Letter: Good food, music made Carson City

Once or twice a year I get an urge to write a letter to the editor. Maybe it's to make up for flunking out of West Point in language (hard to pass without studying). Many times this urge is brought about by reading something written by Bob Thomas, a man I once met but know primarily through his writings.

The article about the old restaurants brought back many memories of the "old days" here in Carson. I moved to Carson in 1967 and can vouch for all the good food and drink dispensers mentioned in Bob's article. Actually, in my opinion, what made these places so special was not only the food but the people.

Yes, most of them had owners who were also chefs. They were all well known in the community and each was a "character" in his own right. Doug, for example, had this canny ability to remember names. When you walked into his store, it was, "Mr. Smith, it's so good to see you tonight." He made every customer feel as if he or she was some kind of royalty.

And Bob's right about his drinks. Whenever my family from Georgia visited, the first place they wanted to go was Doug's West Indies. My sister must have spread his fame throughout the South, praising his ChiChis and Mai Tais! There are like stories about all of the restaurant owners Bob mentioned. Of course, I will also add The Red Baron at the airport (since I leased the place to them and the owners became long-time friends.)

What made it extra special were the customers of these establishments and the closeness of this town's people. When you went out to eat, you knew you would be running into friends. It seems that we all knew each other! It was so different from today where it appears most folks do not know their own neighbors or even want to know them. Buying a round at the bar was commonplace because you were buying a drink for your friends and vice versa they for theirs. These were the things that made the town special.

The watering holes without food also should be remembered - Greeno Hotel, Fireside Inn (food sometimes), Jack's Bar, The Old Globe, The Embers, Bill Porter's Music Box. I am probably missing a few names but after all, it's been awhile. The Music Box was special to me because I tended bar there while attending Ag Aviation (the crop dusting school at the Minden Airport). My wife talked me into tending bar because otherwise I would have been on the other side of the bar, spending money and getting myself in trouble.

This was a time when the entertainers would often come down to Carson City when they had a night off at the clubs in Reno and Tahoe. Every night there was music provided by the local musicians who cared to drop in. They were often joined by big name musicians who simply brought their instruments, sat in, and did what they loved to do - play music. If you were a customer at the Music Box, you could always be assured of good music to go along with a decent drink with good people. It was at the Music Box that I first met my long-time friend, Judge John Mowbray, and many others. Yes, as they say, "Those were the days."

For those of you who missed those days, all I can say is that you never knew the Carson City that brought many of us to this town. It was not the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development whatever or the Northern Nevada Development Authority (or whatever they are called). No, what brought many of us to this place were the people, their friendliness, a certain attitude toward life, and the places they worked, played and yes, ate and drank. Somehow it all fit together and made Carson City a very special place to live. In fact, it was so good that most of us would tell strangers that this was the worst place to live, hoping they would not consider moving here and ruining it. Obviously, we failed in these attempts.

Say what you want, but for me, it has been sad to see the death of old Carson. What is left of it is but a twinkle, and sometimes, a tear, in the eyes of the old timers like myself.

Thank you, Bob Thomas, for your article. It's good for those who were not here to know what we had. Maybe they can hang on to the little that is left. For their benefit, I surely hope so.


Carson City


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