Born in the coal fields of Strunk, Kentucky, Audrey Aline Messer Wickman first visited the West at twelve years of age. She moved to western Colorado to help in her grandparents’ home for a couple of years. The stay made a lasting impression because she only returned to her birthplace for a short time after that. In Colorado, she graduated from high school, met her future husband, and married in 1925. They came to southern Nevada in 1932 so that Robert Wickman could find work on Hoover Dam. Audrey Wickman joined the Mesquite Club in 1936 and has remained a member to date. She started the Literary Committee as a forum to share book reviews and hear speakers. She served as President of the club for 1947-48 and chose the year’s theme “Know your Neighbor.” In the post-war society, women’s involvement in civic affairs was particularly needed, she told the membership at the opening fall meeting. “The troubles which unsettle the world today are primarily ones which lie within the sphere of women’s business. They are matters of housekeeping, teaching and health. . . . The time has come when we as a nation cannot stay in our own backyards. . . . If we are to be good world citizens, local, state and national, we must first be good home citizens. These responsibilities call for knowledge, an appreciation of other points of view, and attitudes of good will and cooperation.” (Las Vegas Review Journal, 6 October 1947, Mesquite Club microfilm collection.) The duties of the president varied during those years. She recalled that “I was janitor, gardener and President.” During the wintertime, she remembered, “you had to have heat [for Friday’s meeting] and I’d go up on Thursday afternoon and light that old oil burning stove and then pray that it didn’t catch the place on fire all night.” She continued her commitment to club work by serving as state secretary for the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. The friendships and cultural events which came from Mesquite Club and Federation membership proved to be of lasting value for this community builder. This interview has been produced with the assistance of the Mesquite Club and the History Department of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It is part of a series on women community builders in Las Vegas. The transcript has been edited only slightly for clarity while the syntax and style of the narrator were retained.
Goodwin, Joanne L. Interview, 1996 June 24. OH-03607. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d11j97m40
Standardized Rights Statement
Audrey Wickman interviewed by Joanne L. Goodwin 24 June 1996 University of Nevada, Las Vegas ii ? 1997 Joanne L. Goodwin All Rights Reserved iii iv v List of Illustrations Audrey Wickman, Mesquite Club President 1947-48 Collection of Audrey Wickman frontispiece The following illustrations can be found following the text. Audrey Wickman (left) with her friend Phoebe dressed for the high school graduation dance. Glenwood, Colorado. May 1926. Collection of Audrey Wickman Robert Wickman and Audrey Messer. Glenwood, Colorado. Fall 1924. Collection of Audrey Wickman Newspaper coverage of Audrey Wickman’s Presidential Address to the Mesquite Club, 6 October 1947, Mesquite Club papers, microfilm vi Preface Born in the coal fields of Strunk, Kentucky, Audrey Aline Messer Wickman first visited the West at twelve years of age. She moved to western Colorado to help in her grandparents’ home for a couple of years. The stay made a lasting impression because she only returned to her birthplace for a short time after that. In Colorado, she graduated from high school, met her future husband, and married in 1925. They came to southern Nevada in 1932 so that Robert Wickman could find work on Hoover Dam. Audrey Wickman joined the Mesquite Club in 1936 and has remained a member to date. She started the Literary Committee as a forum to share book reviews and hear speakers. She served as President of the club for 1947-48 and chose the year’s theme “Know your Neighbor.” In the post-war society, women’s involvement in civic affairs was particularly needed, she told the membership at the opening fall meeting. “The troubles which unsettle the world today are primarily ones which lie within the sphere of women’s business. They are matters of housekeeping, teaching and health. . . . The time has come when we as a nation cannot stay in our own backyards. . . . If we are to be good world citizens, local, state and national, we must first be good home citizens. These responsibilities call for knowledge, an appreciation of other points of view, and attitudes of good will and cooperation.” (Las Vegas Review vii Journal, 6 October 1947, Mesquite Club microfilm collection.) The duties of the president varied during those years. She recalled that “I was janitor, gardener and President.” During the wintertime, she remembered, “you had to have heat [for Friday’s meeting] and I’d go up on Thursday afternoon and light that old oil burning