Former resident of children’s home to share story with Leisure Hour Club
On Wednesday, September 20, author Bonnie Boice Nishikawa will share her ‘life experiences’ related to growing up in the Nevada State Children’s Home. Located in Carson City, the facility provided a ‘home’ to hundreds of children, including Ms. Nishikawa and her brother and sister, between 1870 and 1992. Leisure Hour Club member Nishikawa will share some of the amazing life stories experienced by her and others living at the ‘home’ as included in her book My Life as a ‘Home’ Kid.
As a resident for 13 years, Ms. Nishikawa has fond memories of the home, including:
“When we first came to the Home we probably had thirty, forty beds. It just seemed like it was just row after row … probably at least thirty kids in the same room … We had weekly assignments. One week we would be in the dining room helping set the tables. The next week we might be in the kitchen peeling potatoes … another week we would be in the nursery getting little kids ready for breakfast and also for dinner. We ironed clothes, cleaned dorms, toilets, sinks and bathtubs, living room and hallways. The boys did the washing … milked the cows, took care of the livestock, worked in the fields, and were in charge of running of machinery. They milked about twenty-five, thirty cows; we also had pigs, chickens, horses. We had a wonderful farm, a dairy and we all had our own little garden plot.”
In 1864 Nevada opened an orphan asylum in Virginia City and was eventually called the Nevada Orphans Home. In 1869, the Nevada Legislature passed an act establishing a Nevada State Orphans’ Home in Carson City. Both orphanages were funded by the state. The first Children’s Home Orphanage in Carson City was built in 1873. The home covered 15 acres and was self-sustaining. The home initially took in only full orphans (both parents deceased), but there were so many with one parent living, that they changed the law to allow half-orphans (one parent deceased). This was because many men were killed in the mines, leaving their wives with many children to care for, and little or no income.
With the ‘home’ closing in 1992 and being replaced by cottages, the only original building left on site is the old boarded-up gymnasium behind Carson City Fire Station 51, which was once a two-room schoolhouse for the children at the home. It was built in 1898 and existed as a ‘home’ school until 1911, when the children were sent to public school.
If you would like to attend this event, please call the Club’s reservation chair at 775-400-2647 no later than Thursday, September 14 to make your reservation. The meeting is preceded by a buffet dinner at 6 p.m. in the Carson Nugget Capitol Ballroom. Reservations for the meeting and dinner are required.
The Leisure Hour Club, established in September of 1896, is Carson City’s oldest continuously meeting social organization. Continuing to celebrate its 122nd year, the organization is focused on its goal of promoting knowledge on important issues, science, music and literature.