Uniform of the day. 1967

Sparks

T-shirt, white, round neck stretched out from the sweat. The T-shirt comes off early, it is 9:00 am and it is already 85 degrees. No wind, Relative Humidity -3%, it really is a dry heat, but you still cant help sweating a bit. The shirt is tucked into the belt loop of your 501’s cut offs. The 501’s are two years old, when I got them I had to fold a double 3” cuff on them; a year later the cuff was done only once, six moths later the cuff of the pants were a full two inches above my ankle. They cut was to mid thigh.

Feet clad in crew socks, on with red bands, the other blue, it doest matter cause the socks sag down to the tops of your high top tennis shoes. My first duty to do to a new pair of tennis shoes was to rip off the rubber tags at the ankle of the shoe. Keds were round, Converse arched or straight. You could see where the tags used to be, regardless; I rarely got Converse.

In my right front pocket is a silver dollar, and a bit of loose change, enough to take the bus round trip to Sparks, watch a movie at the Sparks Theater, and maybe a bag of buttered pop corn.

I walk to downtown, and wait on the Virginia St Bridge for the big orange bus. I see my friend Jimmy and we begin to talk. We plan, if we both walk to Sparks, there would be ebough money to get is both in the movie, a box of Jr. Mints, and bus fare home. It is a long walk but nothing we havent done before.

We head back through town on Lake, and turn east on US40, in front of Louis’s Basque Corner. It is not long before we come to the first swimming pool. The pools are for customers of each motel, I can’t remember how many have pools, but the ones that do we jump into. The most consistant rules for each motels was no denim cutoffs, so are stays are never long enough to actually swim. It was jump in take three strokes across the narrowest part of the pool, haul our asses out and get a half a block away, before a motel employee come out to harrass us. The next motel is only three blocks away so the t shirts remain dripping on our belt loops, and our crew socks auishe inside our shoes for another block or two.

We manage to stay in the pool for about ten minutes at the El Rancho, which is good since the next pool is aways away. By the time we reach that one, the still wet T-shirt goes back on. It is not protection from the Sun, two previous trips to Pyramid has given me a light brown skin that reflect and deflect any Ultra-violet light. Forget the Sea & Ski.

There is one more pool before we hit the Nugget, we go in shirts on, and leave them on; I want to be dry when I see my probation officer. I got on probation in Sparks, but had since moved back to Reno; they still want me to report.

I am dry as I entered to Sparks Municipal Court house,well it used to be, now it is Parole and Probation and a couple lawyers set up a shingle, and it’s the library, the new Court House is open over by Dilworth. I am also 15 mintues late. My PO yells at me about the tardiness, and tells me to go home; ‘and next week wear pants and a shirt’.

Okay sure!.

We are free. We stop in the library but don’t check out anything; didn’t want to haul a book back home. We stroll back to the theater. The main feature starts again at noon, Martin and Lewis, something followed by cartoons, a Lowell Thomas newreel, somtime John Cameron Swayse. We stay for the lame second feature.

We get out a 5:00pm; it is 97 degrees, our bus fare spent on a Coke; I hate Coke, they should serve Pepsi too. We no longer have bus fare and begin out trudge home. There are not as many pools on the south side of US40, but we hit them all.

Ives Ave.

ives

I am 16, and bored.  School let out for the summer a few weeks earlier. Mom is at work and the step-dad is on his annual two week obligation to the National Guard.  He is an Officer in Logistics. Dennis is somewhere in the South China Sea.

It is the soul-popper cycle on TV, Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, ad nauseum.  I head outside to feel how hot it is going to be later. HOT.  Well, at least it is a ‘dry’ heat.  I never really understood that phrase, until I was walking along the Snake River in Boise Idaho a few years later. It was 106 degrees with 88% humidity. WELL, that was a ‘wet’ heat.

Ronnie and Nancy are out across the street.  Nancy is Hot, she is probably only 5’2” but she intimidates the shit out of me.  They are both as blond as someone could get.  Agnetha from ABBA blond, but blonder.  Ronnie is not much taller than his sister.  He is out taking his Tarantula for a walk in the sun.  I cross over and see the spider, and suppress my desire to crush it.  He takes off his shoes and let’s the spider crawl around on his foot.  I have seen enough.

