Flyin’ with Ty Cobb on Air Force One…

AF1_factsheet

 

Off to San Francisco for the weekend?  Let’s see; reservations on Lombard Street for a couple of nights, done; a call ahead to see if the kids are available for a visit, check; pick a couple of joints for dinner in the Marina and the Buena Vista for eggs Benedict, easy; gas up the pickup, or the ragtop? – let’s see what the weather is the morning we leave.  No sweat – we’ve done it all before; let’s not complicate our weekend.

            But instead of a couple, let’s plan a trip four hundred close friends from the Beltway, this one a little further in advance.  We’re off to Geneva, the one in Switzerland, and instead of the kids we’re meeting the heads of state of a half-dozen world powers so we better bring an interpreter or a half dozen.  We’ll start five months in advance and make reservations for our group in five Geneva hotels – reserving rooms on a onesy-twosy basis is burdensome so we won’t mess around – let’s just book the whole Maison de Saussere, the Fleur de Eau and three more for a week or so.  Better get a hundred rooms a little early ‘cause we’re sending some guys over to make sure the accommodations are up to snuff and to scope out the traffic.  And, White House chefs to check out the bill of fare in the restaurants we’ll be eating at.  We don’t want to get POTUS or FLOTUS heading for the Tums when they get back to their rooms.  POTUS, of course, is the President of the United States; FLOTUS the First Lady O-T-U-S, but you figured that out (we’ll have a couple of American doctors with their own instruments unit and extensive medications aboard, just in case the food or a health issue gets too gnarly.)

            A word about where my mind was when I strung all this together on a dismal evening: My old childhood buddy, later Sigma Nu frat brother Ty Cobb the Younger has been speaking around our village about his life and times as a National Security Council advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and writes a fine column of his own in the Gazoo every now and then.  At breakfast at the Gold-n-Silver last week I told him that I abhor anything political, but getting President Reagan to a world leaders’ Summit conference, of which Ty went to four, now there would be a fine column through a Homefinder’s eyes.  Ty loaned me the weighty three-volume White House planning document for a November 1985 Summit, in which his name appears liberally – T. Cobb – and I can even tell you from the documents, if asked, where he rode in Marine One helicopter from the White House to Andrews AFB (right next to C. Powell).  That’s how intricate the trip planning for these sojourns was and probably remains.  In one volume, the American delegation leaving a formal dinner at a Swiss mansion with other heads of state is assigned, from POTUS on down to the Official Photographer, which of the three elevators in this palace they will be riding in, and who will board and disembark the elevators first and last.  Leave nothing to chance, as John Ascuaga counsels us.

Bags fly free

            The planning document volumes are made available in advance to the participants of the trip – White House staff, the military branches involved, the State Department, Secret Service, press – and contain an incredibly intricate, virtually minute-by-minute itinerary of the four-day trip. A facility at Andrews AFB was clearly indicated, with an arrival time at some God-awful hour of the morning.  That many folks have a lot of luggage and it appears that unless one lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue most schlepped their own bags, with instructions to leave them open – they were inspected before loading (T. Cobb always opted for carry-on).  From that point their walking route to which airplane – AF One or the several support planes – was mapped.  According to Ty, the most salient issue for the whole trip for most was not some vast life-changing worldwide issue being debated by the heads of state of the world powers at the Summit, but who got to get there on Air Force One.  Ty flew aboard it on many occasions to several Summits, a thrill he likens only to driving the Vagabond Touring Association’s ’34 Ford school bus, uninvited, into Kezar Stadium during an East-West Shrine Game in his college days. I recall that Saturday also. Gingerly…

The limousines arrive in a C-5B

The volumes held drawings of the eleven venues and hotels for the Summit, both of their interiors floor-by-floor and topographic drawings of their exteriors and driveways, including vegetation that could block a photographer’s view or conceal an assassin.  Walking routes the delegation will take within a ballroom or disembarking Air Force One at Cointrin Airport in Geneva – who leaves by the front steps or through the aft door – are clearly delineated.  Where the limousines and vans (hauled in by a C-5B prior to the delegation’s arrival) will be parked by Air Force One and the support planes and who will ride in each, where the honor guard meeting the President and First Lady would stand; the locations available to photographers, and the route the motorcade would use to depart the airfield are clear, and according to Ty that’s the way it had to be, period.  Some of the documents weren’t classified; it’s a pretty safe bet that other, tighter Secret Service maps showed routes to a designated hospital and other security protocol.  Interestingly, one sticking point that had to be worked out was whether Secret Service agents could carry their firearms in neutral Switzerland.  I don’t know the eventual outcome of that negotiation and wouldn’t ask.  And, the planning volumes indicated Air Force One by its tail number 26000, the Boeing 707 in use then – parked alongside the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Cal. now is 27000, the last 707 used as Air Force One. 

