Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with Byron Underhill by Joyce Moore, March 20, 2002


Download OH_01858_book_o.pdf (application/pdf; 34.39 MB)






Byron Underhill's father owned the first Coca-Cola bottling plant, the first beer distributorship, and the first bowling alley in Las Vegas. Byron moved here from Needles, Calif., with his family in 1927. Byron later took over the bottling plant, served in the Army as an aircraft mechanic and a glider pilot during World War II, was a private pilot who worked with Search and Rescue, played in various bands, and suggested to the Lions club that they found a burn unit at University Medical Center that is still the only one in the state

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



[Transcript of interview with Byron Underhill by Joyce Moore, March 20, 2002]. Underhill, Byron Interview, 2002 March 20. OH-01858. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room



Geographic Coordinate

36.17497, -115.13722



UCj %6D1 An Interview with Byron Underhill An Oral History Conducted by Joyce Moore Oral History Research Center The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University Nevada, Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director and Editor: Claytee D. White Interviewers and Project Assistants: Suzanne Becker, Nancy Hardy, Joyce Moore, Andres Moses, Laura Plowman, Emily Powers, Dr. Dave Schwartz 11 ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER OF UNLV The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Name Use Agreement of Narrator: $jr'AJ /P / / / ZfirV.t-e /T)<?£>*-* Name of interviewer: We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV the tape recorded interview(s) initiated on_______ as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational uses as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly uses. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Sigpfeturr of Narrator v ?at*' —Jj2z$ .^5 ______ —l-A-:5 Z2&<&fja-S /J Is Address of narrator Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010. Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7010 (702) 895-2222 Illustrations Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy of Byron Underhill. iv Recorded interviews and transcripts composing the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Libraries Advisory Board. Lied Library provided a wide variety of administrative services and the Special Collection Department, home of the Oral History Research Center, provided advice, archival expertise and interviewers. The Oral History Research Center enabled students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. Participants in this project thank the University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcripts received minimal editing. These measures include 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 following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Nevada, Las Vegas v Byron Underhill This is Joyce Marshall and it is March 20, 2002 and I am here in the home of Byron Underhill. / am going to be talking to him about his life in Las Vegas and we will start by asking him about his parents and how they ended up coming to Las Vegas. Well, my dad and mother were in Morehouse, Missouri. He made wagon spokes back there. Then, he got a job with the Santa Fe Railroad. He moved to Needles [California] because the railroad came through there, but then a boiler glass exploded and put out one of his eyes and they fired him. That was something that happened quite often, I guess. Anyway, he went across the street and got a job with this fellow by the name of Stout who had Stout’s Confectionary and he became the soda jerk. In time, the Coca Cola man came in with the fountain syrup and made mention to him that the franchise for bottled Coca Cola was available. It was available for the entire San Bernardino County of California as well as Mojave County in Arizona. Dad took on the franchise from Williams, Arizona to Barstow, California, and places in between like Oatman, Arizona. He started the Coca Cola plant in 1916 next to Stout’s. As he progressed a bit and made a little money, he called Mother back in Morehouse. She came out and met him in Kingman [Arizona] and they were married in 1918 in the Kingman Hotel. It was owned by the Devine’s. Andy Devine was their busboy. Then, in 1925, the franchise for the production of Coca Cola in bottles became available for the southern half the State of Nevada starting from Mina and Luning over to Pioche and south. There was not much population in that area, but it was a lot of territory and he had the whole thing. He sold the Needles plant in 1927 and moved to Las Vegas. The first plant was located at 125 North Main Street where the Las Vegas Club is now, across the street from Jim Cashman’s [Cadillac]. Next to that was the Troy Laundry on one side and the Morris’ Battery Shop on the other. Now, the franchise was the syrup? Did he sell the syrup and the gas? No, he sold Coca Cola in bottles. He moved the machinery over from Needles, which was not much of a machine. Crown Cork loaned him the machine to start with. Crown Cork and Seal supplied crowns, which were used to cap beer bottles filled with Coca Cola. So, he actually bottled it? Yes. Actually, that actual machine was out in the Coca Cola Bottle