Harvey Bynum – The Las Vegas Connection

 

Harvey Bynum 

 “Notorious”? “Visionary”?

Researching the history of a Las Vegas restaurant, night club operator and gambler.

A work in progress By Robert Stoldal

(Updated January 23, 2019)

 

A guide for a walking tour of the Las Vegas High School Historic District, produced by the city of Las Vegas, contains the following statement; “721 South 6th, Tudor Revival, 1937.  Built by Lewis E. Rowe, well-known Las Vegas High art teacher, the house was rented briefly by Harvey “Red” Bynum, a notorious gaming figure and Davey Berman, Bugsy Siegel’s

The Dean Legal Group Ltd now occupies 721 South 6th.  As seen in this Google street image.[i] 

Bynum “Notorious?” A “partner” of Berman and Siegel?  Who was this guy? And why is he renting, even “briefly,” the home of a high school “art teacher?”

 

 

From,  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/notorious, we get “no·to·ri·ous adjective \nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs, nə-\  : well-known or famous especially for something bad. Full Definition of NOTORIOUS:  generally known and talked of; especially:  widely and unfavorably known.” [ii]

Here’s another one from Dictionary.com.  No·to·ri·ous.  /noʊˈtɔr i əs, -ˈtoʊr-, nə-/  Spelled [noh-tawr-ee-uh s, -tohr-, nuh-] adjective. 1. Widely and unfavorably known: a notorious gambler. Synonyms: infamous, egregious, outrageous, arrant, flagrant, and disreputable.  Origin: 1540–50; Medieval Latin nōtōrius evident, equivalent to nō (scere) to get to know.” [iii]

       So, according to the City of Las Vegas, Harvey Bynum was “well known or famous especially for something bad,” or “widely and unfavorably known: a notorious gambler. Synonyms: infamous, egregious, outrageous, arrant, flagrant, and disreputable.”

O.K., using the Medieval Latin source of notorious, we will “get to know” Harvey Bynun the “notorious gambler and partner of Dave Berman and Bugsy Siegel.

But first, a word from someone who knew Bynum personally; Charles P. “Pop” Squires.

Squires, sometimes called the “Father of Las Vegas,” arrived in southern Nevada in the spring of 1905.  For more than three decades he owned and operated the Las Vegas Age newspaper.

At the age of 93, after seeing Las Vegas from a desert landscape to the Las Vegas Strip Squires died in 1958.  (At one point Squires owned the land underneath the Flamingo Hotel.)

In 1953 Squires wrote of Bynum; “Just the other day, I met an old friend, Harvey Bynum.  Harvey established and operated several nightclubs which in their day were favorites of Las Vegas home folks, and which in a way set the pattern for the great hotels and nightclubs of today.” [iv]

Depending on one’s vision, Bynum was either a “notorious gaming figure” who was in business with mobsters, including Bugsy, or he was liked by “Las Vegas home folk,” and it was his vision that ”set the pattern” that formed the foundation for Las Vegas..

Who was Harvey Bynum?

Harvey Alman Bynum was born August 25, 1889 in Jonesboro, Craighead County, Arkansas.

Seventeen years later he was reported to be in the one year old town of Las Vegas.

Bynum in Las Vegas in 1906?

Starting in 1939 newspapers began to report Bynum was in Las Vegas in 1906.

A story in the March 13, 1939 issue of Squire’s newspaper said Bynum was managing the “91 Club” out on the highway to Los Angeles that would become the Las Vegas Strip

The club, formerly the Pair O’ Dice was now owned by Guy McAfee noted Los Angeles gambling and prostitution kingpin.

In the article Squires wrote when he was seventeen Bynum “was one of the pioneers of Las Vegas having spent some time here as early as 1906.”[v]

Squires who was in Las Vegas starting in 1905 remembered “Harvey first came to this town about 1906 and this has really been home ever since.” [vi]

In February of 1945, the Las Vegas Review Journal printed, “Harvey Bynum, pioneer Las Vegas resident, who came here first in 1906, is back.”[vii]

In March of 1946 a newspaper report included, “Bynum is well known in Las Vegas as he came here in 1906.”[viii]

A review of Las Vegas newspapers between 1905 and 1907 reveals no mention of Bynum.

By his mid-20’s Harvey has found his future.

In 1916, we find Bynum as the manager of the “Dunbar’s Restaurant” at the “New Savoy Hotel” in Erie, Pennsylvania.[ix]

The 1917 Erie, Pennsylvania City Directory lists the “Bynum Bros.” Harvey and Barney as having a restaurant at 630 State Street.

      World War One would delay Bynum restaurant plans.

The war in Europe had been going for several years before April 6, 1917, when the United States declared war on Germany.

Six week after the declaration Bynum appeared at the draft office in Illinois.

On the army registration form he listed his “present trade” as “restaurant business” with current plans to “open at Peoria, Illinois.”     On the form, dated May 29, 1917, the registrar described Bynum as “tall” with a “medium build” with “red hair” and “gray eyes,”

Bynum was 27 years old.

 

Like many people with red hair, Bynum would pick up the nickname “Red.”

Bynum entered the army and served until after the war and received an honorable discharge.[x]

Next we find Bynum in Ohio.

      The U.S. Census says Bynum was living in Akron, Ohio in February of 1920.  He listed his business as a “restaurant” that he “owns.”

A 58 year old Bette Bynum was living with him at the time.

Bynum moved west to Los Angeles in the early 1920’s and by 1924 he had married “Billie” Meredith and they had a daughter Elizabeth Jean.[xi]

It appears that Bette is Billie.

Shortly after the marriage Bynum moved his family east where he managed the Breakers Sea Food Cafe in Oklahoma City. [xii]

In 1925 Bynum is on the road again.  He heads west to Reno.  At this point, no record has been uncovered of what the now 35-year-old Bynum did in Reno.

In June of 1926, an Oklahoma newspaper did report; “Mrs. H. A. Bynum and little daughter, Elizabeth Jean, off to Reno, Nevada, where she will join her husband and make her future home.” [xiii]

The Bynums were in Reno for close to two years.

While casino style gambling was still illegal in Nevada in the late 1920’s gambling on card games, poker etc. was legal.   In addition some forms of slot machines were legal and licensed.

Before, during and after Bynum and his family were in Reno, Jim McKay and has partner Bill Graham ran the underworld.  This included most of the gambling, legal and illegal as well as the bootlegging operations.

In this wide open town Bynum added gambling to his skills operating a restaurant.

By 1928, the Bynum’s had moved back to California and were living in the Pismo Beach area.

The couple was also known to have made “a trip to Nevada” in August of that year. [xiv]

 

Bynum- 1930 Census April

In the 1930 U.S. Census, Bynum and his wife “Billie” and daughter Elizabeth Jean were living in the city of Los Angeles, California.   The census was taken on April 2 and 3.

At that point Bynum told the census taker he did “restaurant work.”     It was not long after that declaration he was arrested.

Bynum and Bear Valley, California Gambling Raid 1930 June

In June of 1930, law enforcement agents were tipped there was a “miniature Monte Carlo” casino operating in Bear Valley, California.

Located about fifty miles west of the Nevada State line from Topaz Lake, Bear Valley would be the subject of regular arrests for illegal gambling.

On June 22, 1930, members of the San Bernardino sheriff’s office raided the lodge.  Deputies found two women gambling, arrested six men, and confiscated three dice tables, blackjack and a roulette tables and “400 gallons of whisky.”  [xv]

Bynum was among those arrested. He pleaded not guilty to the gambling charges. [xvi]

A month later, his attorney convinced a jury that the gambling operation was not for real, they were just props for a Fourth of July celebration.  And that the event was sponsored by the Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce.[xvii]

Free of the gambling charges Bynum and moved to Las Vegas.  Eight months after he arrived gambling, at the end of March, 1931, would once again be legal in Nevada.

While the rest of the United State was suffering from the Great Depression, Las Vegas was booming.    Forty miles southeast of the city, several thousand men were working on the Boulder Canyon Dam Project, someday to be called Hoover dam.

When the first shovels hit the ground at the dam site, gambling and the sale of alcohol was illegal.

While gambling became legal in the spring of 1931, the legal sale of alcohol was still a couple of years away.

And despite the efforts of federal authorities, speakeasies were still the shortest distance between dam workers and their pay checks.

During the dam days a string of saloons could be found on both sides of the newly paved highway between the Las Vegas and the hill leading up to Railroad pass.

There were also a couple of upscale speakeasies on U.S. 91 outside the city limits.

In 1931, on what would become the Las Vegas Strip, there were a couple of auto camps, a gas station and two nightclubs, The Red Rooster, and the Pair O’ Dice.

They were among the first clubs in southern Nevada to received licenses to operate table games.

The first to open was the Red Rooster, located about where the sidewalk is in front of the Mirage Hotel Casino.

The Pair O’ Dice night club was second.   It was located on the west side of the strip, just north of where the Wynn Hotel-Casino is now located.

The Pair O’ Dice became the Last Frontier Hotel-Casino, then the New Frontier Hotel-Casino, then the Frontier Hotel-Casino and now an open field and owned by Wynn Resorts.

Having trouble competing with the nightclubs along the Boulder Highway, in 1931 the builders of the Pair O’ Dice leased the operations to Bynum.

In between Bynum’s bust in 1930 and his plans to take over the Pair O’ Dice, the gambling community was focused on the activities of a California gambling and bootlegging family, the Cornero’s.

While Tony Cornero was still in federal prison his family opened up the Meadows hotel-casino in 1931along the highway to the dam construction.

 

Bynum and the Pair O’ Dice

     About five miles southwest of the Meadows another nightclub was having an “informal opening.”  The builders and owners of the Pair O’ Dice, invited the public to see the new night club, gambling hall and restaurant on the evening of July 4, 1931. [xviii]

Two months later its owners said they were closing the resort for remodeling; the “casino is being remodeled and redecorated” and “will reopen on a larger scale as soon as the contemplated improvements are completed.”[xix]

Another three months would elapse before the Pair O’ Dice would reopen.  At this point, Bynum stepped in feeling he could make a success out of the shuttered club.

It is possible that after his bust in California, Bynum came to Las Vegas to help the Cornero’s open the meadows.  A 1945 story in the Las Vegas Review Journal reported says Bynum was “connected with the Meadows in the days when that club was the bright spot of Las Vegas’ night life.”[xx]

While the timing is right, and the Cornero’s hired well known gamblers to help with their casino operation, no other references to Bynum and the Meadows has been uncovered.

Beyond being able to get a glass of illegal champagne or a shot of whiskey, Bynum had to come up with reasons people would drive several miles on the desert highway, past the city limits, to the Pair O’ Dice.

Bynum developed a plan to re-open the new Pair O’ Dice on New Year’s Eve.  Rather than compete with the clubs along the Boulder Highway catering to the dam workers, Bynum went up scale.

He sent out a press release and placed several advertisements promoted the re-opening of the night club.

Unable to directly tell his potential customers he was serving booze, in his press release he said, “An unusual catering service will provide refreshments;”

      “Re-opening with a “Bang,” the Pair O’ Dice, luxuriously appointed resort on the Los Angles highway about three miles south of this city, is planning a gala New Year’s eve celebration.  According to the management, special music and entertainment has been arranged for that evening, an unusual catering service will provide refreshments, and the crowd will be given confetti, horns, serpentine caps, and all the customary New Year’s equipment.  The resort will remain open, entertaining nightly after January 1.”[xxi]

The display advertisement for the New Year’s Eve “re-opening” of “Pair O’ Dice” promised “a brand new show with Howard Jones Hi-Hatters featuring Wm. Haines in a Study in  Black and White” and “Sally” a life-size pint.  Plenty O’ Prices, Plenty O’ Surprises say goodbye ’31 and Help ’32 with us at Pair O’ Dice.”

While Jones and his Hi-Hatters continued to entertain at the Pair O’ Dice, Haines made only the one New Year’s Eve appearance.  “Wm. Haines,” was actor William Haines.

After the New Year, Bynum continued to run advertisements in Las Vegas newspapers.  In the January 5, 1932 edition of the Las Vegas Age Bynum included his name; Harvey Bynum was “in charge of casino,” and “Oscar Klawitter” was “in charge of Cabaret.” [xxii]

Ten days later, Bynum and Klawitter, who was listed as “Oscar Witter,” announced; “When you visit Las Vegas you simply can’t afford to miss seeing Las Vegas’ most popular, most queue, most interesting place of entertainment, featuring American, Italian and Spanish Dishes.”[xxiii]

After three weeks, “playing to a packed house,” a new act was added to the Hi-Hatters show.  Bynum and Klawitter said the band “Four Aces and a Queen” was on bill supplying patrons with “hot music.” [xxiv]

The first week in February, 1932 included a statement from Bynum the recent remodeling and redecorated was not enough, and that he was enlarging the dance floor and dining room to accommodate crowds of 150 people.[xxv]

After talking to Bynum a newspaper reporter wrote, “the popular resort has been handicapped by lack of room to handle larges parties and that the increased patronage of late had made it necessary to double the space available. [xxvi]

On Wednesday morning of February 3, Bynum said “by Saturday night we will be able to handle parties of 150 comfortably.” [xxvii]

Two weeks after opening “Four Aces and A Queen,” the resort began promoting patrons could dance “the entire evening to the tunes” played by the expanded “Five Aces and A Queen Orchestra.”

       For sixty days Bynum ran the Pair O’ Dice, then he made an unexpected move.

On the evening of February 29, he said was leaving “immediately for Los Angeles where he has other interests.” [xxviii]

The next day H. H. “Red” Switzer took “immediate possession” of the club picking up Bynum’s yearlong lease. [xxix]

By this point in his life, Bynum’s nickname was also “Red.”[xxx]

Nine months later on January 4, 1933, Switzer closed the club.  He said, “The people of Las Vegas have been fine and given us a good break, but there’s just not sufficient business here to enable us to get by.”[xxxi]

Assisting in his decision to close the Pair O’ Dice was his arrest a month earlier for selling alcohol resulting in the club being listed as a “common nuisance.” [xxxii]

     Between the spring of 1932 and the winter of 1935 Bynum’s whereabouts is currently unknown.

Unless he was working on a gambling boat off the California coast under the name, Robert Bynum.

A Robert Bynum was arrested when the gambling ship Monte Carlo was raided off the coast of Long Beach, California.

