The Dania Hall/Reno Little Theater


On August 24th of 1894 the Afdeling Waldemar Lodge #12 of the Dania Society held their summer ball at Laughton’s Resort west of Reno, all 120 or so of the members and their attendant brides, and the gala was considered by most accounts as a success, save for Hans Block and Peter Rasmussen winding up with a broken wrist and an amputated thumb, respectively, during a vigorous old-country Danish dance. But notwithstanding those inconveniences, according to the Reno Evening Gazette a day later, all were looking forward to next year’s party.

This has little to do with today’s column. Continue reading

South Virginia’s Nevada Stock Farm



In days past Hill & Son, August and Fred respectively, have crept into my writings, in connection with building what we now call the Redfield home on Mt. Rose Street, that a duplicate of August Hill’s brownstone in New York City following his migration to Reno in the 1920s.  Later they were the builders of Hill & Son’s Motel, which was gradually absorbed into the Peppermill.

            I alluded in earlier columns to a dude ranch they owned and operated on South Virginia Street.  Following a little legwork, some help from August Hill’s great-grandson, Reno attorney Richard Hill, a pleasant afternoon in the deep catacombs of the Nevada Historical Society, and finally info from a book I’ll name soon, the time is upon us to learn of the Nevada Stock Farm.  But – we have to go back to 1915 and start the yarn with a reference to George Wingfield, Owner and Operator of Nevada.

      Continue reading

Reno’s Food King “super”markets


What ever became of the Food King markets – this is a test – you drive past them weekly, some daily, all still stand in Reno. OK, the Bavarian World, at E. Sixth and Valley Road, an unlikely spot for a supermarket in 1961, and some say less-likely as a spot for a German restaurant today.

Out on South Wells Avenue at Ryland, the busy Mini-Market on the northwest corner was our second Food King location. That neighborhood once was a thriving home of middle-of-the-road Reno residents and their families. And finally, at Keystone Avenue when it was first developed north of the railroad tracks, the third Food King opened, probably the largest market in the northwest serving the newly-developing Sproul Homes.

It was a supermarket, later a restaurant, now heavily re-built as Ben’s Fine Liquor, known better by most of us as Ben’s Discount Liquor, or just plain Ben’s – eponymous with Ben Akert, still a heck of a guy we see around town quite a bit – try Simon’s or the Coney.

And there you have them. And we inspired ourselves about Ben’s – maybe someday soon we’ll do a piece about the metamorphosis of Akert’s Market on East Fourth and Alameda!

Cal Pettengill in Venice


Possibly inspired by an earlier post about Greco’s Reno Accordion Band, we see here a 1958 photograph of Cal taken in Italy when he spent a summer away from the University of Nevada and Sigma Nu fraternity, to labor as an accordionist for one of the larger gondola operators in Venice, performing, and occasionally singing, in weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals held on the canals, many all on the same afternoon and in same venue, a characteristic of Italian celebrations.

Cal was the musical director for the old Blue Plate Special and may again take up those duties if I can figure out how to put music on WordPress. He remains available for private parties on a limited basis

Don’t touch your dial; the difficulties are with the columnist: The birth of TV in northern Nevada




The Team You Knew and Trusted

Ahh, it’s five o’clock on any weekday, time to squeeze the remote and bring the tube to life, Pat and Sarah in living color, weird creepers running under their elaborate newsdesk, a picture-in-picture image of a news-making scene above their heads, a white contrail trailing under weatherman Dick Stoddard’s pinkie as he explains what some phenomena somewhere is doing for the first of four times he’ll explain it in the next hour, and replays of sports from around the nation, all in stereo sound, slo-mo, and right here in your media room.

             Continue reading

The first day of Spring, sort of…


Some people new to this town are running this sprinkler system Friday morning; the scene reminds of Zhivago’s castle at Yuriatin, a beautiful ice-covered palace in the Urals. This however is within a patio home project near Swope School, which probably will need a couple of new trees – high noon and they’re still frozen



Not exactly from Tony Pecetti’s Ballroom on Commercial Row, but you might have seen these squeezebox players on KZTV – now KOLO-TV – when it first went on the air. The accordion students of Frank Greco; most remember the “Girl with the laughing eyes,” Nilsine Nillson now married for umpteen-plus years to my buddy Skip Hansen

One of these days soon I’ll tell the story of KZTV’s 1953 opening, right here on the Ol’ Reno Guy (NYSE stock code ORGY) And I did, see Mar. 22!<

School principals ain’t what they used to be…


With some amusement our morning coffee group consisting of men of a certain age  who have grown up in Reno, if indeed we’ve grown up at all, have been noting with some amusement the heartbreaking and ongoing saga of the wussy school principal who got chased out of Double Diamond School by some tyrant mother and is now sitting home getting paid to watch The View while somebody sorts out his dilemma for him. A part of what we await is for the RGJ’s writer Siobhan McAndrew, in our opinion tied with Guy Clifton as the best writer on the staff, to get tough and find out and tell us what the hell is really going on at that school.  This lady is a great writer but has become bogged down writing about kiddies, of which most of us have at least one and have long ago discovered that there’s little new to be said about them. Nor of the school district, which trying to improve upon is akin to shoveling s**t into an incoming tide. She could do better than writing of them when topics of consequence beckon her.

But what we really find interesting is that this situation could have become so screwed up in the first place. We talked this morning about what would have happened should a parent, possibly ours, have stuck their nose into principal Rita Cannan’s office, or Eleanor Miller’s (pictured above) or Jean Conrad’s or Esther Traner’s classrooms in Mary S. Doten Elementary School on West Fifth and Washington in 1948, in an attempt to offer their wise counsel and advice about their methods of teaching us.

Good luck with that! And good luck with chasing Rita Cannan out of the school, which absolutely wouldn’t have happened, while Mr. Corbett the Reno School District superintendent adjudicated the issue with the parent, which would have taken him until about noon the same day. (If this principal thinks the Double Diamond mommy’s tough, he’s never crossed Rita Cannan!)

One wonders, how did we ever get an education with people like these, who steered their own ship and didn’t take any crap off the students, their parents, the public, or the Nevada State Journal?

Actually, pretty well…

The El Tavern – Reno’s first truck stop?


Here’s an old friend, just west of town on West Fourth Street – Old Highway 40 – an old friend because as a child, I ate a lot of good meals there in the coffee shop that was generally crowded with Reno residents and long haul truck drivers, breakfast, lunch and dinner

The highway in front of the motel was always lined with trucks – which then were trucks with a cargo body pulling a full trailer, as opposed to the semi-trailers common today (and I  don’t recall any sleeper cabs then, but I could be wrong.) I fudge a little in calling it the first truck stop; it probably was tied for that honor with Ernie’s Flying A on East Fourth Street, which was still Highway 40, or the Lincoln Highway

And the food? Great – after all, the guy that owned it was an old hardscrabble miner from some central Nevada mining camps, operating before WWII. His name was Bill Parker, a good friend of my dad’s. He made his swag mining gold and silver. Which probably accounts for the name of the restaurant he later opened, a few blocks to the east: The Gold ‘n Silver. You’ve probably eaten there…!