Stories from around the neighborhood |

Stories from around the neighborhood

John Hefner

Hello Johnson Laners,

This month I am going to go in a bit of a different direction. One where I really want this column to be about; the Johnson Lane community itself. Sit back and indulge my stammering as we look into one of our long-time residents, Mr. Bruce Bertram.

I met Bruce via my connections with the Disabled American Veterans. He kindly hosts some of our equipment for the Wheel Chair Program my chapter sponsors. Bruce is a Vietnam veteran who served in country from 1967 through 1968 and the Tet Offensive as an artilleryman. Thank you, Bruce for your service.

Bruce has been in and out of the area since 1961. He was an avid skier who enjoyed racing on the snow. In 1964 he received his draft notice but suffered a broken shoulder in a ski accident. Shortly after his shoulder healed, he broke his leg in four places while racing downhill. Bruce had other misfortunes and broken bones which stopped him from being accepted into the military until 1967. I am sure he could have asked for a medical deferment but he did his duty and finally went to basic training at Fort Ord, Calif. After his experience in Vietnam, Bruce decided to become a carpenter and left the U.S. Army in 1968.

Bruce tells me he built the 13th home here in Johnson Lane over on East Valley. In fact, when we looked at the map of the area, he would have been my neighbor if the timing wasn’t off by a decade. He also built the first volunteer fire station located where the fire station is now. The first volunteers were Bruce, Willy Hoff and Jack Hill.

We talked about how the community developed. According to Bruce, most of the parcels were homesteads. The original homesteaders had names like Harry Clapham, Dorothy Dudley, and Walt Downs. I am sure there were many others but you will probably recognize the Clapham and Downs names. Clapham has been credited with creating the Johnson Lane area in 1960 when he began selling 80 acres – Penny Maple Johnson Lane Journal, April 9th 1981.

Bruce says the northeast corner of Johnson Lane and East Valley was an onion field, which is where the housing development of Skyline now begins.

Bruce confirmed there was a turf farm located where Saratoga Springs is now located. It consisted of approximately 20 acres. The turf farm was operated by Paul Unruh. Mr. Unruh is mentioned in legislature documents as late as 1977. An advertisement in the Reno Gazette Journal says to call “The Sod Man” at Uhruh’s Turf Farm. Some research shows there was quite a bit of litigation surrounding homestead rights in the area involving Mr. Uhruh. Some of you may remember prior to the homes there was a two-story metal building on the parcel. Mr. Uhruh lived on the second floor and Bruce did all the finish work on the interior.

We talked about the General Store. Harry Clapham built the first G Store in 1974 and 1975. He sold it to Judge Jim and Lynn EnEarl in 1978. I was quite surprised to hear the first building on the location was actually one of the old barracks from Babbit near Hawthorne. According to my wife, a Hawthorne native, those barracks were sold for $100 and were made out of ammo boxes.

We talked a bit about the cross on the hill. He didn’t recall it but he told me this little story. Bruce and his neighbor, Patty Morris, would often ride horses up Hot Springs Mountain. I didn’t know, but it’s a great way of getting a horse in shape, or “legging them up,” by riding them in the deep sand up the incline. Bruce says, “it puts a hellva forearm on a horse.” They would often ride up around the mine that is in the saddle there and would see a three-legged cat. Sounds about right for Johnson Lane.

Sometime during their time as neighbors Bruce was shingling a house next to Patty’s. His choice of fashion at the time was his nail bag and tennis shoes and nothing else. Apparently, it upset Patty quite a bit to see him up on the roof naked hammering away. It upset her so much that they have now been married for 29 years here in Johnson Lane.

Thank you, Bruce for the stories! If any of the readers have anything to share please contact me at the email below. You will get a free lunch at the Taildragger!

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John Hefner is a Johnson Lane resident