 

     Santa Anita Inn and Swimming and Riding Club

November 1935 to February 1936

    In the November 15, 1935 edition of The Arcadia, California Tribune, we find Bynum announcing the “Santa Anita Inn and Swimming and Riding Club,” will be “formally opened sometime between November 28 and December 10.”   [xxxiii]

The club was located less than a mile from the Santa Anita Race Track.

Bynum was quoted as saying “the reasons we are behind schedule in opening the inn is because we want to give Arcadia the finest eating rendezvous in the southland, and would rather spend more time in creating such an establishment than to rush to the opening date.” [xxxiv]

The newspaper reported “the local inn will cater only to a clientele of distinction” as “during the racing season, nay celebrities of the movie colony are expected to gather here.” [xxxv]

Shortly after Bynum opened police raided the establishment.    A front page story in the Arcadia newspaper said the “surprise raid” was part of a “clean up campaign.” [xxxvi]

“Cracking down hard in his first attack to rid Arcadia of gambling houses,” the newspaper reported, “Chief of Police Don Ott and five fellow officers last night swooped into the exclusive Santa Anita Inn annex, arresting tow on counts of operating gambling tables, and seizing three tables.” [xxxvii]

The newspaper reported the police chief “arrested Harvey Bynum, owner of the gambling tables and his employee, Max Silverman, who at the time of the attack was raking in chips at the crap table.   A roulette table and blackjack table were also taken by the police and are now at the station.” [xxxviii]

Police said “15 people were in the finely furnished room at the time of the unexpected visit,” which “had been thoroughly redecorated into a gambling establishment.” [xxxix]

Police, according to the Los Angeles Times told the newspaper that “besides the equipment taken a large desk” was found to “contain complete records of the nightly take and the amounts won and lost by various regular patrons” was recovered and taken in as evidence. [xl]

Bynum was released “on payment of $500 cash.” [xli]

He would soon take his family back to his familiar haunts in Nevada and settle in while his only child attended Las Vegas High School.

In 1953 newspaperman Squires said he remembers “Harvey came to this town about 1936” and this has really been home ever since.  He has a daughter, Jean, who grew up and was educated in Las Vegas.”   [xlii]

     Squires says his friend “was very prominent and active as a cafe and nightclub owner.”  He added, “Harvey established and operated several nightclubs which in their day were favorites of Las Vegas home folks, and which in a way set the pattern for the great hotels and nightclubs of today. Harvey really was a leader in that line.” [xliii]

Over the next decade Bynum was owned, or operated several night clubs, restaurants and gambling operations in the Las Vegas Valley.

Bynum said he owned the Dunes Club on the Boulder Highway from March 1938 to February of 1941.[xliv]

During this same time frame, Bynum was connected to McAfee in the Pair O’ Dice.

After losing his criminal empire in Los Angeles, McAfee would go on to be one of the early gambling visionaries in Las Vegas.

Building and opening the Golden Nugget, as well as believing the desert along the highway where the resorts, El Rancho Vegas and the Last frontier were located was part of the future.

Newspaperman Squires also believed that Bynum fit into the visionary category.

In addition to nightclubs along the Boulder Highway, Squires said Bynum owned and operate “China Town, a rather gay dining and dancing place well down on South Main Street.”

But it was his work with McAfee that put his name front and center.

Bynum opens “91 Club” March 15, 1939

On January 13, 1939, the Las Vegas Age carried a story with the caption “Ninety-One Club to be Elaborate.”

The story included the fact that the Pair O’ Dice was being “elaborately remodeled and the resort’s name would be changed to the “Ninety-One Club.” [xlv]

The story also revealed “the new resort is under the management of Mr. Bynam, who was one of the pioneers of Las Vegas having spent some time here as early as 1906.

Bynum’s name was misspelled initially in stories in both Las Vegas newspapers. [xlvi]

But it was not until a story appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal on January 24, 1939 was the public informed the new club was owned by McAfee.

The story was titled “McAfee Interests Enter South Nevada on Large Scale today.”  According to the newspaper McAfee’s attorney appeared before the Las Vegas City Commission and outlined McAfee’s plans for both downtown Las Vegas and in outside the city limits on U.S. highway 91.

Bynum opened Guy McAfee’s “91 Club” on March 15, 1939.   Located on then U.S. Highway 91, the club is McAfee’s first known investment in Las Vegas. [xlvii]

Another day another misspelling his name;, the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, in the March 15 story, printed, “Harvey Bymun, who has built himself a host of friends since his advent into Las Vegas, will be in charge of the gambling at the club, which will consisted of black jack, craps and roulette.” [xlviii]

The next day the Review Journal reported, “The opening of the “91 Club” last night marked one of the leading social events of the season in Las Vegas and many of the socially prominent Las Vegas residents were present for the gala occasion.” [xlix]

In addition to Mrs. Guy McAfee, among those listed were Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bracken, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Clark of San Diego,  Mr. and Mrs. Leland Ronnow,  Mrs. Robert Griffith,  Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Ham, Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Wengert, Clark County District Attorney Roland Wiley, Assistant District Attorney Paul Ralli, Clark County Sheriff M. E. Ward, Clark County Deputy Sheriff Glen Jones,  Judge and Mrs. Roger Foley, Las Vegas City Attorney and Mrs. Harry Austin,  Las Vegas Postmaster Frank Garside and Mr. and Mrs. James Cashman. [l]

The newspaper reported “in the lounge where Harvey Bymun is the manager, the gambling tables and bar attracted many.” [li]

McAfee operated the club for about a year.

 

 Bynum buys Cactus Gardens May, 1939

Changes names to Yucca Club by June, 1939

In May of 1939, Bynum, now publicly referred to as “Red” Bynum buys the Cactus Gardens.

At the time of the announcement the Cactus Gardens was located “on the old Meadows road,” and was owned by Paul Warner.[lii]

 

On May 19, 1939, Bynum said he planned to completely remodel the Cactus Gardens “using the western type of architecture.” [liii]

Bynum also announced in May of 1939 that he was going to change the name of the nightclub.  He offered a price of $25.00 adding the name must have a “definite western” sound “to co-inside with the decorations and architecture of the place.” [liv]

The announcement  included a biographical note on Bynum; “he has spent twenty five years as chef and steward of various kitchens and says he will personally supervise the food preparation and will specialize in good food.” [lv]

Staying with desert plants, Bynum changed the name from Cactus Gardens to the Yucca Club.

The first menus for the “New Yucca Club” were printed on wood by the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.

 A side note -Confusion-  Did Bynum already own a bar named the Cactus Garden at Cactus Springs or?

It is possible he changed to name because he owned or had leased another property on the “Reno-Las Vegas highway” known as the “Cactus Gardens,” at Cactus Springs.[lvi]

Or the Las Vegas Age reporter, known as “The Rambler” didn’t know the different between the highway to Reno and the highway to Boulder Dam. [lvii]

It is possible “The Rambler,” was describing the club located just outside the eastern edge of the Las Vegas city limits.

Bynum controlled in 1939. according to the columnist known as “The Rambler”  the old “Cactus Gardens camp,” located north of Las Vegas.

In June 1939, the camp was reported to have “just recently passed into the hands of Mr. Harvey “Red” Bynum of Las Vegas.  Extensive improvements are to be made and a prize of $25.00 is being offered for the most appropriate new name for the place.  Mr. Bynum has had 25 years’ experience as a chef and will specialize in good eats.”[lviii]

Additional research is needed on the “Cactus Gardens,” at Cactus Springs north of Las Vegas. Or did Bynum just have one ‘Cactus Gardens,’ east of Las Vegas and the newspaper columnist was directionaly confused.

In mid-November of 1939, just six months after buying and remodeling the Yucca Club, (Cactus Gardens) Bynum sold his interest in the property to Stanley Hunter.   The announcement was made on November 18, 1939. [lix]

(Stanley Hunter’s name shows up in the late 1940’s effort to turn the Baltimore Hotel-Casino at Bonanza and Main into an integrated resort.)

Bynum opens The Dunes December 2, 1939

“Las Vegas’ Newest Night Spot” [lx]

The Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal reported on November 29, 1939, “The Dunes, latest addition to the night spots of Las Vegas, will be opened Saturday night by Harvey Bynum, he announced today.” [lxi]

“The new establishment is on the site of the old L.A. Inn, and will be a completely modern and up to date establishment, Bynum stated.” [lxii]

On the day the three paragraph press release was printed, a display advertisement appeared in the same newspaper.

In the advertisement the name of resort was put in quotes, “THE DUNES,” with the following, “will open its doors for the first time under this new name Saturday night December 2.  Formerly the L. A.  Inn-now completely remodeled and redecorated.  New Music.  Harvey Bynum owner continuing that same congenial atmosphere and the same excellent food, come as you are.  Phone 328.” [lxiii]

“The Dunes will feature special dinners and high class entertainment. Gambling and a bar will be run in connection with the club, the proprietor said.” [lxiv]

The day before The Dunes opened Bynum published a menu listing himself as the “owner.” [lxv]

The Dunes opened with Jimmy Kerr and his band. [lxvi]

On February 2, 1940 “The Dunes” became “The Dunes Cabaret.”   The advertisement also announced, “Our new gaming casino is now open.

It is unknown at this point if Bynum was still connected with the operation.  However, the advertisement includes, “home of double thick Blue Ribbon Steaks,” a possible sign that Bynum was still connected to the Dunes. [lxvii]

The entertainment was promoted as “the best singing and dance band in town, the Four Sharps with Pete Allen, singer of those songs from the old sod, no cover charge come as you are.”

Bynum lived with his family in downtown Las Vegas.    Bynum’s lived at the 721 South Sixth Street address, while daughter attended Las Vegas High School a few blocks away.

The Southern Nevada Telephone Company Telephone Director, 1939-1940, lists Bynum’s residence at 721 South 6th street, telephone number 802.[lxviii]

        At this point, it is not known how long Bynum owned or operated The Dunes, but he and his family headed back to Los Angeles in early 1940.

It is likely his daughter finished the spring semester at Las Vegas High.  Her records showed she attended North Hollywood High School in the fall of 1940 but returned to Las Vegas High School and graduated in May of 1941.[lxix]

      The Bynum’s Move back to Los Angeles

in 1940-1941

The Bynum’s were living at 555 Heliotrope Drive in Los Angeles.   In the 1940 U.S. Census Bynum listed “Cafe” as his “occupation” and his wife listed “Waitress” as her “occupation.”

It would be 1945 before Bynum would open another Las Vegas nightclub.[lxx]   In the meantime, he would find himself in legal trouble.

 

Bynum busted in 1942 in raid on Sunset Strip

The Los Angeles times reported Bynum was arrested in a raid on a gambling club in early 1942; “swooping down on the fashionable Club Marcel at 8730 Sunset Blvd. in the county strip, members of the Sheriff’s vice squad” on the morning of February 22, 1942, arrested five men, including Homer H. (Slim) Gorden, operator of the establishment.”  [lxxi]

Also booked “on suspicion of gambling,” Harvey A. Bynum, 53, of 4661 Hollywood Blvd. [lxxii]

The Times reported “Capt. Ray I. Morris of the vice squad sent two of his deputies in plain clothes into the club shortly after midnight.  There they gambled and purchased drinks after the 2 a.m. closing hour.  Then they summoned other deputies waiting nearby and raided the club, which was crowded with Hollywood celebrities and others.  None of the guests was arrested.” [lxxiii]

In March of 1942 Bynum pleaded guilty to violating local gambling laws.  He was fined $50. Beverly Hills Justice of the Peace Cecil D. Holland also told Bynum “stay out of this township for one year.” [lxxiv]

 

Back in Las Vegas in early 1945 Bynum to open

 a night club near the Last Frontier Hotel- Casino.

      In January of 1945, Bynum applied for liquor and gaming licenses before the Clark County Commission. On February 5 the licenses were granted.

He soon began work on his new club, the Bon Aire.  And this time, rather than the Boulder Highway, Bynum would have a place on the Los Angeles Highway.

A Las Vegas newspaper reported, “Harvey Bynum and associates who have a large force of workers engaged in putting the finishing touches on their new Bon Aire Motel and night club, expect to have the place in readiness for the opening on July 1.  It is located about 2 ½ miles south of Las Vegas on the Los Angeles highway.”[lxxv]

 

Bynum and his partners, Max Travis and Lester Welch opened the Club Bon Aire on U.S. Highway 91,Friday, July 13, 1945.

In making the announcement, the Bynum and his partners pointed out “the entire club is heavily carpeted and the entire motif is western” including “an art gallery of original western paintings.” [lxxvii]

Bynum described the operation as the “newest and one of the most lavish dinner clubs in southern Nevada.”

The owners added the Club Bon Aire would be offering  an evening of  the “old Nevada at its best.”

But, was that western wear or an evening gown and tuxedo.   [lxxvi]

 

 

The club’s announcement also said the Bon Aire “rather than entertainment” would have a “long and luxurious bar and gaming casino.” [lxxviii]

 

Bynum said the club in the near future would have adjacent to it, a poultry farm with a capacity of 10,000 chickens and a steady flow of 1500 chickens a week guaranteed.” [lxxix]

The announcement said “Bynum formerly operated the Dunes, the Yucca Club, and many other Las Vegas niteries. Formerly he operated the Breakers Sea Food Cafe in Oklahoma City, but has been in and out of Las Vegas for the past 25 years.” [lxxx]

From the beginning there was confusion.  Was it the Club Bon Aire, or the Bon Aire Club was it western wear or evening wear and more important, who was in control?  The partnership didn’t last long and soon Club Bon Aire was under the management of Sam Diamond.  Diamond had worked with Travis in Hollywood. [lxxxi]

(Wonder if they also fought over  using “de?”   Old French,  joke.)

When Bynum left, the club would go through a series of operators and names.  Fred O. Cobb would take over the “completely remodeled and renovated kitchen” to serve his “famous Chicken in the Rough.”

The Club Bon Aire became the Mondoray Club.  Then late in 1947 it became Gene Austin’s Blue Heaven.   This name last until October of 1949 when the club’s gambling license was denied.

Soon after leaving the Bon Aire, Bynum got involved in another western style club.

Bynum Connected to Kit Carson Club 1946

On Tuesday March 5, 1946, “Constructed in true western style, the Kit Carson club will open formally” according to a newspaper account.

