to learn something. There’s a statue of a guy named John Mackay at one end of the Quad, put there by his son Clarence who also paid for the stadium that we’re going to, so they named it after Clarence when it was built in 1908. Then we walk past a building called Lincoln Hall where a lot of guys live.

Mackay1Then we cross a dirt parking lot to the stadium – Mackay Stadium – and go in. It’s all concrete steps like seats on the west side where everybody sits. And there’s no lights, so it’s starting to get pretty dark. Across the stadium is another grandstand for the kids that go to the university to sit on. Behind that, on the left side of the picture, is a “fieldhouse” where all the lockers and showers are for the ballplayers. It’s getting dark and everybody is excited about the fireworks starting to begin.

There’s a loudspeaker system that’s pretty crackly but it works, and a guy in a whiteHarolds Club Buick suit gets out of blue Buick woody station wagon with bull horns across the roof, and he starts talking in the middle of the field. And here my nose is getting long like Pinocchio’s because this is supposed to be 1946 but the Buick is a 1949 so I must be fibbing, but hey, I’m only six years old.

The guy in the white suit and Stetson hat is Mr. Smith himself – Harold – and he welcomes everybody to the fireworks show. Then RoaringCampthey play some music by some guys called the “Sons of the Pioneers” over the loudspeakers and make it pretty plain that he wants everybody to come to Harolds Club soon. Even the kids can go, because he shuts off gaming in the “Roaring Camp,” the name of his western museum, every Saturday morning between ten in the morning and noon, just so us kids can go in the museum. We can’t go other times because there’s people gambling.

OldMackay2The fireworks start soon and they’re really neat. It seems like half the town of Reno and Sparks is there in the stands on both sides of the field. The stadium is pretty full, and it holds almost 2,800 people on the west side seats. A lot of people brought blankets and are sitting on the grass on the football field. And they’re all “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing with the fireworks that go on for about a half-hour. They’ve been going on all summer, and tonight is the last night.

We get a Coke at the stand that some bunch of guys, Dad’s friends, run, the “Lions” or “Tigers” or something like that. I’d get to know them pretty well in years to come, because Dad got involved a year later in the “Friendship Train” collecting stuff to send to a town called Berlin somewhere in Europe that was blockaded by another country and the people were cold and starving. Two brothers named Sewell built a grocery store down the street, and loaned it to Dad and his friends to collect groceries and clothes and stuff. But that’s a year away so I can’t write about it yet. I’ve just got to grow up faster so I can write about the Friendship Train and the Lake Street Fire and some other cool stuff that hasn’t happened yet.

But, tonight’s tonight, 1946; we’re in Mackay Stadium and about to walk back home to Ralston Street.

Come back again, we’ll walk somewhere else!

(By the way, Dad says if I’m going to steal pictures I’d better say where I got them; some of the pictures, of old Mackay Stadium, are from the University’s Special Collections archives. I don’t know where they got them…)

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April 9 • School starts! Yippee… 


karlatwhitaker

From the beginning…

This is a big day for me. I’ve lived here on Ralston Street for five weeks and am finally starting school! The school is just down the hill but Mom says I have to take a ride from Mrs. Cook who lives up the street and is coming by the house any minute. We’re going to pick up Cecelia Molini (Pearce) and Marilyn Burkham (Bell) on the way. I had no way of knowing this in 1946, but I’d know Tom Cook, Marilyn and Cecelia for the rest of my life.

The school is huge, kind of a dove-grey building in what grownups call Spanish DotenPostcardMission design. It’s called Mary S. Doten after an old teacher. There’s another three of them almost alike; one over by the fairgrounds called Orvis Ring, another teacher; McKinley Park down by the Truckee River named for the president and Mount Rose a way out of town south on Arlington Avenue. Named for the mountain, I s’pose. They are all about 35 years old now. There’s another elementary school right downtown called Southside, and some out in the boondocks (that’s a new word I just learned!) like Brown and Huffaker and Galena and Franktown. Dad said that there are 18 school districts in Washoe County, Reno is just one of them.

It’s a nice school, I can see that as Mrs. Cook drops us off and cries about something, don’t know what that would be. The front is like a courtyard with wisteria and a fountain bubbling around the flagpole. The teachers get together and plant flowers in the beds. All the rooms have big windows, and there are huge white glass bulbs SchoolLighthanging from the ceiling. There’s a great big “auditorium” with a stage at one end, the room big enough to hold every kid in the school. Which is about 240 kids. Downstairs are rooms for the kindergarten, where we’re going, and a boiler room where Mr. Minetto the janitor lets us put our galoshes in the winter to dry off while we’re in school. Next to that is a lunchroom, big enough for all of us at once with benches and tables. Most of us bring our lunch in metal boxes with Mickey and Donald on them. We have Thermos bottles but they break all the time.

