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John McKay interview, March 3, 1980: transcript






On March 3, 1980, Donna Malloy interviewed John McKay (b. July 7th, 1926 in North Dakota) about his life in Las Vegas, Nevada. McKay begins by speaking about his family history, his career in the electronics and engineering field for aerospace, as well as his experiences in two wars. Moreover, McKay speaks about his hobbies of hunting and fishing and his time as a musician around Las Vegas. McKay also spends time going over how the city of Las Vegas has grown and changed, the increase in crime, and the extreme floods in the 1950s. Lastly, McKay talks about the Nuclear Test Site, how casino gaming chips were used as money around the city, how the city of Las Vegas started and the future of the valley.

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McKay, John Interview, 1980 March 3. OH-01261. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 1 An Interview with John R. McKay An Oral History Conducted by Donna Malloy Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 2 © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2020 UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 3 The Oral History Research Center (OHRC) was formally established by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System in September 2003 as an entity of the UNLV University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The OHRC conducts oral interviews with individuals who are selected for their ability to provide first-hand observations on a variety of historical topics in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. The OHRC is also home to legacy oral history interviews conducted prior to its establishment including many conducted by UNLV History Professor Ralph Roske and his students. This legacy interview transcript received minimal editing, such as 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. The interviewee/narrator was not involved in the editing process. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 4 Abstract On March 3, 1980, Donna Malloy interviewed John McKay (b. July 7th, 1926 in North Dakota) about his life in Las Vegas, Nevada. McKay begins by speaking about his family history, his career in the electronics and engineering field for aerospace, as well as his experiences in two wars. Moreover, McKay speaks about his hobbies of hunting and fishing and his time as a musician around Las Vegas. McKay also spends time going over how the city of Las Vegas has grown and changed, the increase in crime, and the extreme floods in the 1950s. Lastly, McKay talks about the Nuclear Test Site, how casino gaming chips were used as money around the city, how the city of Las Vegas started and the future of the valley. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 5 220 West Ponderosa, Las Vegas, Nevada. Okay. And your place of birth and date? I live in—I was born in North Dakota in year ’26, July 7th. Could you tell me something about the members of your family? Like is anyone living here? No, most of my family is passed away. My sister lives in North Dakota, my brother lives in Los Angeles and I live in Las Vegas. And there was four children, my mother and father. Okay. Could you tell me something about your family history? Where did your parents come from or—? Well my father came from Ireland—Babcock, Ireland, and my mother came from Oslo, Norway. They all came through Canada into the (unintelligible) territory in those days, it was the early 1800s. Okay. Could you tell me something about your family in Ireland? Well, if we go back the family tree, my great-great-great grandfather was a (unintelligible) against England. He was killed in a tavern fight in Badcock, Ireland. It’s about thirty-five miles off Shannon, outside of Shannon. I’ve been there personally myself. What about your family living in North Dakota? Tell me something about the early times then? Oh certainly. My grandfather was born in Ireland but he came to North Dakota. My father was born on a farm. In fact, it was a small, very small house about five miles outside of Devils Lake, North Dakota. And they were grain farmers and that was their prime living at that time. Okay. How about your education? UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 6 Well, I’ve been in the electronics and engineering field for twenty-two years in aerospace. I recently semi-retired and I’m in real estate business now. (Unintelligible) Stop if you can’t say it, you know. Yes. Okay. Could you tell me something about your travels? What have you seen and where have you been? Well, I’ve been in two world wars, the World War II and plus Korea. I’ve been in Korea, all up and down it. I’ve been in—in the aerospace industry. I lived in England, I was down (unintelligible) original launches. I was on the original launch for the northern part—North and South Pole orbit of a satellite. That was back in 1958. That was in California. Have you travelled anywhere around Nevada? I’ve been in about every county of Nevada. I’m a hunter and fisherman and I own property in Lincoln County, I own property in Washoe County and I own property in Clark County. How about some of your occupations that you’ve had in Nevada? Or even before that. Well I originally came to Nevada in 1955 and I started out as a shill at the old Boulder Club, Downtown Las Vegas. My uncle happened to be the boss man there and I made eight dollars a day for six hours work, which in those days wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t too good. (Laughs) And I decided at that time it was not my kind of liking and I went back to engineering. Okay. What is a shill? What is a shill? Shill. