A couple of weeks ago, having again been stumped by stupidity, or amnesia, or very possibly by both, I sent out a distress call: “Hey, all of you out in Reno Gazette Journal readerland! Is there someone among you who knows the history of how the limestone Block ‘R’ came into being on Peavine Mountain?”
My question arose because I had just written about a hardy band of graduating Reno High School students trekking up Peavine to “freshen up the Block ‘R’.
Reno accountant Virginia Pucci Zorio has bailed me out before in my uninterrupted quest of history, and sure enough, this super sleuth came through for readers again. The 1955 Reno High class member says the now familiar Block ‘R’ didn’t exist on Peavine when she graduated.
Confronted with my question, Pucci Zorio began working the phone. Here, for the historical record, are my intrepid reporter/friend’s findings;
The Block ‘R’ was born in the spring of 1962, just weeks before graduation. The group of RHS senior boys who dreamed up the idea included Tony Barnard, Maurice Beesleys John Boswcll, Pat Cashell, Tam and Hank Williams.
The about-to-graduate Class of ’62 boys hiked to the future site and designed and mapped the soon-to-be-born signature, using stakes, string and a basic understanding of geometry taught to them by RHS mathematics teacher E’Lois Campbell.
She taught at RHS, from which she graduated in 1934, from 1950 to 1973. The academic degrees at the University of Nevada and Columbia University, continues to live in Reno, She is in good health. Miss Campbell is 75.
The Block ‘R’ site was chosen because the land was owned by Marceleno Landa, a rancher and friend of the aforementioned John Gascue’s father. Mr. Landa gave his enthusiastic permission to the youngsters to stake their claim on the site.
The energized boys worked many Sundays, rearranging rocks to suit their mission. The teenagers called themselves the Block ‘R’ Society, and they kept their membership number low to keep their endeavor a secret.
However, word of their undercover project leaked out before they were scheduled to paint the ‘R’. The principal of RHS at that time was David Finch, a former combat U.S. Marine; He told the innovative boys that if they continued their Peavine endeavor they would not graduate. Not a boy was willing to take that risk. So, they backed off.
But their persistence did not remain dormant. A few weeks after the boys had graduation diplomas safe in hand, the Block ‘R’ glowed down on Reno, newly bathed/painted with a light coat of lime and water mixture.
The tradition of brightening the Block ‘R’ continues with bands of graduating senior boys every two years or so up Peavine to where the senior boys in the Class of ’62 took it upon their enterprising selves to make history.