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Transcript of interview with Hazel Du Barton by Anne D. Barton, November 13, 1979






On November 13, 1979, Anne Du Barton interviewed her mother, Hazel F. Du Barton (born Hazel F. Wingebach on July 13th, 1926 in Floral Park, New York) in their home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mrs. Du Barton relocated to Las Vegas in 1955. This interview covers Las Vegas history, including local politics, nuclear testing, and the Helldorado Parade. Occupations Mrs. Du Barton has held include dress designer, dressmaker, clerical worker, bookkeeper, and hotel manager. She recalls her first experience camping at Mount Charleston and she was also an arts and crafts camp instructor for Campfire Girls, who used the campsite at Lee Canyon.

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DuBarton, Hazel Interview, 1979 November 13. OH-00491. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton i An Interview with Hazel F. Du Barton An Oral History Conducted by Anne Du Barton 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 Hazel F. Du Barton ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2017 UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton iii 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 Hazel F. Du Barton iv Abstract On November 13, 1979, Anne Du Barton interviewed her mother, Hazel F. Du Barton (born Hazel F. Wingebach on July 13th, 1926 in Floral Park, New York) in their home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mrs. Du Barton relocated to Las Vegas in 1955. This interview covers Las Vegas history, including local politics, nuclear testing, and the Helldorado Parade. Occupations Mrs. Du Barton has held include dress designer, dressmaker, clerical worker, bookkeeper, and hotel manager. She recalls her first experience camping at Mount Charleston and she was also an arts and crafts camp instructor for Campfire Girls, who used the campsite at Lee Canyon. UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 1 Test, One, Two, Three, Four, test. This is Anne D Barton. The date is November 13th, 1979. The address is, 709 North Sixteenth Street, Las Vegas, Nevada. The person being interviewed is, Hazel Du Barton of 709 North Sixteenth Street, Las Vegas. Ah, our project is Oral History for History of Southern Nevada. Well, we know you weren’t born in Southern Nevada so where were you born and why did you come here? I was born in Long Island, New York. And I lived there, ah, I lived in the east until I was twenty-nine years old. I came to Nevada because my husband and I had visited in the west and we liked it better than we liked the east and also because we lived in New York City and didn’t feel that it was a suitable place for raising children. So we came out here when it was time for our first child to be born. When you did first come here, what occupations did you or your husband have? I quit work when I came out to Nevada, to raise a family. My husband was an electronics technician and he worked for the power company when he first came out here. Could you tell us more about what he did with the power company? He was a communications engineer. He fixed all the communications equipment in the trucks, the two-way radios, and he installed the microwave system, the antennas and the related equipment for microwave installations with Nevada Power Company. Okay. After that he went to work for the Test Site, right? Ah, yes. He did work at the Nevada Test Site when they were doing atomic testing in the atmosphere. He worked for EG&G, he worked for Reynold’s, he worked Homes and Hardware, he worked for quite a lot of the technical resource people, at the Test Site. Mainly what he did was instrumentation work in the testing of atomic bombs. In other words, ah, instruments that UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 2 calibrated and recorded various data about the explosions themselves. And he was responsible for setting up and maintaining the instruments and interpreting the data that came from them. Could you remember ever feeling the results of an atomic test? I mean did it make buildings shake or anything like that? I recall once feeling a tremor of the earth. But people still feel it when they do it, the underground tests make the earth tremble more than the atmospheric tests did. Right. Uh, I guess we could talk about politics a little. (Laughs) Were you active in politics when you first came here or do you remember any of the visits of presidents that came here, like Hoover or any of those people, Roosevelt? By the time I came out here Roosevelt was dead and Hoover was in retirement. I guess they would’ve come out here during the building of the dam? No. I wasn’t here at that time. The dam was already built when I came here in, 1955, was the year. Ah, I haven’t, I don’t think that a president ever came to Las Vegas since I’ve been here. Mm-hm. Not that I can recall anyway. I think maybe Carter came through here a couple of years ago, but (Laughs) I don’t deem him worthy of notice and I have never been active politically. Well, everybody knows how important gambling is in Las Vegas, ah, do you gamble at