Grayson, John C. Interview, 1983 May 23. OH-00725. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
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UNLV University Libraries John Grayson i An Interview with John Grayson An Oral History Conducted by Elizabeth Patrick Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV University Libraries John Grayson ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2019 UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 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 John Grayson iv Abstract On May 23, 1983, collector Elizabeth N. Patrick interviewed gaming professional John Grayson (born May 25, 1898 in Grayson, Missouri) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The interview covers John Grayson’s experience with gaming in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Also present during John Grayson’s interview is Billy H. Gray, a longtime gaming associate of his, who helps Mr. Grayson go into greater detail about key events. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 1 This is Elizabeth Nelson Patrick. My address is 4923 Auburn Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m interviewing John C. Grayson. His address is Post Office Box 58, Ehrenberg, Arizona. The date is May 23rd, 1983. We’re sitting in one of the conference rooms of the Dickinson Library in the Special Collections Department. Billy Gray, Mr. Grayson’s friend, is a witness to this interview. Tape one, side one. Mr. Grayson, where were you born? Grayson. When? 25th of May, 1898. Since the town bears your name, it must have some relationship to your family. Could you tell me about it? The railroad was built, the depot was built, coming out of Kansas City, thirty miles on my grandfather’s farm. They named it Station Grayson because they purchased the land from them for the depot. What railroad was that? Railroads coming out of Kansas City going to Chicago—there were five (unintelligible) coming out of Kansas City. I can’t name all of them, but they were all going to Chicago from Kansas City. Everything in those days was railroad—no roads, no highways. How long did you remain in Grayson? Till I was fourteen. What did you do there? Farmed. Were you fond of (unintelligible) farming? Well, not particularly. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 2 Why did you leave Grayson? My father and I came to Reno so that he could obtain a divorce and (unintelligible) a better property (unintelligible). What year was that? 1912. 1912. What did you think about Reno? It was different. Certainly different from Grayson, wasn’t it? It was different. And it suited me. Did you go to school in Reno? I started to go to school, but I didn’t quite make it. I stopped (unintelligible) got started in gambling, poker games with the college students there. How did you meet the college students? In the poker room. They were in the poker room. You were only a youngster—how did you manage that? Well, I started gambling pretty young. I (unintelligible) some gambling, quite lucky. Did your father object to that at all as a career for you? Yes and no. (Unintelligible) but it was (unintelligible). Well, you can’t argue with success, and I assume that you were winning pretty steadily, regularly. Yes, I was very successful when I was young. Did you gamble in all the card rooms, or was there a particular one that you hung out in, or were you a part of a—? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 3 The students played in the pool hall on what you call Virginia Street, by the name of Cold Brandt’s Pool Hall. The Cool Branch? C-O-L-D. Cold Branch. B-R-A-N-D-T-S, I think. I’m nearly positive. You were a minor—was that considered alright for minors to gamble? It was not. You were sort of a big kid for your age, maybe? No. How’d you get away with it? I didn’t get away with it all the time. My—told the police of chief to keep me out. The chief had other things to do, and I didn’t stay out all the time. Finally, my father went to Kansas City three or four years later after several arguments about the same thing, and he told the chief of police to keep me out of the casinos—there wasn’t casinos (unintelligible) poker games. And there was loggers coming in, shooting craps. Most of them were drinking and I was pretty lucky with dice. And there had been some complaints about my continued luck. And my father left work, wanted me to be picked up and taken to the police station if I came back in the poker games. He went to Kansas City, and I went back in poker game, and the police chief put me in jail. The next morning—I just turned eighteen—Pancho Villa had raided (unintelligible), they said anyone under a misdemeanor charge that would join the Army could enlist for one year. When my father came back from Reno, came back from Kansas City one week later, I had enlisted, I was in training, (unintelligible) in California as a soldier in the United States Army. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 4 In our preliminary conversations the other day, you said that there was something else that interested you also in the Army. There was lots of gambling in the Army. I enjoyed it; I was in the Army four years. Because there was an emergency declared, they continued my enlistment four years. That was World War I, right? Yes, and I enjoyed all four years in the Army. Did you go overseas? No. I was in what was known as the training department (unintelligible) soldiers. I was a sergeant in the (unintelligible) Army. Can you remember the day that you enlisted? 