Holy Jumpin’ Java

It was shortly after three in the morning. I recall the time because I had jus’ wrapped up my newscast for the top of the hour.

As I stood at the coffee maker, pouring the hot liquid into my cup, I was looking out the window in front of me. I looked down as I felt my mug was full and when I looked back up — I got the crap scared out of me.

In the time I looked down then back up — a homeless man had approached the window and had his face pressed against the glass doing his best to see inside the building. He must have seen me as I jumped — or perhaps he heard me scream — because he jerked away from the window and disappeared into the darkness.

It took me 10 minutes to clean up the coffee I had splashed thought-out the break room and another two or three minutes to pick up the broken remains of my cup —  and the rest of the morning to gather my nerves.

Jus’ in Case

For as long as I could recall Dad carried a black attaché case to work. He took it to work and on temporary-duty assignments as well.

At the time I never once thought to think about what might be in it. Now that he’s gone, I find myself extremely curious, though I know there is no way of ever finding out.

What brings this about is the fact that a few months after Dad was laid to rest, my step-mom Jere’, gave me the attaché. There was nothing in it other than a few scraps of paper which included a couple of phone numbers and an address or two.

I brought it home and put all of his service papers in it and stored it away.

Without putting much thought into it, I found the case one day and pulled those service papers out and filed them in a safe-deposit box. I didn’t even recall at the time it was Dad’s old attaché.

It’s said that the memory is one of the first things to go.

Currently, I’m using it for work. In it, I carry my daily journal, various ideas for articles and stories I’d like to write, a pocket-copy of the U.S. Constitution, my time-card, a pencil and pen, my cell-phone, a small digital camera and at times my lunch.

I think it’s in pretty good shape for the age that it is.

Changing of the Bull

Along with KNSS being sold, the stations call letter were changed to KBUL. This was followed by a change in the station’s logo from a bull’s head in a circle to a larger than life bull-character wearing a Hawaiian-print shirt.

Through an on air contest, the new character was named, “Bull-dacious.”

That changed a few years back to the same bull-character wearing a yellow Hawaiian-print shirt. He was also sporting the same pair of sunglasses around his neck.

The character’s name changed too, as he’s now known as “Incredi-Bull.”

Jus’ recently I pulled into the station’s parking lot to find the old logo has undergone yet another change. The bull-character is now sporting a Marine Corps-style desert camouflage utility blouse, called MARPAT, which is short for Marine Pattern.

I think the character’s name ought to be changed to something like Gunny Indestructa-Bull or perhaps Gunny Bull-istic.

All Wrapped Up

Generally people do their spring cleaning in spring. This year much of northern Nevada and eastern California didn’t get a spring – instead going from cold weather and snow into hot temperatures.

Needless to say – I got a late start on my cleaning. Along with spring cleaning, I also like to take the time to use the same period for personal cleaning.

By personal cleaning, I mean examining my life. I usually find things out about myself that I had never taken the time to consider when I’m in one of these reflective states.

For example, my wife, Mary recently gave a heavy blanket away to one of her employees. Initially, I bulked at the idea as I really hated to lose that blanket. 

She offered up other recommendations. None of them made me happy.

This caused me to think about why I wanted to hang on to a blanket that’s been in the back of the closet for the last two years. It took me back to a period of time where I felt very insecure – which was pretty much until I was 41 or 42 years old.

Crazy as it sounds – the blanket represented protection from feeling crushed as I compared myself to others. Then I remembered a line from one of my favorite free-verse poems, “Desiderata.”

It reads: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Flair

Some one at the radio station had Chinese take out and I found this small slip of paper that obviously came from a fortune cookie. It reads: “You have a flair for adding a fanciful dimension to any story.”

Thanks for the inspiration — whoever left it.

Cereal Trauma

After leaving the Marine Corps, I found myself in a strange situation. I discovered that making small decisions were sometimes next to impossible. One afternoon, my soon-to-be-bride and I were in Sak-n-Save, a local grocery store. She was doing the shopping while I was tagging along.

She asked me to go get some cereal while she headed for the check-out stand. Without hesitation I said okay and off I went.

She says I was gone for over 15 minutes and eventually had to come find me. She finally located me still in the cereal aisle, looking at all the assorted boxes.

When she called my name, I looked over at her. She told me that I had this “wild and dazed” look on my face.

I never did select a box of cereal that day.

Instead, I left the store in a cold sweat, pale and shaky. My soon-to-be-bride had to check out without me.

This wouldn’t be the last time I’d have a difficulty deciding something like this. And eventually I learned to “adapt and overcome,” the cereal aisle when it happened again.

My plan is simple: Get Cheerios®.

