Memories of Dan the Man

Dan Lemus

Photo By David Robert

Dan Lemus, otherwise known as “Dan the Man,” is a born-and-raised Sparks guy. He spends his days in Reno working at the Silver Legacy, and his nights hanging out at various bars in Sparks, reminiscing about times past. Lemus, 49, is well-known around the Silver Club—which is where I caught up with him—for his juicy stories and enthusiastic alcohol consumption. Word also has it that he’s got the scoop on the edgiest street gossip. So if you can find him, ask Lemus if he has the lowdown on Sparks business owners, casino layoffs, or if he remembers how things used to be—back in the good old days.

What do you miss most about the old days?

We used to ride our bikes outside of town … to the junkyard. It was the neatest thing. The sun would hit it, and all you saw was glitter, shining sun hitting junk parts. You could see whole hills [of junk] reflecting light. That’s what I miss.

At North McCarran there were wetlands, and all the crickets would go cherrr, cherrr. All night you’d go out there and catch frogs. We’d take flashlights. There were old, run-down barbed wire fences everywhere. You could skid out your car there. Whoosh! That’s what I miss about this town. Now it’s grown. Oh well … nothing you can do about it.

What was your first car?

My first car was a ‘56 Chevy. It was turquoise blue. [My brother] gave it to me. I thought I was hot shit. I was 16. Even though people had better cars than me, [I thought] mine was better because my brother took care of it. It was clean. But then I drove the hell out of it. [My next car] was a ‘57 Chevy [truck]. When I took my girlfriend to Pyramid Lake, we’d be passing everyone.

What did you do out there?

We’d drive there and back. That’s how my life started. I came [of age ] in the ‘70s. You know what goes on in the ‘70s? Woodstock, all that shit. I had to try it. I had to be part of it: The Beatles, The Monkeys, the zip-up boots, all that.

Cars were the neatest thing. My dad would make me, in the freezing cold, get under that car. But now I’m glad he did, because I know everything [about cars]. We used to go downtown. We’d get Frost Tops from A&W. You looked at a car and you knew who they were, what school they went to. That’s why I like Hot August Nights. All the guys [in Hot August Nights] … I know who they are. They were the ones who were more popular than me. They had those hot cars. We would set up the [racing] light. Sometimes a hundred different vehicles would show up. Everybody would race. You’re talking big engines, 450s. We used to have wrecks out there, the cars were so powerful.

Where did you go to high school?

Sparks High. Best time of my life. Sparks used to be No. 1 in football, baseball. It was neat. Everybody would get 15-cent hamburgers. We’d be in our yards and we’d smell it [coming from Dairy Queen], and go mmmm. Fifteen cents for a hamburger! We’d get three or four. But now [that Dairy Queen] is a car wash. Times have changed. Boy, I remember this town …