all, or what other kind of things do you do for recreation if you don’t gamble or? We didn’t come here for gambling. We have never been interested in gambling and we stay away from the Strip as much as possible. We came to the West because of the wide-open spaces and the room and the opportunity for recreation. Mainly just because we liked the atmosphere and the friendliness. UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 3 Can you think of anything that has really made, been a mark of change to you that you have noticed as far as economics or changes in environment or anything like that? Ah, well in twenty-four years that I had been here there has been a great deal of change in Las Vegas in all those factors. Las Vegas had about sixty thousand people when we came here. It was a very nice size. It was small and friendly and compact and you could get any place from one side of town to the other in less than fifteen minutes. All the shopping was concentrated in one area. All the department stores were Downtown, Sears, and Penney’s, and Ronzone’s, and all the dress shops, all were within a few blocks, Downtown. All the furniture stores were on South Main Street and all the car distributors were on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Laughs) None of them were on Boulder Highway yet. No, there wasn’t much of anything on the Boulder Highway between where the Showboat Hotel is now and Henderson was almost all desert, except for a few little buildings in Whitney, which is now called East Las Vegas. Can you remember any of the old, old buildings, like anything about the Old Ranch, the Las Vegas Ranch or any of the old ranches around town at all? There were no buildings at the Las Vegas Ranch. The Old Fort was here. The Elks Lodge had not been built yet next to it. It was all land owned by the Elks Club. I believe the Elks Club did own the bulk of the property that once belonged to the Las Vegas Ranch. Well, I think the Elks Club wanted to tear it down. That I don’t know. Because all that was left of it was the Old Fort when we came here. Just the one building was all that was left, when you came? UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 4 Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Yes. And then of course there was the stream in Lions Park was still part of that, had been part of the Las Vegas Ranch. It’s—the stream ran through the park and into a pond. And there were a lot of big cottonwood trees alongside of the stream. Mm. And there were still a few of the old nut trees left. Fruit trees? No. there weren’t any fruit trees but there were some nut trees— Mm-hm. Still standing. We were talking about you coming out here because your parents were here. Could you tell us something about their business here and where it was and what they were doing here? Well, my parents lived in Phoenix from 1948. They went to Phoenix, they just kind of drifted to Phoenix after they left the east, and they liked Phoenix so they stayed there. My dad was in real estate there, and then they got, my folks got into the motel management. They came to Las Vegas because a friend of theirs had bought a motel here and wanted them to manage it. And that is the reason why they were in Las Vegas. After the motel was sold, they bought a business of their own, which was the first candy store in Las Vegas. It was called the Desert Dawn Candy store. It was on Fourth Street, just off of Fremont. You don’t remember the name of that building do you, I know it was just torn down recently? No. I do not remember the name of the building. Now that’s where they expanded the Four Queens, I believe. Yes. It could be. It was just about half a block off of Fremont Street. UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 5 So they had a candy store? Was their presence here motivating in bringing you here? Oh. Certainly it was. We would actually have preferred to go to Phoenix at the time but we didn’t know anyone in Phoenix and since I was having my first child, we thought we better go someplace where we knew somebody. (Laughs) And so you ended up here and stayed forever, huh. (Laughs) Yes. We did. We’ve always enjoyed life in the west although we do feel that Las Vegas is getting too congested and too large. ‘Cause we left New York City to get away from that sort of congestion. That’s why we like to take our trailer and go out in the boonies and we—in the quiet places and get away from the crowds. Okay. When you first came here where did you live at any particular area? Well, for a few months we shared apartment with my mother and dad. Mm-hm. But as soon as we gathered some money together we got our own apartment, which was way, way, way, out in the country, off of East Charleston on June Avenue. At that time, it was out in the desert. There were very few places of road around there. As a matter of fact, all out East Charleston was dairy farms. There were cows grazing in the meadows out there, oh, the whole area was all ranches and country. And Montgomery Ward’s hadn’t been built yet and there were all those trailer parks around there, it was all desert around there. And we rented a duplex apartment from George and Shirley