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Day 6: A column is born


Submitted by Karl Breckenridge

I – like most residents of our little hamlet, have been cooped up since whenever it was we were told to coop and not go to coffee with our buddies at the Black Bear Diner every morning or have lunch with another group of guys every Wednesday at Simon’s. We’re all home, vegging.


And slowly going nuts. Yesterday – Friday – I decided I need an outlet to keep from going completely bonkers. Contemporaneously my buddy for whom I have a great respect for personally and journalistically, Bob Conrad, who runs the web-based newspaper This is Reno, was showing signs on Facebook of going as goofy as I was. I decided to help out, why don’t I write a piece for him daily for the duration of this national dilemma!?

I made the offer – a short squib on a daily basis – nothing political, nothing controversial; probably nothing even related to coronavirus, as there seems to be no shortage of that topic anywhere we look. Just an out-of-my-mind piece (thanks, Herb Caen for that!) about our valley – the people, the foibles, the dreams, some stories of our towns. And not just today’s or February’s, but going back a few years – to 1945 when I moved here as a four-year-old (my dad grew up in Reno).

Bob apparently trusts me – I’ll never lie to him, nor to you the reader. Yet I do think the facts should not get in the way of a good story. Most of the great tales of the world could be told in 20 words or less were they not padded up. Lady Godiva took off all her clothes and rode through the streets of Coventry a few years ago – that’s the sum and substance of it but it’s been turned into a folk tale.

I won’t use a name in a column without securing the permission of the person, so if you write me care of This is Reno or personally, you’re  safe in opening up to me about a story idea or a thought, be it fur me or agin’ me. If you see a quote, you can take to the bank that it’s the real deal. Nor am I naïve about quotes – if I don’t think the person uttering the statement knows it for sure, you won’t read it here.

We’re going to have some fun. We need it. So you’ll see some stuff that’s a bit off the wall. Meaning no disrespect to any, but tasteful fun. We’re not going to get hung up on indexes (indices?) nor down-the-road retrieval of stuff – I’ve been writing for 32 years locally, never kept an index of stories and don’t plan on starting.

Yakking this up last night with a group of friends sitting at least six feet apart, they said stuff like “you can re-run the story of the strawberries and the Mayberry Bridge” or “the tale of the Olympics was a dandy, with Marilyn Monroe at Eugene’s.”

Image: Bob Conrad

Actually no, bear in mind many stories are copyrighted by the RGJ and that copyright will be honored, as will the Non-Disclosure Agreement I entered into with Harrah’s Club an eon ago. Yeah, I know; Mr. Harrah passed away in 1978 but I choose to honor the agreement to perpetuity.

And they’ll be happy stories. That’s why we’re gathering here once a day. I don’t write the unhappy stuff – I remember Lincoln Fitzgerald being shot up in downtown Reno and most of the other egregious crimes around our valley, but that’s not what we’re about. These are stories of our valley; I’ll seldom say Reno or Sparks as I write for all denizens of our valley…

But there are plenty of good stories left, and even those copyrighted can be abridged, and probably will be here.

So – c’mon back daily – right here to where you’re reading this. We’re all cooped up but hopefully this will turn into a pleasant respite in your day and we’ll all learn a bit about our town that hasn’t made it into print yet!

Karl Breckenridge

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

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Cheers 3 – the groceries II

Karl did not limit his column to ten items or less, so get out of the express line to read this history of Reno grocery markets.