The managers of the new resort included Bynum, George Frisbee (Frisby) and Dave Anderson.  Frisby told reporters he was associated with a frozen food company in Los Angeles before coming to Las Vegas.   Anderson said he was the past president of the Restaurant Association of Kansas and that he owned a café in that state.[lxxxii]

With a focus on food, the new resort, “about two miles from Las Vegas” had a bar and gaming operation. [lxxxiii]

Reported to have been built like a ranch house, the resort had a ceiling of heavy rustic timbers, a stone sea food bar, barbecue pit and “a novel bar.”  What was “novel” about the bar was not publicized. [lxxxiv]

Six years later, Bynum filed suit against Frisby seeking his “share” of the profits from the sale of the Kit Carson.

Frisby sold the property and the new owners were building the Sands Hotel Casino.

The law suit provided details of the building of the Kit Carson.   According to Bynum’s attorney, Ira Earl, “Bynum went to Frisby with the original idea to build the resort.  Bynum secured the licenses, liquor and gambling for the Kit Carson.  Frisby put up more than $60,000.  Frisby and Anderson would own 80 percent of the operation, and Bynum got 20 percent plus a salary.”[lxxxv]

According to a suit filed by Earl, Bynum’s services consisted of setting up the business, and a verbal understanding that he would receive 20% of the profits in excess of Frisby’s $52,500 investment. [lxxxvi]

The suit charged Bynum, who was described at the time as a gambler, was “aced out” shortly after the club opened.   Earl said “on the night the club opened Frisby wanted the license in his own name, to throw out Bynum.” The attorney said Frisby was successful in squeezing Bynum out of the operation. [lxxxvii]

When Bynum was pushed out of the Kit Carson, he took over the nearby “Diamond Horseshoe.”

Bynum Connected to the Las Vegas Stork Club March 1947

The “Diamond Horseshoe” was completely remodeled inside and out according to an announcement by Bynum on March 11, 1947. [lxxxviii]

The name of the resort was changed to the Stock Club.

The club was located on the east side of U.S. 91 about 3 miles south of the city limits.

In a newspaper story Bynum is described as a “veteran Las Vegas restaurant operator.”  He said the tavern will feature full course miles with special emphasis on steaks and sea food entrees.

Bynum at “The New Las Vegas Stork Club” in June, 1947

A display advertisement in the June 7, 1947 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal promotes “the re-opening” of the dining room.   The advertisement also promotes the operation as “The New Las Vegas Stork Club,” with Bynum and Hal Davis listed as “your hosts.”[lxxxix]

The naming of the highway was in transition.   Bynum’s advertisement uses both “Hiway 91,” and “on the strip” as location of the Stock Club. [xc]

 

What was Harvey Bynum’s next move?

When did Bynum leave stork club?   Where did he go?

A check of Las Vegas telephone books reveals the following;

No listing for Bynum in 1952 telephone book

The April, 1953 Southern Nevada Telephone Directory shows Bynum residence at1137 South 15th Street.[xci]

There is no listing for Bynum in the April 1954, or the 1955 Las Vegas telephone directories.

More questions?

  1. What happened to his law suit in connection with the Kit Carson?
  2. What happened to the Las Vegas Stork Club?
  3. What happened to Harvey “Red” Bynum, described by the City of Las Vegas as “a notorious gaming figure and Davey Berman, Bugsy Siegel’s partner?” [xcii]
    • What business was Bynum and Berman partners?
  4. Or what happened to Harvey Bynum newspaperman Charles Squired called one of the “favorites of Las Vegas home folks” and who helped “set the pattern for the great hotels and nightclubs of today.” [xciii]
  5. Other than James Stewart, who has seen Harvey?

 Coming Soon more details

Any information on the whereabouts of Harvey Alman Bynum?

 

[i]  https://files.lasvegasnevada.gov/planning/LV-High-School-Historic-District.pdf .

[ii] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/notorious.

[iii] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/notorious?s=t .

[iv]  “Observations by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, July 11, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, page five.

[v] “Ninety-One Club to be Elaborate,” January 13, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page twelve.

[vi] “Observations by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, July 11, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, page five.

[vii]  “Harvey Bynum to Open Night Spot,” February 6, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page six.

[viii]  “Kit Carson Club Open,” March 4, 1946, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[ix] “Erie, Pennsylvania City Directory,” 1916, page 408.

[x] http://www.ark-ives.com/documenting/ww1/detail/default.aspx?sec=ww1_discharge_records&id=1621

[xi] “City Briefs, February 2, 1925, The Ada Evening News,   Ada, Oklahoma, page three.

[xii]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[xiii]  Untitled society column, June 27, 1926, The Ada Evening News, Oklahoma, page three.

[xiv]  “City News,” August 17, 1928, San Luis Obispo (California) Daily Telegram, page six.

[xv]  “Valley in Mountains Sees Raid,” June 24, 1930, Los Angeles Times, page nine.

[xvi]  “Valley in Mountains Sees Raid,” June 24, 1930, Los Angeles Times, page nine.

[xvii]  “Gambling Tables “Properties,” July 21, 1930, Los Angeles Times, page six.

[xviii]  “Pair O’ Dice Attracts Many on Fourth,” July 5, 1931, Las Vegas Age, Page five.

[xix] “Pair O’ Dice Closes for Remodeling,” September 18, 1931, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page three.

[xx]  “Harvey Bynum to Open Night Spot,” February 6, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page six.

[xxi] “Pair O’ Dice Will reopen,” December 23, 1931, Las Vegas Age, page four.

[xxii] Pair O Dice display advertisement, January 5, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page four.

[xxiii]  Display Advertisement, Pair ‘O Dice, January 15, 1932, Las Vegas, Evening Review Journal Page four.

[xxiv] Display Advertisement, Pair O Dice Casino, January 22, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page three.

[xxv] “Pair O Dice is being enlarged,” February 3, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, Page four.

[xxvi] “Pair O Dice is being enlarged,” February 3, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, Page four.

[xxvii] “Pair O Dice is being enlarged,” February 3, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, Page four.

[xxviii] “Pair O’ Dice under Lease,” March 1, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[xxix] “Pair O’ Dice under Lease,” March 1, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[xxx] Display advertisement Pair O’ Dice Casino and Night Club,” March 8, 1932, Las Vegas Age, page four, “Death Valley Live Doings,” June 9, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page two.

[xxxi]  “Pair O’ Dice Shuts Doors Yesterday,” January 4, 1933, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page one.

[xxxii] ’12 Booze Joints Are Hit in Dry Raids by Prohis,” December 1, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page one, “9 Vegas Rum Joints Given Abatements,” January 10, 1933, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page one.

[xxxiii] “Set Opening Date for Inn,” November 13, 1935, The Arcadia Tribune, California, Page one.

[xxxiv] “Set Opening Date for Inn,” November 13, 1935, The Arcadia Tribune, California, Page one.

[xxxv] “Set Opening Date for Inn,” November 13, 1935, The Arcadia Tribune, California, Page one.

[xxxvi] “Arcadia Police Swoop Down on Santa Anita Inn,” February 28, 1936, The Arcadia Tribune, California, page one.

[xxxvii] “Arcadia Police Swoop Down on Santa Anita Inn,” February 28, 1936, The Arcadia Tribune, California, page one.

[xxxviii] “Arcadia Police Swoop Down on Santa Anita Inn,” February 28, 1936, The Arcadia Tribune, California, page one.

[xxxix] “Arcadia Police Swoop Down on Santa Anita Inn,” February 28, 1936, The Arcadia Tribune, California, page one.

[xl]  “Games Raid Traps Two,” February 9, 1935, Los Angeles Times, Page B12.

[xli] “Arcadia Police Swoop Down on Santa Anita Inn,” February 28, 1936, The Arcadia Tribune, California, page one.

[xlii] “Observations,” by Charles “Pop” Squires, July 11, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, page five.

[xliii] “Observations,” by Charles “Pop” Squires, July 11, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, page five.

[xliv]

[xlv] “Ninety-One Club to be Elaborate,” January 13, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page twelve.

[xlvi] “Ninety-One Club to be Elaborate,” January 13, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page twelve.

[xlvii]  “91 Club to Open Doors This Evening,” March 15, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, Page three.

[xlviii]  “91 Club to Open Doors This Evening,” March 15, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, Page three.

[xlix] “Society,” March 16, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[l] “Society,” March 16, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[li] “Society,” March 16, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[lii]  “Red” Bynum Buys Cactus Garden, May 19, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page six.

[liii]  “Red” Bynum Buys Cactus Garden, May 19, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page six.

[liv]  “Red” Bynum Buys Cactus Garden, May 19, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page six.

[lv]  “Red” Bynum Buys Cactus Garden, May 19, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page six.

[lvi]  “Death Valley Living Doings,” June 9, 1939, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[lvii]  “Death Valley Living Doings,” June 9, 1939, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[lviii]  “Death Valley Living Doings,” June 9, 1939, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[lix]  “Bynum Sells out at Yucca Club,” November 18, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[lx] Display Advertisement the Dunes, December 2, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[lxi]  “New Night Club to Open Saturday,” November 29, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page five.

[lxii]  “New Night Club to Open Saturday,” November 29, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page five.

[lxiii]  Display advertisement “The Dunes,” November 29, 2019, Las Vegas Review Journal, page four.

[lxiv]  “New Night Club to Open Saturday,” November 29, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page five.

[lxv]  Display advertisement, The Dunes, December 1, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page four.

[lxvi] Display advertisement The Dunes, December 2, 1939, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[lxvii] Display advertisement, The Dunes Cabaret, February 2, 1940, Las Vegas Review Journal, page.

[lxviii]  Telephone Directory, 1939-1940, Southern Nevada Telephone Company, page six.

[lxix] “Boulder Echo,” 1941, Las Vegas High School, page twenty six.

[lxx]  “Bon Aire about set for opening,” June 23, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page three.

[lxxi]  “Five Men Arrested in Raid on Sunset Strip Night Club,” February 23, 1942, Los Angeles Times, Page eight.

[lxxii]  “Five Men Arrested in Raid on Sunset Strip Night Club,” February 23, 1942, Los Angeles Times, Page eight.

[lxxiii]  “Five Men Arrested in Raid on Sunset Strip Night Club,” February 23, 1942, Los Angeles Times, Page eight.

[lxxiv] “Night Club Raids Result in Fines,” March 21, 1942, Los Angeles Times, Page five.

[lxxv]  “Bon Aire about set for opening,” June 23, 1945, Las Vegas review Journal, page three.

[lxxvi]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxvii]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxviii]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxix]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxx]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxxi]  “Bon AIRE to Open Friday,” July 12, 1945, Las Vegas Review Journal, page thirteen.

[lxxxii]  “Kit Carson Club Open,” March 4, 1946, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[lxxxiii]  “Kit Carson Club Open,” March 4, 1946, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[lxxxiv]  “Kit Carson Club Open,” March 4, 1946, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[lxxxv]  “Freedman License Fight Seen,” September, 5, 1952, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[lxxxvi]  “Freedman License Fight Seen,” September, 5, 1952, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[lxxxvii]  “Freedman License Fight Seen,” September, 5, 1952, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[lxxxviii] “Stork Club Will Open Saturday,” March 11, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page four.

[lxxxix] Display advertisement The Stork Club, June 7, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page fix.

[xc] Display advertisement The Stork Club, June 7, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page fix.

[xci] “Southern Nevada Telephone Directory, April 1953, Southern Nevada Telephone Company, page14.

[xcii]  https://files.lasvegasnevada.gov/planning/LV-High-School-Historic-District.pdf .

[xciii]  “Observations by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, July 11, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, page five.

Chapter Three. The Northern -To be Owned by the Stockers including 3 “wild and crazy guys” aka “My Three Sons”

                              Chapter Three.   

(updated April 3, 2018)

      The Northern -To be Owned by the Stockers….including 3 “wild and crazy guys” aka “My Three Sons!”

In 1903 the land where lot 27 of Block 3, of “Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite,” would be located was owned by pioneer, Helen J. Stewart.

That year she sold the land to U.S. Senator William A. Clark.  The Senator and the Union Pacific were building a railroad between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

The land then became jointly owned by Senator Clark and U.P.

In May of 1905, the railroad sold lot 27 of Block 3 in a land auction.    J. F. Dunn, Superintendent of the Oregon Short Line railroad, which is part of the Union Pacific system, bought the lot.

In turn the Salt Lake Brewing Company, in 1912, bought the lot from Dunn. The new owners built a two-story structure and named it the Northern Hotel and Bar.

The brewing company owned it for five years and then sold it to the Cullen Investment Company of Salt Lake City.

Cullen was owned by Fred and Nellie Leonard, who helped broker the original deal between the Dunn and the beer company.

Then on the 21st of October, 1921 Oscar C. Stocker bought the property.

Stocker paid $12,000 for the building and land.

In addition to the land and the building, the transfer deed also contained the language of the original railroad deed.   This would allow the owner to sale alcohol, if and when it became legal again.[i]

At the time, the 48-year-old Stocker was a brakeman on the Salt Lake Route railroad.

His wife was Mayme and they had three sons, Lester, Clarence and Harold.

A number of internet sites estimate $12,000 in 1921 is equal to more than $150,000 in 2018.

How Oscar was able to save up or where he got the money is still a question.

Lester had just gotten out of prison, Clarence had been working as a clerk in Los Angeles, and Harold said he had to take a job in 1919 in Las Vegas as a machinist; saying he needed money, “I had to eat.”

A simple mortgage arrangement with the Cullen Investment Company is possible, however, often those were part of the deed transfer.  In this case no mortgage is attached to the agreement.

While the sale was finalized in October of  1921, it is clear by late in 1920 members of the Stocker family were “proprietors” of the Northern.

From that point on, the Stockers would all play a significant role in the history of the Northern, Las Vegas, and the development of legal and illegal gambling for several decades.

Who were the Stockers?

Looking for every note that may turn into a nugget as to who and why the Stockers would turn out to be “colorful,” we found contradictions, interesting memories, and a series of facts that turned out to be fiction.

We start first with when the family arrived in Las Vegas.

That date is questioned by Stockers themselves.  It was either 1910 or 1911.

 

The heart of Las Vegas 1911 looking west from middle of 200 block of Fremont Street.

     Mayme Stocker said she and her family arrived in Las Vegas either late in 1911 or as her youngest son Harold, believes, 1910.

