Born in Chicago and raised in small Illinois towns, Dorothy Karper met her future husband, Doug Pitzer, when they went to rival high schools. She began nurses’ training in Dixon, Illinois, and immediately after her 1950 graduation, Dorothy and Doug married. Although he never had to go overseas, the Korean War interrupted their married life, and Doug enlisted in the Air Force and went to basic training in Texas. The couple arrived in Las Vegas in July 1954, when Doug was transferred to Nellis Air Force Base. Dorothy worked as a nurse at Las Vegas Hospital and Clinic 1954-1957 and later worked for a private obstetrics practice. From 1954 until Doug’s discharge in 1957 the Pitzers lived in Kelso-Turner Terrace military housing. In 1956 they purchased a new house in Twin Lakes, but they didn't move in until 1957, after the streets were put in. They remained in their Twin Lakes house until they moved into Dorothy’s present house on Burton Avenue, between West Charleston Boulevard
Pitzer, Dorothy Interview, 2014 May 19. OH-02777. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Standardized Rights Statement
AN INTERVIEW WITH DOROTHY PITZER An Oral History Conducted by Judy Harrell West Charleston Neighborhoods: An Oral History Project of Ward 1 Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©The West Charleston Neighborhoods: An Oral History Project of Ward 1 University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Managers: Claytee D. White, Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Editors: Stefani Evans, Maggie Lopes, Barbara Tabach Interviewers: Claytee D. White, Barbara Tabach, Shirley Emerson, Lois Goodall, Judy Harrell, Anna Huddleston, Linda McSweeney, Wendy Starkweather iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iv PREFACE Born in Chicago and raised in small Illinois towns, Dorothy Karper met her future husband, Doug Pitzer, when they went to rival high schools. She began nurses’ training in Dixon, Illinois, and immediately after her 1950 graduation, Dorothy and Doug married. Although he never had to go overseas, the Korean War interrupted their married life, and Doug enlisted in the Air Force and went to basic training in Texas. The couple arrived in Las Vegas in July 1954, when Doug was transferred to Nellis Air Force Base. Dorothy worked as a nurse at Las Vegas Hospital and Clinic 1954-1957 and later worked for a private obstetrics practice. From 1954 until Doug’s discharge in 1957 the Pitzers lived in Kelso-Turner Terrace military housing. In 1956 they purchased a new house in Twin Lakes, but they didn’t move in until 1957, after the streets were put in. They remained in their Twin Lakes house until they moved into Dorothy’s present house on Burton Avenue, between West Charleston Boulevard and Oakey Boulevard. They bought the last lot on Burton Avenue in 1973; Doug built the house; and the couple moved in in 1974. Doug passed away in 2011 after sixty-two years of marriage. Dorothy remains in Las Vegas—although she never thought she would—sixty years after she first arrived as a young Air Force bride. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Dorothy Pitzer May 14, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Judy Harrell Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Describes birthplace and early life with three siblings in Chicago, Crystal Lake, and Franklin Grove, Illinois; recalls father’s work as a depot agent for Chicago Northwestern Railroad, mother’s homemaking skills, high school years, 1946 graduation, and nursing school at Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital in Dixon, Illinois…………………………………………... 1-4 Talks about meeting Douglas Pitzer in high school, courting during nursing training, and 1950 wedding; discusses Doug’s enlistment in the Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War, taking state nursing boards in Chicago, and honeymoon trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in a 1946 or 1947 Mercury Club Coupe………………………………………………………………..…..5-10 Recalls staying in Illinois during Doug’s basic training and then moving with Doug to duty stations in Wichita Falls, Texas; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Amarillo, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nevada. Describes the road trip and their Las Vegas arrival in July1954, the weekend of the opening of the Showboat Hotel………………………………………………………….…..11- 15 Discusses living in a two-bedroom house in Kelso-Turner Terrace (Air Force housing) until Doug’s discharge in December 1955 and his re-employment at Nellis as a civilian; recalls shopping at Market Town, Penny’s, Sears, and Woolworths……………………………….16-20 Describes her work as a nurse at Las Vegas Hospital and Clinic 1954-1956 and doctors who were there at the time; recalls buying the Twin Lakes house at 2208 Fair Avenue and talks about the neighborhood in 1957, when they moved in..............................