Our teacher is Miss Parker. She’s really cool. There’s two kindergartens, one morning and one afternoon. We do all kinds of neat stuff. Now I’m forgetting what grade I’m in as I write, kindergarten, first with Mrs. Smith and second with Mrs. Angus. I know in all the rooms are these old desks with tops that lift up for our books, a hole in the top for an ink jar, which we don’t use anymore, and a seat that folds up. There’s a bunch of them bolted together so they stay in a line.

Above the blackboard are letters, in some kind of weird cursive shapes that I guess that we’re going to learn. I still print stuff like I am doing now. We do the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning, and on Fridays we do the Nevada state song. We’re pretty good singers. And we’re learning all kinds of stuff, about Nevada, the other 47 states and some other countries like England and China. Mom always says we have to clean our plates because the people in China are starving. Her logic eludes FireMagnoliamy little brain but we keep eating. We have movies once in a while in the big room upstairs about ranching and farming, and some firemen came by once and let us play on the engine and showed us how to be safe. Some of the students from the university up the street called “fraternity” men came and sang to us. They’re really old guys.

We have “Bank Day” every week. Our teacher puts up a blue sign that says “Tomorrow will be Bank Day,” and turns it over the next day to read “Today is Bank Day” in red. Most of us put in a quarter every week and save quite a bit of money in a school year. Each year a man comes to take our classes’ pictures and we all are supposed to wear our good clothes and stand still on the front steps of the school. Looking back at all those pictures we’d usually see about 30 or 31 people in each class, which was about normal.

We didn’t know anything about it yet, but we’d have peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches with milk from Old Home Dairy or Crescent Creamery each day. I learned later that peanut butter probably killed quite a few of us at our young age but I don’t remember that. And the lead-based paint and the asbestos in the school and the mercury from thermometers that we all rubbed on dimes to make them shiny probably got a lot more. But our classes never seemed to get any smaller so I guess we were just lucky.

school busWe got to know the kids from the farms and dairies and ranches west of Reno. They came in on a bus every morning. There were also a few kids whose dads worked in the hydroelectric power plants west of Reno on the river. A fair number of our classmates’ parents worked on the ranches outside of Reno, and they would live with relatives during the week then go home to their families’ houses for the weekend so we didn’t see them. And there were quite a few kids – usually about ten every year – whose mothers were in Reno for a “divorce” which we didn’t know much about then – they came to school throughout the year and would stay for a while then disappear as fast as they came. I often wondered what happened to them!

We started getting into music and plays – some of us would “try out” to be a character in some show and get dressed up in some weird costumes sometimes and PumpOrganhave to remember what we were supposed to say. And we had singing, usually at Christmas, which we called “Christmas,” and sang carols to our parents in the big upstairs room. Miss Miller, the fourth-grade teacher, had a pedal organ that you had to pump with your feet to get any music out of. I was too short, but she played it pretty well. We sang a lot.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before we were all walking home, up the hill, through the autumn leaves.

My dad and my uncle John are building me a new bike, out of old bike parts because bikes were hard to get after the war. I’m looking forward to that, and soon I’ll be another year older so I can go more places around Reno and have a bike and be able to write down some more of what I’m seeing. I’ll try to take more pictures too…

Come back once in a while and read some more!

write the six-,  soon-to-be seven-year-old, at kfbreckenridge@live.com

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April 2 • Knockin’ around town on a Saturday

  How it began, click here… 

1941_chevvyI’m writing again, in my best handwriting, trying to practice as I’ll be starting kindergarten next week at Mary S. Doten, just down the Ralston hill from our new Reno house. It’s a Saturday morning; Dad and I are off in the Chevy to handle some of his chores, and I’m tagging along.

We take off on Fourth Street through town to Alameda Street. Across the Truckee to the south is the same street, called Wells Avenue because a rancher named Wells used to drive cattle up the street and across the river to the slaughterhouse a block west of Alameda. My uncle John, who just got out of the service, opened a Flying A service station on the northwest corner, almost next to the slaughterhouse. He has a nifty Harley Davidson motorcycle “tricycle” with a box on the back and his station’s name on the back of the box. My grandmother hates motorcycles and people who ride them. Uncle John promised me a ride on his Harley one time and my mother told him she’d kill him if he did that. Women I’m learning at age six are hard to understand.

There’s a neat little store across Fourth Street, Akert’s Market it’s called. There’s a fun guy in there named Ben, probably in college now, who wants to open a store that sells booze and call it “Ben’s Liquors.” My mom told me not to use the word “booze.” Oh well.

