Submitted by Karl Breckenridge
I love this town. And comin’ from one of the most ill-regarded curmudgeons in our valley, that statement speaks volumes. We’ve been hit with probably the hardest and most undeserved event in our history, and I’m going back to seven weeks after I was born – Pearl Harbor.
The effects are still habits to be broken – goin’ to the gym this Sunday morning after I write this. Whoops, Sports West is closed. I asked Tom Cook if they were making their weekly trek to dinner after church on Saturday night – whoops – no church. And Johnny’s is closed. To Chris Wassenberg: “Let’s get a beer at Shenanigan’s.” Nope. Let’s watch NASCAR. Nope.
To my grandkids in San Mateo on the phone: “How’s school?” “Grandpaaaa….” (Extra “a”s added to show disdain.) My grandson, normally in Pullman at WSU – now home in San Francisco. And not going to any Giants baseball games, neither….
And so it goes – my coffee group guys, and I hope yours, burning up the phone lines – How are ya? How’s your bride? One sees some of these reprobates for 50 years or so every morning to get caught up, do a little business and start another rumor – then abruptly cut it off – it hurts. Red Kittell – 50+ years we’ve been hanging out – no Red. I emailed John O’Looney, chief bear at the Black Bear Diner – home, reading. John? Home? Reading? Wowee…
Gettin’ out of the manse yesterday, I heard a cheery voice that I recognized after 35 years – Roslyn Zimmerman, one of Reno’s premier Realtors, walking with her family and pooch in front of my home on the new concrete sidewalk that Norman Dianda and Bret Goff placed a couple months ago (that’s for you, Don Vetter!). Roz was walking with her kids and we yakked, then some folks I didn’t even know took her place talking. I think it took me ten great minutes to get to my car, with a half-dozen new friends made in the process.
I earlier had spoken with Judy Ashton at Zozo’s restaurant (wait, what? Oh; “Ristorante”) who said that the ten days preceding The Shutdown were ten of her best since she bought it as Pane Vino in 2000. “People just want to be together.” Someday I’ll run a story of her days shortly following 9-11, the Twin Towers’ redemption and her service to the stranded businessmen following 9-11. Nice lady…
We’re a friendlier town.
Take a walk around Virginia Lake as I did yesterday (if you can find a parking place!). The walkway was packed with people – some old friends, some new, but all enjoying the sun and each other’s company from six feet apart. One friendly ol’ golden lab got a scratch from children of all ages. But all had a greeting or a nod as they strolled, got out of each other’s way, laughed and smiled. No strangers at Virginia Lake yesterday, or probably today.
Many spoke of the Wednesday nights when Tink and the Reno Muni Band played the lake’s park (in July; the Quad at the University – not “UNR” – in August). And Tink (or later my classmate Glenn Little) would close the night by marching the kids around the park while the band played “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Good days, good nights, several spoke of it yesterday. Go to the lake this afternoon; I’ll bet you’ll see and hear what I mean.
Next stop on my outing saw Raley’s Mayberry – more of the same. Busy, not packed, but all happy to help (I busted a hip and am still wobbly – use a cane and a grimace to get around). “Can I help you, Sir?” – “May I carry that to your car?” Prior to yesterday, ‘Sir’ was usually preceded only by “May I see your driver’s license and vehicle registration?”
Since you’re all at Virginia Lake and not reading this anyway, I’ll sneak in a little plug for Hailee and the Raley’s eCart service (she’s at the old Scolari’s atop Caughlin Parkway). This is the best-kept secret and boon to an ol’ crip like me since Raley’s started selling sliced bread.
So – away we go on a Sunday morning, and I thank Bob Conrad of This is Reno and Kristen Hackbarth, who will get this in a few minutes on her Sunday and have to turn it into passable English, for the opportunity to write these columns during this dark period in Reno’s history. See ya back here tomorrow and we’ll kick off another week. Be safe, huh?
Karl Breckenridge was slowly going nuts. So he decided to help out This is Reno by writing a daily out-of-his-mind column for the duration of the coronavirus shutdown. Now that it’s over he’s back to his usual antics, drinking coffee with the boys at the Bear and, well, we’re not sure what else. But he loved sharing his daily musings with you, so he’s back, albeit a little less often, to keep on sharing. Karl grew up in the valley and has stories from the area going back to 1945. He’s been writing for 32 years locally.
Read more from Karl Breckenridge
Karl’s pal Jody shares the rich history of bootlegging, decorating, and engineering within the confines of the Truckee River’s banks and its picturesque islands.
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