Behind Roff Way

We call it the Roff Building, mostly because we don’t know what else to call it and it sits on the corner of Roff Way and West 1st Street.  Roff Way gets its name from a prominent Reno family that helped settle the area in the 1860’s.

Built in 1936, my wife and her business partners opened their sandwich shop in the Roff Building. Very few records exist showing the buildings use before 1970. 

They closed the sandwich shop in early 2011 and opened a drinking establishment simply known as “Bar,” later that year. The new business is doing very well.

Nathan Roff came to Nevada in 1863, and found work the harness and saddlery business in Washoe city, at the period of that town’s high-tide of prosperity. He remained there until 1868, when, at the public auction sale of lots, he purchased four lots and thus became one of the earliest settlers and founders of the City of Reno, where he remained until his death, in 1897.

Nathan’s son, Nate Roff was born at St. Louis, Missouri, February 4, 1852, and was very young when he came out west. He graduated from the College of California in the class of 1870, after which he returned to Washoe City, and learned telegraphy.

For some time he worked for Western Union Telegraph Company, and later of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company. For five years he was deputy land register in Carson City.

Nate was also a clerk in the Nevada legislature at nearly every session for a twenty-five year period, was chief clerk of the assembly twice and clerk of the senate three times.  Eventually, he became a state senator representing Washoe county.

Roff was a Republican until the silver issue split that party into two, then he became one of the organizers of the Silver Party of Nevada. He was also Secretary of the State’s Central Committee for several years and  worked for U.S. Senator Francis Newlands.

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Services For Two Aurora Shooting Victims

Praised for her boundless energy,  family and friends gathered in San Antonio to remember her.  Jessica Ghawi, who narrowly escaped a shooting in Toronto earlier this year, has been laid to rest.

“If this coward could have done this with this much hate, imagine what we can do with this much love,” her brother, Jordan told those gathered inside the Community Bible Church in San Antonio.

But most of the service focused on the life and energy of the aspiring sports journalist.

“What we will not do today is focus on how she left us,” read Peter Burns, a friend from Colorado, holding a note from Ghawi’s mother, Sandy. “Jess was a force to be reckoned with. She was a jolt of lightning. A whirlwind. A Labrador puppy running clumsily with innocent joy.”

Burns talked of the funny way Ghawi sneezed, her near-addiction to Nutella chocolate, how she was sloppy and always lovable. Ghawi’s boyfriend, however Jay Meloff, noted that while others described her as a tough, redheaded spitfire, he saw her as a “beautiful, warm-hearted and passionate woman with a capacity for love…as mushy as they come.”

Ghawi was a 24-year-old pretty, blue-eyed redhead who moved to Colorado about a year ago. She had survived a June 2 shooting at a Toronto mall that left two dead and several wounded.

Her blog post last month reads: “I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.”

She went by the name “Redfield,” a play on her red hair, because it was easy to say and remember, both professionally and on her social media accounts. She was a regular tweeter and her last post to the micro-blogging website stated in all capital letters, “movie doesn’t start for 20 minutes.”

Meanwhile, the body of a 26-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and Reno resident who also died in the shooting has been flown home for burial. Jonathan Blunk’s body arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, with the Patriot Guard escorting him to the Mountain View Mortuary.

Blunk had high hopes for the future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL, having served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009. Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician.

He died in the shooting after throwing himself in front of friend Jansen Young and saving her life. Young told NBC’s “Today” show, that Blunk told her to stay down.

A 2004 graduate of Hug High School, Blunk most recently lived in Aurora and worked for a small flooring company. His estranged wife, Chantel, lives with their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Reno.

A memorial service, open to the public will take place August 2nd at the Mountain View Mortuary with a private service the following day.

Reflections on a Needless Death

Odd how the national media grabs onto a particular person involved in a tragedy. In the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, in Littleton, Colorado, it was Rachael Scott, one of 15 people to die that April 20th.

At the time of her death, the 17-year old senior was an aspiring writer and actress. Shortly before her death, she wrote an essay for school stating, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same.”

I had the good fortune of having her half-sister in one of emergency medical technician classes at Truckee Meadows Community College. I remember her pain and grief at the loss of her younger sibling.

In “The Dark Knight Rises” Massacre of Aurora, Colorado, the person in the media spotlight is Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster and blogger. She was one of 12 people killed when a man armed with several guns started randomly shooting into a crowd enjoying a midnight movie.

I knew Jessica via the Internet Ghawi but under her blogging nom de plume, Jessica Redfield. It’s because of her senseless death, that I feel compelled to write this down.

In her blog, she wrote about the June 2nd Eaton Centre shooting that she escaped, “It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.”