Stupidity is Mightier than the Penn

Magician and Miss USA judge Penn Jillette says he’s happy a pageant queen from Tennessee lost to Miss California USA Alyssa Campanella. He comes to this conclusion because of her onstage answer to a question about burning Quran’s ran afoul of the First Amendment.

The vocal half of illusionist duo Penn and Teller says on Twitter that he’s glad to have helped Miss Tennessee USA Ashley Durham lose the competition. Durham placed second in the pageant.

Durham responded to a question about whether burning religious items should be afforded the same constitutional protections as flag burning by saying it crossed a line and shouldn’t be allowed. Of course, Campanella’s answer about marijuana was completely overlooked.

‘Well, I understand why that question would be asked, especially with today’s economy, but I also understand that medical marijuana is very important to help those who need it medically,” she said. “I’m not sure if it should be legalized, if it would really affect, with the drug war. I mean, it’s abused today, unfortunately, so that’s the only reason why I would kind of be a little bit against it, but medically it’s okay.”

Guess, one can’t expect much more than that from a 21-year-old California-New Jersey transplant. Her next stop — the Miss Universe 2011 competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 12th.

Now, if only Penn would magically disappear.

Mom was Right — Again

Mom used to say to us kids when we were rough housing too much for her liking: “You guys aren’t going to be satisfied until someone gets hurt or gets pissed.” Eventually, that’s exactly what would happen.

Given what has been going on after dark at the radio station it was bound to happen. With all the weird noises and strange sights – somebody was going to think it was a good idea to scare someone.

It was jus’ after 10 in the evening when I decided to go to the men’s room. I was standing at the urinal when a co-worker suddenly popped out of the stall behind me, with a shout of, “A-HAAA!”

Needless to say –- I jumped and yelled back. I also turned around, thinking I was going to have to defend myself some how and I unintentionally whizzed all over his legs.

Once again, Mom was right.

From Reno to Rushmore

It was during a family vacation that saw first hand how the state of Nevada shared, at least in some small part, a bit of history with Mount Rushmore. First though a little bit more from the personal side of this story.

My bride’s father was raised near Mount Rushmore and he had at least one family member who worked on the sculptures at Mount Rushmore. I spoke with Don Conklin prior to his passing in 2006, and he confirmed his cousin Reuben worked there throughout the entire project.

And before having ever gone to Mount Rushmore I had learned the creator of the monument also carved the statue that stands in front of the Mackay School of Mining on the University of Nevada, Reno Campus. I knew this because I had read some six-year previously, that a team of conservators had made a rubber mold of the statue so it could be recreated for display at the Rushmore Borglum Museum.

Unfortunately, at the time I was visiting the wrong museum. The rubber mold was for the Rushmore Borglum Story Museum in Keystone, South Dakota.

I recently called the museum in Keystone and no one there knew what I was talking about.

In 1906, the family of John Mackay presented the university with a financial gift that enabled the construction of the Mackay School of Mines building on the north end of the Quadrangle. In front of the building is the statue of Mackay.

Mackay was an Irish immigrant, who along with three other key figures of the time, discovered perhaps the greatest lode of silver ever found in the world. The discovery eventually led to the establishment of the Comstock and eventually the state of Nevada.

I think that the greater story of Mackay’s legacy is in the communication companies he formed.

In 1884, with James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Mackay formed the Commercial Cable Company in order to lay a transatlantic cable. Two years later and in connection with the cable company, he formed the Postal Telegraph Company as a domestic wire telegraph company.

Until Mackay and Bennett entered the field, all underwater cable traffic between the United States and Europe went over cables owned by Jay Gould. A rate war followed that took almost two years to conclude.

The American financier finally quit trying to run Mackay out of business. He was quoted as saying, “You can’t beat Mackay, all he has to do when he needs money is go to Nevada and dig up some more.”

Once Mackay had conquered the Atlantic with the Commercial Cable Company and the U.S. with the Postal Telegraph Company he turned his sights on laying the first cable across the Pacific. He subsequently formed the Commercial Pacific Cable Company in secret partnership with the Great Northern Telegraph Company and the Eastern Telegraph Company.

He died on July 20, 1902 before this was completed, but his son Clarence, saw the project through to completion. By 1906, Commercial Pacific had cable lines laid from San Francisco to Manila, via Hawaii and Guam, with a subsequent spur that went from Manila to Shanghai.

The Mackay System eventually purchased the Federal Telegraph Company, its radio stations and research laboratories, in 1927. The entire system was later bought out by International Telephone and Telegraph a year later.

In 1908, sculptor Gutzon Borglum finished the statue after nearly two years of work. Originally, it had been commissioned to be placed on Nevada’s Capitol grounds, but the state legislature rejected the idea, believing it would diminish the grounds’ appearance and proposed placing it in an alcove in the Capitol’s library annex.