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 7 Well that’s an individual that, in lack of a better word, it’s like you make them look busy when they’re not. (Laughs) And that’s basically what it is. You pretend that you’re a gambler and you try to do as best of your ability without making it a phony. But that’s what you are. You’re a show, you’re just kind of set up make ’em look they’re busy so somebody else can come up and gamble. Have you had anything else to do with the gambling in Las Vegas or Nevada? Well, no. Anywhere? I was involved in gambling oversees but that was only on a personal basis and that’s when I ran my own games and etcetera. It’s just one of those things that you don’t do all your life and I decided it wasn’t for me. (Laughs) Right. Okay. What else occupations have you held? Anywhere that you’d like to talk about? Well, I’ve really been mostly in the aerospace industry for twenty-two years. I enjoyed the more or less the origination of the missile business and the ICBMs and satellites and etcetera, because when I started out there was none and I worked all the way through it. And I was on launches. I’ve had certificates for being associated with them. Basically that’s what it is. Okay. Have you received any awards or honors? If you’d like to talk—. I have. I do—I have. Yes. Have a few but I don’t think that’s a good—you know, don’t care to discuss it. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 8 Right, good. How about—have there been any illnesses in your family? A history of them, or—? Well, with a history of illness basically is like what everybody reads in the paper, in the news and what not. Predominantly it’s been cancer or heart failure and that’s it. Okay. Would you like to tell us something about the property or wealth that you’ve had? Or achievements? (Laughs) Well I don’t care to discuss my wealth or achievements, etcetera. Right, yes. I can understand that. I’ve enjoyed a good life. Okay. How about some special skills or interests or, you know, like hobbies or—? Oh, well I play golf. I used to waterski, of course I’m too old now for it. And I snow ski, I bowl, I am an archer. I do all kinds of sports, hunting, fishing, etcetera. I enjoy them all. My big one is (unintelligible) right now is hunting and fishing. And my father’s told me that you used to play the trumpet. Could you tell me? Well, yes. I used to play the trumpet and I used to—at one time I was considered very good but as years ago you find you’re not on the first and that’s one of the best things I can tell young people is that just because you’re not in first doesn’t mean you’re a failure. I decided I’d play for my own entertainment and I’ve had a lot of fun over the years, as your father can verify. It’s been real good, music is one of things that is international anyplace you go. Music is music. Have you ever played in any bands or anything like that? Oh yes. Yes, I've tried out with Les Brown. I played with Ted Heathen over in England. I never have played with Stan Kenton or anybody that plays stuff like that, but like some people I’ve referred. But I have played with a lot of groups around Las Vegas. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 9 Okay. How about church membership and activity? (Unintelligible) Well, I'm a, I'm a black Irishman and therefore I'm a Protestant. And I just, I have nothing against religion, I’m for it a hundred percent, it’s just that in our later years in life, I just haven't really taken the time out. I should, I really should. Okay. So would you like to talk some about the memberships and activities and other groups or organizations? Well, I'm a member of the Optimist Club, (unintelligible) Optimist Club Paradise Valley. I'm a member of the West Charleston Lions Club which supports all the blind, the burn center. Optimists support the youth. Very active in anything civic activities, etcetera. Okay. What does the Optimist Club stand for? Well, what do they do for—? Youth and being an optimist. Thinking everything good, which is—is, everything is good. Mm-hmm. It’s just the way you gotta look at it. Good point. Okay. What are the key points in your life that you'll remember most? Oh maybe Mr. Malloy, who I've known for almost 20 years now. And it's been a memorable association and I'm sure it'll last for many years to come. (Laughs) Okay. What are some of the motivations or goals that you have to achieve? Well my point in life now, I work about eight months a year, I take about four months for fishing and hunting and I don't really have too many more—I have three children, ‘course they’re all grown. My youngest is twenty-three, I have another one twenty-five and another one thirty. So their lives are all set, no problems at all. Where do you like to hunt? Are there any places in Nevada? Oh Jarbidge. By the way, Jarbidge is last place it was ever stage, stagecoach hold up and they UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 10 caught the guy in the (unintelligible). And that was Jarbidge, I think it was 1919 or 1926, something like that. It’s Jarbidge, Nevada. It's about twenty miles from the Idaho border. In fact, to get there you have to go to Rogerson, Idaho and come back into Nevada (unintelligible). (Laughs) Okay. Okay. Description. Okay, what traditions do you hold? Well, every time trout fishing opens up, May 1st, I go trout fishing or wherever it