stove and then pray that it didn’t catch the place on fire all night.” She continued her commitment to club work by serving as state secretary for the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. The friendships and cultural events which came from Mesquite Club and Federation membership proved to be of lasting value for this community builder. This interview has been produced with the assistance of the Mesquite Club and the History Department of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It is part of a series on women community builders in Las Vegas. The transcript has been edited only slightly for clarity while the syntax and style of the narrator were retained. Joanne Goodwin, Associate Professor, History Department, UNLV Audrey Wickman interviewed by Joanne L. Goodwin This is Joanne Goodwin. I'm at the home of Audrey Wickman on June 24, 1996. I've read the legal release form and do you agree that you understand and have signed the form? Yes. Let's start with your early background. Where and when were you born? I was born in a little town called Strunk, Kentucky, August 14, 1903. What were your parent’s names? My father was Andrew Jackson Messer and my mother was Mary Alice Wyatt Messer. Did you have any brothers or sisters? I had five brothers and three sisters. Had your family lived in Strunk, Kentucky for several generations? Well, I would say so, yes. Of course they are not there anymore. So you grew up with a lot of relatives around you. Well, no. Our family didn't live too close to the others. I had one uncle that lived two miles from us with his family. That was the only one. And how would you describe Strunk, Kentucky and your neighborhood? Well, Strunk, Kentucky was just a little town and I don't know exactly what you would say about it. Did it have very many stores? 2 No. It was just a small place and it was just a mile from the town of Strunk to the West Jelico coal mine. And that was really where we lived because my father was an engineer at the coal mine. They had also a camp, what they called the camp, for the workers of the mine. So your father was a coal-mining engineer? Uh-huh [yes]. And your mother's job was raising the -- Raising the family. Uh-huh [yes]. We had a home that was only a block's distance from the mine. If you've ever been around a coal mine, they [had] small little cars of coal that would come in from the mine to the tipple, what they call the tipple, and they would dump the coal down the chute into the big railroad cars. And we only lived about a block from that. And my father had an office upstairs over this same tipple.1 And how long did you live there? How old were you when you left Strunk, Kentucky? I was twelve years old when I left there. My grandfather, who had lived in Kentucky, and my grandmother moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 19 and 10. So he came back to Kentucky to see us and he said to my mother, her name was Alice and he called her Allie, he said, "Allie, I don't have any girls at my home any more and you have four. Would you let me have one of your girls to take home with me?" So she looked us over and she decided that I was small, maybe I needed a change. I was twelve years old and I weighed fifty-seven pounds. So I was tiny, and I'm still small. So I went home with my grandfather when I was twelve. And I lived with them for two years, then I went back to 1She attended a two-room schoolhouse in Strunk. Each room gave instruction to four grades. 3 Kentucky. I thought, well, I want to go home and see what things were like. But I didn't like Kentucky any more. The West was much more attractive to me. So as soon as I could, I went back to Colorado. I went through high school there, was married there, and lived there for seven years after we were married. That was June 6, 1925. Then we moved down here August 25th of 1932 and have been here ever since. Let me back up for a minute. You had four sisters? Three. Three sisters Five brothers. and five brothers. And you were the only one that came out to Colorado? Yes. And then you went back to Kentucky when you were fourteen? Uh-huh [yes]. And only stayed a short while. Yeah. So then you finished schooling -- And went back to Colorado. You went through high school in Colorado? Yes. 4 What was the name of the town in Colorado? Glenwood Springs. What part of Colorado is that in? It's on the western slope, about ninety miles northeast of Grand Junction. Were you a housekeeper for your -- Oh, yeah. Yes, for your uncle? No, that's after I was married. I wasn't a housekeeper for anyone else. Oh, ok. I just wondered when you went to his house if you had some responsibilities in the home. Oh, you mean my grandparents? Your grandparents. Oh, when you said uncle you kind of threw me. I'm sorry. No, I was just in school. I was only twelve when I went there, you know. And then you met your husband in -- In Colorado. What was he doing in Colorado? Had he been born and raised there? 