Journey to breakfast

Sometimes in the morning I see the city in a whole new light.  Yesterday I was driving to meet the “grumpy old men” for breakfast.  I was heading toward the sun down Second Street.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sky was mostly clear with just those wispy clouds you can only see in the high desert.  I felt alive.

As I approached downtown form the West side, where I live, I noticed that people were lined up waiting for the corner liquor store to open.  I say people, there were two gentlemen,  one in shorts with tattoos on his calves, the other an older man in a sweatshirt and white slacks.   I had to stop at this corner to wait for another gentleman crossing the street.  He reminded me of the old man in “Prelude to a Kiss”.  He was wearing a fifties style woolen suit with a hat.   As I am waiting for him to slowing cross the street, I speculated why people would be lining up at the corner store.  Did they drink all their alcohol last night and now at 6:55 in the morning they need a refill?    This could be the case for “tattoo calves” but then I remembered in this part of town there are no supermarkets.   Perhaps they were out of eggs, bread or coffee.  First appearances can be wrong.

There are a number of “Residency Motels” along Second Street.   I think how fortunate I am to have a place to live.  I image this people feel fortunate for what little they have too.   Society seems to have forgotten many of these individuals.   The motel owners take advantage of them, renting out nasty rooms that need repair, sometimes not even rooms but old storage closets.  The police go in and fine these places and some of it gets cleaned up for a while but considering the high unemployment in Nevada these flop houses are here to stay for a long time.

The man finally gets across the street and I continue my journey.   The next intersection I stop at is a failed condominium project on one corner.  The opposite corner is a failed “Worlds Gym” and just down West Street is the first gay bar in Nevada, the “Five Star Saloon”.   You may think Vegas would be the home to this, but Reno was here long before Vegas.*  It is everything you might imagine a gay bar to be.  What strikes me is that this is not the typically run down neighborhood where gay bars were usually built. In fact, there is a  church and a lovely park at the end of the block.  It is, howecer, the typical bar, no windows, the bartenders are rough and tumble men.  There is a pool table in the back and a stage and dance floor up front for drag shows.  It is old and really needs some repair.   The bar scene in Reno (basically there is none) can’t seem to support it anymore. In recent years it has become a ” Metro” bar.   Hip young couples both straight and gay come here for events and giggle about being in a gay bar.  The rest of the time it is largely empty.

The light changes and I move on to my destination, crossing Lake Street, I am reminded of a time when whites and blacks were not allowed to mingle in the same clubs.  The white people were on Virginia Street and the blacks were on Lake behind the train depot.  The “Speakeasy” down the street is no more.   It too has succumb to the depression that has fallen on our city, it is now a “residency” hotel.  The casino and bar are closed.

The next place I stop is by the old mental hospital.  This now vacant set of buildings once house the criminally insane.  It also housed many of the people who now live in the motels.  It was sort of a poor house.   Today it is where the day laborers congregate across the street in the park  and on the lawn in front of the hospital.

I make it to breakfast and feel blessed that I am able to afford such a luxury and be with friends and share stories of problems that somehow seem insignificant now after my journey.

*Genoa outsite Carson City calms to be the first settlement and home to the oldest bar but they were Mormans.  I suspect it wasn’t  gay. They do hold an annual “Candy Dance”, so who knows for sure.

They called it a “Thirst Parlor” isn’t that a hoot?

Adam, Hoss, Little Joe…..are you in here?

5 Responses to “Journey to breakfast”

  1. I’d like to see more pics of your town.

  2. Thank you for the tour. Mark

  3. loved the tour. reminds me of the sights around my neck of the woods. of course, any bar would be a real dive.

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