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A Pair of Hall of Famers
by Harry Spencer
May 19, 2012 | 1646 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune File Photos
Javale McGee gets ready to score during his days playing for UNR.
Tribune File Photos Javale McGee gets ready to score during his days playing for UNR.
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Tribune File Photos
Silviano Frediani, 87, poses on Sunday May, 12, 2012 after being nominated for the Sparks High School Hall of Fame.
Tribune File Photos Silviano Frediani, 87, poses on Sunday May, 12, 2012 after being nominated for the Sparks High School Hall of Fame.
slideshow
Back in the 1950s I had the good fortune to be the Reno city league softball commissioner.  One of the premiere players I remember was Sil Frediani.  About the same time I was engaged in playing handball with Dick Trachok, who was then the head football coach of Reno High. The reason I mention the two is this year they both entered their respective high school halls of fame.  Frediani’s induction came last weekend while Trachok’s will occur next month.

It is a fitting tribute for both men because virtually their entire lives have been spent in athletics.  The two crossed paths many times because Frediani was a football official for 25 years, during which time he refereed Trachok’s teams’ games many times.

I remember calling Frediani’s name over the loud speaker at the Idlewild field frequently where he was one of the outstanding softball players.  Not too far away, I was playing handball with Trachok at the Reno Y on Foster Drive. Trachok had been an outstanding halfback during the University of Nevada’s golden years.  He and his pal Tommy Kalmanir, another fine footballer, had come west from Pennsylvania.  Following his coaching career at Reno High School he then moved on to the university where he became the football coach and eventually the athletic director.

Frediani was born in Italy and came to this country at the tender age of 8.  He attended schools in Sparks where he was an outstanding athlete – baseball, football and basketball.  He also served in World War II, participating in the invasion on D-Day.  While in the service he was wounded twice and returned home in 1945.  When it came to his career in officiating he was honored by making a training film on football refereeing for the National Federation of High School Associations in Arizona.  His daytime job was with First National Bank from which he retired after 44 years as a vice president.

Around 1960, Trachok and I were lured from the handball court to the squash court when Newt Crumley came to town.  We ended our last year of handball as competitors in the finals of the Novice Handball Player Division.  We then became daily opponents at squash for the next dozen years.

During Frediani’s playing days there were two high schools in this area: one in Reno and one in Sparks, until Bishop Manogue came on the scene.  Both Frediani’s recent induction and Trachok’s upcoming ceremony are fitting tributes to these two great athletes who went on to teach young athletes, one as a coach and one as a weekend referee.

Celebrity Corner

Some of the lesser-known performers who appeared in the Skyroom at the old Mapes Hotel were interesting individuals in their own right.  One such was John Carrol, a recognizable movie star.  He was booked into the Skyroom as a singer in the top spot.  I remember in casual conversation with him one night between shows, when he confided in me, “I can’t sing worth a damn but nobody seems to know it.”  Most of his roles were in Western flicks, but I first remember seeing him in a John Wayne film called “Flying Tigers,” in which he played a brash young aviator.

Another such minor luminary was Patrice Wymore, whose greatest claim to fame was that she was once married to Errol Flynn.  I asked her once how she felt about divorcing Flynn and she replied, “I got the yacht.”

For many of his stag affairs, hotel owner Charles Mapes would hire a comic.  One of these was Jim Backus, who achieved his greatest notoriety on television’s “Gilligan’s Island.”  After his hilarious stand-up routine for Mapes, the audience would call out, “Do Magoo!”  In the hotel lounge following his performance he would complain, “I told these marvelous jokes, I’m also a good Shakespearian performer and an experienced movie star, and all my audience ever requests is ‘Do Magoo’!”

Another fine performer in the Skyroom on a regular basis was comedian Dick Shawn.  Despite having a fine routine, Shawn had dreamed of being a Broadway star.  He once got hold of a script and convinced Mapes to invest in a play called “The Egg.”  All he did was lay one on Broadway.

At one point in time, during a Mapes golf tournament, one of the players was Andy Williams. Mapes instructed me to ask him to sing a few tunes. Williams’ reply was, “I’m here to play golf not to perform.”  It was the last time he was ever invited to the tournament.

Probably the best entertainer we ever hired for the Mapes Casino Lounge on the ground floor was Al Bello.  We booked him for two weeks but we did so much business he stayed for three months and eventually made it to the Skyroom of the hotel.

A local boy who made good was the late Frankie Fannelli.  His first local gig was at the Riverside as a boy singer in the chorus line.  His daytime job was delivering milk. His voice was so spectacular that he eventually played the big rooms and cut numerous records.

NBA playoffs

Little or no mention has been made in the local press about the fact that two former Nevada basketball players have made it to the NBA playoffs as starters on their respective teams. The two are Ramon Sessions, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Javale McGee, a center for the Denver Nuggets. The two opposed each other in a series that the Lakers won in six games.  Both are excellent NBA players and are a tribute to the recruiting effort at the university.

Harry Spencer is a Reno freelance writer.
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Karen Martin
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April 29, 2013
"Minor luminary", indeed. Patrice Wymore Flynn was Flynn's widow and had her own career in show business for some 15 years. They may have been separated, however, they never divorced. Consequently, she "got" the 2,000 acre ranch in Jamaica, which she put to very good use and proved herself to be quite a savvy business woman after his death. Flynn was in the process of selling the yacht in Vancouver when he died of a massive heart attack with assorted other ailments thrown in. All of this is well-documented. Not new information.
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