Needles to say, Borglum was offended by the legislatures rejection. However, Joseph Stubbs, president of the University at the time, offered the site at the north end of what later became the university quadrangle.

Both the Mackay statue and the Mackay School of Mines Building were dedicated on June 10, 1908. The statue was rededicated April 25, 1996.

From the February 8, 1908 issue of the Carson City Daily Appeal stated, “Some time last year the Board of Capitol Commissioners passed a resolution that a bust of Governor Sparks be placed in the center of the tessellated floor of the lower rotunda. When Gutzon Borglum, who made the Mackay statue, visits here the coming June, he will begin work on modeling the head.”

The bust was never completed — but I have a hunch where the unfinished piece is – I jus’ can’t prove it yet.

Morning Glory

It was a lovely memorial service, as memorial services go. I actually think of memorial services are really funerals without the presence of the casket.

For an hour and a quarter I stood in the back of the church as we paid our final respects to our friend. I had given my seat up to a young woman who arrived about the same time I started to sit down.

I learned that bit of politeness from Dad.

Standing for an hour-plus like that isn’t as bad as it sounds. I one time stood for a period of four-hours during a military funeral service as the wind blew a blinding snowfall sideways across a Nebraska cemetery.

As the service was ending, two men got up and left the church, obviously to avoid the coming crush. That’s when the woman I had offered my seat too, looked up at me and mouthed the words, “Come, sit beside me.”

With the movement of her lips, she also patted the seat next to her with her hand. I felt like a puppy dog as I dutifully moved to the chair and took a seat.

Jus’ as I sat down,  the Cantor chimed her bell, which announced the service had ended and everyone was expected to stand as protocol warrants in such situations. The woman and I looked at one another and giggled at the irony of my having jus’ taken the seat.

That’s when I really looked at her. On her left foot, tattooed in cursive were the words, “Live life to Love,” and on her left shoulder-blade was the inked artwork of a growing flower — a Morning Glory, perhaps.

“My names Tom,” I whispered as I held my hand out to shake hers.

She grabbed my hand, “Dominique, pleasure to meet you,Tom,” she replied.

I was instantly smitten — but it quickly faded and I felt myself sigh. Dominique is a very beautiful woman — and I — well — I’m but an old man.

In Defense of Self

While working for a nationally known package delivery company, I was required to wear an identification card showing I was employed by the company, therefore authorized to be on the loading dock at the time. However, one morning I made the mistake of not having the badge on as I walked through the buildings doors.

That’s where I was grabbed by the companies dock supervisor – literally. He latched on to my left arm and swung me around, yelling “You can’t be in here!”

I don’t like to be touched by anyone I don’t know – it freaks me out.

My reaction was to cock my fist, throw a punch at him and shout, “Don’t you ever effing touch me!”  Another of the other supervisors grabbed me by the waist and dragged me out of the building.

Meanwhile, the plant manager stepped in front of the dock supervisor, directing him into a neutral corner so to speak. Their actions calmed the situation down immediately.

The next day I found myself apologizing to the dock supervisor for having threatened him as I did. He in turn apologized for having grabbed me.

Where this is leading and why it’s relevant is that recently a candidate for Nevada’s Congressional District 2 seat, vacated by now Senator Dean Heller, threatened a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter with arrest for touching him. It’s a situation I can fully empathize with.

According to an online blog report from the same news paper, reporter Ed Vogel approached Former Navy Commander and current CD-2 candidate Kirk Lippold to ask him a question or two about some statements he made during the debate. The blog reads, “Vogel touched him on his suit coat with two fingers and asked for a more complete answer.”

“Two fingers,” –really?

When someone goes to the extreme of pointing out how many fingers touched the other person, instead of simply saying “touched,” I get more than a little suspicious.

But what the blog’s author fails to include in the article is what is in the back of everyone’s mind: Did Vogel introduce himself as a reporter or did he simply walk up to the Skipper and ask him a question point-blank?

If he did introduce himself – did Lippold hear him? This is still an unknown. What is known is that Vogel made inappropriate contact with the former Commander.

This is known as assault – or rather – the threat of violence. It occurs when a person feels his or her space has been violated in a manner that leaves them feeling unsafe.

Now — a little background on Carson City native  Lippold — he was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole (DDG-67) on October 12, 2000 when the ship was attacked and bombed by Al-Qaeda terrorists during a refueling stop in the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 sailors.

Hypersensitive to personal safety? You bet!

As for Vogel, according to the blog article, he has been a newspaper reporter for more than forty-years, including 34 with the Review-Journal. The same story adds, “… this was the first time anyone has threatened Vogel with arrest.”

