When I was a kid in Tahoe City, back in the dark days before Al Gore invented the Internet, there were two primary sources of information about what was going on in town: the rumor mill and our weekly newspaper, the Tahoe City World. The paper began in 1963 with Stub Stollery as the editor, his wife Bobbie as the financial wizard, his brother Dave as the historian, and his son Rod, who was intimately involved in every aspect of the operation as well. On the Tahoe World’s 10-year anniversary Stub wrote, “Starting a newspaper is something like organizing a harem…you’re not sure whether you can cover all the bases but it’s sure worth trying.”

Stub penned the column “Sierra Sue” in which he impersonated a woman, but not necessarily a lady. Sue dished out hilarious and totally fictitious advice. Just about every story in the paper was laced with sarcasm or innuendo, even the news stories, and much of it seemed to revolve around the ability of members of our little community to consume alcoholic beverages. Of course, this makes sense since Rod Stollery said that Stub would come up with some of his best story ideas by heading down to Pop’s Corner at the Tahoe Inn, having a few drinks with the locals, and then returning home to plunk out the stories he heard on his ancient typewriter. Stub knew how to make even the most boring stories more interesting with headlines such as “South Shore Sewage Plan Hits Fan.”

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Rod Stollery said that after the paper came out on Fridays, “Dad would then close the office, figuring the readers who were mad about something we wrote would cool down by Monday when the office reopened.”

There were a regular series of quaint columns and features that today read like “The Andy Griffith Show.” In “Kids Korner,” Tahoe Lake Elementary School teachers sent in a sentence or two about what happened in class that week. While reading through papers from April 1964, I was happy to discover that in Mrs. Heinke’s kindergarten class, Timmy Hauserman celebrated his sixth birthday. Dave Stollery’s “Tales of Tahoe” column on the history of Tahoe was a prominent feature. Like his brother, he often used a made-up character to relay a sarcastic story, like Chief Wa-na-ni-pa who told ancient Indian legends of Tahoe’s beginnings.

We lived across the street from Ellen Attardi, the librarian who also wrote the Tahoe City World’s gossip column. Sometimes I figured out what my parents had been doing the week before by reading Ellen’s stories.

The 1960s, as we all know, were a much less politically correct time. The feature called “Bottoms Up” or “Fanny of the Week” involved a photographer going to a ski area and taking pictures of the nicely formed posteriors of women in tight ski pants leaning over to attach their bindings.

While it was a place for humor or keeping up-to-date on the locals, the Tahoe City World was also a place to bring the community together in times of sadness or joy. After a United Airlines plane crashed while trying to land at the South Lake Tahoe Airport in 1964, killing 85 people, the front page of the paper featured an extensive essay on the tragedy, asking God to rest their souls. Also that year, the front page was ablaze with the huge headline “WELCOME HOME JIMMY!” (sic) when local hero and our first Olympic medalist Jimmie Heuga arrived home to an incredible celebration. At the time, the suggestion was made to change the name of Lake Forest to honor Heuga’s accomplishments.

It was during the heady days of the 1960s, after the success of the Squaw Valley Olympics, that the paper began to frequently report on ski area development plans. John Reilly, the original brains behind Alpine Meadows, tried to get the financing to turn Ward Canyon into an enormous development with nearly a dozen chairlifts, thousands of homes, and even a lakefront recreational facility. Another ski area development was proposed for just north of Pfeifer House on Highway 89, for which the developer proudly proclaimed that a chairlift would cross the highway with ski runs leading up to the ridges on both sides of the road.

For those of us who lived in Tahoe in the 1960s, each week we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the next issue of the Tahoe City World. The paper was so important that when the Bechdolt family headed up Five Lakes to Shanks Cove for their lengthy hunting trip, they would always make arrangements to have the paper delivered by horseback, and at least on one occasion, by plane. They might have been roughing it, but they still wanted to know what was going on in the World.

Tim Hauserman grew up in Tahoe City eagerly awaiting the Tahoe City World each week. Now he has to wait a whole month to catch his new favorite read, Moonshine Ink.


Dear Sierra Sue: The senior prom is coming up and I don’t know which of my three boyfriends to date. I like Smokey, but he’s always Brokey. Then there’s Star, but he has no car. Mother says to go with Mitch, but he gives me the itch. What to do?

Dear what to do: There must be a boy named Lance, with dough in his pants, whose dad owns a ranch and with an itch for romance.

Author

  • Tim Hauserman

    Tim Hauserman wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the 4th edition of which was published last summer. He also wrote “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and "Gertrude's Tahoe Adventures in Time." In the winter he runs the Strider Glider program at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. He has lived in Tahoe City since he was a little tyke and continues to be amazed with the beauty of Lake Tahoe. His former English teachers, on the other hand, are probably amazed that he became a writer. Contact Tim at writeonrex@yahoo.com

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