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Las Vegas Rotary Club 50th Anniversary Program, 1973







50 year anniversary program for the Las Vegas Rotary Club, from 1923-1973.

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man000122. Fayle Family Papers, 1895-1998. MS-00404. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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36.17497, -115.13722;



Las Vegas Rotary Club 50th ANNIVERSARY 1923 - 1 9 7 3 PROGRAM AMERICA Led by Garwood Van INVOCATION Dr. Mark Koehter, CAnrc/: PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Angelo Manzi, Rotary Prcy/^n; PRESENTATION Dist. Gov. Glen Wilson ADDRESS The Heritage of Our Founders Florence Jones Cahlan BENEDICTION Lt. Col. Jack T. Moore MeM'j Force Ra^e CAap/a^ COMMITTEE John J. Cahlan, Dr. R. Guild Gray, Marion B. Ear!, Lorin Ronnow, Walter Hunsaker, William Southard, Mark Meilke, Otto Underhitl HONORED GUESTS Mesdames Wit) Beckley and W. E. Ferron H^'Jom! o/ <7 S6T.AHMS vtrr tmes. PASS. Dtcs. SEC. TREAS. FOUNDERS LAS VEGAS ROTARY CLUB APRIL 5, 1923 O. K. ADCOCK —Established a general mer-chanding business with Leland Ronnow, also an early member of the Rotary Club, on Fremont Street in a building located about midway between First and Sec-ond Streets in the structure now occupied by the Golden Nugget. He was a long-time secretary of the Las Vegas Elks lodge and was one of the founders of the annual Elks Helldorado celebration. He also was country welfare superintendent for several years. HARRY BLANDING — Operated a meat market and grocery store on Fremont Street in a building where the Mint Hotel now stands. He also had a ranch on West Charleston Blvd. about where the Presbyterian Church now stands. WALTER BRACKEN — One of the real pioneers of the city of Las Vegas. He was the first employee of the Las Vegas Land and Water Company, the San Pedro - Los Angeles - Salt Lake Railroad's subsidiary which operated the water system in the city until it was taken over by the Water District. He also was the first postmaster in Las Vegas and a long-time treasurer of the Las Vegas Elks lodge. WILL BECKLEY — A pioneer haberdashery pro-prietor. The Beckley brothers, Jake and Bill, operated the business in the building at the corner of First and Fremont Streets where the Pioneer Club now stands. Bill's brother, Jake, came to Las Vegas with Ed Von Tobel on the first train from Los Angeles. Will Beck-ley was quite active in the Elks lodge for many years. ED W. CLARK —One of the giants of early day Las Vegas. Clark was president of the First State Bank, operator of the Clark Forwarding Company and president of the power and telephone company. The offices of this utility were on the alley in the building now occupied by the Four Queens casino. He served many years as Democratic national com-mitteeman and controlled not only the financial seg-ment of the city but the political as well. If any deci-sion was made regarding the future of the city of Las Vegas, Ed Clark reserved the right of veto. W. S. GERMAN —An employee of the SP-LA-SL Railroad and later of the Union Pacific. He served for many years as a member of the Las Vegas city council. His work with the railroad precluded any great amount of civic activity so he confined his work to the city commission. A. A. HINMAN — At the time of the founding of Rotary was one of the outstanding lawyers of the community. However, in later years, he got caught in the crossfire of political wars and fell out of favor with the reigning power of the city. JACK HEATON — Another long-time railroad em-ployee. He established the first radio station in south-ern Nevada in the early 1930's. The station was lo-cated "away out in the country" at about 15th and Stewart Streets. He was too far in advance of the times and the station closed and he retired. W. E. FERRON — Another one of the greats of Las Vegas in the earlier days. He operated two pharmacies in downtown Las Vegas — The White Cross Drug-store at Second and Fremont where the Four Queens now is located, and the Las Vegas Pharmacy on the corner of First and Fremont where the Carousel now is. He was very active in civic affairs and served as mayor in the early days. He completed the term of Les Saunders, the first Rotary president, when Saun-ders left town. S. J. LAWSON — In the early years of Las Vegas, he was bookkeeper for the railroad company. In his spare time he also kept books for the power and tele-phone company. Later he quit his job with the rail-road and went to work full time for the power and telephone firm. Lawson rose to be president of the company and remained with the telephone utility when the two operations were split in later years. DR. WILLIAM S. PARK — For many years he was the only dentist in town. He was the son of the founder of the First State Bank. He resided in a palatial man-sion on East Charleston, near the intersection of Sixth Street, and was one of southern Nevada's first arche-ologists. He left a fine collection of Indian artifacts now displayed at the Lost City Museum in Overton. His offices were above the White Cross Pharmacy in the telephone building. C. E. PEMBROKE — An early day merchant in Las Vegas. He had the first Frigidaire franchise in the city at his store just cast of the intersection of Fifth and Fremont Streets. He was quite active in the Elks lodge and was the son-in-law of John Lightfoot, one of the pioneer railroad employees. Lightfoot was re-sponsible for getting the first lighted tennis courts in Las Vegas. They were located where the Union Plaza hotel now stands, near the present Greyhound bus area. W. H. "BiLL" PIKE — Another one of the Las Vegas giants. Pike, a former high officia] of Sears-Roebuck and Company, came to Las Vegas for his health and became one of the real builders of the city. He con-structed the first open air theater in Las Vegas at the corner of Third and Fremont Streets and also operated the old Majestic Theater in a portion of what now is the Golden Nugget. He, with E. W. Cragin, built what then was the most elaborate theater in Nevada, El Portal, which still stands. He and Cragin also formed a partnership to establish one of the first insurance agencies, and this firm still operates under the name of Cragin and Pike. He also built the first big apart-ment house in Las Vegas, at Third and Bridger Streets, which was the residence for many of the early-day school teachers. DR. ROY W. MARTIN —Las Vegas number one booster. He came to Las Vegas in 1905 and established a drug store and then a hospital on North Second Street across the alley from where the Fremont Hotel now stands. Dr. Martin was the first person to envision Las Vegas as a resort center and was always promot-ing a resort hotel to get his dream to become a reality. He did live to sec the first steps taken along the way in the construction of El Rancho Vegas by Tommy Hull, but died before the big resort boom came. He was another of the Las Vegas greats and probably did more than anyone, except Jim Cashman, to promote the community in the pre-Hoover Dam days. JAMES CASHMAN, Sr. — If there ever was anyone who was entitled to the designation of "Mr. Las Vegas" it certainly was "Big Jim". Mention anything which was done in the city in those formative days, and it is certain that "Big Jim" had a hand in it. His only political office was that of county commissioner, where he served long and well. There is little doubt that Cashman could have risen to higher office if he had so desired. He was the number two man politically, in southern Nevada, only because Ed W. Clark was alive and residing in the same community. However, the two of them locked homs on many occasions and in most, Jim was declared the winner. He was the moving force of the Elks lodge and one of the de-signers of the Elks Helldorado celebration. It was he, almost single-handedly, who brought about the con-struction of the Elks Stadium (Cashman Field) and the old Helldorado Village which stood on the corner of Fifth Street and Bonanza Road. He also spearheaded the construction of the present Elks Lodge building. He was a builder, whose like, Las Vegas probably never will know again. MEL RILEY — Was in the real estate business but left Las Vegas shortly after Rotary was established. C. S. WENGERT —Was a hand moulded product of Ed W. Clark. Wengert was one of the first em-ployees of the First State Bank, having been hired by the founder, John S. Park. He stayed on with Clark all through his banking days. When the bank was sold to the Bank of America, Wengert went with Clark to the power and telephone company. Later when the two companies split, Wengert chose the power company, in which was influential as vice-presi-dent. He held this position until his death. LES SAUNDERS —The "daddy" of Rotary in Las Vegas. He was the man who had the idea and sur-rounded himself with the others to secure a charter for the Las Vegas club. At the time, Rotary Interna-tional was not sure clubs could survive in communities as small as Las Vegas (population about 3,500). So Las Vegas became a "guinea pig" in the Rotary move-ment and was such an outstanding club that it con-vinced Rotary International that small towns had a great potential for the organization. Saunders came to Las Vegas as secretary of the Chamber of Com-merce and was elected as charter president of the Rotary club. He left town, however, before he com-pleted his term. MENU Mixed Green Salad, French Dressing ROAST PRIME RIBS of BEEF AU JUS Creamed Whipped Potatoes Fresh Green Beans, Almandine Ice Cream Nut Roll Hot Dinner RoHs and Butter Coffee Tea Milk HOW LAS VEGAS PIONEERED A ROTARY CLUB Based on faMs with the By JOHN M. BEVtLLE In the year 1923, on a glaring Las Vegas summer day, a young fellow named Les Saunders who had been hired by the Chamber of Commerce to sell Las Vegas to the outside world dropped down on the splintery wooden bench that rested beneath the shady elms surrounding Bill Ferron's drug store and took a survey of the town. There wasn't much to see. A few blocks west of Saunders' position sat the Union Pacific depot where each night the townfolk enacted a social ritual of watching the evening train for Los Angeles take on water. An occasional passenger dropped off to stretch his legs the way they always do at whistle stops. Hard-ly anybody stayed. Farther east, down around Fifth and Fremont Streets, clustered the shaded homes of the early settlers, the Brackens, Fcrrons, Squires and McNamees. The stretch between the depot and Fifth Street was intermittently occupicd by small one story, false-front buildings with their western type porticos engaged in a losing battle with the sun. East of Fifth Street, Fremont became a tortuous dust road that wandered uncertainly past Sunrise Mountain. After crossing Vegas Wash, north of Whit-ney, it took a senseless notion to make a weary climb through Bootleg Pass eventually coming to a halt on the west bank of a sullen Colorado river. Les considered his raw materials: spacious gran-deur; sunshine; and ptenty of confidence in the future . . . the sort of stuff that starts poets singing and investors to tighten their purse strings. Among Les's recollections of the moment was the dismay experienced when, full of