Up the street there is a kickball game going on.  Liane is there; the first time I met her she introduced herself, and spelled out here name L I A N E.  Man I hope I remember that right!  In most places kickball would be played along the street, not across it.  Ives Ave is steep, probably a 10% grade, like Ralston used to be.  Her brother Shane is there along with a few other kids from higher up the street. Liane is cute and less intimidating, Shane is thin, almost to thin.  A couple of decades later I see Shane, he is on TV, wearing an RFD uniform.  It sure looked like him, same name.

I am walking up the middle of the street when the ball takes an errant bounce, and begins to roll down the hill, one of the smaller boys running after it.  I am in a good mood this morning and move to stop it’s downward progress.  I doubt the kid would have been able to catch up with the ball until it rolled across Coleman and into was is now Rancho San Rafael.  I talk with them for a few minutes and head back down the hill.

One of the younger boys had hopped onto his Stingray and began to speed down the hill.  He is going to fast.  My house is the fourth house up the hill.  The bike is going faster than he could ever pedal.  Two houses later he squeezes the brake handles; it is far, far, to late. The rubber pads of his calipers all break free.  He crosses Coleman; there are only two house to the north, so it would have been rare for a car to hit him.  There is a small berm, and a four strand barbed wire fence. The bike flips him head first, his body clearing the barbed wire.  The rolled up cuffs of his 501’s do not;  the barbed wire acts like the tail hook on the USS Kitty Hawk.  His forward progress stops, as he face plants in the dirt.

All the kids outside are down to him in seconds, some of us expecting a corpse.  The kid was limber, and when he finally gets the breath that was knocked out of him, he slowly rises up to his feet.  The soft earth of the field saved his face from any damage but a bit of dirt in the mouth.  The right cuff of his pants was sliced pretty well.  The bike was the loser, the front wheel bent beyond repair, the ape-hanger handle bars twisted 90 degrees.  I hand him one of the rubber brake pieces.  He limps home to the top of the hill. He will not try that stunt again.

Gravity sucks, you have heard that before, right?  It is true, especially on Ives.  Within a month or two of this event, gravity really pissed me off.  It is late in the afternoon, mom has come home and parked the car, facing downhill.  I don’t recall how my younger brother got in the car.  Mom and I are in the house, probably bringing in groceries, when we hear a ruckus out front.  We go out and the car is no longer parked in front, instead it is across the street; down the hill, the left front is wedged into a tangled mass of chain link fencing, the right fender inches away from a fire hydrant.  3 year old Nathan is in the front seat quite happily still turning the steering wheel.  Now, why would that piss me off, you might ask.  It pissed me off because my three year old brother got to drive my soon to be 63 Impala SS, FIRST.  He got to wreck it first too, but a few years later I killed it.

I head back into the house, still soap operas.  I open the sliding door and go out to the back yard.  Mom and I planted two rose bushes in a brick planter a year ago; hers was Red, mine White, we planted both on the same day.  We planted Nasturtiums at the house on Winston.  I turn on the hose and give each bush a drink, my white rose is outgrowing the Red. Yes, a 16 year old boy, could appreciate a flower, even in 1968 Reno.  It is amazing how well a sacrificial white rose from a bush I planted, can reduce the time of a grounding.

Karen is out in her back yard.  She is my friend, but it was a complex relationship.  We have been next door neighbors for two years, and we talked a lot; not just hi, or what do you make of the weather.  We just talked.  Across the fence.  Karen is different.  It is 1968 and Karen is Jewish; I don’t give a rat’s ass about that, but evidently her parents do.  She is pretty, taller than most girls, maybe 5’7”, dark complected, dark hair and eyes.

The six foot fence that I would balance on for hours as we talked was as impenetrable as the Berlin Wall at the time.  I never planted both feet on her side of the fence, and she never walked on my side of the fence.  I truly can’t remember talking to her in the front yard.

It is 11:00 am and I hear a horn honk in the front.  It is Rob, he got off work early, due to the fact that he quit. I lock up the house and hop into one of the nine 1956 Pontiac’s we had, over the past few years.  I slam the door, Robs shifts the car into D and we are Discovering.

