Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--Tahoe Tavern, Lake Tahoe

Please visit Owen's blog to read his contemplative poem in a post titled Haiti Shaken . . .  It includes amazing B&W photos of his trip there in 1997.

The internationally famous Tahoe Tavern was built in 1901. The Tahoe Tavern was designed by Walter Danforth Bliss for the Duane Bliss family. Walter Bliss was also the architect for the Ehrman Mansion; this explains why the two structures are similar in appearance.
In 1906 a 60 room annex south of the main hotel was built. A second floor was added in 1907 that included a casino with bowling alley, novelty and barbershops, and a ballroom with stage.
Other construction projects in 1907 made the Tavern an almost self-sustaining entity with a physician's office, a laundry, a steam plant and a water system, which brought piped water from above Tahoe City.
In 1925, a $250,000 "luxurious, elegant" new wing was added. The casino also added the bar the same year and in 1926, the coffee shop, sundeck and pleasure pier with rocked-in boat wells were built. With the advent of automobiles, it was necessary to add garages, which were constructed in 1927, along with tennis courts and a livery stable.

One could, upon arriving in Truckee on the mainline railroad, transfer to the narrow gauge line and travel to the Tavern in Tahoe City for $1.50. You would ride the passenger car, which was behind the ever-present freight cars. After dropping its passengers at the Tavern station, the train would go out on the long Tavern pier to meet the Steamer "Tahoe", which made the daily mail run around the lake in eight hours. . .

The Tahoe Tavern burned down in the 1960s. After the fire the structure was torn down. The Moana Development Corporation then purchased the property and constructed the present condominiums in three phases between 1966 and 1969.

Today the pool and rock stairway on the middle meadow stand as a reminder of the original historic Tahoe Tavern.
 ~The History of Tahoe Tavern from Tahoe Tavern Properties website
(home page at website has slide show of current properties and stunning lake views)

The postcard was sent by my mother to her mom after having spent a day off work at a friend's "Tahoe home 'midst the pines & how we enjoyed it." It was 1955, and she was twice divorced and working in Reno as a blackjack dealer six days a week. Her one day off was given over to us and play, frequently at Tahoe or at various hot springs pools around the area.

She signed my sister's name and my name to the greeting because we were not writing yet, and, in fact, I was too young to remember that particular day in the sun midst the pines. But I remember the Tahoe Tavern from many other day trips and family vacations as the years went by.

And I remember the look in my mother's eyes each time we would pass by the old place, and then she and I would exchange glances in an understanding moment that assured her...yes, I well knew that she and my father worked at the Tahoe Tavern and had separate employee quarters there when their love was young and passionate and carefree, before I came along, before my father's alcoholism destroyed all of it. Sometimes, in that moment of memory for her -- that had become a transferred story to me -- her excitement for what once was could be felt in the car as an energy force all its own and it was in those times that I knew she would later that night create a private moment with me so she could retell. Relive. Relive the memories of him coming to her desk in the management office to suggest that they take blankets to the sand and be together on warm summer nights, waking in morning's light with the slapping of small waves on shore and running back to the area in Tahoe Tavern where breakfast was served to employees before the new day's work began.

I never had a love quite as insane with intensity as theirs was.
Such a pity.......such a blessing.



dmarks said...

Cool. I was in Tahoe once, but it was pitch black.

Hattie said...

My sister was a blackjack dealer in Tahoe for several years. She loves it up there and recently bought a condo in the area.
It is a romantic place. I was up there summer before last and could see why it would be easy to fall in love by the lake.

Kim said...

What a great story to go along with this postcard. I really enjoyed the backstory.

Kittie Howard said...

I visited the Tahoe area once and thought it more than beautiful. However, I didn't associate any romanticism with Tahoe until your post. What a happy-sad story. Such intensity. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for the history. It's unfortunate that these old buildings, such a luxury in their day, and still could be, disappear into granite counter tops.

La Belette Rouge said...

What a beautiful place. I love the wild side of Tahoe( not the gambling side).

Marius Morar said...

Oh, Lydia, how touching your story is! You let me learn again that the deeper the soul, the stronger the people.

Looking to the Stars said...

How I love this postcard, I wish I could've seen it. I vacationed in Tahoe when I lived in Calif. Such beauty! I always liked the fact that part of it was in Nev. and part in Calif. :)

You sharing your mother's story was so touching. No one can say it better then Marius Morar did!

And I wanted to thank you about your sideline on Miep Gies, what a wonderful picture. A precious soul has left our presence.

Take care, little one :)

~ Tabitha ~ said...

Miep Gies is one of my fave humans for what she did to help the Frank family-her and Otto.And Anne Frank has been an inspiration to me from the first time I read her Diary when I was about 11 yrs old.

I've never been to Tahoe..
Not yet anyways.

Lydia said...

@dmarks- That's a shame to have been at Tahoe only in the dark! Maybe you smelled the pine scent in the air?

