I still vividly recall moving to Reno. I was 4.
Before the move, I remember many sunny California days sitting, sequestered, inside my small home — the orange-brown glow of a smog-filled sky visible through our avocado green, crushed-velvet curtains. As my parents grew tired of smog alerts that kept my brother and me house-bound, they began looking for a new home.
Reno answered the call.
Our first apartment was in Water’s Edge, overlooking the Truckee River near Reno High School. When we weren’t outside at Idlewild Park, we were inside sunny Park Lane Mall — where I developed an odd fascination with the clock.
The pedestal clock stood in the center of the mall, its green iron façade something I would study as I journeyed between Jay Jacobs and Weinstocks. The clock served as a meeting place, its surrounding benches a quiet spot to sit and sip an Orange Julius.
Little did I know the clock would literally and symbolically mark the passage of time during my youth. It watched over me as my tastes evolved — from early years when I was at Park Lane exclusively to visit the toy store or the arcade, to high school when I bought my first prom dress at 5-7-9.
Just a few days ago, as I left a business lunch at Campo, I drove past City Hall. And just outside, I spied the same clock. Sure, I had seen the clock there before — but I had never really seen it. I never made the connection to Park Lane or my youth.
And in that moment, I thought to myself: This is why I love Reno.
The clock could have been sold. It could have been discarded. It could have sat in storage for generations. But many forces came together to ensure the Mayer clock, which first lived on Virginia Street in the 1920s and eventually relocated to Park Lane Mall in the ‘50s, would occupy a revered place in our city.
I know some local history has disappeared — most notably the Mapes, which lost its preservation fight almost a decade ago. But many pieces of our past remain because of local pride. Think the original downtown Reno post office; the Lake Mansion; heck, the entire town known as Virginia City.
We care. We love who we are and what we stand for. We pay homage to our historic roots.
So, when a publisher came to me and asked me to write a book about Reno — one that could be used by locals and visitors alike to highlight 100 amazing experiences as curated by me — I couldn’t pass it up. Fundamentally, my reasons were tied to a personal and abiding sense of community spirit. But it was also about a few other things. Namely:
I wrote it for my children.
I gave birth to three Reno natives. Wherever they go in life, I hope they look back with pride on their hometown. And who knows: This book may just be a small source of that pride — a way to reflect and recall with fondness the many things we did while living here.
I wrote it for our reputation.
I recently had a friend tell me she’d be in Vegas soon, wondering if we could connect for lunch that day. I had another friend message me asking if Reno 911 was an accurate portrayal. “No” — and “NO!” — were my respective answers. Reno is still a well-kept secret, and I’d love to be able to educate, enlighten — and offer a few experiences that may change long-held (mis)perceptions.
I wrote it for Reno’s future.
I love the idea of time capsules, and to me, this is a literary time capsule. Future generations will have a snapshot of the Reno of today — and with any luck, they’ll still be sharing some of the same experiences highlighted on the pages. Maybe they’ll even have recently passed under the watchful gaze of my old friend, the Mayer clock.
Why did I write this book? I was given the opportunity to write a love letter to my city, and I took it. It’s certainly not the first book I thought I’d write, but it’s the one that came to me. And I’m beyond grateful for that.
So If you’re a proud Renoite like I am: Join me! The book is all over town (Sundance, Barnes & Noble, Costco, etc.), on Amazon, or you’re welcome to contact me and I’ll hook you up. In it, you’ll likely find some new destinations, some tried and true, but hopefully, all comprising a small piece of the diverse and magnificent mosaic that is Reno.
Mikalee Byerman is the author of “100 Things to Do in Reno Before You Die,” available from Reedy Press. Connect with her at facebook.com/100ThingsToDoInReno or at mikaleebyerman.com.