Remembering Glenbrook:
A Look Back with William W. Bliss

GlenbrookBook FC3Born in Oakland, California in 1924, William W. “Bill” Bliss assumed the ownership and management of the Glenbrook Inn in 1960 and operated it every summer henceforth until his decision to permanently close its doors in 1976. The story of the Bliss family at Glenbrook is a compelling one and has continued to generate significant interest. When I was first approached by Glenbrook residents Diane Oliver Felchlin and her husband Jim about meeting Bill to gauge his interest in this project, I knew very little about Glenbrook nor of the long and deep

The Bliss family occupies a central part of the historical fabric of the Nevada Comstock Lode and that of early Lake Tahoe. As the last family member to actively manage the Glenbrook Inn and the family interests in the Tahoe Basin, this document provides an open, candid and honest view from the inside of what that experience entailed.

To make all this possible, Bill graciously offered to sit down with me for multiple hours of conversation at his lovely home in Glenbrook. Our sessions together often included looking through photos and assorted documents from his personal archives and this commentary is integrated throughout the dialogue. We also corroborated certain references to events and perspectives by referring to the 1992 book which he took part in writing with Sessions S. “Buck” Wheeler titled, Tahoe Heritage: The Bliss Family of Glenbrook, Nevada.

The resulting personal accounts and anecdotal recollections of Bill’s family and life at Glenbrook found here provide a singular insight and perspective that only someone in his unique position could offer.


 

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Inside Remembering Glenbrook

Bill Bliss: I remember well when Hogan came over to Glenbrook to play. I can remember I talked my father into getting him to come here. It was a last minute deal. I’d heard he was playing in Reno, where he actually won the Reno Open at Washoe Country Club in early September of 1948. And I thought, you know, God, he’s here and in the area. Why don’t we get in touch with him? And somehow my father did, and Ben Hogan agreed that on his way home to Arizona, he would spend a day at Glenbrook. He thought it sounded great. And he was quoted, and I think I put that in the Tahoe Heritage book, that his experience was very favorable with regards to being there. So, he came down right after winning the Reno tournament and he put in a really good day up there, far more than a half a day. I mean he put on a real clinic. He hit a number of buckets of balls and you could stand around and watch him. And then he played an eighteen hole exhibition at Glenbrook, so that took a lot of time. I mean, he basically spent the entire day out there.

On the exhibition round itself, it was a foursome. For the entire day and exhibition it was only $350. Amazing. We made up a flyer and the public around the area was welcome. I don’t really remember how far we distributed that flyer, but there was a nice little crowd, a very comfortable, manageable crowd. It was nothing that you would see today. It was in September so there weren’t too many guests at the time but there were the locals also and it was well received. You know, he had a media reputation for being the ice man or something like that, and terrible to the press. But that day he was anything but, he was a very friendly, warm guy on that day.

After the event, he came in and had dinner with us, he and his wife, Valerie. Just my mother and father and myself, at the Inn. And he spent the night there at the Inn. He was a very personable individual, even though, as I said, he did not have that same reputation with the press. I think a part of it may have been that he was able to relax because he wasn’t in competition, and he was able to enjoy it. You could tell he enjoyed it. It was a memorable experience for everyone that was there that day. The next morning he headed back to Arizona. He played in some tournament there and then subsequently drove to Texas, and that’s when he got in the accident. And, as you know, that really laid him up for a while. But he came roaring back and won championships, yes he did indeed.

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