In speaking with others who know reporter Vogel, they say he has been known to assume everyone knows who he is – therefore he may have expected Lippold to recognize him without question. This is a case of ego, poor judgment or bad manners, take your pick.

Then there are the few who say Vogel sometimes practices “gotcha-journalism.” It was explained to me by three people, that he often fails to introduce himself and acts rather like “jus’ another interested person,” instead of a professional journalist.

The online posting states: “One of the debate coordinators who knew Vogel told Lippold he was a veteran reporter, and only then did the candidate answer his questions.”

This doesn’t square up with what else is reported in the same piece. The article claims Vogel spoke to Lippold, asking him questions, where upon Lippold “briefly answered, turned and started to move away.”

If he briefly answered – then one can conclude the Skipper knew Vogel was a reporter and felt he had answered the question. Why then would Vogel need to be pointed out as a “veteran reporter?”

I’d love to hear the entire tape, Vogel is said to have had with him at the time, so we could know exactly what went down.

Scanned Darkly

We sat there in the newsroom a few minutes before midnight, mesmerized by the drama unfolding over the scanner. The male-voice called calmly to the dispatcher, “I’m rolling code-3 with an unconscious man in my backseat.”

It was obviously an officer — we couldn’t tell whether he was a “County Mounty,” a “Super Trooper,” or perhaps a “Toy Cop.” But we knew he was en route towards Sparks from USA Parkway on Interstate 80 jus’ west of Fernley.

I have driven that stretch of road, having worked for a now defunct ambulance service — and it can be very challenging after dark.

All radio traffic had come to an abrupt halt — save for the dispatcher, who was sending an ambulance to meet the officer. Silence like that can be terribly deafening.

“I have to pull over — I can’t tell if he’s breathing or not,” the officer stated in near-monotone voice.

“Is he responsive?” the dispatcher asked.

Pause — we waited — hanging, suspended by the wait. Then he answered, “Barely.”

“10-4,” the woman behind the dispatch mic returned, adding, “Meet the ambulance at the Mustang exit.”

“Roger,” the officer answered, calmly including, “I’m code-3, westbound.”

We never found out what happened as all radio traffic ceased between the officer traveling at a high-rate of speed, with lights and siren announcing the urgency of his mission. I can only assume he met the ambulance and made the transfer, turning what was a victim into a patient.

In the end, it didn’t matter whether he was a sheriff’s deputy, a state trooper or a security patrol officer — he was there when needed.  And though I don’t know him and probably never will — thank you — whoever you are.

Corpsman, Up!

On 17 June 1898, the Hospital Corps came into being. Since then help has been but a shout away: “Corpsman!”

The Corpsman has had the back of the Leatherneck in every conflict since. The number of Corpsmen killed in action is 2,012, with 22 Medal of Honor recipients, 174 Navy Crosses awarded, 31 US Army Distinguished Service Medals given, 946 Silver Stars earned and 1,582 Bronze Stars issued.

Previously, the Corpsman was commonly referred to as a Loblolly boy, a term borrowed from the British Royal Navy, and a reference to the daily ration of porridge fed to the sick. The nickname was in common use for so many years that it was finally officially recognized by the Navy Regulations of 1814.

Often sand was used to keep the surgeon from slipping on the bloody ship deck. Their primary duties were to keep the irons hot and buckets of sand at the ready for the operating area as it was commonplace during battle for the surgeons to conduct amputations and irons were used to close lacerations and wounds.

In coming years, the title of the enlisted medical assistant would change several times—from Loblolly Boy, to Nurse, and finally to Bayman. A senior enlisted medical rate, Surgeon’s Steward, was introduced in 1841 and remained through the Civil War.

Following the war, the title Surgeon’s Steward was abolished in favor of Apothecary, a position requiring completion of a course in pharmacy. With the Spanish-American War looming, Congress passed a bill authorizing establishment of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps, signed into law by President William McKinley.

During World War I, Hospital Corpsmen served throughout the fleet, earning particular distinction on the Western Front with the Marine Corps. 20 Corpsmen gave their lives in the “war to end all wars.”

In World War II, Hospital Corpsmen hit the beach with Marines in every battle in the Pacific. Between 1941 and 1945, 1,170 Corpsman lost their lives serving this nation and the US Marine Corps.

Hospital Corpsmen continued accompanying Marines into battle during the Korean Conflict and Vietnam wars. Between 1950 and 1953, 109 Corpsmen died in the field of fire and from 1962 to 1975, 639 Corpsmen answered the final call of duty.

Fifteen Hospital Corpsmen were counted among the dead following the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Many were crushed in the debris of the destroyed building along with the 220 Marines they were serving side-by-side with.

Corpsmen have hit the beaches and humped the boonies in defense of liberty and democracy in places like Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Granada and throughout Central America. They’ve also served in clandestine operations that are still classified.