 

Dragging Main, Virginia St.

1957-pontiac-star-chief-thumb-c

If everyone one my favorite Facebook page, went to Drag Main St at once as we ‘all’ have said, it would have been perpetual grid lock, oh wait, some nights it was. I can recall at time or two when we sat under the lights of the Arch, huffing the exhaust of a 110 car freight train, two engines in the front, and two more in the middle, and finally the caboose;  and of the hundreds of untuned cars; especially the touristas, their cars didn’t take well to a 4500′ altitude, neither did the tourists, I can recall a large number of times I saw a lace hatted, sensibly shod, elderderly matron, who had hyperventilated in Harolds Club.

The tow-truck drivers liked it; as did the auto shops. The stations would get the sputtering car into the shop, open the hood, hum and haw for awhile. They tell the distraught customer that this and that needs to be replaced, for $50.00. The mechanics go back to the stricken automobile. They take off the air cleaner, pull it out, bang the filter on the concrete a time or to, all is good. The mechanic takes a screw driver turns two springed screws and the car begins to purr. They put the air cleaner back on, fill the radiator, check the oil and the tires. They bring the car back to our unfortunate driver. He is ecstatic, as he pulls $45.00 out of his wallet. They kinda liked the guy so they gave him a ‘fiver’ off the bill. They fail to mention that once he gets back down to sea level, his car is going to run like shit, and he will probably be out another Grant.

Rob and I turn right onto Virginia St at US 40, and head south. It is slow, but kinda the reason to be here. This is social networking at it’s finest, sitting behind the wheel of a 57 Pontiac Star Cheif; all the windows open, because it is still 90 freaking degrees out.

At 2nd and Virginia, there are two uniformed policemen on all four corners. Buley and Epper are under the Bank Clock, 9:17, 92 degrees. They don’t notice us heading south. We hook around at the PO, and head back north. As we hit 2nd, Epper is on us, walking towards the car. Buley sees us to, and gives us a look of ‘aw, crap’ Rob and I and Buley and Epper have a history. They tell us in a matter of factly tone. If they see us more than one more time we will be sent to Wittenburg.

We take them at their word, they have done it before. They both know that the two ‘boys’ sitting in the 57 Pontiac, don’t have Driver’s Licenses. Rob, the driver, had 17 tickets, before his 17th birthday, and his license was suspended two years becfore he could get one.

And the 57 is no slouch, a Ventura 389ci, with a Holley 4lbb, and a three speed, converted from the column to the floor. Sometimes it was a 4-speed, it took Rob about 15 ,minutes to change the tranny. We got the 389, in a barter, we had to pull an engine out of another Pontiac. We started at 9:00 in the morning, pulled out three massive Pontiac powerplants, and installed one. I was the toolman gopher. I dismantled; driveline, radiator etc. At 3:00 pm we pulled out of the yard and left tires marks along Keitzke along the front of Mark Fore & Strike.

B & E let us proceed. We take a quick loop at Mayfair and find no one we might find a party for, and we head east on 40. Nothing happening is Sparks either so we head back. We wave at B&E as we head south. We head down 395S, cruising slowly past Del Mar Station, and the Burley Bull, failing to find a party. The city disappears as we cross Plumb Lane, and continue to Hash Lane.

We have a friend, he lives in an old farmhouse on Hash Lane. The house belonged to his mother, for ages. He lives there with his girlfriend. They are part of the new breed in town. Hippies. The house is hooked up to nothing. They shit at a local gastation since there is no sewer. There is no running water, they bring bottles of water from Crystal Springs, there is no power, a portable radio, provides entertainment if they can afford the batteries. There is no heat, but they have down sleeping bags, rated for 30 below zero.

The one thing they do have is, a selection of the best pot in the city.

It was always ‘catch as catch can’, you could almost always grab a quarter ounce of leaf, but on occasion it might be a ‘thai stick’ or some primo Acapulco Gold.

Our route changes after every hit of the joint. Up Zollezi, to Broili, then around a squirlley loop and onto Huffaker, and ultimately to Lakeside, via Thomas Creek. We hit the straightawy on Lakeside, and punch it. By the time we pass Chet’s house we are hitting 90 mph, We are down to 50 as we pass Dr. Soli’s house at the foot of Windy Hill. This is the most BEAUTIFUL HOUSE, in the City of Reno.