Also since that time I’ve heard over and over, a call for tighter restriction on guns and ammunition. This makes me very angry!

First off, liberal-do-gooders and nanny-statist like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Stephen Baldwin, need to shut their mouths. People are dead or wounded, family, friends and loved ones are hurting and should get chance to heal before you go off half-cocked about the horrors of gun-ownership.

“Soothing words are nice,” said Bloomberg, “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

Yeah, half-cocked is what I said, especially you Mr. Mayor, with your armed body guards and armored limo. Hypocrite!

Baldwin told CNN, a red flag should have gone up when James Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds and equipment in such a short period. He said the Patriot Act put certain rules in place such as monitoring, but as “technology advances, maybe there should be some new thinking.”

As for you Baldwin, adding more regulation, applying new laws, and creating more “Big Brother” is not what gun advocates aspire too. Obviously you are as good a constitutional scholar as you are an actor.

Not once have I ever bought into the belief that, “Guns kill.”  That’s like saying “Religion kills.”

Both premises are wrong. People kill, some misuse a gun, some misuse religion.

Is it the car that kills or the driver operating it?

The 2nd Amendment, ratified December 17, 1791 along with nine other amendments, make up the Bill of Rights. It reads:  A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It’s time U.S. Citizen’s took back their God-given right to “keep and bear arms,” and then wear those “arms” openly and proudly. I’m sick and tired of the politicians and activists dictating to me and you what we can or cannot do.

Who made them a god? No one — as they’re either elected, or worse, self-appointed.

It’s time we gre a pair and followed in the foot steps of those who raised up this nation. You and I should be able to wear a pistol or revolver openly on our leg or around our waist anywhere we want to go in this supposed “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”

Forget old-west characters like Wyatt Earp and such, who stripped cowboys of their weapons upon entering a town. That’s tyranny and in the end only those with power will have what those not in power can’t have.

In this case that would be a gun!

It’s a shame that carrying a concealed weapon into a movie theater in Colorado is illegal. Had one person been armed besides the murderer, the odds are that killer wouldn’t be alive, sucking air while sitting in jail.

Furthermore, it’s a shame that I can’t carry a gun openly in my workplace as protection and a deterrent against violence. I have co-workers who have carry-conceal permits, but they cannot carry a firearm inside the building!

While it seems counter intuitive, having a known firearm, does cause those who would otherwise do another person harm, to stop and rethink their action as they realize they can get killed jus’ as easily as doing the killing.

Here in Nevada, it is legal to carry a weapon openly displayed on your person, but it’s also illegal to transport a loaded weapon on certain roadways. It’s a real catch-22, that been placed on you and I by lawmakers.

I’m left carrying a knife instead.

My son and I went to the movies in Sparks to see the latest Batman flick. Before going, my wife called, asking that we be careful, since by then the Aurora shooting were nearly nine-hours old news.

On our way, I said to him, “As your dad, if someone starts shooting, I want you to lay down on the floor and play dead. However, man-to-man, if you’re so compelled and see the chance to kill the son-of-a bitch with your knife, do it.”

Not all parents will agree with me, but Kyle is 20-years-old and knows right from wrong. I trust him to do what needs doing.

In the movie, while locked in an underground prison, Bruce Wayne must find a way to escape. The only way to do this is by climbing a circular wall, which is not only high, but also uneven.

Those who’ve attempt escape tie a rope around their waists to prevent a fall to the death. Wayne tries it this way then realizes the rope is holding him back from reaching his goal of freedom.

I found a simple but elegant truth in that scene: It’s time to untether ourselves from those who think they know whats best for us and risk the fall for the greater freedom.

As for Jessica, no one was in that theater to protect her right, or that of the other 11 people killed to continue in this life. And since people like Bloomberg, Baldwin and their ilk aren’t willing to act as human-sheilds and Wyatt Earp is already dead, we ought to start protecting ourselves like free-men and woman!

It’s time for some personal responsibility and that’s the beauty of an armed-citizenry.

“The Dark Knight Rises” Massacre

The suspect in the shooting at a Colorado theater is reportedly telling police he’s the Joker, Batman’s arch nemesis and is known for chaotic violence. This, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. 

The suspect is 24-year-old James Holmes and is in the Arapahoe County Jail in Centennial, a suburb of Denver.  Aurora police chief Dan Oates is refusing to comment on a possible motive, saying it’s being investigated,but does confirm 12 people are dead and 58 more injured in the shooting during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” 

Oates says evidence shows Holmes recently bought four guns and six-thousands of rounds of ammunition, having the ammo delivered to both his home and workplace.  He also mentions Holmes bought several magazines for an assault rifle, including a high-capacity drum magazine. 

