Part of an interview with Arthur "Art" Lurie on April 25, 1986. In this clip, Lurie discusses his family, childhood, and moving to Nevada.
Arthur C. Lurie oral history interview, 1986 April 25. OH-01163. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d11g0mk8x
Standardized Rights Statement
My name is Arthur C. Lurie. I live at 557 Bonita in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I have been a resident of the state of Nevada for thirty three years. We usually start by asking a few questions about your family. Where were you born? My parents were born in Chicago. What were your parents' names? My parent's name was Ben Lurie and my mother's maiden name was Nathan. Her name was Rebecca Nathan. And her parents and my father's parents are originally from Lithuania, which now is a part of Russia. The country doesn't exist anymore. I have two brothers and a sister living in Los Angeles. I have a son [Ron Lurie] that's a city councilman in Las Vegas. And I have a daughter, Wendy, that's living in Los Angeles. And two grandchildren living here in Las Vegas. What was your parents' occupation? My parents' occupation...my father was a bar owner. Originally in his early life he was a cigar maker. My uncle brought over from Europe the art of making handmade cigars. They made special cigars in Chicago for different companies, personalized cigars with your name on it and very fine quality. When my father and family moved to Los Angeles, we had a small restaurant in East L.A. That was in 1918 that they moved to Los Angeles. In 1927, they had a little cafe at Spring Street and North Broadway where the bridges come together over the L.A. River. After 1933 repeal, it was changed into a beer garden called Big Ben's Beer Garden. Is there any ethnic groups that you identify with? Ethnic groups? Yeah, are there any ethnic groups that you identify with? Yes. Was English spoken at home as a child? Yes. ?or any other language? English was spoken at home for us kids and my folks could speak Hebrew. When they didn't want us to know what was going on, they would speak the Hebrew; although my mother was Italian. My father was the Lithuanian. As a child did you celebrate any ethnic or special holidays? And if so as a child, do you still celebrate them? No. There's very few holidays that I celebrate. Since my folks were always working away from the house, the kids?my brothers and sisters, we raised ourselves primarily. And my mother's philosophy towards holidays and church and so on was to treat people the way you would like to be treated and you didn't have to attend a mass or church or the synagogue or whatever your choice was. As long as you were a good person and you treated people the way you wanted to be treated, she thought that was the philosophy of life the way it should be. She basically gave you some good roots. Yes. Can you tell me about your childhood? Where did you live? Do you have any brothers and sisters? I told you about the brother and sisters of which you can put in the right area. I have a one sister and two brothers. Everybody's alive. In fact, this coming May the fourth will be my brother's eightieth birthday. Oh, very good. Was your extended family important to you, like your aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents? On my mother's side and on my father's side, there were fourteen brothers and sisters on each side. When World War II broke out, there was thirty five first cousins that entered the armed services at one time. We had a write up in the Los Angeles Times, first cousins entering into the service, different branches of the service. Thirty five of us served into the Second World War. What aspect of your life did your parents influence? I think my parents were very kind, tough but kind, stood up for what they believed in. They were the kind of people that never started any kind of trouble, but they would stand up if they thought they were right; they would stand up for whatever their feelings were. I think that my early influence was never to steal anything, to always ask if I wanted something. A very good bringing up, more or less a bringing up of loyalty to the family. If you did something wrong, you weren't hurting yourself; you were hurting your family, which due to the respect of your brothers and sisters, you didn't want that to happen. So you were pretty much on the ball of your conduct. Do you remember any special event in your childhood that had a great effect on your life? Yes. I had a friend?my folks had a little restaurant in Los Angeles that took their time during the day. And since I was the baby of the family, I had to remain at a person's house until my folks closed the restaurant, this little restaurant, and they would pick me up. [Pause] You asked a question of if there's any special event that happened in my early life that stays in my mind. There sure is. I was raised in my early life by a black family that lived in Lincoln Heights. In Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles there was only two black families; they were all Italian and Mexican and other nationalities, but there was just two black families; one was the Washington family and the other one was the Thomas family. I was raised with a young fellow that was a big influence on my athletic career and his family was on my scholastic studies. My parents were more educated to work and have a trade and do things along that line. And the Washington family, his grandmother, this Kenny Washington's grandmother was a custodian of Albion Street School of which we both attended. Then after school I stayed at his house. I owe my whole athletic career to Kenny Washington, who became an all American football player at UCLA and was responsible for bringing Jackie Robinson to UCLA and his career as a baseball player was done by this family. I didn't really know my own strengths until I was wrestling and playing football with Kenny Washington on front lawns and he told me how strong I was when I tackled and hit him. I never had the confidence in myself until he brought it out in me. That started me off on a very fine athletic career, which I was the chief athletic officer aboard the [USS] Bonhomme Richard in the navy, through my studies in going to Loyola University. When did you move to Nevada and why did you move to Nevada? I moved to Nevada to?my brother in law, Joe Gordon, owned a market at 121 North Fifth Street, which is now Las Vegas Boulevard. In 1953, I moved up here to run his market for him. I was in the grocery business in Los Angeles. When I came out of the navy, I was in the grocery business in (inaudible). The food business is where my life has been.