display on the Strip as well as the 1934 picture of the new bottling plant at 424 North Main Street. In the Strip display the caption stated that it was a typical Coca Cola plant in 1922, but those trucks belie the fact because they are 1934’s. That picture was taken where the Main Street Station is now. I’m standing next to the truck in front of the door. In 1929, dad got the first license in town for beer and all of those trucks that he had were at Becker Brewery and loaded with beer and the instant that they announced that it was legal, they were rolling. He had the first beer in Las Vegas. Then he took on a line of liquor with Underhill Brothers Beers, Wines and Liquors. He and his brother ran that until 1938 when they split up. In 1935 they built a four-lane bowling alley. The two of them built that bowling alley where the Golden Nugget is now. It was four lanes. Anyway, they had an argument and the two of them split and Uncle Clarence took over the bowling alley and my dad took over the bottling plant. It stayed that way. Where were you born? 3 I was bom in Needles [Nevada] in 1919. I think that dad was always mad at me because it ruined his first years of marriage. Do you have sisters and brothers? I had one brother. He had a boating accident in 1965 out on Lake Mojave and was killed. Nelson Landing. That is a very historic spot that dates back to the Indians who mined gold before 1492. What do you remember about Las Vegas in those early days? When we moved to Las Vegas, we had a little place on the comer of H Street and Wilson, which is where the freeway crosses Bonanza now. Then we moved up to the comer of A Street and Wilson. I don’t know what year it was. It had to be about 1928 or 1929 because it was a bigger house than what we had to start with. I was looking through dad’s books the other day before we put it out in the Hobbit hole [the name that the family gives to their storage facility]. My son has a Hobbit hole and he’s got all the records in there. So, if you’re looking for pictures and stuff, we have to talk to him. He’s been putting them away. Bozarth’s store was on the comer on the opposite side of the street from us. Francis Bozarth and Bob Pearson lived in a little house right next to the railroad tracks on A Street and the three of us would take our bikes and our 22’s and go out and travel around hunting in the swamp which started where Rancho is now and extended over to the round house where the Ice House used to be, then north along the railroad tracks and back to Bonanza. It was full of quail, rabbits, ducks and bullfrogs. In 1927, Mr. Lorenzi put in the largest artesian well, I think, in the world at the time. He built that swimming pool around it. I don’t know whether it still exists or not. The swimming pool had that 4 big rock island in the middle, which was the well. It used to shoot a stream of water up 30 or 40 feet in the air. Then the water ran down and formed the Twin Lakes. He planted bass in them along with bullfrogs and pan fish. He put a fence down in the water to keep the fish in, but the bullfrogs went around it and they still exist down there below the Silver Bowl. Once in a while, they even make it down to the Lake Mead area in the Vegas Wash where they can be heard some evenings. It was a good place to grow up. Good place for a boy, for sure. In 1935,1 got my drivers license and they were building Hoover Dam. I might mention that behind our house on A Street there was a little house facing the street right behind it. Buck Blaine, who was ‘high-scaling’ on Hoover Dam, lived there during the construction. He later became president of the Golden Nugget. He was one of my Las Vegas Age [newspaper] customers. As a kid, you had a job delivering papers? I delivered papers for Pop Squires at the Las Vegas Age. It didn’t last very long, just in. the summer because mother and dad couldn’t get up that early to go out and get the papers before school. Then, did you go to work for your dad in the plant? I did. I went to work for him in 1934 when he built the plant at 424 North Main Street. (Points to picture) The picture was taken the day the plant opened and dad had a big barbeque out front. After that, I used to take my shotgun across the street, the Vegas Creek came down to the railroad off the swamp and the downtown camp was on the comer and I’d sit there and shoot a couple of ducks and take them home for supper. Guess what it is now? The California Club. Dad managed to get a 100 year lease on that 5 piece of property from the railroad and since he had beer, wine and liquor, they put the spur right in behind the plant for carload delivery. He got a 100-year lease at $400.00 a year and that included the taxes. The railroad gave us the property about 1950 or 1951 because the taxes were so high that they couldn’t afford to keep it. Where did the plant go from there? Coca Cola Enterprises bought it in the early 1980s from Beatrice Foods who bought it from Coca Cola, Los Angeles. When my brother was killed in 1965, my father put the plant up for sale and sold it to the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Los Angeles. I stayed with them until 1980 and then 1 quit. Not long after that, the Main Street Station took over that property. They moved down on Mojave and became a warehouse. So far as I know, it’s still a warehouse. 