Today, hospital corpsmen continue to serve in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. Since March 20, 2003, 42 Corpsmen have laid down their lives in combat.

Semper Fi!

The Pale, White, Bony Man

Fortunately I’m not the only person in the station to have seen the strange sight of the pale white, skinny, bony figure. But I am the only person to openly write about my sighting.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to go into the Claire Wilson Conference Room without having the lights on. I used it one late evening as a short-cut between the kitchen, where my locker is and the newsroom.

This particular night the room was dark as I strolled through it with a cup of coffee, my brief case and my headphones. Jus’ as I reached the other side of the room I noticed someone standing near the end of the table by the door.

At first it didn’t fully register that I had seen a person standing there and I continued walking. Then, like a light flicked on in my brain, it dawned on me was I had seen — so I took a couple of steps back.

There was nothing there. But I know I had seen someone — or should I say something.

The figure was between 5′ 10″ and six-feet tall, extremely skinny and bone and very pale, almost translucent. It was the only time I have seen this thing.

A co-worker, R. Boogie, told me that he also saw the figure, though we couldn’t agree exactly on a description. Yet it had some striking similarities including the skinny, bony features I had seen.

Boogie was walking down the hallway after take transmitter readings when he spotted someone out of the corner of his right eye. The person, as he calls it, was standing in a production studio, looking out the window as he passed by.

And like me, it didn’t register right away that he had seen something. And jus’ like I did, he had to stop, step back and look.

Once again, whatever had been there — disappeared. Boogie even opened the studio door to look behind it in order to make certain.

Still another person, who works in the building during the day, claims she saw the same thing out of the corner of her eye.  She says that whatever it was, she was unable to focus on it when she’d turn her head to look at whatever was moving jus’ outside her vision.

Perhaps this is the energy that has been reported to make noise walking up and down the hallways, opening and closing doors and rattling desk drawers. Half-of-me wants to know, while the other-half says, “Leave well enough alone.”

Bad Daddy

It was supposed to be a practical joke, but it certainly didn’t turn out to be very funny at the time. And Kyle’s reaction left me feeling terrible.

There were several mannequin faces needing to be washed after the CPR class I had jus’ taught a couple of hours before. So I filled up the bathtub, added some bleach, prepared the latex faces to soak.

To understand how this all started I have to explain that when I sneeze – I sneeze very hard.  I used to tell Kyle that one day my face would fall off after sneezing so hard.

Anyway, I had one of the mannequin faces in my hand as Kyle stood behind me, curious as to what I was doing. That’s when I decided to fake a sneeze.

As I did, I half-tossed, half-dropped the latex face on the floor. I had my hands covering my face and I cried out, “I sneezed my face-off!”

Kyle’s eyes popped open wide and he screamed. As he did this, he also turned and took off running for the front room.

It took me at least 15-minutes to convince him that it was jus’ a rubber face from a CPR dummy and not really my face. He told me he didn’t want to see me without my skin, so he kept his eyes covered during that time.

Later, he would scold me, “Bad Daddy!”

Big Teeth

While traveling towards Muskogee, I decided to stop along the highway in Arizona to stretch my legs and take care of other business. I had been driving all day and living off one cup of coffee after another from various gas stations and truck stops along the way.

It was very dark as I placed my truck in park and walked up the slight embankment to find a private spot that I could be certain that a passing big rig couldn’t illuminate as I emptied my bladder. The embankment eventually gave way to a flat surface and then another slope that took me down behind the embankment.

I felt well enough hidden as not to be concerned about being seen.

As I stood there relieving myself, I noticed shining headlights from a long haul truck as it headed eastbound.  I looked around to make sure I had selected a secluded place as I had hoped.

I was well out of the sight line of any passing motorist — however the headlights showed me I was not alone.

It took me a few minutes to slow my heart rate down after I had looked up and saw a mouth full of teeth only a few feet from my face. Then the big rig zoomed by and I found myself in the dark again.

I didn’t wait to finish peeing as I raced back over the berm to my truck.

Once there I pulled out the large spot light I had stored in my vehicle and plugged it into the cigarette lighter. Then I shined the light towards the area I had jus’ been and saw what had put the scare in me.

At that moment I wanted to kick the crud out of the person who put those stupid dinosaur statues out in the middle of that field without proper lighting. It took about an hour before the front of my pants finally dried out.

Dirty bastard!

Two Postcards, One Letter and a Friendship

With the Internet, Facebook, MySpace, texting and cellphones, it’s been a very long time since I had actually received a handwritten letter. It’s a nice surprise to find one in the mailbox along with the assorted bills and ads.

Lyn is a friend, who knows I collect postcards, especially older cards dealing with Nevada — so she sent me two that she found at her Grandpa’s home in San Jose’ shortly after he passed away.