………………………...20-24 Recalls white flight from Twin Lakes and buying lot on Burton Avenue in 1973; describes Doug’s work on the Burton house, his gallbladder attack in 1974, their 1974 move from Twin Lakes, local places to shop, and nights out on the Strip and Downtown……………………25-30 Talks about working for obstetricians after leaving Las Vegas Hospital, subbing for nurses who went on vacation, and nursing work in general; describes her feelings about Las Vegas after living here sixty years (since 1954)………………………………………………………….30-34 Index…………………………………………………………………………………………35-36 vi This is Judy Harrell, and I'm here on May 19th, 2014, and I'm interviewing Dorothy Pitzer, a long-time Las Vegan. And, Dorothy, would you start by telling your name and how to spell your name? My name is Dorothy, D-O-R-O-T-H-Y; Pitzer, P-I-T-Z-E-R. And tell me where you were born. I was born in Crystal Lake, Illinois, outside of Chicago. What was your family like; how many children were they and what did your dad do and your mom? My father was on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, worked as the depot agent. At that time he was working in Crystal Lake, Illinois; that's how we happened to be there. I was the last of four children. I had an older sister and two brothers in between and I'm the youngest. Shortly after I was born; I was six months old, he [my father] got a job out in Illinois in Franklin Grove, a town of 900 people, and that's where I was raised and went to school. What was it like when you were growing up in a small town like that? Oh, it was nice. I really liked it. The school was small. [The school] was two blocks from where we lived. We went home at noon for lunch and came back again and had a lot of school activities. I was a cheerleader for two years in grade school and four years in high school. Basketball was “the” thing in our little town. We played all the small towns around us. How about your brothers and sister, did you play together much? My younger brother and I got along the best; he was three years older than I was. I did more things with the younger brother at school, where the older brother, I was close to him, but I didn't do things with him like I did my younger brother. And my sister and I were six years apart. So we really didn't do that much at all together, she was so far ahead of me. 2 What kinds of activities did your mother do? Mostly cook. I felt very fortunate because when I'd come home from school every day, my mother was there. There was either sweet rolls or something baked to eat when you were hungry. She was active in the Methodist church and the women’s circle, and what they called the women's club of the town, Franklin Grove. She was active in both of them and she did a lot of cooking. Always helped with the other activities and things like that. My mother and father did not attend church, actually. Us kids always went. I can remember being about, oh, I must have been about three years old maybe, walking to church with my brothers and sister. We always went to Sunday school. But my mother and father didn't go, but they were active, like I say. My mother was in the women's society and she helped with the dinners and she made food, a lot of food and served and cleaned up, etc. So are train whistles an important part of your life? Oh. And how. My dad worked in the depot. We spent a lot of time down at the depot as kids. I was always afraid of trains. It just seemed to me like they were so big. And they weren't that far from the depot. There was just a platform in between. When I'd be in the depot and they'd go by, they would scare me. I'd just get on the other side of the depot like I thought they were going to come right in the depot. Today one hundred trains a day go through this little town. He worked for like fifty-something years as a depot agent until Chicago Northwestern decided they were going to close that depot [Franklin Grove] and keep the one five miles away in that little town open. So my dad thought, well, to keep a job he bid on the one five miles away because that guy was retiring. And he took that job and then they didn't close the one he was working at. So he was driving five miles back and forth to work then. So your mom, did she have neighbors that she visited with? 3 Yeah, we knew everybody in town. She didn't do much visiting. In those days they didn't go sit and coffee with the neighbor and gossip. She always— Had work to do. She was very familiar with the lady across the street and they got along very good. I mean she got along with all the neighbors, but never was a person to go sit and coffee and visit and spend the day. She was busy, like you say. With four kids she was busy all day long. We always had good home-cooked meals and everybody was always there. Everybody had to be at the table before we ate. Tell me about after you graduated from high school. Where did you go to college? After I graduated in May of 1946, I worked in an ice cream store in Dixon, Illinois, which I had been doing during the summer anyway. So I just stayed on until March of 1947. I went into nurse's training in Dixon, Illinois, at the Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital. What was that like? That was a very strenuous— Well, we did twelve-hour duty. We got up in the morning. We ate breakfast and went on the floor. We gave what they called A.M. care, which was washing the hands and faces of the people and sitting them up and putting their trays up for breakfast. Of course, they don't do this in hospitals anymore. Then we served trays. Then as a student we were given maybe two patients to bathe and take care of. And then when we got that done—by ten o'clock we had to have that done—then we went to class and we were in class ten to twelve. Then we had lunch till one. Then we went back to class from one to four. At four o'clock we went back on the floor. We did what they called P.M. care, which is again wash the face and hands and sit them up and get them ready for