Life was different back then for native Carsonite

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As a child, Laurie Livermore feared having to get up at night and head to the bathroom.

Her 1950s family home at the Silver Saddle Ranch had no indoor plumbing. With the ranch just a few scant miles from the Nevada State prison, every trip to the outhouse played on the mind of the small girl.

"I always knew someone was out there," she said.

By the time she was 8, the bathroom moved indoors. Eventually, the family even replaced baths in a tub in the middle of the ranch house kitchen with bathtubs and running water.

"I never thought much of it; it was just normal for me," Livermore said. "We didn't have TV. Our big deal was to listen to the Westerns on the radio at night. We didn't have a lot of money, but we were rich as far as family goes."

A common joke in the Livermore family is that Laurie's husband of 40 years, Supervisor Pete Livermore, is widely recognized while Laurie, a Nevadan with roots several generations deep, is known as "Pete's wife."

It doesn't bother her, though. Laurie Livermore, 57, is much more interested in taking care of her family -- her greatest pride -- than being recognized.

Her parents were both raised on Eagle and Carson valley ranches -- her mother, Evelyn Rabe from Carson City and her father, Jack Bird, from the Carson Valley. Laurie, the fourth of the six Bird children, was born in a midwife home before Carson had its own hospital. Her father was a buckaroo at the Brown Ranch, now the Empire Ranch estates and golf course, and her mother worked there as a cook.

Laurie's earliest memories, though, are of the Silver Saddle Ranch and her grandmother's ranch across the street. Of course, that was in the day when Carson City past Fifth Street was way out of town, and there were only three or four ranches nestled against the Carson River on the capital's east side. She has fond memories of biking to the Lompa Ranch, hurrying past the feared prison and the warden's black Lab dogs, and of a horse named Dobbie that took a while to coax from her grandmother's Rabe Ranch -- now part of Hidden Meadow Estates -- but always gave the kids a good ride home.

Eventually, ranching wasn't profitable enough and the Bird family sold the Silver Saddle to move into town.

"I always thought it would be cool to move to town, then I missed (the ranch)," she said.

Moving to town provided the 14-year-old with plenty of sidewalks on which to roller skate -- her favorite activity. During her teens, Livermore helped her care for her baby sister, Mary, and worked at the old theater on the corner of Carson and Washington streets. One later job, though, changed her life.

She was working as a car hop at the A&W restaurant on Carson and Tenth streets when she waited on a young Marine on leave from Pickel Meadow in Bridgeport, Calif.

"He'd say, 'When are we going out?' and I'd say, 'We're not,'" she said. "I was shy and I didn't want to go out with him. I was a little country bumpkin and he was from New Orleans. He didn't even talk right."

After 40 years, three children and three grandchildren, though, she's almost got Pete's accent straightened out, she said.

She became a mother at 18 and by 23, was a mother to three. The couple moved to New Orleans after the birth of their oldest son, Rich, but Laurie said "I cried a lot, and he finally brought me home."

"I love the mountains," she said. "I can't imagine living somewhere without the mountains. I love the people. I love that it's not a huge city. The mountains don't change, so no matter how big it gets, it still looks like home."

Livermore said her greatest accomplishment in life has been her three children, Rich, of Carson City; Sheri, of Reno; and Jackie, of Las Vegas. She is also grandmother to Ryan, 11, Katie, 8, and Ty, 18 months. She credits her family's ownership of the local A&W restaurants with forging a strong family. They worked together, played together and every night, she insisted they sit and have dinner together.

Raising her family in Carson City made her feel safe, she said, and gave her and her family a sense of belonging.

"I feel like Carson City is my town," Livermore said. "It's not like going to some other town and it's just a town. This is my home."


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