The event times during the four-day summit?  Leave us not forget that Geneva is a bunch of time zones ahead of any of the four in the US of A. and in the final evaluation these ritualistic and formal handshakes between eight world powers weren’t being choreographed just to go on live TV in some morning between “Regis Live” and “General Hospital” – prime time is the operative word for live formal events at a Summit and some of them were some pretty strange hours of the day in Geneva.

The three volumes were a thought-provoking read of the highest level of worldwide statesmanship, and Ty’s first-hand insight brought to light some facets of such a trip one would never think about without his narration.  Thanks, Tyrus…

Have a good week; summer’s right around the corner, trust me, and God bless America!

 

© Reno Gazette Journal  Jan. 10, 2006

 


 

Teutonic Marketing 101

German sign<

Here’s a sign on the west reaches of Victorian Way in Sparks, still known by most of my readers as B Street, that’s amused me for many a year. If I owned a motel and was catering to German tourists, I’d probably put sprechen sie deutsch on my sign.

But what do I know about tourism…?

Happy Turkey to All, and to All a Good Night. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right…)

PS if you’re looking for the flood story try this

A turkey lays an egg

Comet

The non-sensical piece that follows has run innumerable times, usually proximate to Thanksgiving, in the Gazoo when I wrote those columns, on my website when I had it years ago, and a couple times in the SF Chronicle when I sent it in (I didn’t really write it; I merely stole it from someone who told it in a joke and turned it into a news story.) It may be true, or not. The photo is a vintage British airliner, a Comet made by the forerunners of the Airbus consortium. A friend asked me over the weekend, are we going to read that stupid turkey story again? Yes you are; here it is. Maybe the next post will be of some substance. Or not. Happy Thanksgiving to All!

~ ~ ~

Early in the maturation of jet airliners, British aircraft engineers, addressing the dilemma of strengthening pilots’ windscreens against bird-strikes at low altitude, think a Canadian honker vs. a FedEx Airbus getting together over Peckham Lane after takeoff. They knew the United States had much experience with this matter and contacted some Southern California aeronautical engineers, who supplied plans for a rudimentary catapult that hurled a standard, store-bought turkey at a test windshield at a calculated velocity for analysis.

            The British guys fashioned a catapult, and soon after sent the Yanks photos of a test cockpit with the windshield shattered, the pilot’s headrest in smithereens, a gaping hole in the bulkhead behind the pilot’s head and the flight engineer’s console behind that bulkhead totally demolished. Other photos depicted another huge hole aft of the console in the next bulkhead separating it from the crew lavatory, which was also trashed.

            A few weeks later, the Brits received a telegram from the Americans: “Next time, thaw the turkey.”

           

If you’re after the Thanksgiving flood story, click here

Rumors of my passing are exaggerated…

Jeepers

Things have been a bit busy in July, coupled with a relocation of the Old Reno Guy global corporate office. But I’ll be back.

In honor of Hot August Nights, please observe if you will the Old Reno Guy chauffeuring a friend from San Francisco, in the staff limousine, a totally-restored 1966 CJ-5A Jeep, easy to 66restore in that it has no doors, windows, cranks, roof, minimal upholstery and if it becomes soiled it may be thoroughly rinsed off with a garden hose. It has a stock GMC V-6 engine, three-on-the-floor (six counting the transfer case), turn signals and back-up lights which were optional equipment in 1966, I know, because I bought a ‘ 66 in 1966 from Cal-Vada Jeep on West Fourth Street at Chestnut,  oh, OK, Arlington.

I’ll be back in a few days. Karl

How far we came in a ’64 Studebaker

Wagonaire

While reading on the web of the newest Jeep wagon I was flat slapped like a gut-shot cougar by an automobile writer’s prose: “…A bruiser car. Everything about the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, with its pugnacious nose, its monster 20-inch wheels with massive P295/45 tires, its snarling 470-horse V8 engine, shouts that here is a big, bad bully of a wagon…

“…This one, with the 6.4-liter V8 ripped from the dragstrip headlines, is meant to say something. It’s aggressive, it has that deep exhaust rumble…” – and then the writer goes on (and on) to compare it with a double-jack, water-back drink in a bar, leaving some doubt about where he drinks or why he goes to a bar in the first place. One steers this beast from the “cockpit,” by the way. God save us…

“…Stomp on the gas pedal on a freeway on ramp (after the requisite check in the rear view mirror) and those 470 horses will emerge loudly from those exhaust tips and ramp you swiftly up the ramp – the car’s zero-to-60 times are regularly under five seconds and it’s said to have a 160 mph top end…”  Somewhere about here I sensed that he might be getting orgasmic at his keyboard and I was tempted to click off this site before it was X-rated. This writer does get close to his cars. He did mention that this particular Jeep, er, Snarling Bruiser was approaching $70,000, which for me would be too much for a Jeep if had twin GE J-47 turbojet engines, a wet bar and a Barca-Lounger seat behind the wheel.