Her grandpa Angelo Casti was born December 17, 1919 and passed away May 18, 2011 at the age of 91. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lois and is survived by his children, Rosalind Santora, Gene Casti, Debra Fodge, Andrea Casti; 6 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

As for the postcards, Lyn included in her letter:

Milton Prell’s Aladdin Hotel, 1961. On the back it reads, “The alluring new Aladdin Hotel, rich in luster of the Arabian Nights, now casts its magnificent glow over the Las Vegas Strip. Spread like a jeweled cluster over 35 acres of desert oasis, the Aladdin unveils its magic carpet to a multitude of luxurious rooms, sparking entertainment in the Bagdad room and dancing and gourmet dining-pleasures in the elegant Sabre Room. Complete convention facilities, four swimming pools and the finest par-3 golf course in the West complete this myriad of unmatched Las Vegas splendor.

The Aladdin Hotel was the first major casino to open on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1960s, eight years after the area’s 1950s boom period ended with the Stardust’s debut in 1958. The original site of the Aladdin, between the Flamingo  and Tropicana hotels on the Strip’s eastern side, had been undeveloped desert land until 1963.

By 2003, the Aladdin was in bankruptcy and eventually was purchased by a group with plans to remove the hotel’s Aladdin theme and replace it with one based on Hollywood films. The hotel officially became Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in April 2007, with a grand opening later that year.

From the back of the Dunes Hotel and Country Club postcard, also dated 1961, it reads:  “The new 24-story ‘Diamond of the Dunes’ dominates the Las Vegas sky line. This magnificant resort features 1,000 deluxe rooms and suites (all with TV.)

The Dunes is renowned for the 18-hole “Emerald Green Championship Golf Course and Country Club; The Sultan’s Table, Dome of the Sea and Top O’ the Strip; two giant pools, acres of free parking plus the direct-from-Paris spectacular Casino De Paris and Fredric Apcar’s Vive Les Girls. Incomparable convention facilities. Alice in Wonderland Nursery.”

The Dunes opened May 23, 1955 as a low-rise resort. When the North Tower was added in 1961 it was one of the finest and largest hotels on the strip, with the South Tower being added in 1979.

On January 26, 1993, the Dunes closed its doors for good and was imploded on October 27, 1993 starting with the North Tower. The South Tower was obliterated in July 1994 and the Bellagio now stands in its place.

As for Frederic Apcar, he first made his mark on the Strip in late 1961 with “Vive Les Girls,” which continued into the 1970s. “Casino de Paris” opened in 1963 and ran until 1982. He also continued produce shows in Reno and Tahoe until 1992.

Apcar was born Stember 16, 1914 in Parisand passed away August 2, 2008 from a heart attack. He was 93.

I hold the letter, the postcards and Lyn’s friendship in high-regard.

Munchies

Kay arrived home from the store with a couple of bags of groceries and a few personal items for the bathroom. After putting the food away, she went into the bathroom, where I heard the shower come on.

She was in there for around 20 minutes, which is unlike her, especially since the water had been off for nearly a quarter-hour. When she came out, I discovered why.

“So what do you think?” she asked as she held her arm out for me.

It was obvious she wanted me to smell her skin. So I took in a deep breath.

“Very nice,” I told her.

Then she showed me a bottle filled with a whitish lotion. It was a skin creme.

What I found most interesting about the bottle was its label. It had a large marijuana leaf on it.

I asked to read the ingredient on the back of the bottle, where I found it contained cannabis sativa seed oil.

Laughing, I commented, “You know that stuff will give you the munchies.”

“No it won’t!” Kay shot back.

A few minutes later she came out of her room and sat down on the couch to watch whatever I had on the television. She had yet to get completely comfortable when she jumped back up and headed across the room.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m hungry,” she answered, “and I’m getting some potato chips. Want some?”

I couldn’t answer her because I was laughing to hard.

Inside Room 109

Jus’ across Pyramid Highway from our home is a very well-known Nevada landmark — or at least it should be. At one time it was ranch owned by one of the most powerful men in state during the early years of the 20th century.

The ranch is now subdivided and filled with single-family homes, an 18-hole golf course with sand-traps and water hazards and miles and miles of asphalt. Today, it’s known as Wingfield Springs.

When George Wingfield came to Northern Nevada in the late 1896 no one knew what kind of impact he would have on the state. Eventually with the 1906 formation of Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company, he became a multi-millionaire,  owned at least 12 banks and was a political powerhouse.

But as Nevada legend has it — George Wingfield also had a dark side. The way the story goes Wingfield took a liking to prostitute named Elizabeth, and was furious when he found out that she was carrying another mans child.