Dad said that the city was going to build a fire station on Morrill Avenue, a couple blocks to the east. It would replace the old fire station almost across the street, called “Reno East” which is a duplicate of the one at the dead-end of California Avenue on Virginia Street. This is a busy area of town, East Fourth Street, with a lot of nice stores, hardware, auto parts, lot of auto stuff and garages. Mr. Blakely, a friend of dad’s since high school, operated Eveleth Lumber kitty-corner from my uncle’s service station. It makes custom cuts of lumber and is in high demand from people building houses needing weird stuff like handrails. It is part of a sawmill up the river toward Truckee.

We got back in the car and left to see my dad’s friend Mr. Menante, another schoolmate. His family owns a shop by the railroad tracks on Virginia Street, that takes the tires off cars and “vulcanizes” new rubber and treads onto them and they put them back on your car, to save buying new tires. Dad said it was a wartime thing. Mr. Menante’s business is called Reno Vulcanizing, pretty original. His plan is to move further north on Virginia Street to his partner Mr. Besso’s family ranch, and build a new Reno Vulcanizing shop on what will become Sixth Street.

Mr. Menante told me how my father shot him with a pistol in their senior year in high school, which cost my dad his appointment to Annapolis, which is a big Navy school back east. Turns out they were in a play and my dad’s character shot Mr. Menante’s character, but the gun misfired and bent my dad’s trigger finger so it wouldn’t straighten and he never got to that Navy school. Mr. Menante was a fun guy.

We got back in the Chevy after dad made arrangements to get the tires fixed, and drove across the railroad tracks to have coffee – ugh – how grownups can drink that stuff is beyond me. Dad parked the Chevy at kind of an angle in front of Tiny’s Waffle Shop south of Commercial Row. We went to see Mr. Southworth in his tobacco shop on Douglas Alley. My grandmother, after my grandfather died in 1906, married Mr. Strausburg who was a stockbroker and owned the little building, his office on the second floor, Southworth’s Tobacco on the street level. Mr. Southworth was a nice guy, had a cigar-store Indian in the window that would piss some people off in years to come. Likely not the Indians. But, this is 1946 and I don’t know anything about that yet. (Three years later Harolds Club would put up a mural with Indians all over it, and more on the roof of the building, but I didn’t know that yet either…)

We went into Tiny’s for coffee, and a bunch of Dad’s friends were in there at a big table. I met Mr. Tripp, who worked for Mr. Smith at Harolds Club across the street. His job was making little plastic name tags for the ladies who worked in Harolds Club, with their first name and hometown. Mr. Tripp, I think his name was Walt, was a nice guy, had a couple of sons my age, and wanted to open his own engraving shop – “Tripp Plastics,” he’d call it. Mr. Smith I understand was going to help him get started.

Mr. Cobb was in Tiny’s at the big table. He was a sportswriter from Virginia City who worked at the newspaper, over on Center Street. He was also the announcer at the Silver Sox baseball games in Moana Stadium, a long way out of town to the south, and he told me that he’d let me sit in the booth some night during a game. He was a nice guy. I soon met his two sons and daughter, tell you all about them one of these days.

All dad’s friends were nice men. One was funny, his name was Mr. Maffi, and he and his partner Mr. Lyons owned a service station at the end of California Avenue across the street from the Lake Mansion, which I’ll have to study to learn more about and write about it another day. Mr. Maffi came to our house on Ralston Street later today to help dad adjust the furnace in our new house, which originally burned coal but was converted by Mr. Maffi to burn oil. Dad and Mr. Maffi, (and Mr. Sala, our next door neighbor; I’ll write a lot about him in the future), had to leave to get a furnace part and probably some more beer (surely Sierra!), and Mr. Maffi, who had a glass eye, took his eye out and put it on the kitchen table and told my mother, who had a limited sense of humor, “Here, Floie, (for her name was Flo), I’m keeping an eye on my beer.”

Dad and Mr. Sala laughed, but Floie (Flo) fainted, right on the kitchen floor, cold as a mackerel. Mr. Sala went next door to get Mrs. Sala to help out. Floie soon returned to consciousness, and Dad, seeing this, went out the front door with the other guys to Mr. Maffi’s pickup and took off down Ralston Street to get the furnace part. And some beer.

As I recall, they discussed Mr. Maffi and the occurrence further that evening.

I’m worn out from writing; I’ll start school in a week down the hill at Mary S. Doten, and maybe I’ll learn how to write cursive so it will be easier to read. Come back in a week and we’ll stumble off around Reno some more, maybe visit my new school and my new friends, all neighbors, Tom Cook, Cecelia Molini (Pearce), Jimmie Ceander, and Marilyn Burkham. And another new friend that I’m going to introduce next week, Cedric Parkenfarker from up University Terrace. Cedric has the ability to look into the future, which will enable me to write my 1946 memories, but interject what happened in the future, like Marilyn Burkham becoming known as Ma Bell. And I’ll get my Brownie Hawkeye fixed so I can add some pictures again…it’s busted today.

See ya soon…………

 contact the six-year old at kfbreckenridge@live.com

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