opens up first. I go hunting in the fall starting one September and I hunt from then until sometime late November. December, I go to North Dakota (unintelligible). And I just do everything according to season. Okay. Where do you fish? Are there good places in Nevada? Oh certainly. Lake Mead is one of the better fishing areas. If you want trout, you go up to Jarbidge, there’s good trout fishin’ up there. Miners. Ville, though of course that's Utah. But we have good fishing all up and down Nevada. Up in the Rubies, good bass fishing. You go to Whitehorse, super trout fishing. It’s excellent, just unbelievable. Six pound, four pound trout. It’s beautiful but it's a long ways away from Las Vegas. Okay. Description of the informant—(laughs) (Multiple people laughing) It was something like Bill Holden, (unintelligible), Gable. Give me something, Mo. Unknown speaker: (Laughs) Well you tell me. You’ve seen me since you're ye high. (Laughs) I look like John McKay. Right? John McKay. That’s right. Okay. That’s what I look like. (Laughs) Okay. Have you—do you have any folklore material that has come from Nevada UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 11 or? Well, I'd be more than glad to, to let your class use a violin that's approximately three hundred years old. Also have a painting of Chief Red Shirt who's the son of Sitting Bull. It's done on a deer skin (unintelligible) and you're more than welcome to use that for your class and just take care of it. (Laughs) Well. Another. Why did you come to Nevada? I like it. (Laughs) What do you like about Nevada? I like the bright lights, I like the atmosphere. It's, it's a very nice town. Mm-hmm. There's a lot more to this town besides gambling, and of course, having relatives here it's—I've enjoyed it all. Okay. What else is there in Nevada other than the gambling? Most people don't think there is but—. Oh it's—everything’s beautiful. We of course, we don't have the manual, you know, industries, refineries, etcetera. But we do have light type of, oh light industry which we don't pollute the air with it. We do have the freehold part where there's no taxes on inventory per se. So we are attracting big industries and JC Penney, McDonnell Douglas, Exide batteries, Levi Strauss, Buster Brown Shoes, to name a few. Do you think it's good that we have more industry or? Yes, I do. At one time I didn't but I do now because we’ve grown too big. You got to move with the times. (Laughs) Okay. How have you seen the town change? UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 12 Oh God. (Laughs) Since you’ve been here. Just like any town. I can remember when there's only three or four clubs on the Strip, compared to what it is now. At one time we had the Sahara, Las Vegas El Rancho (unintelligible) El Rancho Las Vegas, we had—the Stardust just started, the Flamingo and the Hacienda. That was it. There was nothing but desert out there then. (Laughs) Okay. Have you seen it change any other ways? Like culturally? Yes, we've—well maybe I— Okay. What else kind of changes have you seen? Well, they—like any time we progress and people move in. The town is no longer a small town, it’s a big town. We have all the inheritance of crime, pollution, traffic, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. We have where we didn't used to have serious crime or where it's bad crime, and now we have it every day. And we didn't used to have murders like we have or kidnappings or assaults or muggings in the parking lot. It's all coming in the last few years where we get all the branches come in. When you get a person, they get busted for pot or dope or murder or something, they don't come from Las Vegas. They come from North Platte, Nebraska, Des Moines, Iowa, New Jersey, wherever. (Laughs) And that’s the way it is. We're just a big town and people think this is a, you know, big Santa Clause Christmas tree. (Laughs) It's not, you got to work for a living here. Unknown speaker: (unintelligible) UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 13 Mr. McKay, have you ever seen any events or disasters in this town? I have seen some floods in the past. In fact, the 1955 we had one the, I think it was ’54 or ’55, we had the homes washed away by floods and it was very disastrous. Maybe unknown to most people, we do have one of the few dikes to stop water in a desert area. We have a dike that runs from approximately Alta through Charleston on down to Sahara that blocks the water, well that used to block the water, and flow away from downtown Las Vegas. ‘Course that’s many, many, many years old. But it's one of those things that we devised to our so-called flood control in those days. It was just a plain mount of dirt. We'll see it right now between—on Jones, between Charleston and Sahara. It’s still there to this day, right now. You can drive by it, you can see a monitor. If you're going south, again your right hand side, that’s a mount of dirt and that's a dike. Okay. Have you ever seen any fires, or are there any, been? Well, no. No major fires per se. We’ve had a very modern fire department. We've had—one time a lumber company burned up, but no catastrophes like we used to have in the old days. Okay. Do you know anything about the flooded Caesars Palace? Well to tell you the truth, no I don't because at the time I was salmon fishing up in British Columbia. (Laughs) And, but I had some people at, that day that was when I was still in business, that were marooned in my shop and could not return home because they could not get home because it's all