1 heard they were going to put a cannery there, but I don’t know. 1 disassociated myself with them in 1980. That was you main job? Yes, for 50 years. I was production manager from 1934. I mixed the syrups and ran the equipment. When I came back from the war in 1945, my dad had bought the territory up around Ely and we built a plant in Ely, which 1 managed, and I learned how to run a Coca Cola plant. At that time, I didn’t have much experience and my dad was always unhappy with everything I did, but nevertheless we tried. Oh, that’s just parents. Then in 1950, but to go back a little bit, when Anna and I were married in 1943 my father formed a partnership with my brother and me, along with him and my mother as the Desert Coca Cola Bottling Company. So, when we came home from the service, my brother went in with my dad as a salesman and I became production manager for the 6 plants up north. We had a plant in Caliente, a plant in Ely and a plant in Tonopah. They were just little ones. 1 ran them from Ely. In 1950,1 got a desperate call from dad. He said that he needed me down here immediately and 1 mean now. So, when I arrived the machinery was falling apart and he couldn’t find any decent help to run the bottling plant. It was giving him all kinds of trouble and I had to tackle it. It took me about a year to get everything running smoothly again because I had to hand build bearings and parts and put them into the machinery. At the same time, the IRS came back on my dad and said because of the fact that my brother and I were not contributing to the business from 1943 through 1945, that the partnership was illegal for tax purposes. They started giving him all kinds of penalties. Dad fought it until 1958 and finally he had to give up. He never did tell me how he settled. Every time it came up before the court there in San Francisco, they’d get another postponement. Anyway, we got the plant running and it stayed there until the Main Street Station came along. We moved, in 1931, to the comer of Washington and the Boulevard [Las Vegas Boulevard] where the old original Stewart Ranch was. Mina [Stewart] and her daughter Helen were living in the main house and they had a little house next to it on the comer where Washington is now. She had some beautiful black fig trees in the front. I used to get ten-cents a lug to gather the figs for her. Across the street on the East side was the Wittwer Dairy. My brother and 1 milked cows for them by hand to get money for our Model T Ford roadster. They had quite a ranch then. There were big meadows below there with cattle on it and lots of walnut trees. The city sewer plant was on 15th Street and extended to below where Cashman Field is now and it discharged into a big meadow and drainage where it drained into the Vegas Wash. I killed my first wild goose where Cashman Field is now. The pig farm 7 was where Cashman Field is now. All over the hillside between our house and the Vegas Creek down below there was all kinds of surface water that made little ponds all the way down the side of the hill on both sides of the creek. Millions of bullfrogs and pollywogs were in those ponds and they laid thousands and thousands of eggs. Did you eat them, the frogs? I used to when I was a kid. I went down there on Friday night with my gunnysack and a flashlight dressed in my bathing suit to catch six bullfrogs. I sold three of them to Mr. Pappas who had the White Spot Cafe on 1st Street for twenty-five cents each. That was his weekend dinner and the others, my dad got for his dinner. That was my spending money, seventy-five cents. Then I went to the [Las Vegas] Review Journal [newspaper] and became their paperboy. Actually, I got my papers two for a nickel and sold them for a nickel a piece and my first territory was 1st and 2nd Streets, which included Block 16 [Red Light District]. It was? Yes, it was. I knew all the girls down there and after we got the coke plant moved to 424 North Main and I grew up and went to work there, we had a cream soda drink that was the same color as whiskey and we sold them a lot of that soft drink, which the girls drank. When the guys bought the drink, they got the price of a whiskey drink for both. Oh, because the girls didn’t drink? Correct. A few of those women married into the City of Las Vegas and became citizens of Las Vegas. It was not classed as a bad profession [prostitution] at that time. It wasn’t until we got a bunch of do-gooders and the Army and politicians in here that all of it was put to a stop. Did you go in the service first or did you get married first? I went into the Army first. I joined in 1940 after I had an argument with my dad. We were unloading beer by hand out of the cars and 1 decided I was going to build myself a conveyor belt. That was smart. So, I got two-by-fours and 1 bought these rollers that screwed on to it and I made side boards and fixed it up and I was working on it and dad came out and started criticizing it and I said, “Dad, it you don’t like it, you can do it yourself.” 