5 He was born in Denver. How did the two of you meet? Well, my uncle and he went to school together and he brought him down to the ranch where I was living with my grandparents. [My uncle] introduced him [to me] and from then on he came to see me. So I went with him for a couple of years before I married him. So you lived on a ranch with your grandparents? Did you attend a rural school? No. The school was in the town of Glenwood and the ranch was only about two blocks from the city limits. So it was really in town. Now it is in town, you know it's grown so fast all over that area. Were you married before you graduated from high school? Um-hmm [yes]. Was that an unusual thing or were most girls married at that time? Well, no. There was just two of us that year before our senior graduation, we got married. So what brought you to Las Vegas? The building of the [Hoover] dam. It was depression time, 1932, and my husband was an automobile mechanic and he worked at the Ford place up there. And they just didn't have work anywhere, you know with the depression and all. So this friend that he had worked with there said, "Well, come on, let's go to Vegas." So, we got in the car and here we came. And we stayed here that first winter. He worked out at the dam [Hoover], and of course right down in the river bottom, and it was very hot. And the last of May, he said, 6 "I can't take this anymore." So he quit. So we went to California and visited his sister for a little bit, then we went back to Colorado for the summer. But that fall we came back again, and we've been here ever since. Did he return to work on the dam? No. He went to work here in town. He worked for Cashman Cadillac for thirty-one years. When you first arrived and he came to work on the dam, where did you stay? Well, his father had a cabin. It was down at the junction of Boulder Highway and Fremont, right in that area down there. There was a few houses. It was called The Meadows. He had a house there, a little cabin rather, one big room and then a smaller room with a bath and so forth. And that's where we stayed that first winter that we were here. So he came down to work on the dam and you came with another relative? No a friend. A friend. And did they have an easy time getting a job or did they have to wait? Well, it took a little time. At that time they had a place downtown where the men reported every morning to get on for work. And my husband was not an ex-serviceman, he was too young for the first war [World War I] and too old for the second one [World War II]. So it took him a little while to get on at the dam. But he did. So they prioritized service veterans? They did, they gave them [priority], yes. 7 You said he would come and apply downtown? They had an office downtown where the men reported every morning. Las Vegas or Boulder City? Las Vegas. How did you spend your days during that time? Oh, we didn't have air conditioning. It was very hot in August, as you might know. And usually in the morning after, oh about 9 o'clock, I know this friend, there was another family lived right close, and they'd go out and just follow the shade around the house. But when the sun went down it cooled, just like that, right now, it was cooled off. But we didn't mind it. Did you find it easy to make friends here? Oh, yeah. I never met a stranger. How large was the town of Las Vegas when you moved here? I think it was about 2,500. And where did the desert start? That's how people often talk about it. Well the railroad, the Union Pacific owned a group of houses from Second Street to Fourth Street, down as far as Garces. And that was about the end of town. There was two or three houses on Seventh and there was one house over on Lafayette. But that was just about all there was. That was the end of town. Were you aware of any club activity in town when you first arrived in 1932? 8 No, not quite. Not too much. I belonged to the Eastern Star and of course I went to that, and the Methodist Church. We had the old church on the corner then that was built in 1905. But its been torn down. So those were your major social activities in that first stay? Uh-huh [yes], the church. What was your involvement? Were you part of any women's groups with the church, or service groups? Well, no, not exactly. We had a Women's Day of course, which they still do. And, I went to that and I taught the little four-year-olds. OK, so you taught Sunday School? Yeah, in 1936 I joined the Mesquite Club. So you were here the first time for less than a year and then you went to California? No. When you came in 1932? When I came in 1932 we were here that winter and then we left the next spring and went back to Colorado for the summer. Then we came back and went to California for a short time, and then came back again. So, we've been here, altogether, since 1933. Oh, 1933. 