Two Went to War

In this piece, Ken Adams has written about war, the first WWI fatality from Reno, and his own experience in Laos and Vietnam.

I have posted his introduction and background to the poem here and a link to the poem itself.

I need to warn everyone. The poem itself is quite disturbing and a very graphic picture of  the carnage of war. It’s not for everyone. 

Two Went to War

Darrell Dunkle Soldier True

American Legion Hall, Darrell Dunkle Post #1, in Reno, Nevada
American Legion Hall, Darrell Dunkle Post #1, in Reno, Nevada

While walking around my neighborhood in Reno in 1971, I discovered the American Legion hall, Darrell Dunkle Post #1.  It had been named for Dunkle because he was the first person from Reno to be killed in World War I. In 1917 at the age of 22, he left the university to join the army. On July 18, 1918, he was killed in France. World War I was called the war to end all war. I wonder if Darrell believed that?  His story intrigues; what would he think about the world today?  I composed a song in his honor; Darrell Dunkle, Darrell Dunkle, where are you, where are you?  Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques (Brother John), the question has stayed in my head for forty years.

Darrell Dunkle fascinates me because we traveled the same path. His took him to Europe to end war and make the world safe for democracy.  Mine led from Reno to Laos and Vietnam.  My war was meant to stop the spread of communism and to protect democracy.  In the end, we went in different directions. He was killed. I survived. However, the outcome of our efforts was the same.  The world is no safer today than it was in 1918 or 1963.  And thus my little tale.

Two Went To War – The Poem

Ken Adams is a fourth generation Nevadan, writer, researcher, blogger, and artist.


The 4th Street/Prater Way Corridor – Reno, Sparks

I’ve been going down memory lane lately – and right now, that “lane” is the 4th Street/Prater Lane Corridor in Reno and Sparks.

This all started with a writing prompt in a memoir class, which asked me to write about “Where I’m From.” A few days later, I came across the 4th Street/Prater Way History Project on-line. This coincidence resulted in a poem, a poetry contest, and some other writing I will share later.

It’s funny how some places feel central to a part of yourself, and how the change in a place can sometimes mirror your own changes. Although I’ve moved away and don’t hang out on 4th Street anymore, I can see the same progression as the street in myself. Starting out strong, being bypassed, and (hopefully) experiencing a renaissance.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on 4th Street, but I usually lived close to the corridor during my twenties. I really only hung out at the diner in the poem, the coffee shop at the El Rancho Motel on 4th, and occasionally a bar at Lake and 4th. When I lived in Sparks, Deer Park was a great place to have a picnic when it was too hot in the house. That was a long time ago, but those years shaped me in many ways. Those years helped lead me on the crooked path to where I am today.

This is a side door at the historic Morris Hotel on 4th Street in Reno. It's now a permanent staging ground for a many Burning Man display.
A side door/window at the historic Morris Hotel on 4th Street in Reno. The hotel is now a permanent staging ground for a many Burning Man display.

The History Project tells the story of the changes on this corridor, the old Highway 40, through town. The website breaks this story up into different eras. Each era is described in an essay, pictures, and the oral histories of some of the people who lived and worked there. Many of the people in these stories are there now, holding on to the old places or building new lives.

The corridor today is a place of art and business, new colors and old faded ones, that make such a wonderful collage. Take a look at all the wonderful work that went into this project.

Which streets, lanes, and paths, are important to your personal history? What made them so? Let us know in the comments. Better yet, write the story, the poem, paint the picture, take the photo. Send your idea to Nevada Narratives and we’ll work on publishing it here. The poetry contest ends February 26th.

A Poet’s Impression of Reno

Poetry by James Dilworth

daffodils photo


Newlands Park

      by James Dilworth

Another Saturday —

A day before Summer comes in:

Some singing birds above

brown finches and red robins

in old, spiky, evergreen trees,

a couple crows commenting on the rest

as they scamper along the

huge green carpet of lawn

with clover and dandelions

yellow and white daffodils blooming

black plum trees ripening

happy children playing on swings

creaking merry-go-rounds full of parents

low murmur of cars all around,

miles away and nearby.

I make a picture

with camera and pen to remember

when I perched with coffee

on the old, mottled concrete wall

above Keystone Highway

In Newlands Park, up high.


The Tourist

     by James Dilworth

I live out my old carpetbag

My clothes are neatly pressed

Folded on starched creases

From my final night.

Can’t remember where home was

Now it’s where I am

No trace of life I’ll leave

Nor contribution too

My passing through time and place

Show I’m lost and free

Brilliant corners in Reno are like ‘Frisco

Every motel is blue

Wandering I forgot my station

And fell off the deep end

Lost I am found No where alone

Unsearching eyes go shut.

Forever uninvolved I wander

To find where it is for me

Some place my face will fit

There I will end my vacation.

reno motels photo
Photo by aresauburn™