If These Mapes Hotel Champagne Coupes Could Talk

Whose lips had sipped from these champagne coupes (saucers) from the Mapes estate in Reno? Fellow Reno history buffs Deb Geraghty and James Stavena found a dozen of these vintage glasses in a Reno antiques shop and – most thankfully – sent two to Bill and me. 

One evening, as we sipped Manhattans from the Mapes champagne coupes, Bill reminisced about opening night at the Mapes Hotel on December 17, 1947


“The Mapes Hotel had a prime downtown location across the street from the Truckee River and the Riverside Hotel. When the Mapes was completed, it was twelve stories high, the tallest building in Nevada, and the first skyscraper built in the Western United States after World War II. Before the Mapes, the El Cortez Hotel in Reno was the tallest at seven stories. The Mapes changed the Reno skyline.

“I was in my second month as head dude wrangler on the Flying M.E. On December 17, 1947, Emmy Wood (the proprietor), Allie Okie (the ranch hostess) and I escorted two carloads of Flying M.E. guests to the Mapes on opening night. It was snowing and took longer than usual to drive the twenty miles from Washoe Valley to Reno.

“When we arrived at the Mapes, Emmy took a half-dozen guests to the Sky Room on the top floor. Reservations were not taken for opening night, but Emmy, who was by then a legend in the Reno divorce ranch business, had pull, and she and her guests were seated immediately at a coveted window table.  Joe Reichman, billed as “The Pagliacci of the Piano,” and his orchestra were playing and the dance floor was crowded. Emmy said later the views through the large picture windows were magnificent, overlooking the lights of Reno and the surrounding foothills and mountains.

“Allie Okie and I stayed in the cocktail lounge and casino with the guests who wanted to drink and gamble. We spotted actors Bruce Cabot and Johnny Weismuller (of Tarzan movie fame), and the boxer Maxie Rosenbloom.

“Johnny Weismuller was easy to spot with his unmistakable physique and longish hair. He had just begun his six-week residency at the Donner Trail Ranch in nearby Verdi to divorce San Francisco socialite Beryl Scott.  During the next six weeks, Weismuller would spend so much time at the Mapes gambling, drinking and dining, a newspaper reporter dubbed him… ‘Tarzan of the Mapes.'”

True story from The Divorce Seekers – A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler
by Bill and Sandra McGee.


6 thoughts on “If These Mapes Hotel Champagne Coupes Could Talk

  1. Pingback: Sandra's Occasional Newsletter - June 2021

  2. Aaahhh. What a wonderfully reminiscent & thoughtful gift! And so the legacy continues … sealed with a toast to a personally-experienced bygone era/history. Thanks for sharing … Susie Sent from my iPad


  3. Hi Sandra and Bill,
    What a great story! The way you told the story made me feel I was there enjoying the event! Cheers to both of you to having the opportunity of celebrating another era of history in style!

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