Harold would later be elected to the Clark County Commission.  His official biography on the county web site says “The Stocker family arrived in Las Vegas in October of 1911.”[ii]

Based on when the 1910 U.S. Census was taken, the Stocker family was in Los Angeles on April 16, that year. [iii]

In the census, Oscar is listed as a “switchman” on an unidentified railroad. Mayme, who listed her name on the census form as “Mamie V” did not list an occupation. [iv]

Her two oldest boys, 17 year old Lester Wellington Stocker, and 16 year old Clarence listed their occupation in 1910, as “messengers” for the “telegraph co.” [v]

Harold was listed as 8 years old and attending school.  Born on March 8, 1900, rather than 8, Harold would have been ten years old at the time.

Mrs. Stocker was 35-years-old when she said she arrived in Las Vegas for the first time.  She remembers it being May of 1911 and she was on her way to visit relatives in Butte, Montana.[vi]

She said, “I got off the train, along with a number of other passengers to see the town.  The heat together with an array of drab buildings and thick dust under foot, was not conducive to a good first impression.” [vii]

In the 1948 interview, Mrs. Stocker remembered said she told one of the other passengers at the time “Anyone who lives here is out of his mind.” [viii]

But, then she said, “I didn’t know then that I would return to Las Vegas before the year was out to make my home.” [ix]

Her husband Oscar worked for the Union Pacific railroad in Los Angeles.  Mrs. Stocker said her husband was transferred to Las Vegas late in 1911.  She added, “A few weeks following his arrival here, my three sons and I came to Las Vegas to live.”[x]

Harold Stocker was eighty-year-olds at the time of the interview and he remembered his family arrived in 1910.

Whether it was 1910 or late in1911 is important for a couple of reasons.   A labor dispute and school fire.

Las Vegas was the half way point between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.   The railroad line, the Salt Late Route, as it was called, was owned the Union Pacific Railroad, and former U.S. Senator from Montana, William Andrews Clark.

In 1911, the railroad had just finished building a massive large maintenance plant and complex for its trains in Las Vegas.

At the same time the railroad was building the maintenance complex, it was also building a large dormitory for the expected floor of workers.  In addition, the railroad was also building more than sixty homes for men with families.

The homes, now known as the “Railroad Cottages,” were for the skilled craftsmen, like the senior Stocker.

Several of the cottages have been preserved.  They were moved from downtown Las Vegas to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve and to the Clark County Museum.

Post card from 1911 of the Railroad Cottages on south Third Street. 

 

If Stocker arrived in late 1911, he would have arrived in the middle of a labor dispute.  A strike for recognition of the railroad shop workers started at the end of September, 1911.[xi]

Did Stocker, a strong union man, arrive in Las Vegas in the middle of the 1911 labor dispute, or did he arrive a year earlier in 1910?

If he arrived in 1911, it would be at a moment where the community and the railroad were at odds, but hopeful the dispute would be short.

In a move that upset the town, the railroad kept all the non-striking workers within the yards, building a fence around the entire maintenance complex, including the railroad commissary.  The fences were topped with barb wire.

The men were housed and fed within the yards and were not allowed to go into town.

1911-1912.  The railroad put up the fence around the shops to keep people both in and out.            Author’s collection

   “Las Vegas was still very crude” when she arrived in 1911 Mrs. Stocker said, “there were no streets or sidewalks, and there were no flowers, lawns or trees.  One thing which impressed me was that all the homes were fenced.  Even the court house had a fence around it.” [xii]

As far as housing she and her three sons, “We stayed at the Las Vegas Hotel, the second story of the building now occupied by the Las Vegas Club, until the late Harley A. Harmon, who was then county clerk found housing for us.”[xiii]

In 1911 the Las Vegas Hotel-Club, was on the south side of Fremont, just a door down from where the Northern would be built in 1912.

(The Las Vegas Club decades later would move to the north side of Fremont Street.  I would occupy the Overland Hotel building, rebuilt in 1911, on the north east corner of Main and Fremont Streets.  Both were torn down and became a large hole in the ground in early 2018.)

In Las Vegas the first public sign the strike was informally over occurred on April 27, 1912.  The railroad announced effective May 1, it would no longer provide meals for their workers.

This was good news, according to the Las Vegas Age, “The commissary department at the shops will close,” and “the money which, since the beginning of the strike has been lost to the business of the city will again be thrown into the channels of trade greatly to the benefit of business in Vegas.”  [xiv]

Newspaper publisher Charles Squires, who generally sided with the railroad in labor disputes, ended his story with, “We join with the entire city in a feeling of thorough satisfaction at this action.”   [xv]

This all but ended the labor dispute in Las Vegas.

As the railroad hired replacement workers, the strike locally and nationally would soon fade, coming to a quiet end in a couple of years with the railroad recognizing the unions.

Another railroad strike would take place a decade later, and this time the Northern would play a major role.  This labor dispute would find the governor of Nevada in Las Vegas with a gun in his hand.

While Squires may have had a “feeling of through satisfaction” for the “entire city,” 1912 was a time of stress for the Stocker family.

Starting at the end of 1912, and ending eight years, based on a variety of public sources and interviews with the Stockers, the family would spent most of their time in southern California:  Los Angeles and San Pedro.

It is also likely during this period of time, in part due to the senior Stocker work with the railroad and his travel back and forth the family also maintained a home in Las Vegas.

The trigger to this temporary transition back to southern California was likely the arrest in Las Vegas of one of the Stocker boys.

A command appearance at the brand new Clark County Court House came shortly after the Stocker’s oldest son Lester arrived in Las Vegas.

The nineteen year old Stocker was arrested in September of 1912.

The Las Vegas Age reported a cigar store had been burglarized and “suspicion at once fell upon two loafers who have been hanging around the place.”   The ‘two loafer’ were identified as Patrick Murphy and a second person only identified as “a young blood named Stocker.”    [xvi]

The two were taken to the city jail, “on a charge of burglary in the first degree.”[xvii]

On November 16, still being held on the burglary charge, the “young blood named Lester” celebrated his 20th birthday.

The following week the Clark County Grand Jury met, heard the case against the two men and only indicted Murphy.

All charges were dropped against Stocker, and he moved to Los Angeles.

Lester’s next run in with the law would turn out differently.

Based on voter registration records, and telephone directories it appears that Clarence spent most of his time from 1913 to 1919, in southern California.

Lester spent the early part of the decade with his brothers in southern California, but a visit to Montana in 1916 would require him to spent the next 3 years in that state.

It is likely in 1913 Lester and Clarence were joined by Harold, and for a while their mother.  Harold said the move to Los Angeles was due to a fire at Las Vegas’ grammar school.

As a new building to house both grammar and high school students was being built in October of 1910, a fire hit the existing school at Second Street and Lewis Avenue. [xviii]

Stocker says his mother had just arrived in town.

Harold would later say, the two of them left Las Vegas, “When the school burned down, I had to go to Los Angeles to go to school.  We didn’t have a high school here.”   [xix]

The new school building, at 4th and Bridger admitted students for the first time in October of 1911.[xx]

Harold, didn’t go to Los Angeles after the fire, as he was one of the students at the new Las Vegas school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1911 post card.  The new building was both a grammar and high school.

Harold was still in Las Vegas in the spring of 1912.

After his twelve birthday on March 8, he was put on the third grade Roll of Honor for being “neither absent nor tardy” and having “attained 80 percent cent in scholarship and department.”[xxi]

In 1913 Lester, and Clarence, along with their father were living at 1308 West 51st place in Los Angeles.  Clarence listed his occupation as a telephone operator.

At the time, Lester was unemployed, and their father was a switchman for the railroad.[xxii]

For the traveling public the railroad was called the “Salt Lake Route,” officially it was the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad.

Likely the next move was related to their fathers work with the railroad, The three men moved in 1914 to 1409 ½ East 20th Street in San Pedro, California. [xxiii]

At the time, both Clarence and Lester listing said they were working as “clerks,” and their father, as a “brakeman.”[xxiv]

In 1916 Clarence registered to vote in Los Angeles, listing his address as 1021 Hillvale Avenue.    In a different document, his brother Clarence is listed at five feet 4 inches tall, weight “approximately’ 130 pounds, with blue eyes.[xxv]

The next known public report shows Lester Stocker on his way to the Montana State Prison in August of 1916.

In the early summer of 1916 Lester was in Montana, he said he was only in the state “one week” before he got into trouble.   He was said he didn’t have a job he and was just “doing nothing.”

The “doing nothing”, according to the August 27, 1916 edition of the Great Falls Montana Daily Tribune, included the burglarizing of a jewelry store in Great Falls.

Stocker and an accomplice took “several pieces of valuable jewelry containing diamond settings.”

 

On August 31, 1916, in custody, Lester appeared before the judge at the County Court House in Great Falls, Montana.

When asked by the Judge how he pleaded to the charge of “Grand Larceny?’ Stocker said he didn’t have an attorney and pleaded guilty.

The judge sentenced him to serve to three and a half years in the Montana State Prison.

Lester told prison officials he was living with his brother at the Hillvale address in Los Angeles. [xxvi]

He also said  “V. Stocker,” his mother and his father “O. Stocker,” were living in Los Angeles in the fall of 1916.

 

September 1, 1916  the day Stocker arrived at the state prison in Deer Lodge, Montana.

 

Author’s collection

 

The youthful looking 23-year-old Stocker wrote on his prison registration he was only 21 years old and under occupation, wrote “none.”

The following June, still in prison,  he registered for the draft.  [xxvii]  The  registration records show Lester was of “Medium” height, “Medium” build, blue eyes and light colored hair.  To the right is Stocker after the barber provided him with a prison haircut.

After serving eighteen months, prison records show Stocker received his “Final Discharge” from the Montana State Prison on March 31,1919.

Within a few months of his release, the entire Stocker family would either be in Las Vegas or on their way.

Although Lester’s youngest brother would return to Las Vegas in 1920 an experienced gambler, it would be Lester who would become the first Stocker to get a gaming license in Nevada.

And sadly he would be the first one to die.

His brother Clarence also became familiar with the legal system. In the spring of 1917, Clarence was arrested at a “dance hall” in Los Angeles.

In court, “several witnesses testified that he ws under the influence of liquor and staggered, but Mr. Stocker said that was because he did not dance well.”

He was arrested by a “special officer” of the Los Angeles Police Department and “booked as a vagrant.”[xxviii]

The vagrancy charge was dropped, and Stocker took the officer to court asking for $15,000 in damages for false arrest. [xxix]

The former special officer, now working for the railroad as a fireman, claimed he knew Stocker.  He said Stocker had “associated with criminals.” [xxx]

Los Angeles Times April 10, 1917

The judge ruled in Stocker’s favor say a person may not be arrested on “the ground the person formerly consorted with criminals.” [xxxi]

The judge only awarded Stocker $50 saying the “judgement would have been for a large amount if greater damages had been shown.” [xxxii]

The third and youngest brother, Harold, says after moving back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas.  He attended school, and while in high school  he became the family’s expert on gambling.

Over the years, Harold Stocker was interviewed by several journalists including A.D. Hopkins, as well as late UNLV History Professor Ralph Roske.

From those interviews the following is pieced together. Harold’s story didn’t change over the years, it just grew.[xxxiii]

Harold said he started going to the U.S. Mexico border towns  including  Calexico and  Tijuana starting in 1915; “I was fifteen-year-old, I used to work every summer.  I was big husky, weighted 200 pounds you known, played freshman football.   I was working in a studio in Los Angeles, when I was a kid, and (in audio, sounds like he says Tom Mix) this movie director (also later Harold says it was a “producer”) took a liking to me and would take me down to the border.”

Stocker says he met members of the A.B.W. Combination, which operated the Owl Club.  Stocker said he knew a member of the ‘Combination,’ “Carl Withington, who used to be from up around Bakersfield.”

At first, the teenager Stocker said ,”I got a job racking chips at a roulette wheel.  That was the game that had the most play in those days.  That and 21 which we dealt with gold coins and big pesos.”

 

As far as a teenager working in Mexican casinos, Stocker said “It wasn’t illegal, there was no regulation there at all.”

“Being down there” Stocker said he “met a lot of people around the track and those kind of places you know and ah you naturally would pick up things.  You are down there two or three months at a time, my mother was in Los Angeles.”

In addition to helping around the casinos, Stocker said they would “stake me at a card game at the hotel.  Sometimes I win thousand, two thousand.  For a 15 year old kid that’s a lot of money.”

It was now 1917, on April 16, the United States had formally joined the war in Europe.

Stocker recalled one tripe to Mexico, it was in the summer of 1917 his Hollywood friend “staked me to $500 to play in a “21” game while he went over and played Pan. “

 Images of Mexican clubs from Author’s collection.

Stocker said, playing blackjack,  “I’d bet $5, which was the minimum until I had a hand, and then I’d bet $100.  And if I lost, I’d go back to $5.  When the summer was over my cut was $6,000.  A lot of money for a 17 year old.”

When Stocker turned eighteen in March of 1918 he would soon begin his last summer working in Mexican casinos.

When he returned to school in the fall of 1918, he said he volunteered for the “Student Army Training Corp.” 

Designed for university students to be trained as Army officers, Stocker said he was able to join in September of 1918.

Shortly afterwards he said his “unit was pulled out of school for active duty in costal defense at Fort MacArthur at San Pedro.”

Weeks later on November 11, 1918 World War One officially ended.  Stocker would says years later he thought  World War One was just “nonsense.”

“I was only in” the S.A. T.C. for a short time he said, “September to December of 1918.  Then the flu bug came along and closed all the schools. I never did finish high school.  Then I came back to Las Vegas in 1919 and went to work in the railroad shops as a machinist.”

Harold said he needed the job, “I needed to eat.”

It is clear that Oscar and Mayme were already in Las Vegas.  Oscar was still working for the railroad.

With Lester either in prison or just getting out in 1919, where Clarence was is not known, but by the end of the year they were in Las Vegas selling cigars.

The U.S. Census, conducted at the end of January, 1920 shows the entire family in Las Vegas. [xxxiv]

Interesting, the federal census enumerator was James Germain who at the time also held the gaming license at the Northern.

Oscar listed his occupation as a “brakeman” with the railroad, which would be the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, also known as the “Salt Lake Route.” [xxxv]

When it came to Mayme “none” is listed under occupation. [xxxvi]   Under the 1920 Census guidelines given to Germain rule 158 says, “in the case of a woman doing housework in her own home and having no other employment the entry should be none.”