@Hattie- Your sister is a lucky woman to have a condo in the Tahoe area. I'd love that!
I had a summer romance for two years with a boy from Sacramento whose family vacationed in Tahoma each summer the same time our family vacationed at my Uncle's cabin there. It was pretty special; he was one of the good guys...

@Kim- It was a beautiful old place for sure. I'm glad you liked the card and the story.

@Kittie- Re: romance at Tahoe see my comments above to Hattie. :)
". . . disappear into granite cabinet tops" sure is a poignant description of the fates of great old buildings. I never have been inside that courtyard mentioned in the article, and would like to see what remains...take a photo or two.

@Belette- Re: the Calif. side of Tahoe see my comments to Uncle's cabin in Tahoma was a glorious getaway (still is for my cousins!) Nevada has ruined the other side of Tahoe, imho.

@Marius- Your comment was great to read and to think about during the day! I appreciate any time you can be here. :)

@Looking to the Stars- I'm glad to think that you have vacationed at Tahoe too. It's a place that, once seen, lives in the heart.

Miep Gies lived a long life, but I still mourn the loss of one who represented the best, the very best of human nature.

@Tabitha- I think I also was 11 when I read Anne's diary. Yesterday I was listening to Portland radio and the woman announcer gave a touching talk about the "right of passage for most girls around the age of 13...the reading of the Diary of Anne Frank." She said her own daughter had read it summer 2009 and it had spurred the best conversations between them.

Perhaps one day you can enjoy reading favorite passages from the book while sitting on a pier at Tahoe! I hope so.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hi Lydia - lovely postcard as usual and such a personal story of intense passion.

I suspect that real love, the kind that lasts, may well lose that initial passion but mature into something much more deep and fundamental. Sometimes i look at my partner asleep and am amazed at the intensity of the feeling i have.

Ryhen | Mind Power said...

Hi Lydia! Is that thing in the picture real? Goodness, it looks wonderful. I think the place you've mentioned (Tahoe) is in San Francisco, right? Sorry for asking... I've never really visited any other country except for thailand. In fact, I don't even go out of the house. How I wish I could visit a place like this. Thanks for sharing. =)

Peace and respect,

Darlene said...

I love Lake Tahoe. I think it is one of the most beautiful spots in the U. S.

It's so sad that alcoholism ruined your mother's marriage. It almost destroyed my son's marriage as his wife was alcoholic. She went into rehab several times but continued drinking. When I saw her New Year's she was no longer drinking and had quit for a month. She says she feels better (no wonder) and is working on repairing her relationship with my son. I am not sure that will happen; too many things happened while she was drunk. I hope she stays sober as it will be easier for all concerned.

Melinda said...

Lydia, my friend--I absolutely LOVED the postcard and the wonderfully written story about your mother that was behind it. It's such a shame that it burned down!


Lydia said...

Pixies: Glad to have you here. I must catch up at your blog and will, I promise.
Your partner is lucky that you feel so deeply. I do think you are correct in what you said about lsting love.

Ryhen: I do believe this is your first visit here, and I enjoyed your comments very much. Lake Tahoe is in the Sierra Nevada range of mountains between Nevada and California. The Lake is actually split (the state line is practically down the middle) between the two states. The Nevada side has casinos and large resort hotels. The California side, the side that La Belette Rouge above described as "the wild side," has no gambling, therefore smaller tourist attractions. There is skiing on both sides of the Lake.
San Francisco is further away, not in the mountains but on the California coastal bay area. Go here for lots more information and photos!

Darlene: I agree with you that it is one of the U.S. top beauty spots.
Interesting story about your daughter-in-law told in your matter-of-fact manner that withholds judgment. I so respect you for that. And I wish her well.

Melinda: Just returned from your blog and after reading about your extremely busy schedule all I can say is thank you for taking a bit of time to read and comment so sweetly on my post! :)

Jennifer said...

I have never been to Tahoe. My husband's family used to go there for their vacations (which brought up tension between his parents about gambling) and a lot of people in the Bay Area go there for skiing. I'm sure we'll make it to Tahoe someday.

The story of your parents was a pleasant surprise here. I think it can be of some consolation that they started in great intensity and love, and that out of that love came you and your sister. But I also roll my eyes when I hear my father's stories of the love between my parents (sure, yeah, right Dad), so maybe it isn't a consolation when it ends badly. But I hope it is.

Lydia said...

Jennifer- O, that gambling's destroyed families and lives, most definitely.
I hope you make it up there with your family sooner rather than later. It's so beautiful, very special.

O, so your dad tells you about the love, huh? Sounds familiar. But, yes, I do take consolation in the fact that my parents began with intensity and love. She rebounded after their divorce and remarried, then immediately became pregnant with my sister. The jerk left her before my sis was born. A few years later came her decade-long marriage to our stepfather...more stories...

Jennifer said...

I had forgotten that your sister was a half-sister (a funny term, isn't it?).

Sometimes it seems like love isn't all it's cracked up to be -- or at least the intensity can lead to great pain.

Jane said...

Hi Lydia,
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Tahoe Tavern to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you!



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