My thoughts returned to the Wagoneer of old, that sprung forth in the early 1960s while I was driving a Jeep “Station Wagon,” a two-door, four-passenger box with a tailgate that was probably the best all-round Jeep that Willys, and later Kaiser, ever built. My neighbor got a “Wagonaire.” A Studebaker. A good-looking car, or wagon. It ought to be; it was designed by Brooks Stevens, the American industrial designer who gave the world a design for some kitchen appliances, the full-dress Harley, dolled-up luxury passenger railcars, the Excalibur automobile (which looks a lot like a pre-war Mercedes, but that’s OK), and last but not least, the Wienermobile. With a sliding back roof the Wagonaire could haul a refrigerator home from Montgomery Wards or a tree from Arlington Nursery, if need be. With a Studebaker engine. Built in Canada. And Kaiser picked up on it, Studebaker exited the auto business after a hundred years of cars, trucks, Army Weasels, Navy Ducks (like the ones on Fisherman’s Wharf) and every other configuration of weird vehicle known to man.

Kaiser called it the Wagoneer. It was built from parts from every automotive body, brake, engine, transmission, electronics, hubcap and rear-view mirror company in the Detroit Yellow Pages, not unlike the seven blind men building the elephant. And it sold like hotcakes, some say more in the northern Nevada area than anywhere in the world. And with such dubious reliability that owners would put “lunching” on placards on their windshields if they pulled off the road to picnic, knowing that other Wagoneer owners would think that they’d surely broken down.

And they kept selling, constantly being improved and made increasingly luxurious. The last one rolled off the assembly line in 1991. 

Not a bad run, at that – from a 6-cylinder Wagonaire in 1964 to the last V-8 Wagoneer in 1991, to the Grand Cherokee of today with massive 20-inch wheels and a snarling 470 horsepower that’ll knock your, well, you know, right into your watch-pocket if it gets away from you on the on-ramp.

How is it in the snow? Or hauling home a tree from Arlington Gardens, like the Wagonaire of old? We don’t know. But it’s fast. And this guy can sure as hell write.

Lou LaBonte’s – the best-kept secret in Auburn

Labonte entranceLabonte Sign

I may be wrong – Reno folks may go to Lou LaBonte’s in droves, and I just don’t hear from them.

But we stopped there for dinner tonight on the way back from Sacramento – a quick day trip – and it was wonderful! Good food, service, great old photographs on the walls of the days when the road in front of the building was the Lincoln Highway – Highway 40 (now it’s a frontage road; Ikeda’s is a short block to the east, on the same side of the freeway). I’d bet – I may lose but I’d do it anyway – that the fireplace was crafted by the Indians from Stewart Indian School in Carson City. Can’t say enough good about it, but give it a whirl, breakfast, lunch or dinner…it’ll bring back a lot of memories, for many of us back to the days before Interstate 80 crossed the Sierra

More about Mt. Rose, from an earlier post

MtRose />

In an April 10 post I included a photo of the last vestiges of snow on Mt. Rose take during my stroll around Virginia Lake, and alert reader Gordon Zimmerman chided me that the scene wasn't really Mt. Rose, which was correct – it was in truth north of Mt. Rose. And a couple e-mails rolled in, about the peak's name origin, which has always been kicked around by local historians. So, we turned Carmine Ghia and our research staff loose on the situation and learned of, or at least reinforced some of that which we probably knew and forgot a long time ago about the 10,772-foot landmark. We also sent staff photographer Lo Phat out this Saturday morning to get another shot of Mt. Rose from Virginia Lake. The snow fields of Mt. Rose are barely seen in this view, with Slide Mountain to the left/south.

Regarding the “Rose” name, take your pick: One version, the one I always heard and grew up with, was that Hank Monk – the incomparable! The most daring – the most reckless of drivers; and the luckiest. The oddest, the drollest of all the whimsical characters who made Western staging famous the world over* – in other words, a  stage coach driver of some note who drove between the Carson Valley and Placerville, saw the image of his daughter Rose in the mountain to the north.