flooded out. But that wasn't—glad to say I was up fishing in British Columbia. Mr. McKay, you worked at Nevada Test Site. Do you know anything about the history there? Well, I worked out there many years ago and I was there when they were still doing underground UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 14 testing and some of the above ground testing. I used to work up in what they call Yucca Flat and I've seen the sedan crater, which if you haven't seen it's just amazing what a dumping mine can do. And this was something that was very important in those days, that we develop a means to excavate the earth to make canals like that. But then I got involved in the Nuclear (unintelligible) River Program at Jackass Flats and that we were just too successful to accommodate the times and they phased it out. Hm. What was it like seeing an atomic bomb go off? Absolutely amazing. It's the most show of (unintelligible) you'll ever see in your life. It just, something to behold and I was always impressed by it and just something to see. Until you see it, you won't realize what it is and hopefully never have to face it. Do you think there's any future in the Nevada Test Site or? Oh yes, definitely. Without a doubt. With mankind the way it is, we have to have nuclear power for energy until we devote to solar energy. We need the nuclear power for defense. We need nuclear power for a pacemaker that keeps the man's heart going. There's no end of the uses if it's used intelligently. Do you think it's as dangerous as many people say or, or should it be used? The only time it’s dangerous, anything is dangerous is when the person that's using it doesn't know what they're doing. Mm-hmm. Or they don't have the knowledge to cope with it or handle it. And ignorance is the biggest danger, believe me. Have you noticed any changes in the gaming industry since you’ve lived here? Well, many years ago when we used to have the so called syndicate, for a lack of a better word, UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 15 mafia, organization, crime and all that, we didn't have the problems we have now. We didn't have the mugging in the parking lots, we didn't have the rape of the tourists. We didn't have the kidnappings, etcetera, etcetera. And now the corporations have taken over for better or worse and now we have, do have the muggings and we have the people being kidnapped, the tourists getting mugged. I don't know if it's lack of a better law enforcement or what, or the populace. I can say that the previous proprietors could any better than they’re doing, the ones we have now are doing but it's been one big change and it is affecting our industry. We're no longer Sin City and having a good time, now we’re Sin City and it's gettin’ to be a sin city. It's a terrible thing. We have hookers walkin’ down the streets and you can drive down at four o'clock in the morning and see about any type of thing you want to see on the Strip. We didn't used to have that. (Laughs) And we never did. When did that sort of thing begin? It started about 1970, ’71 when we really started getting bigger. We always had hookers or like type. They're one of the things of fun times and nightlife that you put up with any city. It's not just predominant with Las Vegas. They have ‘em in New York, Los Angeles, Fresno. Name it, they have ‘em all over. But it's gotten to the point now where they're walking the streets, they're approaching and hittin’ tourists. It's just not right. This is a class town. We got to keep it that way. Mm-hmm. Mr. McKay, when you owned your own business, did you notice any strange or odd traits about doing business here? Well, I’m glad you asked. Many years ago we had a, it was a big culinary strike, where all—they closed down and struck all the hotels down the Strip and there’s a lot of people out of work. And UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 16 I happened to have a service station at that time and I had a lot of clients and customers that were employed on the Strip and of course they were for all intents and purposes unemployed. Well, they still needed to buy gas, so they're gonna have to have little jobs, tune-ups, etcetera. And they’d pay with, with chips or chips from the hotel they worked at or where they got the tokes, wherever. At one time, a person would take a $5 chip from the, say, the Sands Hotel, walk across the street to the Caesars and exchange ‘em for either a Caesars (unintelligible). No longer you can do that, but at the time I just accept them, and then I’d send one of the men who worked for me and they'd cash all the chips that I received during the day, and then get my cash money back. But at one time, they're just like money, it was just— Unknown speaker: (Unintelligible) Spending just like if, you couldn't go to Safeway and buy a shopping cart full of groceries, there's a lot, at one time you could buy suits of clothes, clothing, etcetera, with chips. And it was readily acceptable. It was just like money. And I think if we would return to that, I think the government stopped us from doing that, but if the returned to that, it would be—get back to the old ways or the ways we enjoyed and the popularity with all that you didn't have to go back to the same hotel because you didn’t get involved. You have a good time in one place and you got a bunch of chips, you walk up to a cashier, there's five or six people in line, you don't want to wait, you want to leave, well you take those chips and go to another hotel and cash ‘em in. They'd all get straight in