dinner, pass the trays, and then we would get them ready for visitors. At seven o'clock we were off. So it was really seven to seven is what we did. 4 Bethea Hospitalwas quite different than it is now. Oh, yes. They have enlarged it so I don’t know my way around any ore. The nursing school is gone—no more students, and of course many new machines and procedures. I have been retired for twenty years. See, we had to live on the grounds. We had nurses' homes in which we had to live in. We had to be in by ten o'clock at night. We had a housemother. Our grades had to be up where they wanted them, or we could not have any overnights. If our grades were good we could have one overnight a month. Now, that meant you went to your home. Yes, then I would go back to Franklin Grove. It was only ten miles. But I would go back to Franklin and spend the weekend, yeah, with my parents. My folks did a lot of riding. My dad loved to drive. Every night they would take a ride someplace. And so maybe once or twice out of the week they would come down and stop at the nurse's home and I would go out and sit in the car with them and visit with them. They'd give me money if I needed it. So they checked in on you. Yeah. See, they took in two classes. They would take in a fall class and they would take in a spring class of student nurses. I went in with two other girls. We had three months in which we were called the probation period. We were called “probies.” We did not wear a cap. In three months then they evaluated us and we got our caps. Out of the three I was the only one that got my cap. One didn't pass and the other one left. It was a rigorous schedule that you had. Oh, yeah. They gave us stacks of books. When I first went in, they gave us many books for classes. I've still got them. I thought, oh, dear, do I really want to do this? And then I got the flu and got sick. I was so depressed and homesick I was going to quit. I was going home no matter 5 what. I felt so bad. My mother talked me into staying. So I'm glad she did. Your brothers and sister, did they all get advanced degrees, or what did they do? No. My two brothers, World War II. My two brothers at eighteen right out of high school were drafted and they were in World War II. My younger brother was in Japan and the other one was in England. So then when they came home from the war, one brother drove a truck and the other one went to work on the railroad where my dad was. My sister went to business school. Well, in that time period you could only be a nurse, a teacher or a secretary. Yes, that was about it. That's what she did. She worked for a number of different places. Then she got married and had her first baby. When my husband and I started going together in 1946 after we got out of high school, we used to baby-sit on weekends. She and her husband would go out and Doug and I would baby-sit. How did you meet Doug? He was going to Amboy High School [in Amboy, Illinois] six miles away and his grandparents lived in Franklin Grove. I knew who he was. Every Sunday his family used to come up to see the grandparents and he and his brother and his cousins would be playing in the schoolyard. Well, on Sunday afternoon, you know that was the day that we didn't have anything to do except just walk around and look for boys. [Laughing] And I knew who he was, but I never paid any attention to him until we were seniors in high school and he started going with this friend of mine who was a cheerleader, also. After she left and went to Rockford, Illinois, to go to business school, why, he just started going with me. We went together the whole time I was in nurse's training. Almost four years I think we were going together. I could not get married during training. These were the rules—different from today. What was he doing during that time period? 6 Well, he was raised on the farm. He was a farmer, but he never wanted to farm. He did not want to stay on the farm. So he went to work for his uncle who was an electrician and he learned electricity and he learned construction and plumbing with his uncle until we got married. Then he was working in a gas station, a restaurant/gas station. Then he went from there to what we called a co-op at home. It feed and grain and coal that came in on the trains and then they emptied it into the big silos. But we were married a year and a half—we married in 1950 and in 1951 is when Korea [the Korean War] broke out. Truman must have been president then. He said all married men without children will be reclassified immediately 1-A. So that's what happened to us. Within a week he [my husband] had his reclassification. Within another week he was sent to Chicago for his physical. When he got back from his physical, he went to our draft board and he said, “When am I going to be called?” And she said, “In the next calling.” So within three weeks our house was upside down. We had to move all our furniture and let our apartment go. So he called his brother who was in the [United States] Air Force down in Biloxi, Mississippi, and he said, “What should I do, Ted?” And Ted said, “Join the Air Force; don't let them take you in the [United States] Army; you'll be over there with a gun, fighting.” And so he went right down and joined the Air Force. Next thing I know he was in Chicago and then on his way to San Antonio, Texas, for Basic Training. I want to go back to your wedding. What was your wedding like? Very simple. We liked the minister