He describes Holmes as a man who came ready for destruction.  Oates says Holmes had four guns, including firearms found in his car and was wearing special garments including a gas-mask,helmet, vest, leggings and a groin protector when taken into custody.

Oates is a former NYPD deputy chief. He’s also a lawyer and a senior fellow at Long Island University’s Homeland Security Management Institute.

Witness Paul Otermat says he was on the other side of the theater when Holmes began his shooting spree.  He says Holmes threw tear gas near where he was sitting and then opened fire with a shotgun.

Authorities found a maze of trip wires, liquid explosives, jars filled with ammunition and even things that resemble mortar rounds at Holmes’ apartment.  People that live in the apartment building and nearby buildings spent the night in an evacuation center.

The FBI says the apartment turned up multiple containers of flammable material set to explode.  FBI Special Agent Jim Yacone says the bomb squad disabled a series of potentially deadly devices including a tripwire near the front door.

Explosive devices packed into the 800-square-foot apartment could have killed first responders and destroyed the three-story building. An inventory of items shows at least 30 aerial shells filled with gunpowder, two containers full of liquid accelerants and containers full of bullets that could have exploded in a fire.

Meanwhile one of Holmes’ neighbors say he may have tried to use loud music to trick police into entering his apartment. The woman who lives under his apartment unit says techno music started blaring in the middle of the night and she thinks Holmes rigged the stereo with a timer, since he wasn’t at home.

Another neighbor says it’s “insane” to think he was living near a mass murderer.  Jackie Mitchell says he woke up to  the noise of police as they descended on the home of the shooter.

Across town, doctors say it was an “all hands on deck” situation after a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora.  Dr. James Denton said victims admitted at the Medical Center of Aurora have a variety of injuries.

He says it’s the worst case of mass violence he’s seen since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.  Denton says most of the injuries are bullet wounds, others are from shrapnel while a few are injuries suffered in the stampede to get out of the theater.

He says the victims have experienced shock, but they’re being cooperative with medical staff.  He says one victim  thought someone had set off fireworks in the theater and persisted in that belief even though he was at a hospital. 

Swedish Medical Center spokesman Nicole Williams says three people came into her center with serious injuries.  She says all three had bullet wounds to various parts of their bodies.

In San Diego, where Holmes’ family lives, a local police officer spoke on their behalf saying they are cooperating with authorities.  The statement continued to say that “we are still trying to process this information” and expressed sympathy for those killed and injured in the rampage, while asking for privacy.

Continuing in Southern California, Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy spoke before their game in San Diego about the shooting massacre in Aurora, Colorado.  Tracy says the team is thinking of the victims of the shooting.

Regarding sports, an aspiring sportswriter from Texas is one of the 12 people killed. Jessica Ghawi, who made her start covering the San Antonio Rampage and working as an intern at a local San Antonio radio station.

She moved from San Antonio to Denver and worked for the Colorado Avalanche radio and TV broadcasts.  Ghawi wrote under the name Jessica Redfield and was a writer for the sports website “Busted Coverage.”

She was at the movie with a friend, Brett Lowak, who survived the attack.  The 24-year-old Ghawi had recently escaped the Eaton Centre Mall shooting in Toronto, June of this year, that left one dead and seven injured.

As the latest Batman film climbs to record-breaking heights at the box office, Warner Brothers is choosing to postpone money talk related to the movie.  The studio says it’s keeping silent about the movie’s earnings out of respect for the victims. 

Rentrak, the media measurement company that releases box office data, also announced it would also suspend its reporting of Worldwide Weekend Estimates.  However it’s already known, “The Dark Knight Rises” made 30-point-six-million dollar from its midnight screenings.

The films publicity team also canceled première events for the film in Paris, Tokyo and Mexico City in the wake of the tragedy. And speaking of our neighbor’s to the south, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon is calling current gun laws in the U.S. “mistaken” and is asking for a review from Washington. 

Calderon posted his comments on Twitter, offering his condolences to the United States in the wake of the mass shooting.  He tweets “Because of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, the American Congress must review its mistaken legislation on guns.” 

This isn’t a first for Calderon.  In February he unveiled a huge sign on the Mexico-U.S. border reading “No More Weapons!” creating the letters from recycled guns.

Continuing along the political front, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper described the shooting as an “isolated event” by an “unspeakably troubled individual.”  After the  press conference, Hickenlooper took a ride to Wyoming on train to help celebrate Cheyenne Frontier and raise funds for those affected by the event.

