Carl Park Bechdolt could talk all day about growing up at Tahoe, from shooting geese on the Truckee River on Christmas morning to fishing for an illusive 100-pound sturgeon. His grandfather, Carl A. Bechdolt, was Tahoe City’s deputy sheriff and the owner of the Tahoe Inn, which he purchased in the 1920s. His parents, Carl Jr. and Elsie, met in Oakland, moved to Tahoe City, and bought the Lake Chalet Motel in the early ’40s where the Cobblestone Center sits today. His uncle Bill Conners ran the adjacent gas station. As Carl Park Bechdolt said of his cousins and himself, “We were kind of kingpins in town. Everybody knew us.”

Bechdolt goes by Park, but those who knew him as a young boy at Tahoe Lake Elementary in the 1950s, and later at Truckee High, call him Parky. Born in January 1945 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno, Park joined a small population of Tahoe City locals who “numbered about 90, and 48 of them were kids,” he recalled. His father and grandfather are both named Carl, but he was named after the doctor who delivered him, Dr. Park Tuttle.
In 1966, Park met his future wife Lynette Brixey at the Fireman’s Ball in Tahoe City. Lynette was a young widow and mother of three. They married on Oct. 1 of the same year, and had two children of their own. Nearly 50 years later, their marriage has stayed strong and their legacy has grown to 15 grandchildren — though one grandson was killed in an accident in 2006 — and three great-grandchildren.

What’s your history with the Tahoe City Golf Course?

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My parents bought the course in 1948 against my grandfather’s wishes. He thought $75,000 was too much money. It’s a nine-hole course, built by the Tahoe Tavern. At 11 years old I was the youngest greens superintendent in the United States with the USGA. My dad trained me to drive the Jeep, mow the fairways. In 2012, we sold the course to the Tahoe City Public Utility District. I still play there. It’s a good course.

Did you go to college or leave the area for a while?

I went to UC Davis and Sierra College in Rocklin where I played football and golf. One semester at Davis I learned about grass and agronomy, then studied business and social science at Sierra College. I never thought about leaving Tahoe. We had the Olympics, then I met Lynette. We’ve been married 48 years. I was a paid fireman in Tahoe City for four years, then volunteered for 25. I left to help my father with the golf course, then got into real estate.

You mentioned you worked at the 1960 Olympics.

My dad was a ski jump judge. He almost made the Olympics in the ’30s but he battled polio and encephalitis just before he was supposed to go. I worked for Sports Illustrated as a photographer, skied all over with Jimmy Heuga, Spider Sabich, Jean Claude Killy. I saw the USA beat Russia in ice hockey.

What other organizations are you involved with?

I was campaign chairman for Mickey Daniels for Constable in ’78. We organized a wild game feed for a fundraiser, and it turned into 28 years of The Big Mack Feed. I was on the Tahoe City PUD Board for eight years and have been on the Tahoe City Recreation Association Board for 20 years.

What’s your favorite thing about Tahoe? And what’s the goose story?

I love hunting, fishing, and golf. One of my fortés was on Christmas morning I’d cook goose breast, gravy, and eggs. One year in the late ’70s, there wasn’t any goose in the freezer. I went down to the Truckee River where there’s a little pond by the footbridge. Shooting on the river always creates havoc because people don’t know it’s legal as long as you’re 150 yards away from an occupied dwelling. I walked across the footbridge carrying two geese and two CHPs were waiting for me. One said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Getting a Christmas goose.’ The second cop said to his partner, ‘I told you that’s what he was doing. You owe me five bucks.’

Are you still trying to hook that illusive 100-pound sturgeon?

I’m always trying to get him. He’s always out in the Tavern hole. We called it Herkemer. My guide boat was called In Search of Herk.

For the next Tahoe Stories, Bechdolt recommends Bruce Yankton, a Kings Beach resident since 1960 and owner of Yankton Excavating until his retirement in 2014.

Author

  • Marianne M. Porter

    Marianne M. Porter earned her BA in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno; completed a certificate in creative writing at UC Davis Extension; and is currently working on an MFA in creative writing at Sierra Nevada College, Incline Village. She is married with two daughters in college.

    Connect with Marianne

    Visit:
    M-Tu, Th-Fr 9:30am - 6pm
    10317 Riverside Dr
    Truckee, CA 96161

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