in Ashton, Illinois, which was five miles from us, and he was a Presbyterian minister. We really liked him. Doug was raised Lutheran and I was raised Methodist and we were married by a Presbyterian preacher in a Presbyterian church. It was very simple; just him and I stood up there. We had his grandparents, both sets of parents, and my 7 brothers and sister, and his brothers and sisters. I guess that was all that was there. We just stood up there and said our vows. Then we went to my parents' house in Franklin. My mother was famous for angel food cake. So she served angel food cake and ice cream and coffee. That was our reception. And that marriage lasted how many years? Sixty-one, almost sixty-two. That's terrific. He passed away on November 16, 2011, very quietly in two days. May 6, 2012, would have been sixty-two years. A lot of years with him. That was wonderful. Yes. And when we had our 50th—no—when my parents had their 50th and we were here, I was planning it and I went to the party shop, I went to everywhere here in town, trying to find 50th anniversary paper and decorations. And this one man that used to own the party shop right up here on the other side of Valley View, he said, “You know, we don't get much call for 50th anniversaries. They don't last that long anymore.” [Laughing] I can believe that. So anyway, when we went back to Illinois, why, then I got what else I needed. So when Doug went into the service, did you stay in that area and were you working at the time? I was working in a doctor's office. I had graduated—well, going back, since I was the only one in that class, they pushed me six months ahead with the class ahead of us. I graduated with them, but I still had six months that I had to work in order to put in my three years. So I had to stay at the hospital and work that six months. Then I graduated in March of 1950. 8 Just take a minute and tell us the difference between a registered nurse, which I don't think we see that much anymore, and a practical nurse. A practical nurse only has maybe, I think, one year of training. I'm not sure how much they have. But we used to use practical nurses all the time. They didn't have the advanced training that the registered nurses do. Now, after I finished in March of—what did I say?—'50. I finished in March of '50 and I was married. I had gotten my ring and we got married in May of '50. And when we came back from our honeymoon, I had to go into Chicago and take state boards. And I hadn't cracked a book. So I thought, oh, my gosh. Going in Chicago, we didn't know up from down. We were just dumb farm people. I was from a very small town. You were country people. Yes. I had an aunt and uncle in Chicago and they met us at the train. Of course, you go on trains then. They met us on the train and showed us how to go downtown where I needed to go to take the state boards. We went on the “L” [elevated railroad]. Well, that was an experience. I don't know how we got there, but we did anyway. And I took state boards and I passed them. Did you? Yes, and with a good grade. Maybe you were relaxed. I don't know what it was. But anyway, our honeymoon, we got in the car that day and drove to Colorado Springs, Colorado. That's where we spent our honeymoon. On the way back from Colorado Springs, we swung down to the University of Illinois where we knew a couple and went to a fraternity dance with them. He belonged to a fraternity. Then we went on back home. What car did you have then? What car? We had a little Mercury Club Coupe. I've got pictures of that. 9 You'll have to find those pictures for me. Well, I've got them all in and album. Well, when you get time sometime maybe I can make copies. Yeah, a little 1946 or 1947 Mercury Club Coupe. On the way out there when we got in Wray, Colorado, we had trouble with the car. When we took it to the garage, it needed a fuel pump. They charged us ten dollars to put on a new fuel pump. Well, so we were short that ten dollars. When we got married Doug only had $300. He had just sold a hog and had $300 in the bank. That's what we honeymooned on. So, oh my, we were short that ten dollars because we had to use that. So we weren't sure when we got to the University of Illinois if we were going to make it back up home again, which is a couple hundred miles. So he borrowed ten dollars from the buddy there at the university to get home. But we didn't need it, so we sent it back to him. But ten dollars. And can you imagine the cost of a fuel pump nowadays? Ah. That's a good story, though. I like the selling the hog to get married, too. 10 Yeah, yeah. Well, farmers belong to 4-H and they had animals and he had hogs. He had just sold one. Three hundred dollars he got for it and that's all he had in the bank. So how old were you and how old was Doug? We were both 21. He turned 22 the next month in June and I wasn't 22 until September. We're exactly three months apart. His birthday was June the ninth and mine is September the ninth, both 1928. So where did Doug end up in the Air Force? Well, we were all over everywhere. He had his basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and it was wintertime. They took him in just before Christmas, end of November or sometime in December of 1951. San Antonio has a tendency to get cold. In Texas it can get cold. They had taken in so many men that they were sleeping in tents. He said, “I'll never forget; when it was my turn, I had to get up at four o'clock in