Whitney. Now George Whitney is a native born Nevadan. His father, his whole family lived in Nevada. Matter fact the town of Whitney was named after his family. And he had bought this piece of property and built three duplexes. A quite large piece of property with lots of green grass and trees and bushes. And he lived in one of the apartments with his wife and their little baby girl, who later went on to become Miss Nevada in a Miss UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 6 Universe pageant, and who was still a very active water-skier, champion water-skier. When she was about, oh, I think Tracy was about two when we moved in those apartments there. And one of the other tenants was a man who has since become very well known in Nevada politics and that is Jean Dotting, who is presently our county assessor. At the time he had just recently come from, I think either Washington or Oregon, I’m not sure just where he came from. And he had a job as a license inspector for the city license department. He and his wife Fay and their son Ronnie, we became quite friendly with them. And as a matter of fact, everyone that lived in this little area was quite friendly. We used to get together and have picnics and barbeques and sit under the trees and just generally socialize and drink beer and— (Laughs) Ah, and have a good time together. I can remember Jean Dotting and George Whitney and my husband going, just out into the desert, which was down at the end of our street. They’d shoot rifles at targets. (Laughs) And they took—I can remember them taking the little boys in the neighborhood out with them. Matter of fact, I think I still have a picture some place of Jean and Ronnie and George, out there shooting rifles. Ronnie was about four at the time. And we lived there until we bought our house, which was the following year. We bought our house in the greater Las Vegas addition, which was new—a new tract, at the time. It was, you can’t imagine so much desert being so close to the Downtown area, as we are. It was all open land and to the north of us, is the Cashman Field property and Lions Park. So, of course that’s on the go and to the—to the west of us, which is up Bonanza Hill was all open desert at the time, too. Yes. I remember that. UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 7 Uh-huh. Yes. When you were a little girl it used to be—it used to be all desert, up on top of the hill. And we used to—we used to walk up there and think how nice it would be if we could own that whole big piece of land on top of the hill. (Laughs) And put a house right in the middle of it. (Laughs) And then we would have that beautiful view all to ourselves (Laughs) Mm-hm. With nothing to interfere with it. Now its all full of apartment buildings. There’s still a few vacant lots up there, though. Smaller area. At that time we bought this house, Bonanza Road did not go all the way through to Las Vegas Boulevard. It didn’t? Ah, no. That’s weird. Bonanza Road stopped at Las Vegas Boulevard and then it, let me see, the entire property up there belonged to the Elks Club and that land, at Las Vegas Boulevard, where Bonanza runs through now, was all desert. And it was the place where we used to have the Helldorado Village every year, during Helldorado. Mm. They had Helldorado Village on that area, there was a big wooden gate that said, “Helldorado Village” over it. And it was just used once a year for the Helldorado Carnival type activities that UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 8 they had there. And it usually was the beginning and end of the parade, the Helldorado Parade’s usually formed up there. And Bonanza Road didn’t go through that property, at all. It started again at the top of the hill. Yes. Speaking of Helldorado, ah, things have really changed, nowadays from the old style Helldorado that we used to have it seems. Can you say anything about that? Well, we used to go to Helldorado Parades and everybody in town used to get dressed up in western clothes. But the town was much smaller then. And I think more small townish, where people kind of, more or less clung together and did things together. Everybody went to the parades in the years when we were first here. Now if everybody went to the parade you wouldn’t be able to have the parade because there would be people crowding out the streets. And the parade was always Downtown. It was not on the Strip. It was always Downtown and the Downtown merchants were mainly the ones who sponsored it, just as far as that goes. In later years, the Downtown merchants grew to dislike having it, they felt that it hurt their business and—but I really do feel that by that time Downtown business was beginning to fade away. With the opening of shopping centers in outer areas. And of course there was no shopping Downtown to speak of anymore at all; nothing but souvenir shops Downtown. There used to be every kind of shop you could imagine in the Downtown area and they’re all gradually leaving. Because there is no business for them anymore. But everybody used to go Downtown to shop because that was the old fashion way that towns used to be. Well, I remember the old buildings over