1 just went over and joined the army. I went to McCord Field, Washington, as a Private. I joined a B-18 Bomber Squadron. We were told that we had to read all of the tech orders that were up on the wall and become familiar with them. Well, I’d already been to Curtis Wright Technical Institute at the Grand Central Airport in Glendale, in California in 1937 for school and 1 was a fairly good mechanic. When we had time, we read those tech orders and 1 had more fun because those old Sergeants that had been in there for years and years, I’d ask them questions about the engine and they had no more idea than a man in the moon what the different parts were and how they were put together. First thing that they did was to put me onto a B-18 and one day 1 was in the tail section of the plane to look around and they had just written this airplane up as completed on inspection. I crawled up into the tail service and discovered that one of the rudder cables only had one strand holding it. The rest of it was all broken. I went back out and tapped the Lieutenant on the shoulder and said, sir, this ship is not ready for flying and he asked what I meant. 1 took him up there and showed him and I made Corporal right there and then. That was a good thing. How long were you in the service? 9 I joined in 1940 and got out in January 1946. After 1 went into the service they sent me to aircraft mechanic school and when 1 came back they had moved to Pendleton, Oregon, and I got there about November 114 of 1941 and they had me walking guard duty the night that they bombed Pearl Harbor. My squadron got the first submarine in WWII from Pendleton on the coast of the Columbia River. Then about a week after that we got our orders, the entire squadron was moved. I was promoted to crew chief and we were moved to South Carolina. Colonel [James H.] Doolittle came in and joined us. They had some modifications they wanted to do on the B-25’s and I was the only person on the squadron that could weld stainless steel. I built the shields that they put on the exhaust tanks because they didn’t want the blue flame off the engines to show. Of course, that was for a night mission. I built all the shields for all the B-25’s that made that Doolittle Tokyo Raid. Then they shipped me to Meridian, Mississippi, and because I had a pilot’s license at that time, I became an instrument trainer. I earned my pilot’s license in 1938. I think I was the last person to ever get a flight off of Rockwell Field and a license. Do you know where Rockwell Field is? 1 had my airplane parked there. I bought myself an airplane in 1938, a little J2 Cub, 36 horsepower and it sat out there all the time and nobody bothered it. Bud Barrett, who was the Highway Commissioner, had his airplane out there and Ray Lundy had his airplane out there. We had three airplanes parked there. Anyway, one day 1 was out there flying around with it and I had already passed the ground school. They had what you call a Civilian Pilot’s Training Program and there were 11 of us that signed up for it and only 10 passed the written and I was one of the 10. They had to have 10 in order to have the course, so I went through the course. I was out there flying one day and 1 had my hound dog with me and my shotgun and flew up to 10 Blue Diamond and landed in a wash up there and shot some quail and rabbits and returned to the field. Because that’s 6,000 feet up there, 1 was pretty high when I came over the field and I put the airplane in a spin and brought it down about 2500 feet, leveled it out and spun it the other way down to about 2,000 feet above the ground and leveled out and came around and set it down and taxied up to the two holes 1 had dug in the ground to drop the wheels in. Then, 1 noticed a car was sitting there. As I got out this gentleman came up to me and said, “Are you Byron Underhill?” I told him I was and he says, “I’m Inspector Doakes from the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and you can’t fly your dog like that.” I said that I’d been doing that for a year. Then he asked me if I could take him for a ride and I said that I didn’t mind and so I reached over and lifted out my shotgun and the quail and he said, “Well, I’ll be damned.” I flew him around for a ride and he said that he knew that I could fly and he just sat down and wrote out my pilot’s license. Well, that was easy. Anyway, I went into the service in 1940. I graduated from Aircraft Mechanic School in November of 1941 and reported to Pendleton, Oregon, on December 1st to the 301st Bombardment Squadron. Our squadron sank the first submarine of WWII on December 8th at the mouth of the Columbia River. The squadron was ordered to the east coast where Col. Doolittle joined the squadron. This is where the Tokyo Raiders were trained. There they split up the squadron and I went to Meridian, Mississippi. They had an observation squadron there and they also had a Link Trainer1 with nobody to operate it. Since I had a pilot’s license, they figured that I could run the Link Trainer and teach ' The RAF Link Trainer was used to instruct pilots in blind flying. It has a small cabin, large enough for one person to sit in, that is used to simulate blind flying. 11 instrument flying. 1 knew about as much about instrument flying as probably you do. Actually, it was really quite simple. The trainer, itself, had the basic aircraft instruments in it and you presented, to the pilot inside, a radio signal with an A & N. If the signal was solid, you were on course and if you were on the A side, you were on one side and if you were on the N side you were on the other side and you had to correct your course to get to solid sound. That’s what I was doing when the commander of the observation squadron came in and I asked him about getting to be a pilot. 