1932 was when we came first and spent that first nine months. How did the depression affect Las Vegas? Did people even notice it, with the dam? Well, not too much, no. At that time the Union Pacific, the headquarters for the railroad, 9 they had taken that and moved it to Caliente. So they thought, "oh, Vegas will go down to nothing." But the dam started and people came in and everything, so it didn't affect the town at all. So small businesses continued and they had the workers? Uh-huh [yes], they had a place near North Las Vegas that they called Hoover City. It was where men who couldn't get work, and it was just bums, they were just bumming there. So that was kind of rough for those men. But that's what they called it, Hoover City. Those were tents and little cardboard construction? Cardboards, more or less. They didn't have tents. Just anything they could survive under. And of course with the summers being warm, they didn't need too much. And then when you came back in 1933 were the effects of the depression visible in Las Vegas? No, evidently not. Not with the dam of course. Then my husband went to work for the Ford Motor Company and he worked for them for, I think, about a year. Then he went to work for Cashman Cadillac. Of course it was the James Cashman Company at that time instead of Cadillac. And he was an engineer there? He was a mechanic. A mechanic. 10 And he was with them, I think I told you, thirty-one years. You had been a young woman in Kentucky and Colorado and California. When you moved to your new home in Las Vegas, what did you miss most about those places? I don't know, really, that I missed anything. Like I say, I don't meet strangers very often. I just adjust, get acquainted. So when you returned, it was just a few years before you started the involvement with the Mesquite Club. Had you any children at that point, or would that come later? Well, let's see. I joined them in 1936 and my daughter was born in 1937. So when you returned to Las Vegas it was in one of its first growth spurts, I suppose with the dam, and then with the World War II construction that followed. I'd like to hear some of your impressions of the city from when you returned, all the way through the war years. How did you see the city change? Well, really I don't know. I know we worked at the U.S.O. and we rolled bandages and all that sort of stuff. As part of the club work? No, not the club. They called it the U.S.O. I think, wasn't it? Yes, that's right. I'd go downtown where they had a building and that's where we worked. Would the word just get out that volunteers were being asked to come to the U.S.O. or was there an announcement in the newspaper? No, I guess word of mouth because I don't think it came out in the paper. I don't think so. 11 So a lot of men and women, or mostly women -- No, just women, did the work. What other kinds of war work were women involved in at that time? I don't know. Could you see a lot of development in the city; new shops, more places to have recreation? I just don't really know. Between 1931 and the end of the war, gambling activity expanded in the city. Well they had gaming in the very beginning. When you arrived? Yes. The old Las Vegas Club was one of the first, and the Pioneer Club. They had gambling. It was legalized in 1931, and there may have been different kinds of gambling prior to that time. Oh, yes. Everything you hear about Las Vegas is from the perspective of people who don't live here. What did it look like to someone who did live here, to watch these big casinos and hotels developed? Well, I don't know that it would make much difference. Of course you see them going [up]. I don't go to the hotels too much, but it was the entertainment. It used to be that 12 you could go to these hotels, especially when the Flamingo and the Desert Inn, and you could go and for two dollars you ordered a drink. They'd serve whatever you wanted [for] two dollars, and you could see the shows. And they had good shows back then. So that was one of the entertainments we had was going to the shows. And cheap. Very reasonable. One of the direct ways of promoting Las Vegas during these years was as an entertainment capital. Did it look like an entertainment capital to you. Well, I wouldn't know honey. We were always a little excited when a new hotel came in. You know we always had to go, and as I said it didn't cost you much to go to the show. You could go to dinner first if you wished, in some of them. Some you couldn't. The El Rancho was the first hotel. Let's talk a little bit now about your involvement in the Mesquite Club. What kind of club life existed in Las Vegas? Well, they met every Friday. No not every Friday. They met on the first and third Fridays in the beginning when I joined. And of course, they had book reviews, and they had entertainment, somebody speaking, something each time. There was some kind of a program and then refreshments. Once in awhile we'd have a card party. Especially when we increased the size of the clubhouse, just twice to what it was. So when we decided to do that we gave card parties to raise the money to pay for it. And Isabelle Blackman was very active in that particular year, to do that. She was the president before I was, so we worked together. Where was the first club? The first one I went to was on the Las Vegas Boulevard South. Just about, 602 is the number, the second building from the corner. 