the morning and start this fire, a big old stove, in the tent until the other guys got up.” And he said, “I thought I was going to freeze to death.” Well, he ended up with pneumonia in both lungs and he ended up in the hospital for six weeks in the hospital in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base. Were you able to be with him then when he was in basic training? No. In those days we didn't travel like we do nowadays and I had no idea where Texas was and I thought it was a million miles away. I don't think I ever got out of Illinois except to go to Colorado and back. No. So the six weeks he was in the hospital he lost, of course, all his buddies that were in Basic Training with him. So when he got out then he finished his Basic and then he was sent to Wichita Falls, Texas, Sheppard Air Force Base. That's when I said to his parents, I was working for a doctor and driving back and forth this ten miles between Franklin and Dixon. We got up one morning and had had a horrific 11 snowstorm. Well, I hadn't been driving very long. So I just barely crept down to my job. I was staying with another nurse friend. She lived there in a room. So I asked the lady if I could stay there because I couldn't drive back and forth anymore in the snow. I couldn't do it. And she told me where to find a garage. So I drove that car in that garage and shut the door on it, and from then on I never got it out all winter, or until I went down to Doug in Texas. When he got in Wichita Falls, Texas, I said to his dad, I said, “I'm going to go down there. I don't drive very much, but I'm going to drive down there.” And he said, “Well, we can't let you do that by yourself.” So he said, “I'll take you.” So Doug's mother and father drove with me down to Wichita Falls. We got a room one night and then the next night we got an apartment, which was ridiculous. Most Texas people lived off the military. I mean those air bases was their life. So we got this apartment, which was a back porch which had been enclosed in in this old house on Thirteenth Street. I'll never forget it. We had a bed and a dresser and over here we had a sink, an old-timey sink with an old faucet. We had to go outside the door to the bathroom and it was shared with an apartment in the front. That's what we were in, in Wichita Falls. I went to work in the Wichita Falls Hospital. At that time they had segregation yet, and, of course, they put me in the black wing. I had all black people, all African-American patients, which then we called black. I worked for three months, three to eleven. I could walk to the hospital because we only had one car and he could drive to the base. So I worked there for three months. Then we were shipped to Chanute Field in Champaign-Urbana, (indiscernible/27:08) Illinois, back near home again. And he went to hydraulic school to work on jets. We would go back and forth. On weekends we drove 200 miles there and back again. What was your apartment like there? 12 It was awful. We spent most of our military [time] in Texas and I never had cockroaches. But the apartment building that we got into in Urbana, Illinois [was] where the university was. So they had taken this big house and made all these apartments. University kids rented them. We rented one of those apartments. And I never saw so many cockroaches in all my life. I said, “I can't believe I never saw bugs like this in Texas”—and you would think that you would—“but I had to go back to Illinois to see cockroaches.” We used to go out at night. And when we'd come home, we had two fly swatters and we'd turn on the lights and both of us would be swatting cockroaches. I mean it was terrible. I mean they were all over the cupboard doors and all over the counter and all over the house. Well, we only spent—I don't know how long we were there, maybe another three months while he went to school. I worked in the hospital. I went to work in the hospital in the OB [obstetrics] department. I forget what the name of that hospital was. Where was that county? Anyway, it was a county hospital. I said, “I'm not going to be here very long.” “We don't care; we need nurses.” And they never cared. I worked every place I went. Always a need. And so I worked there in the OB department for however long we were there. Then when it come time and he finished school and he went to find out where they were sending him—and he said a lot of the guys went overseas, but he didn't—he said, “Send me anyplace but back to Texas.” Well, guess what? We went back to Del Rio, Texas, right down on the Mexican Rio Grande. And so we lived in Del Rio for the longest time; almost two years we were in Del Rio, and we loved it. We lived in city house, because he was a two-striper. We enjoyed it. We only paid $32, I think, a month. What year was this, then? 13 It must have been—well, it must have been '54. So people always say, oh, it was so cheap. How much were you making? Oh, we were only making a $180 a month. Between the two of you? Then they were paying the family; I mean I was making $90 a month and he was getting $90. So we had $180 to live on. This was city housing, low-income city housing. So we were only charged $32. However, they charged you according to your income; and if I went to work, they would have increased it. So this girl next door to me—I still have contact with them; they live in New Hampshire. They lived in the next apartment. There were long rows of buildings and there was maybe