President Obama says the aftermath of the shooting massacre should remind the nation that, quote, “We are united as one American family.”  At a campaign event in Fort Myers, Florida, Obama called the shooting tragedy a “heinous crime.”  He said, “Such violence, such evil, is senseless.”

Congressional leaders are also expressing shock and sadness about the shooting massacre.   GOP House Speaker John Boehner called the tragedy an act of “incomprehensible evil,” saying in such occurrences, “Americans will pull together and embrace our national family more tightly.”

And not one to wait for the dust to settle on a tragedy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his weekly radio address, called on Obama and Mitt Romney to lay out their plans to combat gun violence.  Bloomberg has participated in many campaigns to strengthen gun laws and says there are so many murders with guns every day, that it has to stop.

As for the director of the movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan is speaking out on the shooting tragedy that will forever be tied to his film.  Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of the film, Nolan expressed “profound sorrow” for what he called a “senseless tragedy” and “an appalling crime.” 

He added, “I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on-screen is an important and joyful pastime.  The movie theater is my home and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”

“Batman” star Christian Bale says he feels “horror” and that his heart goes out to the victims and their families. The actor released a statement saying, quote, “Words cannot express the horror that I feel.”

Actor Gary Oldman who also appears in the new Batman movie as “Commissioner James Gordon,” is expressing condolences. In a statement Oldman says, “My prayers and deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families of this horrific act.”

Holmes has an attorney and will have his first court appearance on Monday, July 23.

Reunion, Part 5 and Final

“Ugh!” I thought as I blinked awake, “My eye’s feel like two piss-holes in the snow!”

It felt as if I had jus’ fallen asleep when my alarm sounded. And as soon as I looked at the time it occurred to me that I had jus’ fallen asleep.

It took me only a few seconds to lie back down and drift off for another few hours. By the time I reawakened, I knew I was very late for the reunion picnic.

As quickly as possible, I showered and dressed, grabbed my camera and rushed out of my room. The sky was a high overcast, which burned off momentarily, only to come back full tilt.

This time I didn’t drive to a place that wasn’t part of the event. I hustled straight to Beachfront park where I found a small gathering of people hanging around some tables.

One of the first people I saw was my long ago neighbor from Klamath, Sharon Jones. We had not seen each other in over in 34-years.

Somehow, it seemed to me at that moment, as if all that time hadn’t really passed by us.  I also met her husband, James, a retired U.S. Army engineer, and their daughter and son.

But because I was so late, the event ended far too soon for me. Soon I was standing there alone watching everyone return to their lives.

Instead of heading straight back to my room, I decided to go do a little shopping. I spent an hour in the old McKay’s Market building, now home to a second-hand store called, “Sylvia’s Attic.”

Then I headed up H Street to the VFW Post to say “adios” to Stanlee Stanovich. I didn’t hang around long as she was busy with a bar full of patrons.

Besides I had to head back to the motel, as the light was fading and the sidewalks were rolling up. I also had a long trip home in front of me the next morning.

Sleep didn’t come to me as easily as it had the night before, so when I got up, I was moving slowly. I have since concluded that it was for the beast as I ran into an old school mate, Dan Smith.

I always remembered him because he shares the same name as my oldest cousin on Mom’s side of the family.

Dan and I stood around chatting about the old days of high school, and our time in the U.S. Marine Corps. Unfortunately, he hadn’t heard of the get together, missing out on the reunion and all the fun we had.

After saying our “see ya laters and Semper Fi’s,” I hopped in my truck and turned the hood southward. I stopped once more, this time in the old townsite of Klamath, where I have always felt my life’s journey began.

It was here I snapped a few more photograph’s, including where Grandpa Jack’s Three-Sevens Bar had been and the former site of Tony’s Market. I also got out and walked the land for a few minutes, wishing to make one more connection with the place, before leaving.

In minutes of returning to southbound 101,  I drove out of Del Norte County.  I grew sad, wondering, “Will I ever see this place again?”

One can never say.

Reunion, Part 4

Perhaps it was that I was in a rush — or maybe it is old age — but I knew as I drove north on US 101 I was heading to the Elks Club on H Street. But that didn’t prevent me from turning onto Front Street and then into the parking lot between Enderts Pool and the Crescent City Convention Center.

Fortunately, I returned to my sense and got back out on Front Street and turned at H Street. I pulled in and parked, waiting for Stanlee Stanovich to arrive as I told her the night before I’d meet her there and we’d walk in together.

While waiting, several couples arrived and went inside, then Bobby Adams came up the steps from the lower parking areas, calling out my name. We stood around and jawed for a bit — until Wendy Mendes arrived with her daughter and sister Dana.