13 And then you moved during the years that you were active, to this larger club? No, that was the club for so many years. Then they sold that property. But that was here not too many years ago. We didn't have a clubhouse for a year or so, and we rented different places to meet. And they built the one they have over here on St. Louis, now. What motivated you to chose Mesquite? Well, it was a place to meet nice people and to go somewhere. [There] wasn't too many places to go for entertainment, or to visit with others. It became a place where you could meet other women like yourself? Oh, yes. Were any of the founders still active? Oh yes. Frances Farnsworth was one of the founders. In fact she's the one that, she and Lottie Wingert and, who was the other one, Grant, Dora Grant. Those ladies were the ones who took me in to the club. They invited you into the club? Yes. And that's how women would join, they would have sponsorship? Um-hmm [yes]. OK. And how had you known them? Oh, I don't know, through church, other organizations I belonged to. 14 Was Delphine Squires still active at the time you were there? Um-hmm [yes]. And what other kinds of clubs were you aware of in Las Vegas? We had another club that was organized in 1919. It was a study club. It was called U-Wah-Un. If you want to write that down I'll show you how. You make a u and a dash, wah dash un, U-Wah-Un. It's an Indian name meaning a circle of friends. That was organized in 1919, and I belonged to that all these years. You're still a member? Um-hmm [yes]. And it is a book, a literary club? It's literary, more or less, yes. We have some wonderful photographs of the club in Special Collections. So there was the study club. Any other kind of club activity? The Service League, Business and Professional Women, any of those? No. Were you aware of that activity in the city? I mean did one club have any interaction with other clubs? Were you united in any activity? No, I don't know of any. Was the Mesquite Club part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs? Um-hmm [yes]. 15 It was? So it would be part of the Nevada Federation as well. It was, I was trying to remember. It belonged to the Nevada Federation and the General Federation of Women's Clubs. How did the club decide what its agenda would be for the year, special projects or events? Well, they had a First and Second and Third vice-president and the Second vice-president was responsible for programs. So, I don't know, we just got together and made them up. Did you ever pick any particular themes to focus on over the course of the year? I don't know, honey. I imagine we did. During the war, it seemed that there were some efforts during the war years around defense activities, or supporting buying bonds, or fundraising for different kinds of bond activities. No, I don't think we did any of that. When you were president, did you set any particular goals for your presidency? Well, each year you tried to do something for the clubhouse. I know one of the presidents got a new dishwasher for the kitchen, which was a big deal for us. And on my year, we had a very well known pianist that was coming to give us a program, and the old upright piano that we had was not very good. So I said, "well I'm not going to have her play on that." So I went to Garehime Music Company and asked them if they'd rent me a piano. So they came down and took the old one away and left a nice piano for this lady to perform for us. And so when it came to settling up, he charged us [seven dollars and fifty cents], just for moving it from their building to ours. And I said, "well, we're going 16 to keep the piano." So we had card parties and did different things and raised the money and we bought the piano. What are some of your fondest memories of those years with the Mesquite Club? Oh, I don't know. It was a busy time and of course, I used to laugh when I'd think about it. In the morning, we just had an old oil-burning stove in the club house. And of course in the winter time you had to have heat and if it was real cold, I'd go up on Thursday afternoon and I'd light that old oil-burning stove and then pray that it didn't catch the place on fire all night. I was janitor, gardener and president. You had it all. So I would go and dust the room with the dust mop, put the chairs all in place. We didn't have a podium or anything, we just had a little square table. In fact, its still there in the clubhouse where we conducted the meetings. I used to laugh, cause here I'd go over in my work clothes and get the place all in order and then go home and get all cleaned up and go back. And we had to wear gloves and a hat at that time. Everybody wore a hat and gloves. How