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'Mystery' youngster identified
by Harry Spencer
Jan 27, 2008 | 661 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local author Guy Clifton's current book on the connection between legendary heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and the state of Nevada, particularly northern Nevada, has on its jacket cover a picture of Dempsey clowning around in the ring with a little three-year-old. Both are wearing boxing gloves and the tiny pugilist has a pretty good stance for one so young. At his recent presentation before Washoe County's Good Old Days Club Clifton was asked to identify the little boxer. He responded by saying, "That is Buddy Garfinkle, at the age of three!" (Garfinkle is a well-known former university athlete, local coach, teacher and principal now in retirement at Incline Village).

Clifton went on to explain when he was searching archival photos of Dempsey to include in his tome — pictures that are alone worth the price of the book — he received all kinds of input and offers. One came from Garfinkle, who noted that since 1931 when the picture was snapped, it had not been out of its original frame.

Clifton accomplished his talk at the G.O.D. club with a sale of his work, with a substantial discount to those in attendance. Currently the book can be purchased at local outlets such as Sundance books.

The reason that "Dempsey in Nevada" is such a fascinating read is that the former champ got into professional boxing in Northern Nevada as a spindly 155-pounder on a 6-foot 1-inch frame. In fact, when he knocked out the giant Jess Willard to win the heavyweight crown he only tipped the scales at 185, but he was a fearsome puncher.

Clifton, who has also written a definitive history of the Reno Rodeo and authored two volumes of "You Know You're a Nevadan If" said that a third volume of his now in progress. Like the first two, the excellent illustrations that accompany the interesting text will be once again penned by Marilyn Melton.

'Crunch time' for UNR basketball

After the stunning 15-point homecourt loss to Boise State a week ago Saturday, the Nevada basketball team faced its toughest road test of the WAC season last week.

By the time you read this Nevada will have a good idea of where it stands in its quest to repeat as WAC champion.

Following the Boise loss, coach Mark Fox was quoted as saying that if Nevada has any chance of returning to the NCAA tournament this year it will probably have to aim at winning the WAC tournament, which assures a bid to the Big Dance. The bad news is that the 2008 WAC tournament will be held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which is not one of the Silver and Blue's favorite away from home courts.

Bye, bye Alaska Airlines

With the recent announcement that Alaska Airlines will be abandoning the Reno International Airport soon brings to mind the euphoria that existed when Alaska first announced it was coming to Reno.

At that time it was said that Alaska intended to expand its presence in Reno by eventually offering more and more flights. The constant diminuition of passenger seats available into Reno, coupled with the complicated course of circumnavigation from many points in the country, was again emphasized by some attendees of the Safari International Club's huge convention here last week.

With the most affluent conventioneers that this area is able to attract it is bad news indeed if those first-class-flying passengers cannot find easy aerial access to the Biggest Little City and environs. Officials at the airport consistently counter the dropping passenger count here by saying, "But our cargo business is up!" Last time the major local casinos were checked there was no major sign of boxes of cargo playing slot machines.

Celebrity corner

With the death of actress Suzanne Pleshette last week the local area lost another of the stellar performers that used to visit here on a regular basis. Pleshette had her longest sojourn in the early '60s when she appeared opposite Tony Curtis in the movie, "Forty Pounds of Trouble." The Technicolor flick was a remake of the Shirley Temple movie, "Little Miss Marker." Most of the "Forty Pounds" local shooting took place at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. Shortly before the movie cast and crew were to wrapup shooting their location footage at the Reno airport, I received a call from Curtis, who had been a guest as the Mapes Hotel for the 1960 Winter Olympics. The gist of the conversation was that Tony invited me out to the shoot and then noted he would like to spend a weekend at the Mapes. We were happy to house the star and on a trip to the airport I was fortunate to visit with both him and Suzanne, between takes. She was as effervescent in person as she was on film and later on television in the Bob Newhart series (Newhart was a regular performer at Harold's Club during his early stand-up comic days).

We extended an invitation to Suzanne to spend a few days at the hotel but she had other commitments in Hollywood. When Curtis later pulledup to the Mapes in his Bentley convertible (he had an aversion to flying) the local press was out in force to record his arrival.

Harry Spencer is a Reno freelance writer.
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