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Transcript of interview with Jacqueline Evans by Susan Rapport, March 15, 1981






On March 15, 1981, Susan Rapport interviewed Jacqueline Evans (born 1940 in Long Beach, California) about her experiences in Nevada. Evans first talks about living in Reno and Tonopah before moving to Las Vegas where she attended high school. She talks specifically about her extracurricular activities in high school, recreational activities, and other forms of entertainment. The two also discuss political events during the sixties, her husband’s involvement in Indian affairs, and the flood problem in Las Vegas. Evans also talks about bringing children up in Las Vegas, camping as a recreational activity, and the development of Lake Mead.

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Evans, Jacqueline Interview, 1981 March 15. OH-00553. [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 Jacqueline Evans i An Interview with Jacqueline Evans An Oral History Conducted by Susan Rapport 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 Jacqueline Evans ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2017 UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 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 Jacqueline Evans iv Abstract On March 15, 1981, Susan Rapport interviewed Jacqueline Evans (born 1940 in Long Beach, California) about her experiences in Nevada. Evans first talks about living in Reno and Tonopah before moving to Las Vegas where she attended high school. She talks specifically about her extracurricular activities in high school, recreational activities, and other forms of entertainment. The two also discuss political events during the sixties, her husband’s involvement in Indian affairs, and the flood problem in Las Vegas. Evans also talks about bringing children up in Las Vegas, camping as a recreational activity, and the development of Lake Mead. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 1 This is Jacqueline Evans being interviewed by Susan Rapport, March 15th, 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jackie, where were you born? Long Beach, California. And on what date? December 8th, 1940. At what age did you come to Nevada? I was only ten. At ten years old? Yes. Okay. And that was in 1950? Yes. Why did you come to Nevada? My family moved here. Why did your family move here? My father got a chance to go into business here. What kind of business was that? He was an auto body mechanic. And did all of the members of your family come? Yes, they did. And how many people was that? Four. Four—you and? One brother and my parents. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 2 And your parents. Are any of those living members of your family still in this state? No. What was your first impression of the Las Vegas Valley? Did you come directly down here? No, we lived in Reno for a while, then in Tonopah. My first impression of moving here was that it was a godforsaken bare, empty place. Okay, and so you first lived in Reno? Yes. And what year did you come down to this area? 1955. Okay. And previous to that, you were in Tonopah? Yes. Do you think that your life in Tonopah was affected by Las Vegas? I don’t understand the question. Was your whole life centered around Tonopah? Yes. Can you tell me a little bit about where you went to elementary school? Went to elementary school in Reno. And the name of the school? As close as I can remember, it was Central. And how big of a school was it? I have no idea. How about your high school? What city did you go to high school? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 3 Las Vegas. And the name of that high school? Rancho. Was Nevada ever a topic in high school? A little bit in history classes, not very much. What size was your high school? 1400. What kinds of things did you do in high school for entertainment? Very active in athletics and also as a band and a choir. Can you go into more detail about athletics? I was on some of the teams. I mostly participated in fencing and gymnastics as extracurricular (unintelligible). Were the teams intramural? Did you play other schools? Yes. And they were all-women teams, all-girl teams? Yes. Did you feel that your teams were treated as well as the boys teams? We had a lot less equipment and a lot less—I don’t think we were given the same consideration. It was easier for the boys to get out of school to go to the games and that sort of thing than it was for us. Ours was all after school. And what years were you in high school? ’55 to ’59. What other organizations did you belong in high school? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 4 The only other one that I can remember right off hand was the art club. Did that make you more noticeable of art in Las Vegas? No. What events do you recall in school that, when you were in high school, it really left an impression? I’m not sure what you’re asking (unintelligible) events. Was there anything that happened in your high school that, if you were telling something about what you did in high school, what event would you talk about? Was there anyone who did anything particularly when you were in high school, or got their name in the news or something? A lot of the activities centered mostly around the band, and some of the members that were in the band at that time had gone on to bigger and better things (unintelligible) or something like that. And did you know those people personally? Yes. And you keep in contact with those people? No, I haven’t. What do you think the situation was with drinking and drugs and things like that when you were in high school? There were some drugs, but I didn’t know much about them. I don’t think it’s as extensive as it is today. There was a lot of drinking; that was one of the main activities. Why do you think (unintelligible)? (Unintelligible) (Laughs) Maybe more precisely, do you think this town had an effect on you? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 5 No, because the same thing is going on. Perhaps the state, I should say. A lot of people say that there’s a lack of forms of entertainment here for young people. You don’t think that had an effect on a lot of drinking? No. And I really don’t think there’s a lot (unintelligible). Well, what did you do? Well, between school work and athletics and friends and the band and choir activities, I always had more to do than I could possibly do. What kinds of things would your friends do, say, on a Saturday night? If we weren’t involved in some kind of activity, then they’d (unintelligible). And you feel that was pretty widespread in your high school, that was the kinds of things that people did? Yes. What kind of events outside of school had an effect on you? Were you were of what was going on in the world when you were in high school? Probably not very much—mostly centered around my immediate activities. What kind of plans did you have when you graduated from high school? Not much other than going to work. Okay, what kind of work did you find? It seemed I found the waitress work first, and then (unintelligible). Was it difficult to find a job as a waitress? No. There were a lot of jobs available? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 6 Yes. And then after that, do you remember what you were paid for that job? No, I’m sure it was (unintelligible). And then after that job, what did you get into? Selling. What did you sell? Clothing (unintelligible). Do you remember the Civil Rights Movement? Oh, yes. Do you feel like, that it was a big movement here in the Las Vegas area? I think it made some good changes as far as bussing and that sort of thing. And I think it raised culture consciousness and full consciousness. Were you bussed in high school? No. Was anyone in this state? No. How did it raise consciousness? There seemed to be more of a group feeling and some divisiveness that I saw later on that wasn’t really that terribly apparent when I was in high school. So (unintelligible). Do you remember there being a lot of Blacks in Las Vegas when you were, say, in high school or soon after that? There were plenty of Blacks in high school. What was the attitude of this community during the Vietnam War? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 7 I don’t think (unintelligible). You don’t remember there being any type of picketing or protesting of any sort? I don’t remember. What kind of building took place when you lived in Tonopah? None that I can remember. And in Las Vegas? Las Vegas has really grown and changed, and it has become a lot more cosmopolitan than it was when I first moved here. The population (unintelligible) was about 30,000. So, you’ve seen all kinds of building then? Yeah. What were the roads like in Tonopah? Well, they varied from pretty good to barely tolerable. And are they still like that today? Yes, they are. What about in Las Vegas? I think they deteriorated. (Laughs) Do you remember where the asphalt of roads ended when you first came to Las Vegas, at what points? No, I don’t. What kind of effect did UNLV have on Las Vegas in its early stages? I wasn’t in touch with UNLV in its early stages, so (unintelligible). What kind of forms of entertainment did you have once you were out of high school and you were working? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 8 Oh, I guess the usual. Groups of us would go to (unintelligible) roller skating, (unintelligible). Were those mostly friends in high school? Yes. What would you say was the most prominent lifestyle in 1960 in Las Vegas? Define— A lot of families, a lot of single people? A lot of families. All over the city? I’d say so. Do you think that’s changed? It seems to me like Las Vegas has always been a blend of a lot of different groups, a lot of different occupations, but also a high degree of the population comes here and stays for a year or two and leaves, if they stay that long. But the people that formed the core that are here straight through, I think that’s pretty much how it is. Do you think most of the people are involved in the gambling industry? Of those that I am aware of, no, not really. What aspects of Nevada did you like most at age ten? The wide-open spaces. And what did you do in the wide-open spaces? Well the hiking and horseback (unintelligible). Did you have your own horses? Yes. And at that point, you lived in? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 9 Reno. Is that what a lot of children your age did? Those that I was around. (Laughs) Could you do those things were you used to live before you came here? In California, pretty much, it seems (unintelligible). What aspect of Nevada did you like most at age twenty? What I would call the freedom aspect, because at about age twenty, I made a trip back to the (unintelligible) relatives who stayed for the summer and found myself (unintelligible). And everyone was expected to be in by ten o’clock (unintelligible) Las Vegas is pretty much (unintelligible). And what about at age thirty? Repeat the question. What aspect of Nevada did you like most at age thirty? Again, I guess, it would be the opportunities for outdoor (unintelligible). You didn’t see that become restricted as you got older? At thirty, I didn’t see it become restricted (unintelligible). Does that bother you? I think if Nevadans want to ensure that for their children and grandchildren and whatever, they need to take the steps to do that. What aspect about Nevada did you like least at age ten? I don’t remember. What about at twenty? I’m not coming up with anything that I really disliked. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 10 What is a very memorable event for you, for your life in Nevada? I guess the time that I went catching wild horses. (Unintelligible) We were living in Tonopah, and I believe my father’s friends (unintelligible) wild horses, so we were out and spent part of the summer on the ranch working and doing that, and the other part of it was catching wild horses. And that was, I don’t know how many people still do that, but that was kind of the place that the Old West, sort of existence (unintelligible). How do you go about catching wild horses? Well, with the variety of horses and men and machines now, they’d use water poles, and after the mustangs dropped their fill, (unintelligible) catch them, chase them down (unintelligible) horses. And they also used corrals (unintelligible). Did your father’s friend do this all the time? Is this his occupation? No, he was a (unintelligible) rancher, but this was something that he did mainly because he was asked to, and (unintelligible). Who asked him to (unintelligible)? I was pretty young at that time, so I (unintelligible) the politics, but the wild horses were cutting in on the (unintelligible), and Nevada’s always (unintelligible) usually skimpy, especially (unintelligible). And the farmers and ranchers were asking to have these horses round up, or at least some of them. So it was a function of some government agency? I would assume. What was done with the horses? The best ones were sold. The others, unfortunately, (unintelligible) to make dog food. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 11 Any other memorable events, maybe that happened to other people but that you were around for? Not that I can think of. Do you remember any particular social events of magnitude when you lived in Las Vegas? Well, there have been a lot of things that happened as far as (unintelligible) and kind of got in touch with some of that and saw that was a good (unintelligible) viewpoint of how the city was changing and seeing how the politics changed from year to year, and how it did become (unintelligible). The rise of groups like the American Indians (unintelligible). What association did you have with Indian events? My husband was chairman of the American Indian Center in town (unintelligible). And could you tell a little bit about what changes you saw in Indian affairs? (Unintelligible) take the first steps in working together instead of being kind of cut off from each other (unintelligible). What did they accomplish? They put together these powwows I had never seen, and that was (unintelligible) success. Successful in what terms? In terms of getting them seen, getting them known in the area, and in terms of people being able to work together to get something that big going. Now, are these Indians people who grew up in the valley? How many of them were, are, and aren’t, I don’t know where a lot of them lived. And were most of them from the same background, or were they all from different? As far as I can remember, they were from different. Do you remember any natural events that stick out in your mind? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 12 Other than an occasional flood— Could you describe one of those floods? I’ll take (unintelligible) two. Before the Vegas area got so settled, we used to have sizable windstorms because there was very little to break the wind (unintelligible). And cars and windows and things would get sandblasted just as easily (unintelligible). And now I don’t see those hardly. Las Vegas has always had problem when it rains because the caliche in the ground doesn’t allow the water to sink down, so it floods. It’s just not unusual for deserts. And sometimes the flooding has been of sizable proportions, stopping traffic and stopping (unintelligible). It was (unintelligible) flood. That probably has never been adequately resolved, by the way. Has it gotten any better? Attempts are being made at making it better, and (unintelligible) more than they used to be, but there’s also more pavement and places where (unintelligible) and I don’t see the problem as resolved. What were some of the really bad spots around town? Well, they’re still bad—Bonanza near the underpass, the lower places of Charleston. Las Vegas does have a sizable flood plain, and they are still building houses and whatever in the flood plain because the land is cheap. As a child, were the floods threatening to you, or did you find them entertaining, or? Well, I wasn’t tiny when we lived here, but there were times when I definitely felt threatened, especially after I started driving where the places I had to go were lower (unintelligible). Were there times when you just couldn’t go it, it was so bad? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 13 I don’t remember a time when it was impossible to go out. There were times when it was impossible to get where you needed to go because the roads were flooded so bad. And there was no way to go around? And there was no (unintelligible). Can you comment on the cultural growth in Las Vegas since you’ve lived here? What I’ve been kind of aware of was, at first, it was really a very small town, and the main activities were going to shows out on the Strip and that sort of thing. And then partly because of the university, there began to be more plays, more concerts, more lectures to go to, and lately, it’s become much more sophisticated than it’s ever been. You have the Allied Arts Council, you have the (unintelligible) which offers classes in (unintelligible). And we’re now, at UNLV, beginning to get name bands, name conductors, name soloists and (unintelligible). And that, I see, as a real growth. Plus, we now have three museums in here, which is all kind of in (unintelligible) stage. But I think it’s a step in the right direction. What do you know about any of the museums in town? Not much. Do you go to visit them? Yes, I visited them. Did you think it’s worthwhile for Nevada to have museums, do you think people will really go? Yes, I think it’s a place to save some of the history that would otherwise be destroyed. Can you remember any of the people that made news during the sixties in Las Vegas? The one that I remember most, but I don’t remember exactly when the news about her started coming out, was Ruby Duncan and her efforts to organize and motivate the (unintelligible). And UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 14 her activist activities and (unintelligible). That did make an impression. And now, I think she was (unintelligible). What specifically do you remember about the situation? I remember newspaper articles and television and radio stuff about how she was contacting maids and people that worked on the Strip in low-paying jobs to try to help them get organized and (unintelligible). Anyone else? Not that I can think of. There were no politicians that you particularly remember? No. At that age, say, between twenty and thirty, were you aware of who the governor was and things like that, or were you pretty (unintelligible). Pretty (unintelligible). And did you find that typical among people your age? I think so. Why was there such a lack of interest for you? I was very involved in raising a family at that time, and pretty much had the feeling that one person or even a small group of people would not have an effect (unintelligible) anyway, so I just thought it was pointless. And how many children did you have then? Two. Did you feel like this was a good place to raise those children? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 15 Well, I don’t know. The influence of gambling and that sort of thing did give me pause occasionally, and the fact that it is a tourist town. But the town does seem to have a bunch of features kind of all coexisting and a little separate from each other. So I guess that was what I was (unintelligible). I didn’t really see a (unintelligible). In that you didn’t want your children to be just exposed to one type of life, is that what you’re saying? Right. Continued on other side of tape. [Tape ends] Can we talk a little bit about the birth of your children? What year was your first child born? ’64. And that was a girl? Where was she born? All of them were born in Sunrise. What was Sunrise like in ’64? I’d say it was fairly (unintelligible). It’s not as large as it is today. I felt that the care that I received was good. A lot of things have changed in the medical field (unintelligible) and I was there pretty much for most of my daughter’s (unintelligible). And I had really seen the changes (unintelligible). I think Las Vegas has kept (unintelligible). What kinds of changes? As far as them (unintelligible) and the techniques that are used now, I suppose, thirteen years ago when my last child was born. Did any of your children require particularly special care? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 16 No, they didn’t. Did you know anyone who did? Yes, I had friends whose children were born premature or with problems, and the facilities for neonatal care have vastly improved now as compared to (unintelligible). Some of them wound up taking their children to California, and that was not unusual for people with some kind of a serious problem to go to California to (unintelligible). What kinds of things did you do with your children when they were little? Most activities settled around the family or my husband’s extended family and (unintelligible) we’d go camping and church activities (unintelligible). What church were you involved in? The Lutheran Church. And there were a lot of activities in the church? Yes, there were (unintelligible). My oldest daughter attended the (unintelligible) school there. There were a fair amount of social activities. What kind of activities? They had a school fair, they had special events kind of throughout the year. They had groups (unintelligible). Was that a close-knit group, that church? Yes, it was. Do you feel like a lot of churches are like that? I’d say a fair amount are. Did you become involved in that church after you were married, or? Yes. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 17 Your husband was involved in it, then? Uh-huh. You mentioned your husband’s extended family; what did you mean by that? He’s from a rather large, very close-knit family. And they spent a lot of time together other than traditional times for families to be together for just Christmas and Thanksgiving. And a lot of the socializing (unintelligible). Did you live very near his family? Most of them lived in Las Vegas. And his whole family was of an Indian background? Yes. Did it have an effect on your family in that, did you see the culture of the Indian background coming in to your children? I think they have a better sense of their heritage through being around my husband’s family than they would have if we had been separated from them by miles and miles and miles. Their grandmother used to tell them (unintelligible) stories and that (unintelligible). Before, you mentioned that you would take your children camping. What areas in this area did you visit? Well, we kind of went around the state. We spent some time in the northern part and we did some camping at Tonopah and in this area—the usual places, Valley of Fire and Mt. Charleston. And then the last couple of years, branching out into the more unknown areas. What interests do those unknown areas hold for you? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 18 There is a really neat geology around the Las Vegas area. One of the advantages of living here is that there is a variety of activities available: mountains on side, lake on the other, and a lot of out-of-the-way places that (unintelligible). Do you feel there’s any threat to those places right now? Yes, there are several. One, the fact that this city and the whole area is becoming more populated and is beginning to have big city problems in terms of pollution and corrupting the environment. Also, the Sagebrush Rebellion, which is, if it goes through, will probably result in a lot of land being sold and taken over by private parties, and then fact that MX may be located near our area. I see some of those areas as being a threat as far as having the land available to the people for recreational purposes. What types of businesses were there when you lived in Tonopah? There was some mining, there was some employment just in general kind of running the town, sort of the municipal government, and the casinos that were in town. That was pretty much (unintelligible). There were stores and gas stations, restaurants? In the outlying areas, there’s (unintelligible), but in the town itself, that’s pretty much it. What kind of businesses do you see in Las Vegas today that you did not see, say, in the early sixties? I don’t think I was plugged in enough in the early sixties to be able to distinguish (unintelligible). I guess bigger corporations in that you know (unintelligible) here and that sort of thing. Other than that, I don’t know. What effect do those big corporations have on the town, the difference that you see? I don’t think I’m aware of much of a difference. UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 19 Did gambling touch you as a child very much? No. None of my family was involved in that industry, and not many of my friends were. Do you feel that you grew up with a different moral outlook, perhaps, due to the kinds of things that went on in Las Vegas, that go on in Las Vegas? No, I don’t think so. (Unintelligible) What change have you see in the function of Lake Mead? I don’t think I’ve seen a change. What about in the area around it? It’s obviously getting more use now, and it’s showing the effects of that. It’s still pretty much a recreational area, but it is becoming more polluted, much more than it was when I was in high school (unintelligible). When you were in high school, were there dirt roads out there? Yes. Were the asphalt roads already out there? There were dirt roads out there. And do you remember them being paved? I don’t remember exactly when they were paved, but I know that all the time I was in high school, they were dirt. And did you go out there often? Yes. Then it was popular among all ages, or? I think it was popular for all ages because there has always been a lot of fishing. Did you spend much time at Mt. Charleston when you were in high school? UNLV University Libraries Jacqueline Evans 20 That seemed to be the place to go in the summer when it was hot. I wasn’t into skiing; I don’t even know if there was a ski (unintelligible). In the winter, it seems like we were busy doing other things, but there, it did get a fair amount of use for people (unintelligible). And did you see the paved campgrounds and things like that that you see up there now? Not to the extent there is now. Could you just go off and camp anywhere? As far as I remember, yes you could. What kind of changes have you seen in the air and water in Las Vegas? The air pollution is much worse. We had a dust problem here before it became (unintelligible) as it is now, especially the times (unintelligible). But we didn’t have the pollution from car exhaust (unintelligible) that at times gets really bad. And also, the mysterious Henderson cloud that nobody seems to know what caused it, has gotten much worse. But it did exist? It did exist, but not to the extent which it does now. And what about water, the water situation? The noticeable one is, of course, Lake Mead. But there are places that I’m sure aren’t hygienically safe for swimming that were (unintelligible). Were you aware of a change in the water level? No. Is there anything else you’d like to say, like to have preserved for the future? Not that I can think of.