many women would come to your meetings? Oh, we would have anywhere from forty to seventy. We had a good crowd. Always had a good crowd of people. And sometimes the meetings were in the hotels, and then they were in your clubhouse when you had the club? I was trying to think. I get it mixed up sometimes with another one, where we would have our opening lunches, closing and all that. After the war, according to the minutes and according to the materials that we have in the library, the Mesquite Club focused on building American homes, and the role of 17 women in American homes, in civic life. Do you have any particular recollections of what women wanted to do to help the country after the war? No. What do you think women thought their most important opportunities were in the 1950s?2 Your home and your family first and then your outside activities. And we had card games. Everybody likes to play bridge so we had those quite often. I belonged to bridge clubs. Did the Mesquite Club ever have something called mother's clubs, where you helped each other with child-rearing ideas, or read books? No. Did the Mesquite Club, to the best of your knowledge, ever become involved in any kind of civic activities? Did they ever go to City Council or sponsor any kinds of civic changes? I don't know. I know Adeline Bartlett used to go to the Commissioner's meeting, but I don't remember anything that came from it. And she would report to the meeting? No, I think it was more on her own. She wanted to keep up with what was going on. Would that have been in the late 1940s or 1950s, or later even? Let's see, I would say it would be in the late 1940s at least. 2End tape 1, side 1. 18 Were any of the women in the families of the large gaming establishments or hotels, like the Binions or the Clarks or the Bayleys, were any of them Mesquite Club members? Toni Clark or Judy Bayley? No they weren't. They didn't belong. How would you describe the membership during your years? Well, it was something to go to. There wasn't too many things in town, you know, too many places to go. And everybody liked to go to club. Did any kind of religious affiliation bring women into the Mesquite Club? No. It had nothing to do with religion. And you had fundraising activities directed at improving the club? Oh yes. Did you ever have fundraising activities for other groups? Hm-mm [no]. What about work with juveniles that the Mesquite Club took up? I don't really remember that. I worked for a company in Chicago [for about twenty years]. Yeah, at least that. It was, wait till I think of it, the Fayette Card Company in Chicago. And I worked from my home. But I had a big clientele. Sold beautiful, beautiful cards [and made] four hundred dollars. So the Mesquite Club had a city beautification project, where they would plant trees? 19 Well, in the very beginning of Las Vegas the women planted trees downtown. There used to be trees all the way down Fourth Street, Third. And that was one of your sponsored projects, the club-sponsored projects? Yes. We usually think of the Mesquite Club as the founding women’s club of the city. I think it is too. There was an entire generation of club members by the time you joined, yes? Yeah. So it was well established when you joined it? Oh yes. And would you say that the members were wives of businessmen? Could you characterize them in that way? Well, some of the founders were. Mrs. Wingert, her husband's in the bank, and Farnsworth, her husband is the County Recorder or something. Yeah, their husbands were in business. What were the requirements? You said that you were invited into the club. Would there be a vote of the membership. I don't have any idea, honey. Can't remember. OK. 20 I know our dues were two dollars. Two dollars a year? A year. In the beginning. And what would you look for in a new member? Well, I would think mostly, that it'd be somewhere to go and to visit with people and to hear a program. So you were wide open? You would accept just about anyone into membership? Oh, yeah. No, not exactly. Is there anything more that you can tell me about that? Oh, I don't think so. They had to come recommended, you know. Usually a friend brought a friend in. Down on the Boulevard, when Isabelle Blackman was the president before me, we worked together. I was her secretary and all that stuff. The curtains in the clubhouse were just, you know just nothin.' So we bought some material that was all, had little flowers and different things or designs in it, and we made drapes to go over those windows. So that was one thing we did to make it a little better. And tell me again where that clubhouse was located, the one you just described. It was about 602 Las Vegas Boulevard South. There was a cleaning establishment right on the corner and it sets away back. It's a wedding chapel now. It sets away back next to the alley. And then where was the next clubhouse? 21 Over here. I think it's 702 St. Louis. And when did you move into that clubhouse? Lord, I don't remember, do you? [Ethyl Trione answered, "1956 or 1959."] 