1 was promoted to Sergeant and he put me in for pilot and I transferred to the outfit and had just gotten to flying when an order came through that Sergeant B.D. Underhill will report to Big Springs, Texas, for glider pilot training. So, I went to Big Springs, Texas and went through the basic glider program. From Big Springs, we went to Lubbock, Texas; down to some little place there and out of Albuquerque and finally I wound up all the way back at George Air Force Base down near Victorville, California. That’s where I received my glider pilot rating. Right after I got that, they shipped me to Louisville, Kentucky. Is that where you met your wife? Yes. I was going out to the field on my motorcycle when a glider pilot came by and said, By, 1 got a double date here. Would you like to come along? So, I said okay and parked my cycle and took off. That night, August 14, 1943, was when I met Pauline. That was Anna’s sister. Anna was with the other person. We took the River Queen Paddle Wheeler up the Ohio River and then came back and had dinner at one of the hotels. He pulled me aside and said he wasn’t getting anywhere with the lady and told me he’d see me later. So, he left me with both of them. Pauline said she saw I was taken by her sister 1 The first Coca Cola plant in Nevada, located on 125 North Main Street. Byron Underhill in aircraft mechanic school. 12 you’re not fixing to get married, then you better not see me again. It turned out that they lived in Glasgow, Kentucky. That’s 110 miles from Louisville and they had come in to sell some pictures that Pauline had painted. So, I made a date with her for two weeks from then. When I got the weekend off, I took my motorcycle and rode to Glasgow where we decided we were going to go through the Mammoth Caves. We took the all- day tour through the Mammoth Cave. That was 20 miles away and 1 made it in 30 minutes on my motorcycle. When we came out of the Cave, I didn’t have any more money, so she took me up and fixed me some fried chicken. I made the date for two weeks later when I could get off again. I had to go back to the base. Two weeks later I drove to Glasgow in a Ford “60” that 1 bought. We were sitting in it and I was getting ready to head back to the base and I had a set of miniature pilot wings that 1 gave her and said, now, I want you to know that this means something. I have never handed these out to anybody before. She said, like getting married or something? I said, you know, that’s a good idea. What do you think? She said, 1 like it, so, on October 3, 1943, we were married. We had just two dates. Well, it worked. Yes, it did, 47 years. That’s great. So, you were stationed there in Kentucky and you got married. Was she then able to travel with you? I was transferred to Camp McCall in South Carolina. They gave me two weeks travel time. In the mean time, Mother and Dad came back. Dad had to get back to business and Mother stayed with us. So, we drove to Las Vegas and my wife stayed with my mom and dad for the duration. 13 What kind of car did you buy? A little Ford “60.” That was sort of a little Ford at that time. My wife stayed with them in their home at 332 South 6th Street. Anyway, to go back in time, dad bought the old Harley Harmon house at 332 South 6th Street, which had 11 rooms to it. That’s where my brother and I were living until we went into the service. Anna lived with my parents while I was overseas. She was pregnant after the first month. I was overseas in Europe when she had our daughter. That’s the one who inspired the Lions [Lions Club project for burn victims mentioned later on in interview] . Her clothes caught fire in 1951 and we lost her. The first TV had come out and they had a magician in there playing with the fire, running his hand through the flame. She tried to duplicate it with one match. When it burned down to her fingers, she wrapped it in her dress instead of throwing it down and stepping on it. Those things happen and you can’t change them. So, Anna was here and you were over seas? How much longer did you stay in the service, how many more years? I was stuck in it. 1 couldn’t get out. 1 was finally discharged in January of 1946. Absolutely, because of the war. I got out in January of 1946. Then you came home? Yes, and I went right directly to Ely to set up that Coca Cola plant. Did the whole family live up there? Just Anna and I and my family. So, you had your daughter and who came next? I know you have a son. 14 I have two sons. Ed came along in 1948 and then we moved down here to Las Vegas in 1950. My daughter, Susie was bom in 1950 and Gary came along in 1954. With the family growing, we bought this piece of property on Strong Street. We paid $6,000.00 for the lot and borrowed $17,000.00 to build this house. Now you have three children? Yes, I have the three children. That’s wonderful. So, you’ve been here. This has been it. This is your family home. Yes, when we built this house in 1954 it was on the edge of town. You could see the mountains. There was almost no development to the west. Mother and dad had the place on Ashby, which was a ranch style home at that time with horses and animals. The rest of the prairie out there was deserted. Now, I know that you are part of the Lio’s Club. Tell me how that evolved. How did you get involved with them? I joined the Ely Lions Club in 1946. 