Both Clarence and Lester listed their “occupation” as “salesman” in a “cigar store.” [xxxvii]

Harold, like his father was employed at the rail yards.  He was listed as a “Machinist Helper.” [xxxviii]

Within months of the census, the Stockers would begin first as proprietors , and then as owners of the Northern Hotel and Club.

Nearly three decades after the sale, Clarence would state it was the three brothers who originally bought the place in 1920.

This would be echoed by Harold who said they re-opened the hotel and named it the Northern on September 5, 1920.

Officially, the deed on file with the Clark County Recorder puts the year of purchase as 1921 and the father as the owner.

Another element of the sale stuck in Clarence’s mind for decades. Stocker was required to purchase of all the furniture in the building for $2,500.  This brought the total cost to $14,500.  [xxxix]

This is likely the furniture Groesbeck bought new eight years earlier.

Once the Stockers were able to examine in detail all the furniture, it was “in such a deplorable condition that most of it was hauled into the desert and dumped.”[xl]

At the time the Stockers took ownership of the Northern the social and economic order in Las Vegas began to dramatically shift.

And, the Mr. and Mrs. Stockers  and their three sons were a major part of the “Roaring Twenty’s” in Las Vegas.

   Coming up in part four,  Part four The Northern becomes “A Strike Headquarters” for a massive nationwide railroad dispute  and the oldest of of “My Three Sons” gets the families first gambling license.

[i] “Deeds,” Clark County, Nevada Recorder’s office, October 21, 1921, Book Eight, Page 565.

[ii] http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/parks/Documents/centennial/commissioners/commissioner-h-stocker.pdf

[iii]  1910, Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California; Roll T624_81; Page; 2B; Enumeration District 😉 143;FHL, microfilm: 1374094.

[iv]  1910, Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California; Roll T624_81; Page; 2B; Enumeration District 😉 143;FHL, microfilm: 1374094.

[v]  1910, Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California; Roll T624_81; Page; 2B; Enumeration District;) 143;FHL, microfilm: 1374094.

[vi]  “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal 7 Age, Section B, page 8.

[vii]  “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal 7 Age, Section B, page 8.

[viii]  “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal 7 Age, Section B, page 8.

[ix]  “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal 7 Age, Section B, page 8.

[x]  “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal 7 Age, Section B, page 8.

[xi]  “Great Strike Is Now On,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Page one.

[xii] “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal & Age, Page 8B.

[xiii] “Woman of the Week,” August 15, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal & Age, Page 8B.

[xiv]  “Commissary Closed,” April 27, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page one.

[xv]  “Commissary Closed,” April 27, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page one.

[xvi]  “Tap Hick’s Til,” September14, 1912, Las Vegas Age, page five.

[xvii]  “Tap Hick’s Til,” September14, 1912, Las Vegas Age, page five.

[xviii] “Incendiary,” October 29, 1810, Las Vegas Age, page four.

[xix] “Stocker, Harold.  Interview, 1971, November 30. OH-01773. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada.”

[xx] “History of Clark County Schools,” by Harvey N. Dondero, compiled and edited by Billie F. Shank, 1986, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada, page 25.

[xxi]  “Roll of Honor,” April 6, 1912, Las Vegas Age, page five.

[xxii]  “Los Angeles City Directory, Stocker, 1913, Los Angeles, California, page 1814.

[xxiii]  “Los Angles City Directory, Stocker, 1914, Los Angeles, California, page 2113.

[xxiv]  “Los Angles City Directory, Stocker, 1914, Los Angeles, California, page 2113.

[xxv]  World War Two registration card, April 26, 1942, Clarence Clifton Stocker, back of card.

[xxvi]  “Registration Card, Lester Wellington Stocker,” June 5, 1917, World War One Registration form, number 4405, pages 1 and 2.

[xxvii]  “Registration Card, Lester Wellington Stocker,” June 5, 1917, World War One Registration form, number 4405, pages 1 and 2.

[xxviii]  “Rules for Police Conduct Outlined,” April 10, 1917, Los Angeles Times, Section II, page five.

[xxix]  “Rules for Police Conduct Outlined,” April 10, 1917, Los Angeles Times, Section II, page five.

[xxx]  “Rules for Police Conduct Outlined,” April 10, 1917, Los Angeles Times, Section II, page five.

[xxxi]  “Rules for Police Conduct Outlined,” April 10, 1917, Los Angeles Times, Section II, page five.

[xxxii]  “Rules for Police Conduct Outlined,” April 10, 1917, Los Angeles Times, Section II, page five.

[xxxiii]  “Adventures in the bootleg business,” by A.D. Hopkins, January 4, 1918, Nevadan-Las Vegas Review-Journal page 26J,   The following are from the “Stocker Family Papers, ID MS-00154 at UNLV Special collections and Archives; “The Day the Strip Was Born,” by Jim Seagraves, August, 1980, Clipping from magazine,  UNLV Special Collection, Stocker Collection and Archives, “Stocker, Harold,”  A. Kepper, March 13, 1918, two page set of notes, UNLV Special Collections and Archives. Stocker Collection. “Stocker, Harold.  Interview, 1971 November 30. OH-01773. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

[xxxiv]  1920, United States Federal Census, Place, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, Roll: T625_1004; Page 23A; Enumeration District:3 .

[xxxv]  1920, United States Federal Census, Place, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, Roll: T625_1004; Page 23A; Enumeration District:3 .

[xxxvi]  1920, United States Federal Census, Place, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, Roll:T625_1004;Page 23A; Enumeration District:3 .

[xxxvii]  1920, United States Federal Census, Place, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, Roll:T625_1004;Page 23A; Enumeration District:3 .

[xxxviii]  1920, United States Federal Census, Place, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, Roll:T625_1004;Page 23A; Enumeration District:3 .

[xxxix]  “Poker, Whist, Bridge Only Games Allowed in 1st Gambling Club,” My 16, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal & Age, page 4 B.

[xl]  “Poker, Whist, Bridge Only Games Allowed in 1st Gambling Club,” My 16, 1948, Las Vegas Review-Journal & Age, page 4 B.

Chapter One 1928-1929 THE FIRST NEON SIGNS IN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 Neon  in  Las Vegas    1928 to 1930,    the First 14 months.

(Updated March 29, 2019)

Preface. In 2011, Dorothy Wright and I were serving on the City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission.   Dorothy, who fought for years to preserve the history of Las Vegas including Neon signs, was working on a book on the topic.

In researching early aviation history in Las Vegas I bumped into a small newspaper article about a Neon sign.   I mentioned it to Dorothy and she asked for the clipping.

The reference is found on page eighteen of the book “Spectacular, A History of Las Vegas Neon,” written by Dorothy, Melissa Johnson and Carrie Schomig.

They write, “The Overland was, if not the first, certainly one of the first neon signs in Las Vegas.”   The same paragraph provides a brief look at signs in the late 1920’s before moving on the 1930’s.

Our focus starts in September of 1928, and ends in December of 1929.  During this brief period Las Vegas would see the first glow of a Neon sign, as well as the beginning of the battles over whose Neon display was bigger and brighter.

Additional research reveals the Neon sign on the Overland Hotel was in fact the first, and ten more followed by the end of 1929.

(All the images in this story are from the author’s collection)

THE  FIRST  NEON  SIGN   IN   LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas in the winter of 1928 was weeks away from becoming known around the world.

At the moment, however, all was unusually quiet in the normally wide-open desert out-post.

The prohibition against the sale of alcohol in the United States was still the law, and in Nevada most forms of gambling were also illegal.

But since its founding in 1905, law enforcement in the areas of liquor, gambling and prostitution was done with a wink and a nod.

However, starting in the middle of 1928 through early 1929, a heavy lid was placed on illegal gambling and the sale of alcohol.

The “King of the Las Vegas Underworld,” was in jail, the Las Vegas Chief of Police had resigned in disgrace, and the Mayor was about to be busted by federal agents, and face a recall for crimes related to the other two men.

ca. 1928 Post card of Fremont Street looking west.

For most Las Vegans, despite the cool winter days, and the government scandals, a bright future was in the air.

After nearly a decade of debate the United States Congress appeared ready to approve a bill to build a massive dam across the Colorado River, not far from Las Vegas.

On December 18, following a 166 to 122 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives  the legislation was sent to President Calvin Coolidge.

Seventy-two hours later, the President signed the Boulder Canyon Dam bill.

In a story sent nationwide by the Associated Press wire service, “shot-guns and frying pans were pressed into service as noise makers” in Las Vegas “by a joy-mad populace that turned out to celebrate.”[i]

Not only were “joy-mad” locals excited, so were, and using the broadest definition of the word possible, ‘entrepreneurs,’ who saw the light at the northern edge of the Mojave desert.

They were all on their way.  Real estate speculators, business owners, construction workers, and those who saw the empty shoes of the King of the Las Vegas underworld as an opportunity.

Clark County Sheriff Sam Gay received a letter from a company saying, “When Boulder Dam is built, you’ll need a bigger jail, let us build it for you.”

Las Vegans who had been living with the ups and downs of dam possibility, began feeling in early the year the project would get the green light.

Ethel Guenter was the owner of The Overland, one of the two large hotels in Las Vegas. [ii]

Late in August of 1928 she felt it was time to improve the marketing of the Overland.  One of Guenter’s answers included the word Neon.

The hotel was in a prime spot located on the north east corner of Main and Fremont.  On the other side of Main was the Union Pacific Railroad passenger depot.

However, across Fremont Street, on the south west corner was the Guenther main competition, the Hotel Nevada, now the Golden Gate Hotel.

Of the two, the Nevada was a bit more upscale.

The Overland catered to the bus travelers, as well business traveler.  The hotel had a “Large Free Sample Room” where salesmen could display their wares.

There were no companies in Las Vegas in the fall of 1928 that provided signs with tubes filled with the rare-earth gas Neon.

Either Guenther saw an advertisement in a Salt Lake City, or Los Angeles newspaper, or  she ordered it from a traveling sign salesman, in either case in August an order for a Neon sign was placed.

A month later, the following story appeared on front page one of the September 28th Las Vegas Review newspaper.[iii]

The double sided sign contained the words “OVERLAND HOTEL.”  But only the “HOTEL” was fashioned out of tubes filled with Neon.

It is not known if the word  “HOTEL” flashed on and off, or the color. Likely tubes likely glowed a reddish-orange, the natural color of Neon

What is known is the sign, with the eight to 10 inches tall Neon letters, left an impression on the reporter who wrote the sign adds “considerable to the appearance of that section of the city.[iv]

The new neon sign hung down from a pole extended from the corner of the hotel horizontally over the sidewalk.

A review of the cities other newspaper, the Las Vegas Age, published by Charles and Delphine  Squires, for the months of September and October, 1928, revealed no reference to Neon, or the new sign at the Overland Hotel.

Therefore, the title of “First Neon Sign” in Las Vegas award goes to

the Overland Hotel, September 28, 1928.

 

Pause for a moment with a However!

There is a ‘however’ to this historical award.  It comes from  newspaperman  Squires who arrived in Las Vegas in 1905.

In 1948 Squires said he believed the first Las Vegas Neon sign was installed “about 1928.” [v]

He thought the first Neon sign that went up was installed on the southwest corner of Second and Fremont, where the Golden Nugget is now located.

Squires said there was “a cigar store operated by Jimmie Powers and Bob Griffith.”

It was the Mission Cigar Store.  And according to Squires “there the first Neon sign in Las Vegas blossomed out with the one word, “Cigars” standing out from the building about four and one-half feet in length.”[vi]

Likely Squires kept track of stories in his own newspaper and not that of his rival the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Squires remember what he printed, in the summer of 1929, but it was a good six months after the Overland Hotel’s sign went up.

 

A photograph, ca 1930,  of the corner reveals the letters in the sign were all upper case;“CIGARS”

Squires added, the Neon sign created “quite a blaze of light for the little town and we all figured they would have to sell a lot of cigars to pay for it.” [vii]

He said the second Neon sign in Las Vegas was “a small one on the M. W. Davis Jewelry store which read simply “Jewelry.” [viii]

Squires “small” description may have been based on a comparison of the 1929 Davis sign to the much larger Neon signs along Fremont Street when he made his comments in 1948.

After Cigar and Jeweler  Squires said “there was a fever of Neon signs, each one larger and more artistic, beautiful and brilliant that its predecessor.” [ix]

There is a however,’ to the Squires ‘however.’
In early April, 1929, Alexander Barrett, described at the time as a “neon expert” and his partners opened the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company.

Nine months later, on January 1, 1930, the company advertised it had created several of the Neon signs in town.  On the list of signs, The Mission Cigar Store and M. W. Davis Jeweler Company.[x]

If the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company didn’t open its doors until the spring of 1929, the cigar sign, while early, was not the first.

Nor was the jewelry sign in the window of Davis’ shop the first.  After the sign company opened, Davis became a part owner.

Las Vegas Age December 31, 1929

 

In a 1953 article Squires wrote, “The first neon sign I remember in Las Vegas was placed over the door of the Kiva Club in the old building, corner of Second and Fremont, where the Golden Nugget now blazes.  It said “KIVA” in red letters about three inches high and REALLY WAS A NEW WONDER IN Las Vegas.”   [xi]

The two signs, Mission Cigar, and the Kiva night club were in the same spot.  Kiva replaced cigar.

Squires added, “Jack Young thinks there were other small neon signs here prior to that one, but I remember only the “KIVA.” [xii]

Young, of the pioneering Neon sign company, Young Electric, was partially correct, there were signs prior to the KIVA, but they were not “small.”

The two ‘howevers’ do not hold up to additional research.

The award for having the “First Neon Sign in Las Vegas” rest firmly with the historic Overland Hotel, which was still under the facade and previous remodels of the Las Vegas Club until it was torn down this year.

 

The sign would only be up for a couple of years.   Its life expectancy was reduced when the city starting  adding ornate street lights to Fremont Street in October of 1929.

Also note the ladder and the ornamental wrought iron fencing being covered or replaced.

When the light pole was installed, the first Neon side was moved to the Fremont Street side of the hotel

Finally, the sign was removed, along with the trees and replaced with two larger Neon signs.  One on the Main Street side and a second large sign on the Fremont Street side.

 

Up to the mid 1920’s the primary source of transportation in and out of Las Vegas was the Union Pacific Railroad.