four in a building and they lived next door to us. We're very good friends with them. She was a telephone operator. At that time they did telephone operators you know. I did private duty. So the two of us used to sneak out the back and go to work—we could walk to work—hoping that the office wouldn't see us. So they didn't think we were working. I don't know. They maybe did know. They never raised our rent, but we both worked. And so we were there until—must have been the latter part of July they sent us to Amarillo, Texas. Before you move, did you have air-conditioning? No. I don't know if we even had swamp coolers. Probably not. I don't think so. Not low-income housing you probably wouldn't. I didn't have swamp coolers until I got here to Las Vegas. But then they called Doug in and said, “You're going to Las Vegas.” He said, “Where is Las Vegas? I've never heard of it.” Well, it's in Nevada. “Well,” he said, “I don't want to go 14 there.” They said, “Well, that don't matter; you're going anyway.” So on the way to Las Vegas, they stopped us off in Amarillo, Texas for another 40 days. The jets were just coming in out here at Nellis [Air Force Base]. And so all the schooling he was taking was on jet hydraulics. So they sent us to Amarillo, Texas, and he did another 40 days in a school. And that's the only place I didn't go to work. I was glad to get out of there. Then we came to Las Vegas. Tell me about your trip into town. You were driving into town, weren't you? When we were in Del Rio, Doug, out of the junkyard, he got an old frame of a truck, I think, four wheels. And the guy from New Hampshire next door and him, they divided these wheels and he took two and Nate took two and they built a trailer on top of the two wheels. So we didn't have a whole lot. We just had a few boxes of stuff. You didn't have furniture. Well, what furniture we did buy in Del Rio to furnish that apartment we left with the manager and he would sell stuff for the GIs [soldiers]. So he sold the furniture for us. So we packed up that little old trailer and that's what we came into town with. They said to us, “It's July; that desert out there is awful; drive nights and sleep days.” So coming out from Texas that's what we did. When we would go into the motel in the morning and say we wanted a room, they'd look at us like we were nuts or something. You mean for the day? Yeah, we're sleeping days, driving nights. The experience that scared me to death is out in the middle of—in Texas you can drive forever and there's nothing. We were driving at night and there was nothing around, no place, but we could see these lights up ahead of us. Well, when we went through the last town, I said to Doug, “I think you ought to get gas.” “No, I've got enough to get to the next town.” 15 Well, we could see the lights up ahead, but we ran out of gas on the way. Here we sat out in the middle of nowhere. I was petrified. Of course, men, they sleep. “Oh, good,” he said, and he just puts his head back and he goes to sleep. And I'm sitting there wide-eyed. I just knew we were going to get killed out in the middle of Texas. And not a car went by us for hours. Finally I saw headlights and I shook him and I said, “Here comes headlights, here comes lights; that's the first I've seen.” So he gets out and waves it down and it's a big tanker gas truck. But what stepped out of it was a big Negro guy. Well, I just knew we were dead. I mean in those days that was still segregation. I mean you were scared of them. This big black guy, he gets out of that truck. He was the nicest guy. He said, “Well, my tanker is empty, but,” he said, “I probably have enough in the hose that I can get you enough to get to the next town.” And that's what he did. He drained the hose and it was enough to get the car started. I think Doug gave him a dollar. He thought he had the world when he gave him that dollar. And I think now, my Lord, if you hand somebody a dollar nowadays, you know what they do. Drop it on the ground. Give it back to you or throw it away. So anyway, that's how we got to the next town. So we came to Las Vegas then the next day, got here the next day. Do you remember actually driving into town, because I hear stories of women crying as they were coming down? No. I remember driving into town. We came in Boulder Highway. It was Labor Day weekend. I'll never forget it. The highway was lined with cars, both sides of Boulder Highway. And we didn't know what was going on. The opening of the Showboat Hotel. So we came in the day of the opening of the Showboat Hotel. 16 And that was nineteen... Fifty-four. September whatever Labor Day weekend was. It must have been early part of September. Maybe you thought they were welcoming you. [Laughing] Well, we didn't know what was going on. Ah, gee, what's going on? We never heard of Las Vegas. We didn't know what we were coming to. We didn't know anything about casinos and hotels. We were, like you say, country people and farmers. But we had learned a lot already in the three years we were in the Air Force. So when we got to town, there's no motels in Las Vegas, nothing but the big hotels to stay in and we didn't have that kind of money and they were all full. We thought, well, we can sleep in the car if nothing else until we find an apartment the next day. But a friend of mine—I went to grade school in Illinois with this gal [Doris]. We were very close friends. They moved into Chicago and that's where she finished