Windy Hill. If Facebook is true, this little turnout; big enough for 6 cars, was the most populated place in Reno. Fourteen square miles of hormone controlled teenagers. It was also one of the most patrolled areas of the RPD.

We speed by, not recognizing any vehicles.

We head up Plumas, and back into town. It is 11:00, an hour past curfew, the police duos are no longer on each corner. B&E are gone, riding their Harleys. Rob and I need to be careful.

It is midnight, US40 and 395 are quiet, still bumper to bumper though.

Rob drops me at home about 12:30 and heads home. He will pick me up about 5:00 tomorrow, and we will begin SATURDAY night.

Where is Wanda?>

A Social Experiment;“Find Wanda”

It is 04/06/2018 at 7:40 pm PDST.

The experiment begins. Please download and copy of ELO’s “All Over The World” video. It is 4:10 second long. Watch it through four or five times in a row.

It’s a good song; I was never a big ELO fan, but they grew on me later years.

It is a flash mod video, I first stumblled upon it as the video that would go uber viral when t steps down. It was filmed all over the world which is probably why, naw forget it. I could probably research it well enough to find out what city, mall, or station each section of the video was taken. I could, but I don’t give a shit.

I am focused on the people. It is late 80’s or 90’s, you cant really tell.

We get a clue at :49 into the video, it is an airport serving Delta and Frontier, I’m thinking Denver. Three seconds later we are in a Target somewhere. You never actually see a Target Logo, but if you have ever been in one, you know.

At 1:15 we are abruptly transported to France circa 18th century, a group of satin clad, bewigged gentlemen, dancing elegantly, with a full skirted mademoiselle; kinda of a glitch and not needed for anything but filler.

At 1:22 we have left the US, I think. There is a crowd of PEOPLE dancing in front of a number of sculptures. I’m thinking London, the video shifts to a Mall, there is a Debendhams, we ARE in London. Damn I’m good.

NOW PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!

At 1:30 into the video there is an orange glow, in an otherwise gray, but massive building. There are two girls, one in an orange skirt, and then ‘Wanda’. Both girls are the only bit of color in the poorly filmed video.

THE SOCIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT IS THIS.

Can we find ‘Wanda’?

She appears several time in the next few seconds of the video, but at 1:55 into the video, you get the first real sight of her. You see a confidenet young girl, maybe nine years old. She is into the dance, and she performs it beautifully.

NOW, Let’s find Wanda.

Share this with everyone, or anyone. The timer has started. How long will it take a socially connected world to find her?

I want to know what she thinks NOW.

My 2nd Job

Chevy
      There was a post once or twelve times that asked what was your first job in Reno.
      Two days as a busboy at the Overland.
      It was my second job that was an adventure and a joy.
      Scrap Metal + a 49 Chevy pickup = $$$$$$.
 
      My day begins at 7:30 as Rob and I fire up the truck. It is an old green quarter ton pickup, loaded with about 1800 lbs of scrap metal.  Five engine blocks, one an old Hemi I could sell for thousands today, and a crapload of other iron junk. On the top of the stack are about five radiators, so our first stop is Doc’s Radiator Shop. He knows us by name, and one of the crew takes each radiator and strips off the steel frame, then weighs each core. Doc doesn’t seem to mind that sometimes the radiators were still warm, and full of liquid. $25.00 so far and the day has just begun.
      Reno Salvage was the next stop, we stop on the scales, take our load in to be emptied, and then back on the scale. The register opens and we get another $25.00.
      It is now 8:30 on a cool spring day, we zip across the street; the 49,50,51 Chevy pickup could zip when it was empty, we had one or more of each year; they weren’t hard to find.
      We pull in along a building, there is a hole in the wall and we tell the clerk that we need a short case of Bud. We hand our money in and he hands the beer out. Rob and I are 17.
 
