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Guy Clifton at Good Old Days Club
by Harry Spencer
Feb 25, 2013 | 2900 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The featured speaker at the February 15th meeting of the G.O.D. Club (Good Old Days) was Reno newspaperman Guy Clifton. His power point presentation and talk to the sold-out audience was about his most recent book effort, “Images of America RENO”.

In essence what the book does is show important pictures with comprehensive captions. The photos themselves are categorized in nine classifications. They are: Favorite Sons and Daughters; Business and Business people; Under the Arch; Welcome, Mr. President; Famous Faces; Silver Spurs; Reno Rodeo; The Champs; Disasters and Oddities.

Especially interesting to this writer were the chapters on “Silver Spurs” and the “Reno Rodeo”. Because I had a long relationship with these two events, I enjoyed seeing pictures of celebrities from both the celluloid cowboy world and persons of the domain of actual cowboys.

Among the Silver Spurs honorees I had the good fortune to personally interact with were John Wayne, Jim Arness, Richard Boone, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and Lorne Greene. Of them all I most frequently saw Greene because he and I lived in Incline Village during the late ‘70s. Because Greene was an avid tennis player, those occasions mostly occurred on the Tahoe Racquet Club courts and at the Clint Eastwood Celebrity Tennis Tournament.

Arness was the first TV cowboy to receive the Silver Spurs, all the previous winners had been motion picture stars such as John Wayne, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart again, Glenn Ford the following two years, and Fred MacMurray. Arness’ award had been presented to him by another famous film actor, Rex Bell, who at that time was the Lt. Governor of the state.

In the “Reno Rodeo” chapter full-page pictures are devoted to two of the most prominent figures in the event and they would be Harry Frost who ran Reno Printing Company and Cotton Rosser, who started as a competitor in the rodeo and eventually became the stock provider for future rodeos. During its heyday, the Reno Rodeo attracted such premiere names as Casey Tibbs, Larry Mahan and Ty Murray.

Of all the individuals that served as President of the Reno Rodeo, Charles Mapes was probably the most innovative. When he grabbed the reigns of the event in 1966 the rodeo was in dire straits for funding. He devised a plan whereby local merchants and professional people could contribute to an Underwriting Program that was designed to raise enough money to cover the expenses of the event. The underwriters would be repaid on a percentage basis based on the income that the rodeo generated. The first year they received something like a 60 percent return on their money. The amount they received in subsequent years finally reached 100 percent and the rodeo was on solid footing.

Anyone who has ever wanted to know what Reno was like during its “Golden Era” has but to turn the pages of Clifton’s latest work.

Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.
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