The Winter Olympics
With the 2018 Winter Olympics this month in South Korea, it might be well to remember when the Games were held at Squaw Valley some fifty eight years ago.
In Reno’s case the nearby Games of ’60 provided a strong economic boom in the usually dead winter months. In fact, rooms were filled all over the Reno/Sparks area.
As I remember, the first physical contact locals had with the Games occurred when a Reno sports organization awarded their "Sportsman of the Year" plaque to Alex Cushing, who almost singlehandedly acquired the Games for his resort at Squaw.
That sports organization was the brainchild of Nevada State Journal’s Ty Cobb. It was called Sierra Nevada Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association. It met on a weekly basis and it acted as a clearinghouse for sports news from coaches at the various schools. It was wellattended by members of the Press, who could get a wealth of information in a single stop.
Cobb was the Charter president, Link Piazzo the second pres, Carl Digino the third and the writer the fourth. The next big move locally was for Walter Ramage, manager of the Mapes Hotel, to initiate plans to establish the International Olympic Press Club at the hotel. He was aided in this effort by San Francisco ad man Ken Macker, who contacted Olympic Press agent Pete Rozelle. Rozelle was able to achieve accreditation for the club, even to it being able to use the Olympic Rings in all of its postings.
In 1960 the dean of sports writers was one Red Smith of New York closely followed by Chicago and LA sports writers. These gentlemen appeared on the board of directors of the Press Club.
Also, for the first time, the Olympics were scheduled to be televised worldwide by CBS. Anchor for the broadcast would be one Walter Cronkite.
Physically, the Press Club was located on the top floor of the Mapes in the southeast corner room that had been previously called the Indian Room which had also been the initial site of the local Prospector’s Club. The Club room was equipped with a bank of typewriters, several closedcircuit television screens hooked up directly to Squaw, comfortable couches, teletype service, a couple of Western Union runners and a 24-hour bar. For the bar, Ramage had secured an old SF traffic light that indicated when the facility was open and closed. When the green light was on, the bar was free of charge and when the red light flashed, patrons were expected to pay. Since Ramage had given me keys to the room and told me I was in charge for the duration of the Games, I immediately removed the bulb from the red light.