1 transferred to Las Vegas in 1950 to the Downtown Club. The ’49er Lions Club was formed in 1951 and I became a charter member of that club. They kept wanting me to be the president and go through the responsibility of it and I said I couldn’t do so because I was in such pain with this back deal. Well, in ‘64, they finally talked me into going ahead. The policy of the club was that we had to present two projects during our tenure in office. The goals we set were part of the presidency. I suggested to them that we take on the project of putting up the little shacks in the Spring Mountain hills for the Boy Scouts when they had the Scout camp up there. It was located above Indian Springs. We put some of our money into those tent houses. Then, I came up with a thought that why don’t we start a bum center. I let the club think 15 about it and we had Dr. Batdorf [John] and Dr. Cammackm [Kirk] both in the club. They thought it was a really great idea, so the club accepted it as a proposed project. Then, I went to the inter-club council, which 1 had helped to form. It consisted of the presidents of each club in town. The council met once a month. I proposed the bum center to them and they took it back to their clubs. They all thought it was a great idea, so we joined together and started the bum center [at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada], We got the first beds for it in 1968. We had two beds that were $1500.00 each and we were on our way. How did you go about raising money for a project like that? Well, we did a lot of different things. My club, the 49ers, had a fundraiser once a year. We had a barbeque. We had it in different places, but most of them, in the later years, were up at Jerry Berry’s place on West Oakey. We had our tickets at $10.00 each. There were two of us that always had a contest for the most sales. Bruce Morris that has the souvenir shop across from the Sahara. That whole center was his and he and I competed as to who sold the most tickets. Both of us sold about 500 tickets apiece and we put the barbeque on. We would raise somewhere between $6,000.00 and $10,000.00 each year on it. Did you have other clubs that were doing like projects? Yes. All the clubs had projects. / just transcribed an interview from a Rotarian and I think he mentioned something about it. So, the Rotary Club must have also been out there. Once it got started, why, it became basically a community project, but it’s still called the Lion’s Bum [Care] Center. 16 Absolutely, you were the ones who initiated it. And it is still dedicated to my daughter. There is a plaque on the wall. From the time you initiated it until you got it built, how long did it take? The first beds were in 1968. So, four years? That’s a very short time to accomplish that. Well, Dr. Cammack and Dr. Batdorf did a real good job supporting us also. M hat other kinds ofprojects did you do in the Lion’s Club? We had broom sales. We had light bulb sales. We had the white cane sales and right now one of our projects is that we are running some of the concessions at the Thomas and Mack Center. They bring in about, on some of those events, $300.00 to $400.00 a night. So, that builds up our funds. We have other projects besides the Bum Center. The main project of the Lion’s nationally is sight conservation. That program goes on continually. The children are referred to the Lion’s Club by the school nurses. They are examined and checked for their ability to pay. If they are unable to pay, they are referred to a qualified volunteer eye specialist and fitted with proper glasses. We’ve had some people come in and just because Susie over there got a pair of glasses, I want a pair too. You know how that goes. / have a daughter who has been diabetic since she was six and when she had her first child, she got perliferative retienology, which is an eye disease that makes you go blind. If it were not for the Lion’s club, she would not have sight today. So, I will forever be thunkful to the Lion’s Club. At the time, she had to go to San Francisco for the laser. I am a life member of that organization and we continue funding every year for each patient that we send to the eye foundation. 17 It’s a wonderful project and 1 am very thankful to them. Let’s back up a little bit and talk about school. You went to school here? Yes. The first school I went to was the Las Vegas Grammar School, which was a two- story building where the Federal Building is now. They had a schoolteacher named Mr. Victor and I’ll never forget him. The Tisdale’s were running the sewer plant at that time and his son Jack Tisdale and I were in the same room at the time. Mr. Victor was writing on the blackboard and I won’t say who, but a spit wad hit the blackboard right under his chalk and he kept trying to find out who it was and he knew it had to be Jack or me. He bumped our heads together for I don’t remember how long trying to get somebody to talk, but nobody would talk. Matt Kelley was the janitor at that time and he had a band that he taught down in the boiler room. I got interested in going into that and I played the bass horn. I played the bass horn all the way up until I went into the service. 1 was ter