If you don’t like that story, here’s’ another: The name might have come from early 1800s settler Jacob  H. Rose, who built a lumber mill near Franktown. Or, another possibility is that it might have been for Rose Hickman, a friend of  Washoe City newspaper editor H.S. Ham. For these past two names I offer attribution to the U.S. Forest Service information on the web. And what moved newspaper editor H. S. Ham to name a mountain for this Hickman lass is a tempting inspiration for a song or a column, akin to the folk song Darcy Farrow – having a mountain named for oneself is no mean feat, and thank God it’s not Mt. Hickman…

Carmine further learned the more northern peak of Mt. Rose was named for Dr. James E. Church (Church Peak), a University of Nevada professor and hydrologist born in 1895, who perfected the snow-water content sampling device still in use today. Dr. Church passed away just months after we graduated from Reno High in 1959, and many of us were so fortunate as to have met him in our Physics class taught by John Marean at Reno High School. He held the distinction of being the first white man to have summited the peak which would later be named for him, while conducting his snow experiments in the 1920s. And many of us have visited the shelter that he constructed over a period of years at the very summit of Mt. Rose, following a robust but enjoyable hike up to the peak from Sheep Meadows on the Mt. Rose highway. And I mention parenthetically that political correctness guidelines in use today, largely ignored by the Ol’ Reno Reader, would indicate that it was “…the first European to have summited…”. But we have a tale to tell, our way.

So there you have it – a bit more about Mt. Rose and its name. And to the south of Mt. Rose, to the left in the photograph, is Slide Mountain, a thousand feet lower in altitude. Many remember the Memorial Day slide of 1983 when the southeast face of Slide Mountain – in actuality a man-made lake, known as Price Lake, man-made as a hydroelectric plant reservoir – let loose a 15-foot wall of water that inundated Washoe Valley below and to the east, blocking Highway 395. And let’s all bear in mind that the two neighboring mountains are in the Cascade range, not the Sierra, which we’ll never convince the travel and ski writing press so we won’t even keep trying.

Stay tuned for a future update of the wiles and charm of Miss Rose Hickman, for whom Mt. Rose may or may not have been named.

*Idah Strobridge, The Land of the Purple Shadow

 

The Ground Cow moos again!

Ground Cow copy
Off to Old Sacramento this weekend, and should have stopped and taken a photo of a sight we noted in Penryn, just a hoot-and-a-holler west of Auburn. As all readers of this site recall, the old Ground Cow we remember from Auburn moved to Penryn ca. 1962, as the Ground Cow. In years to come, it would become about three different restaurants with three different names, all of them lousy.
Now, the once-Penryn Ground Cow is re-named the Ground Cow (hell, this could have happened a year ago and I didn’t notice it. But I don’t think so.) One would hope it is as good as the old one was in Auburn, and when it first moved to Penryn these 50 years ago.
A bit more background: I researched the place once and if I ever wrote a column I can’t find it now. The original Ground Cow, I learned, was in Oakland, opening a second location in Auburn sometime after WWII. And yes, there was a third location in Reno, that one up in the northwest near where Keystone Avenue – then known as Peavine – crossed West Seventh Street – a site that became a casualty of the I-80 freeway construction.

A 1960 Chrysler 300 and a website you’ll enjoy

Chrysler300

I’ll never understand the World Wide Web – several years ago I posted a long tale of old Reno car dealerships and how they morphed around the valley. Later, I took the site down and it went to neverland somewhere never to be seen again.

This morning I get an e-mail from a friend in Texas, with THAT website, now under a different URL (web address). It still exists! The car above (a 1960) is one once owned by Andy Drumm, who many readers will remember as the predominant state highway contractor from Fallon (Silver State Construction) who could get anywhere in the State of Nevada in about three hours in his series of Chrysler 300s, all black with a white trunk lid. Those was cars, boys and girls, a fur cry from Chrysler’s wussy 300s of today – these were the muscle cars of yesteryear, when men were men and ships were wood, and sheep were scared. I thank my friend for the website; here’s the address, click on and enjoy a trip back in time in Reno

http://www.studebaker-info.org/Dealers/karlbreckenridge.html

And if you see a black 300 in your mirror, get the hell out of his way! (Bill Harrah had a fleet of them also, for his execs – a half dozen, I’d guess, in the early 1960s) The car you see in the photo is one of Drumm’s cars that now belongs to my friend, now hauling-tail in the Lone Star State.