Chamber News & Views: Remembering the ‘heyday’ of Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

Chamber News & Views: Remembering the ‘heyday’ of Carson City

Ronni Hannaman

Those were the days: The then popular Commodores were playing at the Carson Nugget, and most shopping and entertainment was in the center of the city in the mid-1960s.

As Carson City enters the second phase of reimagining the heart of the downtown, those who have lived here long enough to know what Carson City was like way back when — or even 20 years ago — can't help but reminisce about the good old days. Whenever a new project is begun, the memories of times long gone come to the forefront, and we hear stories once again about the days of yore.

Recalling and romanticizing the past is inherent in human nature. The past, romantic or not, shape our thoughts and personalities and always seems so much more vivid the older we become. Many often refer to the past in their daily conversations and that past could have been 20 or more years ago.

Even today's pop country singers sing of the days when as Blake Shelton sings in the refrain of his latest hit, "I Lived It:"

"That's just the kind of life that made me who I am

Just taking my mind on a visit

Back in time 'cause I miss it

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You wouldn't know to love it like I love it

Unless you lived it

And man, I lived it"

We are all a product of our formative years, and it is natural for each generation to lament the days long gone, but never forgotten. Carsonites are fond of talking about the early years and refer to buildings by name instead of street address.

Carson City had its heyday, and what a heyday it was. So many Carsonites still miss it.

The Ormsby House was the meeting place, hence the frustration with its long dormancy, though if ever opened, it will never be the same. When and if this iconic structure ever reopens, it will be a game-changer.

The Penguin Burger was the hangout for teens and today, those who loved Penguin Tacos hang out on Tuesdays at the Pour House to reminisce on the good old days. There's talk of reviving this beloved eatery in the same location — thus far it is still talk or wishful thinking.

The primary shopping was in the downtown and everyone — especially the women — remember Murdock's. The Carson Nugget attracted some great name entertainers and even Barbara Streisand married here. The movie theater was downtown, the drive-in was south of town, and many teens held their first jobs at A&W Drive-in, owned and supervised by Pete and Laurie Livermore, and were glad to have those entry-level jobs.

The downtown once was the core of all activity and has seen many ups and downs, revitalization and blight. Currently, the downtown is going through yet another metamorphous to fit in with the Complete Streets concept, reducing traffic even further to encourage more pedestrians and bicycles. Since the freeway has bypassed the downtown and lanes have been reduced from four to two, the plan to reduce traffic has been realized. Today's downtown is far more sedate and walkable, and the bypass traffic is ever-increasing, especially during the commuter hours.

Yet, even with all the beautiful revitalization, many Carsonites lament the days long gone, never to return. The two biggest events allowing locals to reminisce are Taste of Downtown — this year on July 21 — and Nevada Day, October 27. The city comes alive with those who grew up here and those who now call Carson City home. You can always tell who the true natives are by the line outside the Old Globe, even though the business moved from Carson Street to its current location on Curry.

Carsonites who have lived and grown up here remain loyal to the past. The newer residents appreciate the way we are and are drawn by the slower pace. Every day we hear from folks who are relocating to our area, happy to be able to regain a sense of sanity.

Carson City's past is rich in history and pride — even in the down times. Our city is still evolving into what we hope will evolve into an even richer future. One day, our children and our newest residents will be able to chime in and say, "Those were the days."