Carson man grows tomatoes, places to live;

Jim Viano, who was pictured in the Appeal with a really big tomato, came by the office on Tuesday. At 88, the lifetime member of several building organizations said he's not swinging a hammer too often these days, but he sure can grow produce.

Jim served as president of the builders association in 1975 and is a senior life director of the National Association of Home Builders. He worked in the Bay area for many years before coming to Carson in the early '70s. He built the duplexes across from the high school and apartments on Winnie Lane.

As for the 2-pound tomato, Jim was pictured holding in the Sept. 28 edition of the Appeal, it went where all good tomatoes should go. Into someone's stomach.

Jim said he is having some landscaping work done and he cut it up and distributed it among the workers.

"It was fantastic," he said.

Photographer Rick Gunn spotted Jim's secret for growing big tomatoes right away. Jim's plants are by a brick wall that absorbs heat during the day providing a toasty microclimate for the vines. His other trick is to just use a little water to irrigate the plants.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Jim says his dad always had great advice for growing good tomatoes.

"He would say it is always better to cultivate than to irrigate," Jim said.

My dad grows tomatoes in Las Vegas and his advice was always to "water 'em."

Jim recommends the carpentry program at the college. He said they have 30 apprentices in the program.

"I'm just trying to help it along," he said. "We've been trying for years to get a school started for the apprentices."

My own crop has been better than usual, especially since I didn't have a freeze over the past two months. Now that I've mentioned it, I fully expect to have one today.

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Bernie Allen came by Friday with his collection of photos from Carson City's Chinatown, which once sat along Third Street on the east side of the tracks that ran down Stewart.

Bernie, who grew up in Carson City, says he and other kids used to patronize one of the last businesses surviving on Third back in the 1940s.

The sad history of Carson's Chinatown is fairly well known. It was taken over by Ormsby County for nonpayment of taxes and then sold to the state, where it succumbed to the bulldozer.

Bernie also reminded me of a little irony in the whole Carson-Douglas sales tax tug of war.

Back when Carson and Douglas went to the Legislature to have the county line redrawn so the race track would be in Carson, someone suggested drawing a straight line to Tahoe that would encompass the present Douglas businesses.

According to Bernie, Carson said no.

Anyway, Bernie is selling Nevada Day buttons for $2. I bought two, using the second to settle a long-standing debt.

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Nancy Soong says a couple of bobcats were playing in her yard on Thursday night.

She lives on West Winnie Lane across from Silver Oak and said the two cats spent a couple of hours in the yard as she watched.

"They were walking and playing and sleeping," she said. "They are beautiful animals. Bright white and black. They were awesome to look at, so we didn't scare them out of the yard. They have real long legs and are about the size of a small dog. I've just never seen anything so beautiful and they were right outside our window."

Beautiful or not, they are still wild animals and Nancy said people should be aware they are prowling around.

"These two guys got over our big fence," she said. "We need to alert the people in Silver Oak, who let all their little dogs and cats out."

Bobcats are only the start of it. With cooler temperatures all sorts of mammals will be wandering out of the mountains to build up their winter food stores, including bears.

Kurt Hildebrand is city editor at the Nevada Appeal. Reach him at 881-1215 or e-mail him at


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