      The next, however long we decided, minutes were spent driving through town, stopping at every pile of metallic junk we could find in and around town. You can thank me for cleaning up town, as you wish.
      Most days we could load the truck up by two, sell the scrap, and have a full truck by the end of the day, ready for the first thing in the morning.
      I must amend this by saying, if you lost a starter, battery, radiator, etc, in the late 60’s, I apologize, and that the Statue of Limitations has long passed.

The Watermelon Raid.

watermelon

The five of us; me, Billy, Barton, Glenn, and Barney, head out. We leave the big two story house, with the 9000′ foot palm tree in the front, and head south on the railroad tracks. As we turn left the metropolis of Vina, Ca, disappears immediately. Like it really ever appeared.

There was a market down the road, where you could get a cold Pomac. The biggest features in Vina, were the school and the rusting steel bridge and our grandfather’s house. And the Monastery. Bart and I walked out there along the tracks; one of the brothers met us at the gate and showed us around the utterly silent grounds. The brother was the only one who spoke to us, and after the tour he handed both of us a Hershey Bar.

As we headed back to Vina, we opened the Hershey bars. Under the wrapper were two perfectly molded Hershey bars. The bars that we unwrapped were probably packaged in 1937,  were white. Twenty years. White. I don’t know why Bart and I knew that twenty year old Hershey bars were edible, but we didn’t hesitate to eat them.

We are on the tracks, when a rather long, 2” maybe, wheat colored Praying Mantis has landed on my Levis’. It is my first exposure to the Mantid family, grasshoppers, lady bugs, etc., I’m good with that. I don’t get all sissy and try to brush it away. I look down at it, and the mantis turns it head, and looks at me. This is both exceedingly cool and exceedingly creepy. The look of the insects head told me everything was good; don’t fuck with me, I won’t fuck with you. I am good with that. Three hours later Bart and I sit along the tracks;  I look down and there is my friend. Once again he, or she; I never thought to ask, turns it’s head. It seems to smile and then opens it wings and flies off.

But, back to the story.

The five of us all have gunny bag, They are 50lbs, net potato bags, Billy has two.

We head to the highway and head west towards Woodson Bridge. It is now called South Ave, at this time is was ‘the road to Woodson Bridge’. It was two miles to the west. There is a period of talk between us that would make “Stand By Me” the movie and “The Body” the book proud.

We are cousin’s. Well, ‘I’ am the cousin, they are the brothers; only four of the six brothers. AB has nothing to do with us and we have nothing to do with Rocky. He was just to young.

We don’t make it to Woodson Bridge, it was never our destination. There is a Peach orchard along the road; when wasn’t there are Peach orchard along the road. A few hundred yard into this particular orchard, the farmer had planted Watermelons. We have arrived.

Billy has now taken control, as he should, he was the oldest. We search through the leaves and find a melon. Billy comes and looks at our find. He reaches down and taps his knuckles on the fruit. If he nods, you have found a keeper, it goes into your bag.

Within a few minutes we are loaded.

Billy has two large melons in his bag, Bart has two also, not quite as heavy, I have one respectable watermelon, Glenn and Barney each carry two smaller melons each; they will argue with each other all the way back, on who had the better score.

We head back. Billy and Bart lead the way, the weight on their backs mean nothing, Barney and Glen are carrying an equal amount of weight as my one watermelon. I am the city boy, and I am fatigued at least, if not fucking exhausted, by the time we get to my grandfathers.

We unload our bags in the small patch of ground by the road, and on the road; it had a three car per day load. There are more toads crossing the road than cars driving down it. If a car ran over one, you could hear the pop halfway across Vina.

All of a sudden the girl’s show up. Barney and Glenn give up a melon to Gail and Frankie; not that they had a choice.  Sally is quiet but she has control over who gets what, making sure grandpa gets hi cut.  Billy takes the biggest watermelon and cuts a large triangle into it’s side, I’m not sure if anything was poured into the triangle. he next largest melon is sliced. Bart and I take ours and bust them open on the street, I squashed a toad with mine.

Grandpa liked salt on his Watermelon, and sugar on his cottage cheese. I liked grabbing into a ripe pink watermelon with my hands, shoving a large chunk into my mouth and then spitting the seeds at the 25 toads headed straight towards me. Did I mention that toads are a bit salty?

