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Sun Valley

by Nick Noyes

Nevada license plate

Nick Noyes is a writer from Reno, Nevada. He goes to church 5 days a week but strictly in a janitorial position, where he can be found doing a bang-up job cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming between the pews. 

Known colloquially as Scum Valley or Spun Valley, Sun Valley, Nevada, holds the record of being the largest trailer park in the world. Impressive, right? Now, couple that bit of prestige with our affinity towards methamphetamines, and you’ve got yourself at least a solid 45 minutes of stand up comedy, and who can’t get behind some white trash humor? Sun Valley: Alabama minus a redemptive southern charm.

Sun Valley had humble beginnings, or I’d like to think so. My Grandfather was among the first to put homes in the area back in the mid 20th century, and there still exists in one corner of the valley a street sign reading Noyes Court. The trailers came later, as did the motorcycle gangs and their methamphetamines. Co-opted by outlaws, Sun Valley by the 1970s was considered a sort of no-man’s land. Where the pavement ended on Sun Valley Boulevard, the cops stopped and turned around.

Sun Valley is a suburb of Reno, Nevada. You may know Reno from the Johnny Cash song or the Comedy Central show Reno 911. Nationally, we’re essentially the butt-end of a joke. A poor man’s Vegas, Reno’s economy is based almost entirely on the tourism of old, defeated white men who drag along their depressed families to a dry and scratchy desert. Reno is listed second behind Fresno as the drunkest American city, and nationally Nevada is usually listed worst in education. Reno is not, to say the least, known for its prestige. 

Now, ask any person from Reno about my lovely little suburb. Sun Valley? Oh, they’ll laugh, don’t you mean Scum Valley? And they’ll ask with a serious look on their faces, “Are there any trees in Sun Valley?” as if nature too is repulsed and allowing of the land only sagebrush. Insert the inevitable comment about purchasing methamphetamines. Even by Reno standards Sun Valley finds itself in an outstanding abyss of public opinion.

And sometimes I’ll get upset about it, too. I’ll argue with people. Sun Valley isn’t bad, I’ll say. There aren’t that many gunshots. Meth isn’t that big of a problem. So what my neighbor’s St. Patrick’s Day party got out of hand. Do you realize how convenient three dollar stores are in a one mile radius? You can’t argue against the convenience of a liquor store next to an AA hall, can you? Look, they’re not trailers, per say, they’re manufactured homes. There’s a difference! And Harvey’s topless bar? Harvey’s good people!

I try to argue for the sake of the hard working people who live here, and because white trash humor is the low hanging fruit of unfunny people trying to be funny and I fight it out of principle, however, I am eventually forced to give up my defense when my bike gets stolen (again), or my mailbox gets tagged, or my car gets broken into, or my neighbors are shooting guns again, or a random little kid is walking around on the streets without a shirt on, or I get attacked by a pair of bloody pit bulls. I find myself struggling to argue against the prejudice. Maybe the public image is more accurate than I’d care to admit.

I can only have so many experiences like this:

My Grandma comes back inside the house. Confused, I ask her, “Aren’t you going to work?” She has on her Bonanza Casino work apron. “I was but the damn road’s blocked off.”

Down at the bottom of our dirt road are at least twelve cop cars. They surround the house of Don, an aptly titled meth lord—allegedly, of course. My Grandma and I look down onto what looks like the entirety of Parr Blvd with shotguns drawn and pointed at Don’s steel wheel abode. A man with a megaphone barks orders behind a squad car. My Grandma and I watch from our window. I’m excited—you couldn’t find this kind of entertainment in Somerset—but my Grandma is angry, “Just shoot the son of a bitch already. I’m going to be late.” She lights a cigarette.

Despite the shotguns, body armor, sirens and megaphones, Don doesn’t get caught. Don was prepared and had apparently played this scenario out before in the static of his spotted brain: in his backyard, through piles of broken down cars, busted campers, stacks of bent sheet metal, and piles of PVC pipe, Don has an emergency escape tunnel. Crawling through the trash, Don escapes into the neighborhood, free for another day.

For what Sun Valley lacks in class, wealth, and social status, I’d like to think that we make up for it with ingenuity and flair.

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