the morning. And it was just such a comfortable and relaxing way of doing business and I think we should return to a more relaxing way of doing business rather than the corporate doing this by computer etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So you think the old ways are better than today? In my personal opinion yes, without a doubt. UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 17 Okay. What other old ways do you like better than now? Well, I like the idea where the hotels or showrooms were more personable. I like the way the waiters used to be, the waitresses, the cocktail waitresses. Now it's “give me this, give me that” without really producing something to get something, they want something and that’s not the way to do it. You've got to earn your way and you’ve got to provide a good service, you get a good return for your efforts, and I think we should get the people just better oriented that this is a service business. And that's what you gotta give, good service and you will get a good reward. Have the waiters and waitresses always pooled their tips? No. Many years ago, you more or less made your own tokes. Then we progressed to where it was a, say a table, and then we progressed to where it was a shift. And now I—the showrooms used to be always be they pooled all their tips, and then they put them together and they split ‘em up. And at one time, there used to be where a one particular crew to a table, let’s say craft table. You had, say three or four people worked the one craft table. They worked as a crew to that table, when they were relieved, they relieved them all at once or one at a time, but it was within minutes that they were changed. And all these people enjoyed that particular crew working together and working to give the customer a good service and etcetera. They don't do that anymore to my knowledge, now they pool them all for a shift. And you gotta appreciate that the dealer makes X number of dollars, the floorman makes X number of dollars and the Pit Boss makes X number of dollars. And everybody has to receive their own for services rendered and basically that's it. Do you think it's better or good the waiters and waitresses have their tips pooled together? Well, that's good to one intent that everybody shares equally and it's bad because one person sitting there deaf and not do nothing and share equally and that's— UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 18 That’s not fair. That’s not right. And like type, there are certain dealers if you play 21—of course you haven't. But there are certain dealers that exercise their trade and are very, very good. They make a person feel welcome, even when they're losing, and the man receives extra remuneration for that. And there's others that it's a pain that you're here and he gets the same amount of tokes that man gets and that's not right. Okay. What do you think Las Vegas is going to be like in the next ten to twenty years? Well, at present time, we forecast that between the next five years we’ll gain approximately 200,000 people. Now it's kind of hard to believe but that's what’s going to be. We're moving in people here at approximately a thousand families a month. Now, you appreciate families of 2.8 or 3.2 people per family, it's going to be something else. By the year 1990, we will be pretty close to a million people. Hm. In this valley. Now, the valley you gotta appreciate we can only go so far. We're darn near to Henderson all the away and ‘course Henderson’s a part of the valley. We got Sloan to the south, and of course we have Mount Charleston to the west, and North Las Vegas and Nellis to the north. So we can't go too much. It's going to be awful congested. We’re gonna get more pollution, more traffic problems. Unless our good do city patriots do their job, we're all going to be in a fix. What do you think the world of gaming industries will be like next ten years or? Well, the gaming industry will grow. We're one of a kind. We have the best climate, we have the best hotels, the best shows in the world. They’re—nobody can compete with us. Atlantic City certainly can't. You appreciate what the multiples of people they draw from, they catch a cab or UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 19 catch a subway or whatever to Atlantic City and you get certain clientele. Well, the clientele we're drawing are going to be—it's going to be just a different class of people and we're a class society, we always have been and that's the way it's going to be. So you think Las Vegas will still be the main attraction to—? Without a doubt. There's not a doubt in my mind. We’ll compete with anybody in this planet or another one. Okay. Do you think in the future gaming will still be that important or do you think that we'll have other—? Gaming is, will always be a very important to our, you know, economy. We have the MX missile coming up. If that gets in here, that’ll be one thing. We have the nuclear waste out at the Nevada Test Site, that's another. I do believe personally that we do need the missile program. We'd all like to live on a street of, whatever you want to call, Wonderland or whatever. But some of us have to sacrifice a little bit and live this good state where we have all of the good things we do have, you don’t have to sacrifice. So, I don't mind giving a little bit of—I have a few acres where that MX is going in. I'm not gonna make a dime on it, but I'd be more glad to just donate it just to put it, to have the MX missile program here because we have to have it