In his anger he allegedly chained Elizabeth to the radiator-heater inside room 109 of the Goldfield Hotel, which he built. There she is supposed to have stayed until she gave birth in the 30’s.

Old timers claim Wingfield took the baby and threw the it down an abandoned mine located under the hotel. As for Elizabeth, she vanished, never to be seen or heard from again.

There is no evidence supporting these allegations however. And what few facts remain, they do not support the story. 

First, while Wingfield owned the hotel from 1908 to 1923, he kept his distance. It was Casey McDannell that actually ran the hotel. 

Next, the hotel remained open until 1946 and I can’t imagine a woman being held hostage in a room without someone knowing this and reporting it. Either an employee or a guest would have heard her cries for help. 

Third, the mine beneath the hotel was built by Newton Crumley, who purchased the hotel from Wingfield in 1923. That mine wasn’t constructed until about ten years later.

Lastly, Wingfield no longer owned the hotel by the time this incident is alleged to have happened. If it did happen, perhaps the culprit would be Crumley — not Wingfield.

Then again the legend does make for some pretty good fodder around the card table and bar room.

On the Edge

As I prepared to shave my face I suddenly realized I was no longer part of the age group Schick is marketing their products towards. I say Schick because at this moment I’m using Edge™ Sensitive Skin.

I am surprised — but I don’t know why.

As I held the can — I took a few seconds to look at what was printed on it. The can has a menacing image from the PlayStation® game KZ3 — something that my teenage son might play and which I have no idea about.

It had to happen sooner or later. That’s the nature of product marketing.

But it leaves me wondering — did Dad or Grandpa ever have the same realization?

Mitchell Post Card Number 143

Much history has been written about the Reno Elks Lodge and its home. The Lodge has served the community for more than a century and at one time included members from Goldfield and Tonopah.

Tonopah eventually organized and chartered Mizpah Club, while Goldfield opened the Montezuma Club. The Goldfield Lodge burned down on September 29, 1923.

One of the most notable documents regarding the Reno Elks was published by Edward H. Mitchell of San Francisco. Post cards bearing Mitchell’s name as publisher have been used, collected and studied since the end of the nineteenth century.

Mitchell, who died in 1932, published very early cards, known as colored vignettes, which were printed in Germany. One of the earliest is card #143 — The Elks Home, Reno Nevada.

I have a number 143 colored vignette.

Reno Lodge No. 597 was chartered June 30, 1900. The July 1 issue of the Reno Gazette from that same year reports the Lodge consisted of 45 men, “among the best citizens of the State of Nevada.”

Nearly four years later members dedicated their new Home at 50 North Sierra Street on April 23, 1904. It was located across the street from the present day Riverside Movie Theater in downtown.

Between the years of 1904 and 1957, the Home was flooded twice by the Truckee River and survived a small fire. But on February 5, 1957, the building burned down.

Lodge Secretary Cliff Kumle is credited with evacuating 74 members, with only minor injuries being reported. Mr. Kumle, who was born in California on June 6, 1895, passed away in Yuba County in September 16, 1973 and is buried in the B.P.O.E section of the Brownville Cemetery of the county.

From March 1957 until the current Home was completed in 1960, the Lodge met at the Mapes Hotel and the Holiday Hotel Casino, now the Sienna. The current Lodge can be found on Kumle Lane across the street from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center

Returning to postcard #143, the backside holds a note from a woman named Mrs. Cuyler in Reno to a Hattie or Hallie Simpson (or Simfson) in Los Angeles. Complete with mistakes, it reads: “Miss Hattie (or Hallie,) Meney thanks fore  the flowers and I am so proud of them and they all look as if they will grow. I will write you a good, long letter real soon  and tell you all the news. Ther may be a young man call on you soon. I gave him your address and asked him to call and see you. By-by Love for now this time as ever. Mrs. Cuyler”

The relationship between the two women remains unknown as the card was mailed on October 26, 1910 at 8:30 a.m. from Reno. As for the address of 636 South Griffin Avenue, Los Angeles,California — it no longer exists.

It all comes back to one of my most important beliefs: No scrap of paper is too small to hold a piece of valuable historical information.

Night Vision

My shift had jus’ ended at the radio station and I was getting ready to head home. I was standing by my pick-up when I saw movement from the corner of my eye.

Looking to my left, I observed a medium-sized dog walking across the parking lot. It appeared to be hairless under the street lamp that lights up the parking lot.

 Undeterred and always willing to pet any old dog, I whistled to the animal. The four-legged critter made a course correction, ambling towards me as I called out, “Come here.”

Jus’ as it came within range for me to pet it, the damned thing growled. It was a noise I had never heard come from a dog before and I retracted my hand before it did something to my fingers. 

As quickly as I could, I unlocked my truck, got in and slammed the door closed behind me. That’s also when I realized my night vision wasn’t a good as it had been.

