My sister, her husband, and their two sons are having a short vacation in South Lake Tahoe and Reno now. It's the first visit for her boys, ages 14 and 16, to Reno where she and I were both born and raised. It's changed so much since this postcard that I date to the early 1940s based on the stamp affixed on the back (no message or address), which I learned online was used on mail in 1942. In our youth it was still the city of trembling leaves, and actually for a city of its size (Reno-Sparks 2008: 414,784) trees still grow abundantly where desired, appreciated, and cared for lovingly.
May Reno always live up to the name given it by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in his glorious epic novel, The City of Trembling Leaves .......
from the prelude of the book, published in 1945 (when the population was around 53,000):
THIS is the story of the lives and loves of Timothy Hazard, and so, indirectly, a token biography of Reno, Nevada, as well. Now, whatever else Reno may be, and it is many things, it is the city of trembling leaves. The most important meaning of leaves is the same everywhere in Reno, of course, and everywhere else, for that matter, which is what Tim implies when he calls moribund any city containing a region in which you can look all around and not see a tree. Such a city is drawing out of its alliance with the eternal, with the Jurassic Swamps and the Green Mansions, and in time it will also choke out the trees in the magic wilderness of the spirit. In Reno, however, this universal importance of trees is intensified, for Reno is in the Great Basin of America, between the Rockies and the Sierras, where the vigor of the sun and the height of the mountains, to say nothing of the denuding activities of mining booms, have created a latter-day race of tree worshippers. Furthermore, to such tree worshippers, and Tim Hazard is high in the cult, the trees of Reno have regional meanings within their one meaning, like the themes and transitions of a one-movement symphony. . .
[descriptions of each region of the city follow, culminating in the following, at the end of the prelude. . .]
There is also, of course, the treeless center of the city, which we have worked all around, though not without hearing it several times, in sudden shrill bursts from the brass or deep mutterings in the rhythm section. This, however, is the region about which the world already knows or imagines more, in a Sunday-supplement way, than is true, and it will do, for the present, to suggest that it is not unlike any moribund city, or the moribund region of any city. It is the ersatz jungle, where the human animals, uneasy in the light, dart from cave to cave under steel and neon branches, where the voice of the croupier halloos in the secret glades, and high and far, like light among the top leaves, gleam the names of lawyers and hairdressers on upstairs windows. In short this is the region which may be truly entered by passing under the arch which says, RENO, THE BIGGEST LITTLE CITY IN THE WORLD.
Yet there is one important difference between even this region and the truly moribund cities of the world, the difference which makes Reno a city of adolescence, a city of dissonant themes, sawing against each other with a kind of piercing beauty like that of a fourteen-year-old girl or a seventeen-year-old boy, the beauty of everything promised and nothing resolved. Even from the very center of Reno, from the intersection of Virginia and Second Streets, and even at night, when restless club lights mask the stars, one can look in any direction and see the infinite shoals of the leaves hovering about the first lone crossing light.