to be—to survive like the United States. Mm-hmm. (Tape one ends) (Unintelligible) really. Many years ago was a, more or less, the low key politicians. It was all locals who weren't really involved in anything more than out of our area. Subsequently, we've grown to be a state political scene. It used to be where if you had to have something done, you can call your local politician downtown and say you don't want this done or that, or you needed UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 20 this or this was wrong. And something was done. Doesn't happen that way anymore. If you call them, “well, I got to check with so and so.” They gotta check with that department and two departments down the road and all of a sudden, they say, “Well, that'll cost x amount of dollars.” Then you got to get a budget. You can't do it like we used to, it’s just all garbled in bureaucracy, paperwork, red tape. The politicians, they mean well, and they want to do well, but we're just tied, their hands are tied and nothing we can do about it. I'm just sorry it isn’t like it used to be. Is that what you’d like to see? This town like it used to be? Well, we'd all like to see what we used to be but times change, we progress, and they call this progress. (Laughs) Well, that's what we're faced with. I don't pretend to live your life and make your life for you, I want to be—what's good for me is not good for you is what I'm trying to say. (Laughs) Do you think this town can change more for the better? Oh definitely. Without a doubt, without a doubt. This town could be a super sharp town if we just get our act together. But all the people living in this town have to take part in it. They just can't say well, you know we'd make conversation and say I don't like this or that or this. You got to take part. If you don't take part or participate, the town will be just like you think it is. You've got to do something about it. You got to work in it. If you think you just pay your taxes and go home and watch the video to and do it, forget it. When you get mugged alone at church the next day, don't blame me. (Laughs) What ways do you think it needs to be changed? What aspects—? People have to take part in it. And that's the only way it is. It's—it has to be. If you don't, it'll be so bad downstream when we get more people in this town. We got people coming in from all UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 21 over the world. It's no longer from New Jersey or California or Barstow or whatever. It’s from all over the world. These people don't know our kind of life. They don't understand our backgrounds. They don't understand our basics or relationship to life, etcetera. They don't know. But they're new here and if—we gotta indoctrinate ‘em, it’s not our choice, but they're here. So we do have to do our best take care of it. What do you think is drawing people to Nevada? Oh (laughs) it’s a pretty nice place to live. One of the best environments, the best climate, the best taxes. Don't spread this around but this is the best place to live. Sounds like it. (Laughs) It sure is. I haven't lived here very long in Nevada. So could you tell me how Las Vegas started as a town? (Unintelligible) Well, I forget the year. But it was many years ago that when they—it started as a railroad town, and this one of the water stops for the Southern Pacific to Los Angeles that came from Salt Lake City. And it was a kind of a—the only place in the desert that they had water. People that live around here, notice that where the Las Vegas Valley Water District is that the office in Charleston, just to the north of that, you'll see some (unintelligible) wells, old wooden wells, and a bunch of trees. Well, that was called The Big Spring and Little Springs. And the Shoshone Indians used to live on that, camp and roast their (unintelligible) nuts. And it was a gravity feed of water down to the railroad tracks. And I don't know how many people know that the Union Plaza sits on the spot where the depot used to be. And the water was a gravity feed down to the railroad tracks and the water (unintelligible) when they came through and the Indians were there. And the town was started to the east of the railroad tracks, in other words Fremont Street. That UNLV University Libraries John R. McKay 22 was the Las Vegas that we know. The Indians still lived and set up teepees and etcetera over by the big springs. Mm-hmm. And there's water just, there’s water in there. There's a watering hole, there’s artesian type wells. They didn't have a—they had a trough that went down there to fill the, to fill the reservoir to fill the phrase. And that's basically how Las Vegas started. Strictly a watering hole for the trains. (Laughs) In closing, Mr. McKay, what could we young people offer Las Vegas in the coming years? Well, I'll tell you, what we could—you could do really is to get a good education, be knowledgeable. Know current events, know what's happening in your community. Take part, join whatever political party you feel you're most prone to, to take part in all civic activities as much as you can if dollars and cents allows you to. But the biggest thing is to participate and really become part of the community because if you don't, somebody else will and then you have no choice. Thank you very much for the interview. Thank you for the interview. This is Donna Malloy signing off. The opening of the interview was not recorded. The informant is John McKay. The date is March 3rd, 1980 at eight p.m. The place 4076 Vinita Court, Las Vegas, Nev