My new best friend
Having a chat with Judi Muller-Hanno is like standing under Yosemite Falls in the spring — the flow of words never stops.
Orllyene and I meet Judi at Dr. Roland Chen’s office in Minden. When she hears I write an article in The Record-Courier she says, “I was wondering how I was ever going to meet you, and is that Orllyene?” I am so overcome with intrigue that we arrange a meeting.
Finding Judi’s home on Muller Lane is simple; the street has her name on it. She was married to Walter Muller for 34 years until he passed on in 2011. Now Titus, her Saint Bernard, is her companion.
Before I even sit down, Judi gives me a brochure for the Old Historic Bar in Genoa. “My good friends, Wally and Cindy, own the bar. It’s a motorcycle bar, and the bikers have beautiful Harleys, and some are millionaires. They don’t swear or fight and they always give me a helping hand when I get up. At the Sturgis Rally they raised $240,000 for children. These days, bikers and long-distance truckers are the most interesting men around,” she says.
From the cushiony comfort of Judi’s loveseat sofa, I ask who the attractive lady is in the picture over by the frilly lamp shade.
“That’s Marge Springmeyer,” she responds. “She was a second mother to me when I came here in ‘72.” (This triggers memories of Bill Harrah, Sharkey, and Ted Bacon, and she has a tale to tell about each.) “I met Cathy Crosby (Bing’s wife), when I worked at the Genoa Post Office. She was so nice, and stood in line just like everyone else.”
“Ron, I was born in a ‘Leave it to Beaver Family,’” Judi says, and then comments that she became a nun. “I lived in a cloister for 10 years. I took care of young girls who were in trouble with the courts. It was a lockdown prison, a sweat shop. We did all the Holiday Inn laundry in St. Louis.”
“Did you take your final vows?” I ask. “I renewed my vows every year until the tenth year, and after that the Pope would have to give permission so I left. You can do God’s work anywhere,” she states.
“Ron, I want you to hear something nobody knows,” she says, and becomes completely secretive. “Walt’s dad bought this ranch in 1914. Back then, the road out front was nothing but a dirt road. A sign on it read, ‘This way to Lake Tahoe.’ Walt’s dad built a toll house, and put the tolls in a little round box.”
On a personal note, when Judi called Orllyene to ask that I close the gate when I get here so the dog won’t get out, Orllyene told me Judi said, “You can tell by the way Ron writes in his articles that he really loves you.” Now ask yourself. How many people do you know who are open and loving enough to say something like that?
Judi Muller-Hanno’s birthday is the 4th of July and, in the world of fireworks, she is a true sparkler. I hope you are fortunate enough to meet her.
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.