Bucchianeri recalls old days in Carson City
Comstock attorney Virgil Artilio Bucchianeri loves the small-town life so much, he never left it. Soft-spoken and easy-going with a twinkle in his eye, he is semi-retired and operates a one-man law office out of his home, completing the paperwork on an old IBM typewriter.
“I’ve got a computer, but I’m too lazy to learn how to use it,” he said with an easy laugh.
Home is an unobtrusive Victorian on the corner of Taylor Street and E Street in Virginia City, a place he shares with his significant other, Geraldine Karrasch, two cats and a very old Dachshund.
The walls are filled with old photos and law books are stacked on huge shelves, all gifts from his mentor and historic figure, Carson City attorney John Chartz.
Born of Italian immigrants in a Carson City boarding house just south of the Capitol on Christmas Eve in1937, Bucchianeri readily admits to loving life in a small town.
“There were only 1,500 people in Carson CIty when I was born,” he said. “All the streets were dirt except King and Main Streets. The grade school was on King Street and the Carson Brewery was operating at the same time. The boilers at the Brewery would pop and the noise would shake the whole school.”
He said Carson City was a small, pastoral town where people knew and watched out for each other. The sound of the V&T’s whistle permeated the small community twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“The line wasn’t doing well financially and the load was always mixed, with the passengers in the last car,” he said.
Plans are being developed to build a tunnel for the V&T right in front of his house in Virginia City, an idea he takes in stride.
“I told them that they’re lucky I’m living here,” he said. “They might have trouble selling the idea to anyone else.”
Bucchianeri’s father owned the Bank Saloon in Carson City, changing the name to Bank Resort with the advent of prohibition. He stored whiskey in a wooden keg hidden behind a sandstone block high on the wall, the spigot running between the stones. Located at Fifth Street and Carson Street, the bar is now called “Jack’s.”
“When they were raided, my dad would always look at the floor. The feds tore that place up several times, but they never found anything,” he said. “But they did find the keg when they took the building next door down in the 1950s. The keg was still there, wedged between the two walls.”
Bucchianeri graduated from Carson City High School in 1955 and after spending a couple of years at junior college in Marin County, earned a liberal arts degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. He completed his law degree at Hastings College in San Franciso in 1963.
“It was very urban,” he said with a smile. “We had to step over the winos to get to class.”
Bucchianeri served as Storey County District Attorney for 16 years, from 1971 through 1978 and again from 1987 through 1994. He said the job is stressful and despite the fact that District Attorney Janet Hess will not run this year, he hasn’t seriously considered tossing his hat in the ring – at least not yet.
“The biggest challenge up here is keeping everyone happy,” he said. “If you can keep 50 percent of the people happy up here, you’re doing good.”
For fun, Bucchianeri enjoys tipping a few in local bars in addition to participating in many local productions, including “The Mikado,” “Anything Goes,” and “Paint Your Wagon.”
He has two children with his ex-wife Eleanor, an Irish immigrant he met in Carson City. She returned to Ireland with daughter Elizabeth in 1985 following their divorce.
Now 26, Elizabeth is an accomplished pianist, currently working on her doctorate in music at Cork University in Ireland. Son Hector, 36, operates the Old Globe Saloon, once owned by Bucchianeri’s father.
A resident in the Virginia City and Carson City area for years, Attorney Virgil Bucchianeri operates a small law practice out of his home.