What I thought was a dog, was really a mangy, hairless raccoon.

Bad Night on Air

As I recall, my bride came by the station to bring me a sub sandwich from her store. I was already having a bad night as I had stumbled over my words several times as I opened up the microphone.

Eventually, the missus left, royally pissed off at me. When I got home after midnight, I had to apologize to her for my poor behavior.

There were three things I learned that evening: visiting in the studio should be kept to a minimum; flubbing a word or two doesn’t break anything; and I’m not really all that important even if my ego says otherwise.

Yup, I said it…

Teachers Oppose Pay-For-Performance

A bill to stop paying higher salaries to Nevada teachers with advanced degrees and to switch to a pay-for-performance model is raising concerns among many teachers. Governor Brian Sandoval has proposed doing away with advanced degree increases, and establishing a pay scale entirely based on performance.

The measure reflects a growing nationwide movement toward performance pay, and is based on research that shows an advanced degree seldom leads to increased student achievement at the elementary school level, and only sometimes increases it in high school classrooms. But many teachers describe the measure as part of a ploy to replace more expensive teachers with cheaper ones, and say the proposed change discredits the value of lifelong learning.

Nevada’s teacher pay scales, like most, place a premium on higher education. The idea of merit pay — it’s a foreign concept — to the elitist.

Coming Unwrapped

The Del Norte High School Band was selling chocolate bars as a way to raise funds for one event or another. I must have purchased at least one of the candy bars.

While I don’t remember having done so, I have the proof. After all these years, a wrapper from one of those chocolate bars turned up, seemingly out of nowhere.

It also proves my wife’s belief that I am truly a pack-rat. This is a rumor I’ve tried hard to dispel, but have had no success at for some time.

I wonder if KFC would honor the coupon deal offered on the wrapper?

Kenny Romine, 1961-2011

Connie Craig-Horn, a friend I grew up with in Klamath and now who lives in Red Bluff, sent me a message saying her cousin Kenneth Allen Romine passed away yesterday, May 25, 2011. Kenny, Connie and I all grew up in Klamath.

Kenny, as he was known to us, was born August 12, 1961 and living in Crescent City at the time of his passing. He attended Margaret Keating School and graduated from Del Norte High School in 1979.

Kenny was 49 years old.

Twenty-one and Done

Nevada lawmakers adjourned after wrapping up a four-month session. In the end, both sides got a little of what they wanted, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling and late-session negotiations that led to a $6.2 billion general fund budget and the extension of $620 million in temporary taxes that were set to expire.

Democrats who hold a slim majority in the Senate and Assembly lacked the clout to push their agenda for tax reforms and higher education spending. Meanwhile Republicans were encouraged by Governor Brian Sandoval, who campaigned on a no-new-tax platform — but who failed to live-up to his campaign promise.

Lawmakers also sent a message to California: the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has to change its ways or the state may withdraw from the 1969 compact. SB271 lays out a series of conditions the agency has to meet to keep the state from walking away.

The TRPA must update its regional development plan by 2015 and revise voting requirements so Nevada has a greater voice in the area. Failure will give the state the option to sever ties with the agency which is charged with overseeing environmental protections and development in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The bond with TRPA should have been trashed instead of the organization being given conditions to meet. The largely political body hasn’t lived up to its mission statement in its 42 years of existence.

Plus — the battle over a $2.2 billion K-through-12 school budget and a bunch of new policy reforms is finally over. Legislators wrapped up policy reforms and finalized a budget that sets per-pupil state funding about $400 higher than predicted in January.

During last-minute action, lawmakers pushed through final pieces of an education reform package. The bill which reorganizes the state Board of Education and gives the governor the authority to appoint the state superintendent now heads for Governor Brian Sandoval’s desk.

Administrators now head back to the bargaining table to see if they can score union concessions to implement recommended salary and benefit reductions. Those benefit and salary cuts amount to about 7 percent overall.

What is beyond understanding is why a return to the bargaining table — no one elected the union’s over Nevada’s lawmakers. If they can continue taxes that were due to expire, a ban on cell-phone and GPS use in your vehicle and undo the voter mandated 2006 Nevada Clean Air Act — then lawmakers certainly can trump anything a union has to say about wages.

Lastly — here’s what passed as “job creation” in the Nevada Legislature this session: Self-driving cars. Nicknamed the “Google Car Bill,” it will allow the Internet search engine to legally test drive remote-controlled vehicles throughout the state.

If Sandoval signs the bill, Nevada will become the first state to allow cars that drive themselves. Supporters say it could lead to more high-tech industry and jobs.

Big-effing-whoop!

Thankfully, the legislature convenes every two years and lasts only four-month when it does.