there that were in the, on the Elks property, that we used to play in as kids. The old wooden grand stand and there was some old wooden shacks. Oh, corrals where they used to keep the animals for Helldorado, who were in the rodeos. UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 9 Corrals. Mm-hm. Is what was over there and there used to be some stables over there, where people kept horses when we first came to this section of town. They kept them there all the time? People boarded the horses and there were a bunch of rickety corrals and shelters. Of course, shelters of some kind. But they were very, very, run down, and in pretty poor condition. And having them in such close proximity to a populated area got to be bad for everybody because we had a problem with flies. And so eventually they put that area off limits to horses. During Helldorado? That has happened just about everywhere in this town. I can remember people who had a place on Pinto Lane. And they bought their property out there because they could keep their horses. And it was owned for horses. But when the city started to grow and the population density got thicker, before you knew it they got rezoned and they weren’t allowed to keep their horses anymore. And it made them very unhappy but they were determined to keep their horses so they bought another place further out and I hope they still have their horses. (Laughs) (Laughs) They keep getting pushed out. Pretty soon they’ll be living in Mount Charleston or something. You know, Mount Charleston’s getting crowded, too. Well, that’s another area. Ah, when we first came here there were very few residents, that’s in the Mount Charleston area, very few, and people went up there for the day. But they didn’t live up there like people do nowadays. And that reminds me, that we had our first camping experience up in those mountains. We camped overnight at Deer Creek. In those days, the road to Deer Creek was UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 10 completely very, very rock bumpy dirt road. And we traveled it with our little green Plymouth coupe, and we followed George and Shirley Whitney, who had a truck, and we know knew the area very well. And they took us up there for Fourth of July holiday. We had our baby, who was about six or seven months old, and we had never camped before. George and Shirley had sleeping bags and they were all nice and comfortable. We had a couple of mattresses of a day bed and piles of blankets and we froze to death about all night long. (Laughs) (Laughs) Course nowadays they don’t allow overnight camping at Deer Creek. But in those days it was so hard to get to that there weren’t a great many people there. It was sure a beautiful place then. Mm-hm. Before it got all polluted and full of garbage. Yes. Oh, I think the water level has gone done there a lot, also. I don’t know if that was a result of the (unintelligible) being taken out or from the water table or what. Well, the water in that stream comes from a spring and I don’t think that really has much to do with the water table. Because that’s original snow melt. Yes. I think the water level in that spring may, really has only to do with how much snow there is. Mm-hm. During any given season. Well, speaking of the mountains and camping, well, we know that you were active with a local organization called Campfire Girls for a long time and their camping at Lee Canyon, can you tell us a little bit about that? UNLV University Libraries Hazel F. Du Barton 11 Mm. (Laughs) Well, I was an arts and crafts instructor for the Campfire Camp that was run in Lee Canyon at the time. Unna Smith was the executive director of the Campfire Girls at that time. And she built it up to a very high level of membership. I believe that nowadays they have fewer members and the great many more professional staff members than they (Laughs)—than they did in those days. Unna built up the council largely through her own efforts and had a larger membership than they do now. But she was my next door neighbor for a while and when we got acquainted and she found out that I had some experience with arts and crafts and with teaching children, she practically dragged me up to camp. Can you give us a date on that? That would’ve been about 1962, I think, the first year that I went, up to the camp. My daughter was six years old at time and my son was four. I brought both of them with me and, although, my daughter had just barely started in the Bluebirds program with Campfire Girls. She went and she stayed in the cabin with the Bluebirds and enjoyed camping experiences for years and years. Every year she went to camp with me. (Laughs) And I taught arts and crafts for a number of years at the camp, which we had in Lee Canyon. While, well, I worked for Campfire Girls for a few years in the main office. But I still went to camp every summer as a craft instructor and then during that time we developed our property in Mount Potosi. We had a patent on it from previous years before I came here. But it had never been developed and the council worked to develop the campsite in Mount Potosi and so I had some hand in helping with that. And— [Phone rings] (Tape ends)