Starting in the mid teens, work began to improve the roads between Utah and California.  Until the early 1920’s the roads were a small step above trails.

Then in 1926, the federal government created U.S. Highway 91 and bus travel became part of the transportation options, in and out of Las Vegas.

Coming in from southern California, through Nevada and into Utah the highway was paved.   Paved in terms of the 1920’s definition; leveled, add oil, add gravel, and oil again.

Driving into Las Vegas from Los Angeles highway heading south on 5th Street, (Now Las Vegas Boulevard) then a zig-zag west on Fremont Street to Main Street and turn north to Salt Lake City; 5th, Fremont, Main Streets, all U.S. Highway 91.

A wide shot of Fremont Street showing three of the 4 first Neon signs in Las Vegas as well as a U.S. Highway 91 sign. ca. 1930

By the late 1920’s thousands of cars a year traveled the highway through Las Vegas.

Several clubs and so-call soft drink emporiums were operating on the first two blocks of Fremont.

The two main operations where you could have a ‘drink’ and gamble legally at poker, and pull a few slot machine handles, were the Northern and the Las Vegas Clubs.

               Based on the automobile’s  license plate,  this is Northern Hotel Sign                       in early 1929.  

With the dam legislation approved new business were moving in and in many cases proving competition to existing operators, including the gaming clubs.

A couple of clubs would be built out past the city limits on U.S. 91.  The first in 1929 would be the Red Rooster, followed by the Pair O’ Dice.

Another early riser was Prosper J. Goumond, and his crew of experienced gamblers from Ely.   In late spring of 1929 they moved to Las Vegas bought the lot at 118 Fremont and built the Boulder Club.

Just before Goumond arrived, two Neon sign companies opened for business in the city.  With his arrival, the summer and fall of 1929 would mark the beginning of the Las Vegas Neon wars.

The first known neon sign company in the Las Vegas opened in February of 1929, as the Boski Electric Company.   When its owner Earl K. Bruce convinced his two brothers to join him, the name quickly changed to the Bruce Brothers electric company; “live wire electricians.”[xiii]

Then the brothers cut a deal with the largest Neon firm in the world, Claude Neon Signs. [xiv]

 The Claude Neon sign company was owned by Georges Claude, a French inventor.   Claude was a pioneer in the development of neon lighting.  He would patent his inventions in the U.S. and fought many court battles to preserve his ideas.

Claude is considered to be the first person “to apply an electrical discharge to a. sealed tube with neon as the gas creating the first neon lamp.” [xv]

The same day the Bruce Brothers announced their deal with Claude  the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company opened its doors.

Barrett and his partners said they were “here to stay and will handle work on signs of any size or class” as well as “providing servicing after the installation,”

The company opened its shop at 18 Bridger Street with what the partnership called “full equipment.” [xvii]

Bruce Brothers and Las Vegas Neon would become part of Las Vegas’ first battle of the Neon signs.

The fight would start with ‘my sign is larger than your sign,’ and over the years would develop into an artistic, and technological marketing game of who can attract the most attention.

Downtown Las Vegas would combine its Neon and western theme and become known in the 1940’s as “Glitter Gulch.”

Looking west at the tree-lined third street of Fremont with railroad depot on background,   the Golden Hotel in early 1929 before its Neon sign was installed. 

The Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company on the night of April 29, 1929, finished its first major installation at the Hotel Golden. [xviii]

 The hotel, owned by Mrs. Thomas R. Hodgens, was located at 323 Fremont on the south side at the corner of 4th and Fremont.

Beyond the fact that it was described as an eight foot long Neon sign, no images or other details of the sign have been uncovered.

The story announcing the installation included the following sentence, “When the eight foot long sign was turned on, Mrs. Hodges expressed pride in ownership of one of the state of the art electric signs.” [xix]

While Las Vegas Neon was working on the Hotel Golden sign, the Bruce Brothers were working on an even bigger sign for the Boulder Club. [xx]

This early 1931 post card shows the sign was painted green.  And while artists at the post card printing plant often made their own artistic decisions, they were provided with color details by the company ordering the post cards.  In this case it was William Ferron or his staff.  He owned  drugs stores in Las Vegas and at the time was the largest post card publisher in southern Nevada.

Since the new club was in the middle of the business district Goumond decided he needed a sign that could be seen at the railroad depot, and drivers traveling on U.S. 91.

 Opened on Saturday night of July 27, 1929, with gaming tables on the west side of the long two-story building and the bar and a few “nickel-in-the-slot-machines” on the east side, Goumond called his place, “Nevada’s Finest Men’s Club.”

His advertisements would not mention gambling, as that was covered in the word “Club.”   Goumond did point to his “Soda Fountain, Sandwiches, Candies, Cigars, Cigarettes, and Tobaccos.”  [xxi]

On opening day, the Las Vegas Age promoted the Boulder Club saying the new business was “crowned with its great twelve-foot Neon sign.[xxii]

The Boulder Club’s sign was four feet longer then the Hotel Golden’s 8-foot sign two blocks east.

 

 

The vertical double sided sign on the Boulder Club extended out from the top of the second floor up past the roof line.

And for with sharp eyes,  at the bottom of the photograph is the “Louis Wiener” clothing store.

The Wiener’s son, Lou would go on to become a famous Las Vegas attorney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original sign was still up when this photograph was taken in late August, 1931.  It provides the detail of where and how the Boulder Club Neon sign was installed.

As the Bruce Brothers were assembling and installing the Boulder Club sign, Barrett’s Las Vegas Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company had secured a contract from the Northern Club.

Owned by the Stocker family the Northern Hotel and Club, located at 15 Fremont Street, wanted the largest Neon sign in town.[xxiii]

The need for space to build the large Northern sign required the company to move from its Bridger Street location to Third and Carson.  Two weeks after the Boulder Club sign began to glow, the Las Vegas Neon company owners said they were working on a “big new sign for the Northern Club.” [xxiv]  The announcement said the sign was “almost finished and ready for erection.” [xxv]

The Las Vegas Age reported in its Saturday, August 24, 1929 edition, “The new sixteen-foot neon electric sign at the Northern Club will be flashing tonight, according to Barrett and Clout, builders of the sign.  It is the largest neon sign in the city and will flash the word “The” and then “Northern Club.”

This ca 1930 view, shows the east side of the two side sign.

Once again, the Neon colors were not mentioned.

From the photographs it appears the sign was painted white or a yellow.

 

 

 

Two months later, in October without the “THE” an advertisement appeared in the Las Vegas Age with a graphic of the Stocker’s new sign.

   The one time ad was an unusual move for the Stockers who didn’t regularly use the local newspapers to promote their club.

 

 

 

 

 

While it would be the fourth Neon sign to light up Fremont Street, for a while, it would be the tallest and the flashiest.

This late 1929, early 1930 post card shows the Northern’s first neon sign, as well as being the site for another city light pole.

It appears the only Neon sign the Bruce Brothers installed in 1929 was at the Boulder Club.   Over the next couple of years the company would change management and focus on electrical work.  That would change after meeting Thomas Young.

At the end of 1929, the Las Vegas Neon Sign Company had built and installed Neon signs at the Golden Hotel,  Gateway Hotel, Northern Club,   M. W. Davis Jeweler, Beckley’s, Professional Pharmacy, and the Mission Cigar Store.

The sign company also said they were the “contractors for the new Las Vegas High School electrical wiring” system.  [xxvi]

Gateway Hotel and Main and Stewart Streets

The battle over the biggest and brightest Neon sign would continue into the 1930’s.

With gambling legalized in 1931 and clubs opening up and down Fremont, new hotels being built and with the construction of the dam well underway 1932 would become a milestone in the history of Neon in Las Vegas.

At some point before May 1, 1932, the Bruce Brothers Electric Company became the simply the “Nevada Electric Company,” with A. M. Bruce as the Manager. [xxvii]

In March of 1932, Thomas Young, of the Young Electric Sign Company set up an office in the brand new Apache Hotel at Second and Fremont Streets.

Young said at the time,  he was “pleased to announce our entering Las Vegas.”   [xxviii]

As part of the initial business plan, Young also said he was working directly with the Nevada Electric Company. [xxix]

Young’s Neon work continues to glow at http://www.neonmuseum.org/about/the-collection/neon-boneyard

Looking for early Neon sign images along Fremont Street, we began to notice as Neon arrived, the trees began to disappear.

        Until a Neon sign is found in Las Vegas before September 28, 1928, the Overland Hotel holds the honor of having the first Neon sign in Las Vegas.

Here is a list of the first eleven known Neon signs in Las Vegas  1928-1929 and when each sign began to glow.

  1. Overland Hotel, week of September 28, 1928.
  2. Golden Hotel, April 29, 1929.
  3. Boulder Club, July 27, 1929.
  4. Northern Club, August, 24, 1929.
  5. W. Davis Jeweler, Summer-Fall, 1929.
  6. Mission Cigar, Fall, 1928.
  7. La Salle, after August 24, 1929.
  8. Oak Hotel, after August 24, 1929
  9. Gateway Hotel, Fall, 1929.
  10. Professional Pharmacy, Fall, 1929.
  11. Beckley’s Department Store, October 4,  1929

[i] “Celebration at Las Vegas, Nev.” December 21, 1928, Associated Press.

[ii] “New Management for Overland Hotel,” February 10, 1928, Las Vegas Age, page two.

[iii]  The newspaper would be the Las Vegas Review, until took over the “Las Vegas Journal” in July of 1929 to become the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

[iv] “Hotel has New Sign,” September 28, 1928, Las Vegas Review, Page one.

[v]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[vi]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[vii]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[viii]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[ix]  “New Motel Elwell” by Charles P. Squires, January 25, 1948, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal & Age, page 12B.

[x]  “Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Co.” display advertisement, January 1, 1930, Las Vegas Review Journal, page four.

[xi] “Observations,” by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, September 12, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas magazine, Page 25.

[xii] “Observations,” by Charles P. “Pop” Squires, September 12, 1953, Fabulous Las Vegas magazine, Page 25.

[xiii]  “Boski Electric Opens Temporary Quarters,” February 26, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page two. “Electric Firm Has Two new Members,” March 5, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xiv]  “Neon Signs Have Agents in Vegas,” April 5, 1929, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[xv] http://neonlibrary.com/neon_history_2.html

[xvi] 1930 United States Federal Census, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada,  National archives and records administration, , T626.

[xvii]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xviii]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xix]  “Hotel Golden’ s New Neon Sign Installed,” April 30, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page one

[xx]  “Boulder Club Holds Grand Opening T’Day,” July 27, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xxi]  Display advertisement, Boulder Club, July 27, 192, Las Vegas Review, page three.

[xxii]  “Boulder Club Holds Grand Opening T’Day,” July 27, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[xxiii]  “New Northern Club neon Sign Completed,” August 24, 1929, Las Vegas Age, Page three.

[xxiv] “Neon Sign Company is now in New Location,” August 13, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxv] “Neon Sign Company is now in New Location,” August 13, 1929, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxvi]  “New Northern Club Neon Sign Completed,” August 24, 1939, Las Vegas Age, page three.

[xxvii] “Electric Company, Inc.,” display advertisement, May 1, 1932, Las Vegas Age, Page two.

[xxviii]  “Young Electric Sign Company,” display advertisement, March 29, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page six.

[xxix]  “Young Electric Sign Company,” display advertisement, March 29, 1932, Las Vegas Evening Review-Journal, page six.

 

Chapter one – 1912, The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens in Las Vegas.

Late in 2017, with the demolition flag flying, the site of where the historic Northern Hotel and Bar once stood on Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas, is almost ‘restored’ to when the town was created in 1905.

In 1905 it was a flat piece of land covered in alfalfa, today, 2018 bits and pieces of old tile mark the spot where history was made, several times over.

For decades the rough and tumble development of gambling was made at the Northern.  Now it is just an empty space behind a billboard, hiding ….progress.  

 

An aerial map of central Nevada farm land? Nope!  Just what is left of the site where the Northern Hotel bar once was.

No plaque marks the spot, no effort has been made so far to reveal to the passing public, the history that occurred on this spot.

 

 

 

It is a sad and unnecessary way to put a period after the words Northern Hotel and Bar.

The Northern’s history, on Block 3, lot 27, began in 1912 by starting a beer war.

The Northern would become home to colorful, and infamous characters from Groesbeck, to the Stockers, to the Stearns, to Sedway and Siegel.

Add in Las Vegas resort visionary, Wilbur Clark and you have a building that often changed names and most certainly changed history.

(And, if you like, throw in mobster ‘Russian Louis’ for good measure.)

A review of the details of the story of the Las Vegas “Northern” reveals one the downsides of history on the web.

Once errors are made they get repeated over and over.  Then with many sites making the same mistakes, the fiction get footnoted as fact.

The focus of this series of reports will be, hopefully, to separate facts from fiction covering the first 30 years of the Northern’s life, plus its moments in the Hollywood spotlight.

As we dig into the history of the Northern and its owners, there are natural transitions in the story.   Currently this is the outline, but, it has changed several times since we started this project, and will likely change several more times as more information is unearthed.

Chapter one.  1912 The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens on Fremont Street.

Chapter two.   Northern Hotel and Bar – Raids –Illegal gambling and alcohol.

Chapter three.  The Stocker Era Begins. ‘Three wild and crazy guys!”

Chapter four.    The Northern and the Roaring Twenty’s Las Vegas Style

Chapter five.   The Northern.  1930’s, The Stocker Brothers buy from Mom and Dad.

Chapter six        The Northern and its role in legalizing Gambling.

Chapter Seven.     The 1930’s  The Brothers  lease to other Brothers. 

 (There is a lot to cover in the 1930’s.  Chapter 7 is likely to turn into chapters  8 and maybe 9.)

Tentative  Chapter eight. The Northern- Bugsy Siegel first door to Las Vegas.

Tentative  Chapter nine.   Wilbur Clark changes name of Northern.

Tentative   Chapter eight.   The Northern following World War II.

Tentative       Chapter ten.    The Northern becomes  ?

Tentative        Chapter Eleven.     Tomorrow. and Opinion Piece.

 

Before Chapter One, here is an image of the Northern’s days of glory and a look at Block 3, lot 27’s most recent role on Fremont Street, “a grind joint.”