1956 or 1959? I know we didn't have one for a couple of years. And you raised all the funds for that out of your fundraising activities? To build it? I don't know, I imagine. [Ethyl Trione added, "It was one of the only places to meet. When you built it, it was a community service, you rented it out."] And we still rent it out, don't we. So your new Mesquite Club became a community center that could be rented, and it was one of the few in town? I think so. When did you step down from your active life as a Mesquite Club member? I don't know when I quit doing anything except going. I seldom miss a meeting even now. So you were active through the 1950s and 1960s? Oh, yes. It was just one place to go, you know in those days. You'd see all your friends and enjoy it. It sounds as though it really does become the friendship network. 22 Yes. Because the city is going through such major changes then, from 1960 on. What do you see as some of those larger changes? I don't really know, I'd have to think about that. No more small town of 2,500. Oh, no. No, it's no more small town anymore. And its growing. They say it’s the fastest growing city in the country. I don't like to see it but what are you going to do about it? When you lived here in the earlier decades, you felt like you could know everyone in town? Oh, you did. Yes, when you went downtown you met everybody you knew. Just like old-home week. No, it was nice. Of course I only lived six blocks from town for years and years. I lived on the corner of Fourth and Garces. So I walked all the time. I never even thought of driving because everything was downtown. I'm introducing another member to this interview now. My name is Audrey Swenson, and I'm Audrey Wickman's only daughter. [To Swenson:] You were raised in Las Vegas? Yes, I was born at the Las Vegas Hospital over on North Eighth Street, and it is no longer there. In 1937 we lived on Fourth Street as Mother just said. Of course I went two blocks away to Fifth Street Grammar School. So I did walk every morning to Fifth Street Grammar School. All the shops were down on Fremont Street. Where the [Fremont Street] Experience is now, with nice dress shops. The drugstores and all the dime stores, a very interesting place for little girls. But whenever we walked downtown, it would take 23 oh, so long because Mother knew everybody and I'd have to stand there and wait while she visited with everybody. Did you join the Mesquite Club? No, I never have joined the club. I moved away from here after high school, and then I'd come back and forth a few times. I came back in 1971 and have been here since. But I'm not the club woman Mother was. She loves to be surrounded by people, and I think I took after my father and am more of a home body. It was great growing up here. There was a lot of love. Everybody looked out for everybody. [To Wickman:] Did the Mesquite Club have an annual mother-daughter tea? They may have. Debutante things. They had the debutante, a party or two like that, do you remember? Swenson: I know a couple of times I had to be in a piano recital at the Mesquite Club. [To Swenson:] You were part of the entertainment? Well, I don't remember anything about it except I was scared and had to play the piano. So I don't know whether it was rented out for that purpose or whether it was part of the club's activities. That was a long time ago. [To Wickman:] And there are pictures in Special Collections of a Founder's Day. Was that always an annual event with the club? I don't think so. It might have stopped after the war, but we have some wonderful pictures from those earlier years. Did you ever have any hesitations about bringing up your daughter in Las Vegas? 24 [Swenson answers:] Well, I can remember when I was very small, we went to dinner at one of the hotels down on Fremont Street. And my dad held me up and let me put a nickel in a slot machine. And that was quite exciting. But I didn't get anything out of it. I really have not become a gambler. Having grown up around it, it doesn't mean anything to me. There is no real interest there at all. During my high school years, whenever we had a prom or some school dance, or function like that, we would always go out afterwards to one of the hotels and see the late show. As mother had stated, for a piece of pie and a Coca Cola you could watch the best entertainment in the world and it was marvelous. Everyone dressed up and everyone was quiet and minded their manners. Nobody got rowdy. It was just a very nice thing to do. We were all quite proud of our town and things that were going on. We had what was called the Wildcat Lair. Of course Las Vegas High was the only one in town at that time, and I graduated from there in 1955 with Senator Bryan. And quite a few people that still live here, Superintendent of Schools, Brian Cram, and quite a few of them were in my class.3 We used to go to the Wildcat Lair which is down