It was a Beautiful Day.

A Day That Will Live In, Symphony

Fall of 63, 67 ,68 whenever.

We can feel it, coming through the air tonight, oh Lord

We’ve been waiting for this moment for all our lies, oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord, Oh Lord.

The tension in the air has been thick for a couple of weeks. Some say for the past few nights, after midnight they could hear it calling it’s name really quietly. The time is close, its morning as it begins.
Shhhh! Can You Hear It. Listen closely, closer, The beast says “When” followed by a burst of white noise, and then it begins “you’re alone, and life is making you lonely you can always go Downtown. THE BEAST HAS ARRIVED and it’s NAME IS KCBN.
Every 9-volt battery in the city is now in the hands of the, uh, US. Japan is thanking us for boosting their GDP with the purchase of their tiny little radios, Thanks back. The sound of rock and roll, is filling the air around Reno. The parents can hear it too. They have NO IDEA of the Crazy Train we are about to board, some on more of a Hellbound Train.
its_a_beautiful_day_sealed1Gone are the radio days that brought us Crying In The Rain by Johnny Ray, He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands, ( the youth version by Laurie London – he’s a boy you know) Paul Anka, Bye Mr. Boone, say hello to Debbie, she lit up my life for awhile. My fave, Gene Pitney doesn’t seem to get much airplay anymore
Earlier we had gotten our first color TV and KCRL 4 NBC has just begun broadcasting. I see a news report about a bunch of guys, playing songs in a brick lined cellar, in a place appropriately called the Cellar, imagine that? They are John, Paul, George, and Ringo aka. The Beatles. This is the first volley of the upcoming British Invasion. The sound on the report is poor but the snippets of songs weren’t bad. A bit later they are on The Ed Sullivan Show. KCBN provides the rest.
The surfers, Jan and Dean, Chantays, the Astronauts, and The Trashmen, are falling like Dominos in a Pipeline. The Beach Boys live on, but why do we play their music, when the last time they were here, people had to dodge Dennis Wilson’s drumsticks and they swore they would “never play here again.” They lied, but it took about 30 years. I didn’t see that concert, but that is the story I heard about it.
If you were a guy, you had to hate the Beatles naturally, damn goofy girls, OH PAUL, OH JOHN IS SUCH A DREAM. Bah Humbug, give me The Dave Clark 5 anyday. “Because” is still the best song ever, well one of them. The Stones, Who Wants Yesterday’s Papers, EPIC. The pond is crossed, even as far as Reno, when lo and behold. One of the first events held at the new Pioneer Theater Auditorium is, directly from England, Eric Burdon and the Animals. I think they were doing a movie at the Lake during that time.

Ty and I get tickets and go together, seats close to the stage, to close for Ty, as he asked onstage for a bit of levity by Eric himself.
THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
The Beast begins growing fiercer, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Grand Funk Railroad, Quicksilver Messenger Service (What You Gonna Do About Me is just as pertinent today), Jethro Tull, OMG JANIS,
It’s A Beautiful Day has a show at Sundance Lodge, early winter, my friend Rob (more on him later) speed up Mt. Rose and get there early. David LaFlamme is gorgeous, straight blonde hair, and vest, and moccasins, his better half is also gorgeous. The stereo system shuts down as the band boards the stage. It is quiet, a soft tinkling begins, David leans forward, “There’s a Girl In My Room With No Eyes” and I float away, two more songs and then a good twenty minute version of Bombay Calling.
Outside the snow has been falling, thick, and heavy, no one cares. Ironically the first song of the second set is Hot Summer Day, followed by Time Is, White Bird, and finally ten or so minutes of Wasted Union Blues. At that moment I was a card carrying member of that union, along with the eight or so remaining patrons. The music ends, we coat up and open the front door.

In the distance we see, well, we were supposed to see our car. What we saw was a group of eight large white moguls, on 431, the snow is two feet deep, there are no tracks in the snow. The owner demands that no one even attempt getting home. One advantage is that the band is stuck also. As we pour back into the bar we had the best two hour encore of some of the best music. About six of us stumbled into one of the rooms to get some sleep and a hangover. By early morning enough of the snow had melted, that we could get back home.