A link to images of Lay Bayou being torn down.

https://vitalvegas.com/demolition-begins-downtown-la-bayou-casino/

Courtesy UNLV Special Collections 

 

Chapter one.   1912 –   

                               The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens on Fremont Street.

In mid-December of 1911, the Utah based “Salt Lake Brewery Company” purchased a lot on the south side of the first block of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

With an alley separating the two properties, the land was adjacent to the then Nevada Hotel, now the Golden Gate Hotel-Casino.

When the “Salt Lake Brewery” purchased the land the “Baltimore Restaurant” was sitting on the lot.  Lot twenty-seven in Block 3.  The building, owned by Peter Buol,  was moved off the property and the land readied for a new structure. [i]

Las Vegas became an official incorporated city a few months earlier in June of 1911 and Buol was elected became its first mayor.

The land itself was owned by J. F. Dunn, identified as the Superintendent of the Oregon Short Line railroad.

That railroad was part of the Union Pacific Railroad system, which in turn was half owner of the Salt Lake Route railroad, which in turn was the most powerful entity in Las Vegas.   Which in turn would directly impact the the soon to be built Northern Hotel and Bar.

Stories about the railroad and its alleged concern about who owned the Northern would become part of the colorful history of the club.

Fred Leonard a Salt Lake City businessman, representing the brewing company, finalized the deal for the land.

Not quite final.  Before the decade was out, Leonard’s company would own the Northern.

The Las Vegas Age reported in its December 30, 1911 issue, the sale “marks the highest price yet paid for an unimproved business lot in this city, being at the rate of $140 per front foot.” [ii]    Other estimates of the price ran as high as $7,500.[iii]   The last estimate likely included the cost of construction.

The brewery company said it planned to build a two-story hotel, with a “cold storage plant underneath.” [iv]

The second story would house the fifteen room hotel, with “all modern conveniences including electric lights, gas, hot and cold water.”  [v]

The hotel office and a bar “fitted in a luxuriant manner”  would on the first floor, according to the brewery’s press release. [vi]

At the same time, local citizens were informed “Lon Groesbeck, who is known by thousands through the west, will be the local manager of the business and the name, taken from his old friend Tex Rickard, will be the Northern.” [vii]

Groesbeck leased the building, and would furnish the hotel and bar with his own funds.

Then published reports, a week before the hotel/bar would opening confirmed the name; “Las Vegas will soon be in line with other Nevada cities by possessing a Northern hotel and bar.  That is the name given to the handsome new hotel being built by the Salt Lake Brewing Co.”  [viii] 

From its start in Alaska to nearly every town in Nevada, there was a “Northern.”  Whether it was a hotel, or a saloon, no self-respecting Nevada mining camp or community was without a “Northern.”

Images from the author’s collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On page five of the March 23, 1912 issue of the Las Vegas Age is found; “The building is now practically completed except for some interior painting.  After setting the fixtures and completing the interior finish, which, it is expected may be done within ten days, the Northern will be ready to receive the public.”

“Not pretentious in size” Charles Squires, the newspaper’s publisher wrote, “The Northern will be the best appointed and handsomest architecturally of any similar resort in this city.” [ix]     

The west wall of the two story building was used as a large billboard for its owners, The Salt Lake City Brewing Company.

Groesbeck announced the formal opening of the new resort would be held the first week in April and invited “everybody” to inspect “the handsome new quarters and enjoying a sociable time.”  [x]

His boss, the Salt Lake beer brewer, had a “sociable” surprise for Las Vegas and the town’s saloon owners.

The city’s other weekly newspaper, the Clark County Review, was there opening night; “For a couple of hours Tuesday evening everything was free, including chicken sandwiches, and needless to state, business was rushing.”   [xi]     

  Charles Corkhill, publisher of the Review wrote Groesbeck announced to the already happy crowd he was permanently reducing the price of a glass of beer by more than 50%.[xii]

At that time every saloon in town was charging twelve and a half cents a glass, or two glasses of beer for “two-bits.”

The Salt Lake Brewing Company set the new rate at 5 cents a glass.  The moment, Corkhill wrote “marked an epoch in the miscellaneous history of Las Vegas.” [xiii]

“While the five cent innovation” made a “hit with the ultimate consumer,” Corkhill said, “the same cannot be said of the majority of saloon men, nearly all of whom have added arrows of “gloom” to their regular equipment for the entrapment of patrons.” [xiv]

Thus began the Las Vegas Beer War of 1912.

Adding up the saloons along north First Street and the hotels with bars along Fremont Street, there were 19 establishments where you could purchase beer in Las Vegas in 1912.

Two of the largest operations, Al James and his Arizona Club, and Merrit Pollard of the Overland Bar, at the corner of Main and Fremont Streets, immediately dropped their price to 5 cents a glass. [xv]

Author’s collection

The night after the opening of the Northern, the competing saloon operators met and agreed to contact the Maier Brewing Company of Los Angeles their main supplier of beer.

They hoped Maier would reduce the wholesale cost of bottles and kegs of beer. [xvi]

In the meantime, the agreed, each saloon operator was free to act as they wished. They also appointed Pollard as their representative to go to Los Angeles and meet with Maier.[xvii] 

 

1911 Maier’s Beer advertisement.

Pollard’s visit was unsuccessful.

Maier’s made “no concessions” in its wholesale prices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On his return Pollard, whose bar was on the first floor corner of the Overland Hotel, just across from the railroad depot began promoting the new price.

He put up a big banner with two foot lettering announcing the five cent beer.

Author’s collection

Over the next several weeks the beer war raged to the satisfaction of the consumer.

Soon most other saloon owners dropped their price.  Others held firm on their price, but offered larger glasses.

A couple of retail outlets said their liquid was worth the price, it was just better beer.

John Wesley Horden, owner of the Las Vegas Hotel and Bar said, he would “meet all competition in the price of beer.”  And to celebrate the five cent beer he would throw “a grand lunch and the best orchestra music the town affords.  Manager Horden says he does not propose to remain in the rear of any procession that he is in.”   [xviii]

The last holdout was the Lincoln Hotel on Main Street.  (The building, now known as the Victory Hotel, is still standing, as of February, 2018.)

The price of beer was now five cents a glass and stayed that way for many years.

The Beer War of 1912 marked the beginning of a long and colorful history of the building that started life as the Northern Hotel and Bar.

While Alonzo,“Lon” Groesbeck made many friends in Las Vegas with his five cent beer  he also made important enemies.

In Chapter two, “The Northern Hotel and Bar – Raids –Illegal gambling to alcohol.” 

Also coming up later in Chapter Three, recently uncovered documents reveal one of Stocker brothers was in prison while another brother, as a teenager, was working the casinos in Mexico.

 

 

[i] “Salt Lake Brewery Can Come Back,” December 30, 1911, Clark County Review, page two, “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” December 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[ii] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[iii] “Salt Lake Brewery Can Come Back,” December 30, 1911, Clark County Review, page two, “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” December 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[iv] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[v] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[vi] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[vii] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[viii] “The Northern,” March 23, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page five.

[ix] “The Northern,” March 23, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page five.

[x] “Northern Opening,” March 30, 1912, Las Vegas Age, page four.

[xi] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xii] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xiii] “Five Cent Beer, latest Innovation, Causes Both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, page one.

[xiv] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xv] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xvi] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xvii] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xviii] “Las Vegas Hotel Meets the Issue,” April 13, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one

Rise and fall of the Nevada Biltmore. One of 4 Las Vegas resorts built 1941-1942.

(updated February 3, 2018)

  • Motel owner Tom Hull opens the western themed Hotel El Rancho Vegas, on evening of April 3, 1941.
  • The El Cortez hotel-casino with its western motif opens to the public at 6:00 p.m. on November 7, 1941.
  • Famed Hollywood restaurant owner Bob  Brooks opens south seas themed Nevada Biltmore in Las Vegas June 20, 1942
  • October 30, 1942 the western themed Last Frontier Hotel Casino opened.

The four Las Vegas resorts would stand alone until the end of World War Two.

Today, the only one standing is the El Cortez Hotel-casino and it is on the national register of historic places. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=fef848c8-5040-44ca-9bb5-3d90bb9e3475

The histories of El Cortez,  the El Rancho Vegas and the Last Frontier are remembered, in part because of their locations on the Las Vegas strip.  (A quick tangent.  In recent years, the history of the El Cortez because of its owners progressive thinking by adding the resort to the national register of historic places, has been written about extensively.   But there is a lot more to be told, a major change in the social entertainment structure, as well as secret ownership, and we don’t mean Bugsy, that is no secret, nor Meyer, or Sedway, we will just “string” you along on that story.)

Today’s story is about the less known of the four, the Nevada Biltmore.   Less known today,  in part because of its location on North Main Street in downtown Las Vegas.  At the time of its opening it was an important U.S. highway intersection.

Here is a short, but detailed history, with sources that can be used to expand the history of this unique resort.

The Las Vegas Review Journal carried a story on page six of its June 20, 1942 edition announcing the opening of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel under the caption; “Seven Seas Room to Open This Eve.”

The story read, “The colorful Seven Seas room at the new Nevada Biltmore Hotel will be opened this evening at North Main and Bonanza Road, it was announced today by Bob Brooks, owner.” [i]

“Brooks” the newspaper story said, was the ” owner of the Somerset House in Beverly Hills and the Seven Seas in Hollywood, revealed that Johnny Bush[ii] will be in charge of the casino, Eddie Bush, famous Hawaiian band leader, will have charge of the music and Al Smith, noted chef from the Somerset House will supervise the preparation of the food.” [iii]

The newspaper story added, “The decorations of the Seven Seas are both unusual and authentic featuring paintings of the exquisite oils from Tahiti on a background of velvet.” [iv]

 The pool was visible from the from the intersection Main and Bonanza Streets, which was also where  two U.S. Highways, U.S. 91 and 95 connected.  A popular place for locals.  As a child, U.S. Senator Richard Bryan learned to swim in this pool.

The gaming casinos, cocktail lounge and dining room are all done in South Sea Island motif and one of the interesting decorations is a surf board presented to Brooks by the noted Hawaiian swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku.  The board is covered with the autographs of celebrities.” [v]

“The cocktail lounge will specialize in widely known and colorful rum drinks, Brooks’ reports.” [vi]

January 1, 1943 Brooks leases Biltmore to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin

Less than six months after opening the hotel Bob Brooks leased the operation, with the exception of the casino, to the Martins.

The January 1, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal, on page two, published a story with the caption “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin.”   The story said “The Nevada Biltmore hotel, one of Las Vegas’ newest hostelries, has been leased by the owner, Bob Brooks, to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin, recently of southern California, but formerly of Florida it was announced today.” [vii]

“The new mangers took over the entire hotel operation today, except the casino, which will continue to be operated by Brooks, Martin said.” [viii]

“Special service for Las Vegas residents will be a feature at the hotel under the new management, with emphasis on luncheons, bridge parties, and private entertainment, it was announced.  Floor shows will be a regular attraction in the dining room.” [ix]

“Martin, who spent 18 years at sea as chief steward on passenger liners, plans to introduce many specialty dishes which were favorites with world travelers.” [x]

“Mr. and Mrs. Martin for many years operated hotels in Miami Beach, Florida.  About one and one half years ago they moved to California and leased the Alessandro hotel in Hemet, California, which had a big success under their management.  They sold out after several months ago and purchased the lease on the famous Hotel Casa de Manana in La Jolla, California.  Recently they disposed of their holdings there to move to Las Vegas and take over the Nevada Biltmore hotel.” [xi]

 May, 1943, Brooks leases property to Del Mar Corporation and it’s President Hernando Courtright.

The Del Mar Corporation, its President Hernando Courtright, signed a five year lease with Brooks for Biltmore in May of 1943 for $31,000.

The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“7 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table  9 ½ by 4 ½

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141”

1 complete set checks for roulette table,

1 complete set of markers

12 Coral leather upholstered seat and back casino stools.”[xii]

 September, 1943 A. L. Leesone listed as “Manager” of Nevada Biltmore Hotel

Another change of hands for the Biltmore operation.   A display advertisement in the September 8, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal lists  “A. L. Leesone, Manager,” of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel. [xiii]

And, Leesone time in management was short.

October, 1943, Brooks announces his “return” to the Biltmore with new “Hotel Managers,” the Kehrlein’s.

Brooks announced  in the October 4, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal.

The advertisement was “announcing the return of Bob Brooks’ owner of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel.”  In addition Brooks also listed Mary and Emil Kehrlein as “Hotel Managers,” and Johnny Hughes as “casino managers.”[xiv]

Brooks takes out display advertisement September 1944  Biltmore “has not been sold and is not for sale.”

Bob Brooks, in a display advertisement in the September 8, 1944 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal declared;

“NOTICE Contrary to reports, the Nevada Biltmore Hotel has not been sold and is not for sale.  No other party or parties have any interest in the business except myself.  I am the sole owner and operator.  I have always had faith in the future of Las Vegas and I still hold that faith.  I like the people of this community and the climate and western hospitality of Southern Nevada.  Las Vegas is my home and I pledge to you good people the finest in entertainment, tasty drinks and excellent food amid comfortable surroundings.  It will be a pleasure to personally greet you and your friends. BOB BROOKS.”[xv]

A month after taking announcing the resort was not for sale, Brooks solid it.

Brooks sells Nevada Biltmore November, 1944 to G.E. Kinsey

While announcing the resort had “not been sold” Brooks was clearly in discussion to sell the property.

On November 1, 1944 Brooks along with G.E. and Mattie Kinsey filed papers with the county detailing the sale. The sale would not become public for two weeks, on November 14.