I asked Wendy, “So why’s a good-looking woman like you here without her husband?”

“Oh, he passed away,” she answered.

Talk about embarrassing myself. I couldn’t apologize enough for being such a classless cad.

Then after a little more chit-chat, Wendy started for the door as did Bobby, who left me saying, “I’m going in with this beautiful woman.”

A couple of minutes later, Stanlee pulled into the drive and parked. The first thing she said to me laughingly was, “Some videographer you are!”

She then proceeded to tell me how none of the video I took the night before using her new-fangled video camera turned out. Then she kidded me more by holding up the camera and showing me the button that activates the recording.

The joke was on her though. By the time the night was over, her hand had cramped in place reminiscent of the video camera’s sleek shape.

Once inside, Dorothy Morgan and Lydia Brown made sure I knew who I was by giving me a name badge that included a picture of me from my sophomore year. Back then I had a head full of hair, so needless to say — if it weren’t for my name being included on the badge, no one who have had any idea who I was.

The first Klamath River Rat I saw was Nadine Redd. She was there not only to take part in the reunion but to act as the official photographer.

She had been my baby-sitter back when she was attending Del Norte. I hadn’t seen Nadine since 1973.

Upstairs, the hall was abuzz with activity. The band was jus’ getting warmed up, with announcements being  made by Darlene Clark and Connie Brooks.

There was plenty of finger-foods laid out for everyone to enjoy. My favorites were the rolled slices of turkey and the meatballs.

Being a social-moth, I moved from one room to the next taking pictures and chatting with people I hadn’t seen in ages. This included Marvin Bowers, Charlene Blackburn, Suzanne Stennett and Carrie and Abbie Crist.

Speaking of  Suzanne, it was her, at the urging of her beau, who made me turn bright red, when she grabbed my bald head and cradled it against her ample bosom. Meanwhile her boyfriend, using my camera, snapped off several shots — laughing all the way.

And as odd as it might sound, someone introduced me to a woman who not only graduated from Del Norte, but also lives in Reno. I even know her niece.

Rhonda Kitchen graduated early in November 1977 and was busy getting acquainted with old schoolmates she’d not seen in years. As for her niece, Rebecca Kitchen, she works for KOLO News 8, the news partner to the radio station where I’m employed.

I can hear the music, “It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world after, It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world…”

There was a real “ah shucks,” moment when I saw Julie Childre kissing people on the neck. I asked,” Where’s mine?” and she plied me with several, which left me grinning like an idiot from ear-to-ear.

It took three beers to calm the pain in my back so I could go out onto the dance floor and shake my hips a little, but I did it and I enjoyed myself. I hadn’t done any dancing in years for fear I’d end up flopping around on the floor with severe spasms.

One of the funnier incidents happened when Kathy Chester came and said goodbye to me. She was leaving for the night because she wanted to get a head start on the picnic the next day as well as some rest.

I watched as she walked out the doors of the Elks Club.

In the meantime I continued wandering around from place to place, talking to fellow classmates and taking pictures. As I came back into the bar area, I saw Kathy standing there sipping on a glass of water.

“I thought you left?” I asked.

She smiled, a blushed lightly and replied, “I forgot I’m one of the hosts of this party.”

We both chuckled at that.

The bar finally closed at 1:30 am, Sunday morning. Once again, I was one of the last to leave having helped clean the dance hall up along with a number of others who had attended the festivities.

I knew it was going to rough getting up in time for the coming picnic.

Silver Tailings: Bombing Run Over Elko

Somebody shouted smoke was pouring from the old warehouse behind the Post Office, the one used to house roofing and construction materials along with electrical equipment. Immediately, a call went out to the fire department.

Elko only had a volunteer fire department, with five trained members and several dozen volunteers in August 1964. By the time the department arrived, the building was totally engulfed.

Men scrambled to haul the hoses from the trucks, only to find at least one of the fire rigs was too far from a hydrant. They wasted time getting the vehicle repositioned.

Another fireman couldn’t open the fire plug because he didn’t have the right wrench. A bystander loaned him the correct tool.

Firefighters next discovered the water pressure from the hydrant was to low. They had to search to find one that could support at least a minimal flow.

Then out of nowhere came a World War II “Twin Beech” AT-7 Navigator — flying low and slow over the burning warehouse. The pilot made a turn, lining up on the warehouse and dropping 300 gallons of fire-retardant.

When the retardant hit, the warehouse roof collapsed. Three volunteer firemen, including one visiting from Sparks, Nevada received injuries – though not seriously.

Unfortunately, the retardant didn’t put out the fire. Instead fire crews returned to the warehouse three times that night to prevent fires from rekindling.