enthusiasm, he rushed to the depot to meet some prospective eastern inves-tors who had expressed a mild interest in the possible deveiopment of desert land. That day the wind chose to blow. The visitors stood on the train's platform while the wind swept eddies of dust into their eyes and they STAYED on that platform until the train pulled out. One of them laughingly asked Les Saunders, "where he could make up for Rotary". This remark, humorously intended, elicited in Les a desire to exam-ine its serious aspects. He reasoned that anything that might entice a stray tourist to stay over a few extra hours would provide a chance to tell the Las Vegas story. He decided to do something about it. The founders of Las Vegas and its Rotary Club were modern pioneers. Pioneering is not necessarily tafe C. P. "Pop" Squires confined to the covered wagon variety. The pioneer of the Sixties or the Eighties possessed no monopoly on hardship and discomfort. There was as much heat and dust and as many flies in the early nineteen hun-dreds as in the Eighties. An amazing fact about the Las Vegas pioneers was that they settled there by choice. They knew exactly where they were going and what to expect upon arrival. !t wasn't credulity that caused them to suffer in mutual isolation. They knew of and came from the gentler environments of larger and more civilized communities. No, it was not credulity, unless you attribute the urge to "follow the dream" as being credulous. The impulse which prompted their coming . . . and staying . . . was simply the inexplicable stubborn cussedness of the pioneer — the urge to create something from nothing. To the problems of good roads and the develop-ment of the Boulder Canyon Project, Les Saunders added a third — a Las Vegas Rotary Club! By com-parison. the latter problem should have posed little challenge but first Les had to reckon with the power-fully urbane Rotary International. The Rotary International had for years followed a hands off po'icv when membership of smaller com-munities was sought. In a't of Les's initial correspond-ence with the club's international figures, he constantly referred to a vast mythical "trading area" that em-braced the mimng camps of Goodsprings and Search-light in addition to the "lush agricultural communities of Moapa Valley". By some rather eerie arithmetic and help from the cemeteries, he managed to conjure up a population of five thousand souls. For help, Les Saunders turned to those men com-monly associated with community leadership. Pre-charter meetings were held in the homes of Bill Ferron and Walter Bracken. Among the prospective charter members attending those first meetings were William S. Park and C. P. Squires. The tenacity of these men eventually wore down the resistance of Rotary International who finally decided to use the Las Vegas club as an experimental guinea pig. They reasoned that if Rotary proved a success in Las Vegas it would open up a vast mem-bership potential for this world-wide organization. When you look back and consider the isolated position of the town the decision to use Las Vegas as a proving ground becomes increasingly equivocal leading you to wonder at the pursuasive talents of these early settlers. Taking another look at Las Vegas in the early 1920's in relation to civilization reveals a whit of an island struggling in an infinite sea of land. Consider this: In the year 1923, between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, there stretched some four hundred miles of near primeval desert and forest. Traversing this abysmal area was the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad and a sparsely marked trail or two worn dim by the feet of pioneers. Looking in a southerly direction, to reach Los Angeles by car required a jolting four hundred mile trip over unpaved roads through the mining camps of Nelson, Searchlight and Goffs, thence along the route presently known as route 66, on into Los Angeles. The speed record for this trip was 15 hours. To assure a degree of safety to the daring drivers of those days, the roads habitually snuggled along the railroad tracks and pass-ing trains were authorized to make emergency stops for travelers aid. The town chosen for Rotary's great experiment could hardly have been more remotely situated. Acting quickly, and before Rotary officials might have second thoughts, a list of fifteen names was hastily drawn. It is now a matter of ironic amusement that C. P. Squires, who had contributed so much to Southern Nevada as Governor Emmctt Boyle's rep-resentative at the League of the Southwest for the promotion of the Colorado river, should be denied charter membership. You see, Rotary was squeamish about the taint of politics and "Pop" was the town's Postmaster! However, this deterrent was short lived and had its compensations. "Pop" was honored by being the very first "Baby Rotarian" introduced to the new club. On March 15, 1923 the first meeting of the Las Vegas Rotary Club was held in the old Union Pacific dining room, affectionately called "The Beanery" Fifteen of Las Vegas's prominent business and profes-sional men were seated as charter members: Leslie R. Saunders, Dr. William S. Park, A. A. Hinman, Walter R. Bracken, Ed. W. Clark, W. E. Ferron, Harry Blanding, Will Becklcy, Dr. Roy W. Martin, O. K. Adcock, William Pike, James Cashman, C. E. Pembroke, C. S. Wengert and Sam Lawson. At that first meeting Leslie R. Saunders became President, Dr. William S. Park Vice President and A. A. Hinman was named Secretary. The gavel descended signalling the start of a new era of service in Southern Nevada's vigorous, young community.