Brooks made the announcement to his staff and friends at what was described as a “farewell dinner,” on the evening of Monday, November 13, 1944. [xvi]

The general public got the official word when they picked up their morning newspaper.[xvii]

The cities two newspapers reported the “transaction” involved “properties valued in excess of $600,000.” [xviii]

By the afternoon of November 14, 1944 more details were revealed when W. H. Grunwald, representing the Kinsey’s told reporters, “We intend to make the Nevada Biltmore a real part of the city of Las Vegas.  We want to bring it into the city of Las Vegas and make it a place where the people of the community can meet and enjoy wholesome entertainment and good food.”  [xix]

Grunwald added, “as soon as the government restrictions are eased so we can get material, we expect to make improvements at the hotel.  We intend to have the Nevada Biltmore take its place alongside the other fine establishments which this community well can boast.” [xx]

As part of the deal, Brooks would acquire “the Westchester apartment hotel, a class-A, seven story structure on Pico Street in Los Angeles.” [xxi]

At the time of the sale, George Kinsey was reported to be “quite widely known in Las Vegas, having been a regular visitor to this area since 1940.  He became interested in the Las Vegas area though Bill Froelich, Ford dealer of southern California, and Frank Muller, wealthy laundry man of the Los Angeles area, who brought him her firs for a fishing trip on Lake Mead.” [xxii]

Kinsey retained Jack Walsh to run the Hotel, and Johnny Hughes, to run the gambling side of the Nevada Biltmore.  Hughes described in the Kinsey announcement as a “popular casino manager” was first hired by Brooks when he opened the resort in 1942.[xxiii]

 

 

 

 

 

Hughes, seen here in a sketch by well known Reno graphic artist Lew Hymers, would open his own place on U.S. 91, “The Players.”

 

 

 

 

A review of the casino inventory provides an inside into the scale of the gambling operation.

Based on the casino inventory it appears Kinsey added one 5 cent Bell slot machine, a console 4-bell machine,  and put in a large crap table, from a 4 ½ x 9 to a 4 ½ x 12 foot.

    The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“8 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

465-863-5 cents

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table   4 ½ x 12’

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 complete set checks for roulette table, 2 complete sets of markers.

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141

14 upholstered seat and back casino stools – upholstered in sheepskin fabric.”[xxv]

 18 months later,  in April of, 1946, Kinsey sells Nevada Biltmore to Horace Heidt, famous band leader.

“Horace Heidt, nationally famous band leader…has purchased the Nevada Biltmore hotel in Las Vegas, it was announced” Sunday, April 28, 1946 “by Thomas Campbell, who represents Kinsey in all Las Vegas operations and who handled the Biltmore deal for him.”[xxvi]

“While the purchase price was not announced, definitely, it is understood that Heidt paid George E. Kinsey, former owner $500,000 for the entire facilities.”

The band leader  told the Review Journal “Jack Walsh definitely would remain as manager of the hotel.”

Heidt immediately began looking for investors, as he had little interest in running the property.

December, 1946, Heidt Sells half Interest in Biltmore and Jack Walsh returns as General Manager of the Biltmore, Heidt reveals change in casino operation.

Horace Heidt, owner of the Nevada  Biltmore hotel, announced the week of December 19, 1946 that he had sold a half interest in the hotel to Jules Le Baron, described at the time as the son of William LeBaron, French film director working in Hollywood.[xxvii]

Heidt said he made the change because he was getting his band back together for a featured spot on a radio broadcast in 1947. [xxviii]

Heidt said at the time that he would return to Las Vegas on a regular basis to assist in the operation of the hotel. [xxix]

Heidt announced on December 19, 1946, “Jack Walsh, prominent Las Vegas hotel man, has been hired as manager of the Nevada Biltmore and will return to the duties he had earlier this year at the hotel. Walsh recently returned from Del Mar, California, where he operated the famous hostelry there.”[xxx]

Heidt also announced “Earl Jones will continue as casino manager and Joe Devereaux will be in charge of the bar as in the past, Heidt said.” [xxxi]

That quickly changed Heidt cuts deal with national known east coast nightclub operator, Frank Barbaro.

On February 5, 1947, Ralph Stoughton and Frank Barbaro signed a one year lease to operate the hotel.

The name of the entertainment area of the resort would be  changed to the “Bowery-Biltmore” to reflect Barbaro’s plans for the business. [i]

Barbaro, a Detroit nightclub owner, was in Las Vegas to get a divorce. [ii]

He billed himself as “known from coast to coast” and “your host from coast to coast.”

Barbaro said met Stoughton who came up with the idea of the two of them forming a partnership to take over the Nevada Biltmore. [iii]

 

 

 

Barbaro began advertising the resort  as “Frank Barbaro’s Bowery.”  The Biltmore Bowery opened on April 30, 1947 with Martha Raye.[iv]

 

 

As far as Barbaro got with his name change is seen in this publicity shot with Barbaro in the middle, and just above his head is the neon script letter “Barbaros Bowery.”

 

Barbaro take over made the national enternament news outlets. From “Hollywood Nite-Life” April 25, 1947, page 12, a column “Las Vegas Life” by Melba Arnold.

“Personality of the week-Frank Barbaro, affable owner of the Nevada Biltmore, has the fun-lovers jamming his night spot despite the fact that he is in the process of drastically remodeling the famous dining room.  Guests purr happily surrounded by stripped walls and raw ceilings while enjoying the sparling wit of Ben Blue and his Hollywood Revue.  The grand opening of the Bowery Room is slated for 30th of this month with Martha Raye in charge of the merrymaking.”

Page 15 of the same issue has a photograph of Barbaro with the caption, “Frank Barbaro.  Thar’s a handsome cowhard in that thar Las Vegas these days by the tag of Frank Barbaro. He hails from the fair city of Detroit where he was lord and master of the swank Bowery Café.  Mr. Barbaro recently purchased the Nevada Biltmore and immediately began doing things in a large way, namely throwing $50,000 into revamping the hotel’s boite which he will name the Bowery Café, natch.”

“Frank has appointed a well-known and much-liked gent by the name of Jack Walsh to manage his beautiful bistro.  Mr. Walsh began his duties duly by announcing the Bowery would purvey nothing but big time talent inside its portals, and to prove this he signed Ben Blue, who is now taking bows in the Bowery.  Next on the list of big acts is Martha Raye who starts April 30th.  Leo Carrillo with the Ben Yost Troupe makes their entry May 14th.  Mr. Barbaro also signed Jack Ponds, a very talented MC and comic as a regular at his sipping heaven.”

In May of 1947 Barbaro filed for divorce in Las Vegas.  His wife and children were living in Detroit.  [v]

The decree, granted by Judge A. S. Henderson, “transferred title to his million dollar” Bowery Club in Detroit to his wife and “gave her the expensive home and furnishing.” [vi]

Barbaro’s national press did little to change the direction the Biltmore was headed. That change lasted for a few months.

In its future were two more efforts to keep the resort alive.  The first step was in early 1949 provide service for the African American community, locals and tourists, who were without access to any of the major resorts.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on July 19, 1949, “the ill-fated operation of the Nevada Biltmore hotel as a colored resort for the past five weeks ended abruptly today, as the place was ordered closed by Homer W. Snowden, a stockholder of the Texas-Nevada corporation, which has attempted to operate the hostelry since May 1” 1949.[xxxii]

A full story on the short, but historic integration of the Nevada Biltmore will be featured on this site.

  Biltmore Closed by Snowden July 19, 1949 To open under new name and as a motel

A public announcement was made,  “Negotiations were underway between the former owners of the Biltmore, Louis Wiener, Jr., Mahlon Brown, James Still and Carl Amante and band leader Horace Heidt, to reopen the place as a deluxe motel.” [xxxiii]

“Weiner said if he and his partners again take over the Biltmore, the name will be changed and its operation as a hotel will cease in favor of a motel venture.  He reasoned that as the biggest motel in Las Vegas and the only one with a swimming pool, the operation would stand an excellent chance of running successfully.” [xxxiv]

It was revealed that Heidt still holds a $180,000 mortgage on the Biltmore and “does not want to operate the hotel and is instead only in a deal which will get his money out of it.” [xxxv]

Gambler, Carl Amante said “we want to make this the most unique motel in Las Vegas.”[xxxvi]

Heidt once again had direct control of the property.

One of Amante’s partners, Wiener, said he was talking with Heidt and the band leader is “coopering with us 100 percent.” [xxxvii]

The deal with Wiener and Amante’s group did not work out.

A new set of owners, and this time a name change which did not provide luck to anyone involved.

 

 

In 1948 Clem Malone, who had come to Nevada to work on the construction of Hoover Dam,ran for the Clark County Commission.

According to the Clark County Government’s official web site, Malone “easily won a seat on the commission in that election.”

The next year, 1949, Malone and others took over the Nevada Biltmore and changed the name to the Shamrock Hotel.  Malone and his partners operated it for a number of years.

Shortly after aquiring the Bilmore, Malone contacted the same Massahcutres post card company that created the pool side view, to update the title of the resort.

The name change did not allow Malone to see the evil spirits that were in his future.   Like the hotel, Malone’s political career was filled with trouble.

Again, from the official Clark County government web site, “Malone’s time on the commission was filled with contention. In 1950, he was charged with soliciting bribes from George Crockett at the airport. Malone claimed that James Cashman, Frank Gusewelle, and A.E. Cahlan were setting him up.”[vii]

In 1950, Malone filed to run for governor. He lost his bid in the primary, and then lost his county commission seat in May of 1951.

Losing is stake in the Shamrock, Malone filed bankruptcy in 1954.

The hotel would eventually become the Shamrock Furniture store.

Today a lone palm tree marks the spot of one of the “swank” hotels of Las Vegas in the 1940’s.

The Biltmore’s original builder Bob Brooks would take the money for the sale of the resort and begin buying property on what would become the Las Vegas Strip.

He and Moe Dalitz would soon become close friends.

[i] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[ii] Note the newspaper story said that Brooks said that Johnny Bush would be in charge of the casino.  The display advertisement in the same issue of the newspaper named the casino boss as Johnny Hughes, a well-known local gaming figure.

[iii] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[iv] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[v] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vi] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[viii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[ix] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[x] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xi] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xii] Clark County Miscellaneous Book 19, May 20, 1943, Nevada Biltmore, pages 408-422.

[xiii]  Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, September 8, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xiv] Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, October 4, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page five.

[xv] Display advertisement, Bob Brooks, September 8, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page eight.

[xvi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xvii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one, “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three

[xviii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one.

[xix] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xx] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxii] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiii] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiv] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxv]  Clark County Miscellaneous Book 21, November 1, 1944, Biltmore Hotel, pages 261-267.

[xxvi] “Purchases Biltmore,” April 29, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page one.

[xxvii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxviii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxix] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxx]  “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxi] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxvi]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

[xxxvii]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

Second set of footnotes with the addition of the Barbaro saga.

[i]  “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[ii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iv]  Display advertisement Nevada Biltmore, April, 1947, Las Vegas Life, page twenty.

[v] “Barbaro gets divorce here,” May 26, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page six.

[vi]  “Spectacular Barbaro career echoes heard in court suit,” May 28, 1948, Las Vegas Review Journal, page three.

[vii] http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/parks/Documents/centennial/commissioners/commissioner-c-malone.pdf

 

 

Patty Hearst in Las Vegas

CNN’s ongoing promotion of its upcoming long form video special “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” set off a flashback to November 5, 1975.

It was on that day the UNLV newspaper “The Yell,” carried a front page story “Patty Hearst in Las Vegas.”   That was more than four decades ago, Captain History was working with Dave Kelly, the newspaper’s Editor. (see p.s.) The Confederate Soldier and the word “Rebel” were removed the masthead.

If you would like to read the story as well as a visit by Dick Gregory at UNLV, here are a couple of links.

Gregory’s appearance and comment’s on Hearst  was also front page news.   Gregory, like his contemporaries Lenny Bruce, and Mort Sahl, was labled a comedian.  All three were satirist, all three were funny,  but their legacy was shining a spotlight on the opportunities for improvement in society.  ( After writing that, an image of all three of them popped up  throwing a tomato at me.)

Here are the links to The YELL,

http://d.library.unlv.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/reb/id/1794/rec/5

http://d.library.unlv.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/reb/id/1868/rec/8

Here is one of many obit clips on Gregory.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQpM5WxI37Q

CNN’s broadcast “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” premieres on February 11 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT .  Nine days before Hearst’s 65th birthday.  https://www.cnn.com/shows/radical-story-patty-hearst

P.S.   When Dave Kelly moved from the profession of journalism to the world of computer’s, it was Journalism loss.  His outstanding coverage of the Baneberry accident and his work with UPI stands out.

The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930

 

 

 Even with smart phones and their ability to snap a photo and send it back home,  post cards are still found in gift stores along Fremont Street and the Las Vegas Strip.

Their primary use today,  the “look where I am” and “wish you were here” messages.

For decades in Las Vegas, post cards were king.  In the golden age of post cards, Billions, yes Billions were sold each year in the United States.

The earliest form of Twitter, as you could only write so many words on the back of the post card.

and, in the beginning, the U.S. Post Office said, no writing on the back, except the address.  So you squeezed a few words around the edges of the front of the card.

Then Europe allowed its citizens to write a message on the left side of the back of the post card.  Soon the U.S., in 1907, also made the change.

For Las Vegas, the post cards between 1905 through the mid 1950’s show the growth of the community, from a railroad stop and farms to the growing hospitality industry in the 1930’s.

Wait, we didnt become “hospitality” until the 1990’s.  It was gambling first, then entertainment.

In many cases, the early days, pre Hoover Dam, post cards are often the only visual history of the development of southern Nevada.

In this the first of several stories on post cards and the history of southern Nevada, we focus on one giant post card company, Curt Teich of Chicago.

Not the first to provide a visual glimpse of Las Vegas to the outside world, but for several decades Teich dominated the market place.

Continue reading “The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930”

A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.

In the next three weeks the U.S. Post Office is going to honor a former employee of Bugsy Siegel  with a forever stamp, and the U.S. Mint is going to honor a former Henderson bar owner with a dollar coin.

Continue reading “A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.”

I bumped into Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Las Vegas.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman!    Finding her in Las Vegas was a fortunte accident.  Finding Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her The Yellow Wallpaper…. well, you need to read it for yourself.  The article below covers my search for the details of C.P.G’s visit to the small desert community of Las Vegas.

Continue reading “I bumped into Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Las Vegas.”

“When you feel that the people around you are taking too much care of your private business, move to Nevada. It’s freedom’s last stand in America.”

Yep,  that was Will Rogers who call Nevada “freedom’s last stand in America.”

Not sure Will was talking about gambling, or marijuana,  but he did know there was something special about Nevada.

Despite the fact the airplane he was flying in flipped on its back when landing in Las Vegas, he liked the “dandy little city.”

And he did one of his last films at Lake Tahoe and Reno and he almost bought a Nevada ranch.  Will Rogers was unique and helped people though the Great Depression.   In this article we explore his connection to Nevada.

Continue reading ““When you feel that the people around you are taking too much care of your private business, move to Nevada. It’s freedom’s last stand in America.””