Remember when the Ormsby House in Carson City was open and running and not all closed up and in what they said was some kind of refurbishing? There is so much history attached to that beautiful building, I do wish somebody would get busy and bring it back to its original beauty. But I remember one special evening when I was there and met a lot of interesting people.
The Ormsby House has this beautiful double staircase that leads from the first floor to a nice lobby on the second floor. It was in the lobby that I attended some kind of political affair way back — I’m guessing here because memory so often fails me these days – in the 1990s. I do know that the governor was there and I had just met Senator Harry Reid. Walking away I found myself looking into the eyes of a lady who was about my own age at the time. Jokingly, I told her that shaking hands with Harry was like shaking hands with a dead fish. She burst out laughing.
I introduced myself and found out my companion was Barbara Vucanovich. While over the years we didn’t become close friends, we did become acquaintances and on several occasions met for lunch. Both of us were in a political group that met on occasion and I found this lovely lady to be not only intelligent but also fun. She became a companion who brought life to some very boring meetings.
I was having my morning coffee when my son, Doug, brought me the news that Barbara had passed away. He had heard it the night before, but had waited until morning, knowing I would be upset. It would have meant a sleepless night for me, he knew, had he told me earlier.
I had just gotten used to the fact that my friend, Larry Porter, had passed away, and now this. Things come in threes and I wondered what else in the bad news department I would be hearing about. Ok,laugh if you want to, but you old folks, like me, know this is all too true. So when the “other shoe” fell, I wasn’t surprised.
The news came just a day later that my nephew Ronnie had died of cancer. I became numb. Ok, I thought, so that’s the three so now, you gods that send bad news, you can just stop this nonsense; this old lady has had enough.
I sat thinking about the last time I had spoken to Barbara. A few years ago I had heard she was ill and made her a soft, white shoulder shawl to keep her warm on cold days. She had called to thank me. Now I wish I had done what my son wanted me to do: Go into Reno and take her to lunch. But I hadn’t made plans and now here I am again, as I had with my friend Larry, wishing I had done more than just crochet something. And now I had lost my nephew.
The last time I had seen my nephew was in 1964. We were with his parents, Clayton and Peggy Hill, and his sister, Carolyn. They had taken the whole family to their Country Club in Elkton, Md. When I say the “whole” family, I mean all four Hill boys, their wives and children. A week later I took my five boys, left Pennsylvania and headed west. It was to be the last time I would ever see the rest of the Hill clan; they didn’t take too kindly of my leaving their brother, Don, Sr.
Ronnie and Carolyn’s dad had worked on the atomic bomb at Oak Ridge, Tenn., during World War II. We didn’t know that until long after the war was over, but the affects of what he had done caused his early demise in his early 50s. Ronnie had by now lost both his parents and sister.
All this news had me a little bit more than depressed. I often ask the good Lord “why am I here?” But it isn’t for us to question; it never is, so I just go on doing what I do trying to give reason to my being here. And, being a sensible woman, I did what any good mother would do. I baked my son Doug a homemade lemon meringue pie. Getting busy always help with the doldrums.
The day after this is printed, this old lady will have her 89th birthday.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.