12th day of July, 1916. Tell me, if the people in the jail who were there for misdemeanors as you were, were turned free if they joined the Army, were there many young men who did that? Myself and one other man enlisted together. He had told me there was considerable gambling the Army—I never saw him after we went to the recruiting station. He was there and we’d never see each other. That brings up a question: was there much excitement about Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico? I mean, were people in Reno excited about that, or was it just—? I don’t think so. Nobody—I didn’t know anything about that at all. I didn’t read the papers much. Nobody cared anything about it. The mines had closed, there was no money in Nevada, and most people were busy trying to eat. Just scratch out a living. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 5 It was tough. Wages were twelve-and-a-half cents an hour. Very seldom, you were paid for you work. Usually, a month after you finished your job, if at all, there was some work in the power companies. That’s about all that would pay you. Walking in the snow, moving the snow in the ditches and things like that. But that’s the only place you can get paid. The rest of the jobs, housebuilding and all that type of stuff, contractors, were very irregular pay. So the Army was not a bad alternative then? I thought the Army was fine. And you liked the service? Real good. Real good. In fact, I had four boys that all did their three years. Did you continue your career in gambling while you were in the Army? Starting about fifteen minutes after I was enlisted. What did you do, get a poker game going or a crap game? I started dealing twenty-one. I dealt twenty-one all during the (unintelligible) camp, all across on the boat, and all my time in the quarantine camp when I got to Honolulu. How did you manage that? No problem at all in the Army. You could always get a game going? There was no problem with the game at all. All you had to do was keep a bankroll to deal with. And you managed that well enough. It was no problem. Did you ever have any trouble, anybody questioned your integrity? I mean, you know, when guys are losing, they get kind of nasty sometimes. Not particularly. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 6 They were just glad to have somebody who knew how to run a game, huh? They weren’t glad, but that was part of—no, they weren’t glad, but it was no worse there than it is here. Where did you serve in the Army? Schofield Barracks, to start with. That’s in Hawaii. Honolulu, Hawaii. Then I came back to (unintelligible), then I was sent to Douglas, Arizona to drill recruits, and I went to Columbus, New Mexico to drill recruits, and I drilled recruits in the biggest camp, Camp Fremont—there was 100,000 soldiers in Camp Fremont then. Where was Camp Fremont? Fifty miles south of San Francisco, near Redwood City. Anyplace else? You told me once you were in Texas. I was discharged in Del Rio, Texas from the 12th Cavalry. Well, you were talking about drilling soldiers, and I thought you were in the infantry. I was in the cavalry. You were in the cavalry. All the time. There wasn’t anything but the cavalry. I was the cavalry instructor all the time. I was raised on a farm, and I knew how to ride well, and I had no problem with the cavalry. Oh, so then you drilled them on horseback, is that it? Yes. Oh, I was under the impression that you were drilling, marching soldiers. No. See, they had the cavalry charges—every regiment was mounted. Ah-ha. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 7 That was (unintelligible) regiment, we were all mounted, had to have inspection each Saturday, and you had to have drill sergeants complete—organization to drill the thousand men. So your farm experience did come in handy, didn’t it? Yes. They don’t particularly care whether you have had riding experience or not. They take care of that (unintelligible). Well, what year was it that you were discharged? 1920—I was in four years. So here you are in Del Rio, Texas. The question now, what are you going to do and where are you going to do it? That’s a very silly question to ask. Oh, it is? (Laughs) I went home. Which was? The girl and I parted hands. You seem to have left out a little bit there. The girl and I parted hands. Were you married then? You had a girlfriend? There was no (unintelligible). And I went home—three grandparents on a big farm. Oh, you went back to Grayson? Yes. My grandmother took me to (unintelligible)—the Methodist, the Baptist, the Presbyterian, and one more, four straight weeks. I got on a train and started looking for a girl. I went back to (unintelligible). She told me she was going to (unintelligible). When I got there, they told me she had gone to Phoenix. I went to Phoenix, it took me a month to find her—I didn’t know her name. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 8 She went to her stepfather’s to stay, and I didn’t know her stepfather’s name. After a month, I found her. Phoenix was wide open, gambling—that’s where I met him. (Unintelligible) What was I doing when you met me? You were in the gambling business. I had several gambling houses in Phoenix. Well, you’ve heard about one of them. Before that, I went to Ashford, started a gambling house. Ashford was a good little town. We’re still on? Sure, mm-hmm. It was a good little town, sheepherders—real good town. I got a pretty good banker over there, went back to Phoenix—made a good connection and got open wide for craps, roulette, and twenty-one in Phoenix, Downtown. Was it a club, or just sort of a parlor or room, or—? It was a big room. Did it have a name? It had several names. We had to move constantly. Oh, I see. They moved it so— Oh, I see. Police were nice, they moved us. They would burn up our old (unintelligible) and move us. What were some of the names of these places, can you remember? The Morning Glory Club. The Morning Glory Club? Yes. And Kingston’s Hut. Avalon. Sixteenth Street Club. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 9 How long were you able to operate in these various places before you got burned out? Ten years, twelve years. No, I mean, from place to place, I mean, how often did they move? Two months. Couple of months, huh? Couple of months. Did you have much equipment to move, I mean, the tables? The roulette wheel, the crap table, and the twenty-one table. And they actually physically burned these things when they raided? No. No? We had other table—we just throw out some other tables out and set fire and the newspaper would take pictures (unintelligible). (Laughs) (Unintelligible) the sheriff (unintelligible). In the meantime, we had cards (unintelligible) and the players as they came—half hour later, we would open up the other club. In fact, they were already moved (unintelligible). We operated for ten, twelve years that way. So, it means that the police officer or the police department knew exactly what you were doing, and they really weren’t all—they were just complying with the law? No, they were taking twenty-five percent. I see. I am a babe in the wood, I see. The county attorney’s office split it with them. (Laughs) Well, there was excitement. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 10 Well (unintelligible). So you engage in this for about twelve years, and so that would put you up until about what year? 1936, I guess. Is that when you left Phoenix? We took, we drove— No, he didn’t leave there until ’39. He had a (unintelligible) in between. Oh, I forgot about that. And then I opened up a (unintelligible). Okay, after you gave up the roulette and twenty-one table— I opened up a horse place. In Phoenix? In Phoenix, right Downtown. Operated, I don’t know how long, maybe a year or so. John, I don’t think (unintelligible) three months. (Unintelligible) I bought a year’s service. You mean you paid that much to—? Service. Is that what you called it when you paid off and—? Paid $50,000 for one year’s service. They told me— No, I’m sorry to interrupt you here, but I do want to clear this in my mind. When you say you bought a year’s service— I bought service. Was that an agreement under the table, or was that illegal? That was legal. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 11 All right, okay, rather like licensing or something like that, or a permit? Western Union Service. Oh, I see. Oh, all right. All the stuff came through on a telegraph. Okay. But we were talking before about the relationship with the police department, and I was still on that track. This was—of course, I had an agreement with the telegraph company, with the company in Chicago, to buy their service, and it was distributed by the Western Union. I had it selected for in my office that distributed the service. Okay. And so, that came over telegraphy then? Yes. Then I was told that I would have to join with Gus Greenberg— Greenbaum. Greenbaum that got killed here. I was told that I would have to join with him. Mm-hmm. I wouldn’t do it. Was that a criminal element? I don’t know. Okay. Somebody must have (unintelligible) they killed him. At that time, it probably—Gus had been involved with cash-and-carry stores, was it? Yes. We were friendly. We had played cards numerous times together. He had been a stock salesman, and he drifted from that end to booking. And he drifted into Las Vegas, and then he got overtaken by misfortune—why, I don’t know. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 12 But Gus wanted to use a little muscle and cause you to come in with him, and he—? He cut in with Mr. Siegel; Mr. Siegel took over the Western territory. But you weren’t going to have any of that in Phoenix? Are you still on? Sure. I’m getting a little farther (unintelligible). But you were in Phoenix, and so you said you had paid for service for a year, but you only operated for about three months, and that was about 1936, right? Seven— About ’37. My service was cut off. Okay. Who did that? I don’t know. But it was just cut off. Cut off during a race. So then what happened? I had an opportunity to buy an interest in a gambling boat. And that was where? Off Long Beach. How did you find out about it? One of the dealers there told them that I could operate the casino there. They had problems operating a casino. So you had a good reputation? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 13 Hope so. So you took off for Long Beach—what was the name of the boat that you first worked on? Showboat. Who owned it? Myself, Beenie Benson, and George Perry, and Marion Hicks. George Perry, Beenie Benson. Bennie Benson, and George, And Marion Hicks. Okay. And you bought into that, all right. What was the boat like? Five hundred feet long, slot machines down on each side, downstairs, dance hall, restaurants, bar upstairs, bar, eight roulette wheels, eight twenty-one tables, eight crap tables, big six wheel, and (unintelligible), and racehorse booking. And did you say racehorse keno? And racehorse keno. That was quite an operation, wasn’t it? Yes. How did folks know about—of course, gambling was illegal. It was the Los Angeles Examiner every Sunday—full-page ad. Every Sunday? Every Sunday, full-page ad in red. Why in red, just to catch attention? So they could be sure and see it. Or an eye-catcher. You were beyond the three-mile limit, of course, then? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 14 Part of the time. We came in after dark. The boats would sometimes get lost—the tugboat—see, we were operated by a tugboat. We had no engines in our boat. You had no engines? None whatsoever. So what you were was just a float—you were literally a floating game? (Unintelligible) a barge. They had to do something to comply with something—they had to be a barge, they had to take loaders out. That way they could anchor (unintelligible) complications were on it. What would you do in a storm? It was anchored down. Oh, I see. The anchors went half a mile all directions. I see. But the barge could move you? No. A tugboat. Or tugboat, I’m sorry. A tugboat could move us. Why did you come in, you say, sometimes after dark? To get closer to the business? They’d always move after dark so no one could see what they were doing. We had arrangements made with the Border Patrol and City of Long Beach, after dark, we got a little closer, so it didn’t take so long. On Saturdays and Sundays, we would take four and five thousand people out, and it’s quite a job to take them too far. So if you shorten it up a mile or two— UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 15 That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of people and it saves a lot of money. And you had taxis that took them out there? Water taxis. Water taxis. They had about sixty people in each of them. In each boat? The water taxi held about sixty people and docked when they all left. Did you build your own dock, or did you use public? It was there when we got there. I see. (Unintelligible) prior to my knowledge. Were there freebies for these folks? I mean, did they pay for their drinks and food, or was that all part of the package? They came out, they got a free meal and a free ride out, isn’t that the way it was? I think they had to pay for the ride out, a quarter. I think they paid a quarter. And then you rode back free. Then they went back free. Good food? Real good, the best. Best I ever (unintelligible). UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 16 Well, things were cheaper in Long Beach—real cheap. Everything was cheap there. I’ll give you an example. I lived sixty blocks from the port. I got a cab, took me there for fifteen cents. Sixty blocks? Sixty blocks for fifteen cents in a yellow cab. Long Beach was the cheapest town in the world. So that’s why the boats were anchored nearby there. I mean, you could get lots of good service— And it was close to the central population. Long Beach was close to a lot of population. And it has been (unintelligible) for some time. It was established as a place to go get on a gambling boat. You had a crew? We had to have, that was all—that all came under the regulations of the harbor patrol. So many captains, so many everything. We had a crew of about fifty men. Probably. I never did see them all because I was just working (unintelligible). They had to be on duty at all times, some of them, you know, because they had to be ready to take care of anything that did come up. You had to help the passengers off and on, you see. Mm-hmm. And it was a little problem. You had to have to seamen helping the people off and on all the time. Did you ever have any problems in the way of accidents or anything like that, that made—? The safest place in the world is on a boat. It is? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 17 Much safer than on a highway. We didn’t have an accident there. Year in and year out, we never had an accident. Had all the business you can handle? No. No? We had all we could get. But we didn’t have all we could handle. We were doing very well. How long did you stay on the Showboat? I wasn’t here but about eight months, I guess. We got closed. And this was in what, do you remember the date? It’s (unintelligible) on that newspaper—you’ve got all my (unintelligible). (Laughs) All right. (Laughs) I do have those, think that we are Xeroxing for you, all right. But this would be in 1939, didn’t you tell me, from our previous conversation? So did they confiscate the boat? I don’t know. We just walked off. I went to jail. And— [Audio cuts out, tape side one ends] Tape one, side two. We were talking about your experience on the Showboat, and you told me that you were arrested and your trial was put off and put off and put off, one legal delay after another, which meant what to you? It meant we couldn’t operate. And so what did you do about it? Went back to Phoenix to see if I could operate there. You just walked off, and your investment—of course, you had recovered your investment there? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 18 We just walked off. We had bought the boat—we were paying $10,000 a month for it. We paid down $50,000 for it, and we were paying $10,000 a month, but we just walked off. It had no value to it since we could operate it. And the crew there cost us a lot of money. Can you remember, you know, just ballpark figures because this has never been documented before, to my knowledge? I couldn’t tell you exactly how much the boat cost. But big operation for today. It was a big operation. So you just walked off—what happened to the boat? I don’t know. Someone told me— It sank during the war. It sank—they had gone ahead and rebuilt it into a troop transporter and a flag transporter, ‘cause I read the article in the paper where it went down—it seems to me like somewhere off the coast of Africa. I see. At that time, it was Mt. Baker. In fact, that was its name—the original boat name was Mt. Baker. Well, I wonder how the government, I mean, I wonder how it served in that purpose, whether it was confiscated. I don’t know. Something to look into. I don’t know that for sure, but (unintelligible), see, at that time, they were getting anything that would float, they were using. That was before they had all those victory ships (unintelligible). When the war broke out, they closed the harbor. The regulations were so strict, it was (unintelligible). UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 19 Well, you probably couldn’t have operated much longer anyhow because of the circumstance of the war, right? No, we (unintelligible). But before we follow you on to Phoenix, I’d like—your vessel was the Showboat—can you remember the names of other vessels that were serving the same purpose? Tango. Tango? And Rex. And then Rex. Any other? That was all at that time. That was all that was operating at that time. But there had been other previous to that? They had changed names every once in a while. All right, so you go back to Phoenix, and what do you do there? Sit there until Christmas morning. Now, this is 1939? This is Thanksgiving, I got there—Christmas morning. Marion Hicks drove in, in Phoenix, asked me if I had $75,000 in cash, and I told him I could get it. He asked me to meet him in Las Vegas tomorrow at noon. If he had a chance to buy the Golden Nugget from Mr. McAfee. At that time, it would be the Frontier Club—the Golden Nugget wasn’t built yet. It was the Frontier Club then. Okay. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 20 Mr. McAfee owned it. I got up the next morning, drove to Las Vegas, and we met Mr. McAfee. There was no business in Las Vegas—they had no money, no business. Mr. McAfee had decided to raise his price. He wanted, originally, $75,000? Yes. Then he raised his price to eighty, he thought he’d take eighty. We agreed to meet the next day. He decided that he might take eighty-five. The next day, Hicks met with the city commission in Las Vegas, and they were so desperate for hotels that they agreed to give a gambling license and a liquor license if we would build a sixty-room hotel down in that lot where the El Cortez is today. We put up a thousand dollars, I put up a thousand dollars, for an auction, $15,000 for that block. The whole block? The entire block. And $1,500 for the block behind there where the townhouse is. So, I went back to Phoenix, packed up and came back, no food. We first go to Ensenada, brought the plans for the El Cortez for the Ensenada Hotel. Now, is that in California, or? Mexico. Oh, that’s what I thought, Ensenada, Mexico. Why did you go down there? We liked that old hotel down there. Okay. It’s an old Spanish-type hotel. I went, started in, I got a crew of four men and made 240,000 concrete blocks. Marion took the architect, started drawing up the plans. Who was the architect, do you remember? Abos, A-B-O-S. I’ve never seen him nor heard of him since then. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 21 Where did you get him? Marion knew him from Los Angeles somewhere. I see. So he was a California man? He was a California-Mexican architect. Reason we got him is because he worked cheap. He was one of the young Mexican architects. He drew up the plans, and I had the blocks made, and we started the hotel. You didn’t fool around with a contractor, you did it yourself? No, we got a contractor by the name of Jorganson. His sons are still here in Vegas—Greg Jorganson. He’s dead. And a man that had died not too long ago was the (unintelligible), and then we went to Mr. Wingert after we got it out of the ground, made a connection with the bank. When you say after you got it out of the ground, what do you mean by that? You have to show an intent to build a building. Okay. And the only way that you can show an intent to build a building is to go do your wiring and your plumping and electrical work and get it out of the ground. Okay. Get it up out of the ground. When you get it out of the ground, you have shown an intent to build a building. Then, you can’t talk to the bank. I see. But you can’t go tell a bank that “I’m going to build a hotel over here on the sand dune.” You have to show them the plans and get it out of the ground. Now this was Serril Wengert? We went to that bank. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 22 Okay. But we went to a man in Reno that was over him. Oh, I see. President of all of those banks—I forget his name. I can’t remember it. And we made a very substantial loan because they wanted to get in the gambling business. It was a successful business. And Marion showed him that I had been a successful operator and arranged a good loan. Then we started to build the building. How long did it take you to do the building? With the help of the Cedar City Mormons, we built it in about six months. Without their help, we would have never got it built. How did the Cedar City Mormons help you? This was a strong union down, we had probably twenty or thirty (unintelligible) carpenters from Long Beach that didn’t know how to do anything and wouldn’t work. You mean here in Las Vegas? In Las Vegas. Mr. Von Tobel, the old man, these boys (unintelligible). And he told me, he says, “If you go to Cedar City, get those Cedar City Mormons. He said, “They’ll build this hotel for you.” And he sold us the material. So we contacted the Cedar City Mormons and (unintelligible) nephews. Did you send somebody up there? No, they came down here. They wouldn’t join the union, we paid their dues, they never went to a meeting. No, but I mean, did you go up there and kind of recruit them? No. We had a man here—he introduced us to a man that did recruit them. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 23 Okay, good. Made him foreman. Okay. And he recruited him. Do you remember his name? Yes, he died about three years ago. I visited him up until two or three years go. Lloyd—what was Lloyd’s name? Can’t remember. Lloyd—I can’t think— I never did know him very well. I can’t think of it. Lloyd. He’s got three or four boys around (unintelligible) now. Well, don’t worry about it. It may come back to you. You haven’t thought about it for a long time. But anyhow, he became your foreman, and then? He was the foreman. Remember how many men, approximately, you hired from Cedar City? Probably thirty carpenters on the job. Then, he told us about family that was plasterers—so, there was about six brothers out there that were plasterers. They came down and plastered it. So, the whole thing wound up built by the Cedar City Mormons. Did that cause any trouble with organized labor here? Were they unhappy about your venture? Well, yes and no. They were unhappy about it, but they didn’t know what to do about it. We still had to hire the laborers with the unions here, and a few of the carpenters that were all right. But the majority of those union carpenters were rejects from Long Beach. The majority was no good. UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 24 The Mormons were actually good carpenters. They’d do their work, and they would give you a day’s work. We paid union wages. Oh, you did? Oh, yes, everything’s union. We had to pay union wages. But, you got a good day’s work. Mm-hmm. See, the bricklaying was a big job. And everything then had to be mixed by hand. All the mortar and mud had to be run upstairs by hand in the wheelbarrow. See, it’s a little different then. So, you hired good people, you had good quality control, and? Very good. And you got a day’s work for a day’s pay. We got cement here for fifty cents a (unintelligible)—now, it’s seven dollars. How long did it take to build? I couldn’t say. I don’t know, but I would say maybe six months. What about the inside? Did you hire a decorator, or how did you take care of the décor? Oh, Hicks was pretty good. We hired a decorator, he came here, Hicks got him drunk, talked to him all night, fired him, (unintelligible), and then Hicks decorated. (Laughs) (Laughs) Probably picked his brains all night. Ms. Hicks was at my party yesterday. Oh, she was? Sure. Can you tell me something about the décor of the hotel? UNLV University Libraries John Grayson 25 Go down and take a look—I haven’t been in there since you have. Well, if you told me something—what I’m fishing for is, you told me about carpeting that was important. We went to Los Angeles, went to Alexander Smith, and looked a lots of carpeting. We went down and picked up the plumbing and the carpeting and all that type of stuff (unintelligible). But you bought that in L.A., not here in Las Vegas? Oh, no. This was a—you couldn’t buy anything. You couldn’t buy a ham sandwich here. There was nothing here but poker games. This was a little town—there was nothing here but poker games, lots of ‘em. Did all folks go to Los Angeles to do major shopping? (Unintelligible) first two or three years I was here. An awful lot of people did (unintelligible) Phoenix over to Los Angeles to do major (unintelligible) volume because, like he said, there was no (unintelligible) here, unless you wanted to work out of the catalogue. This was a pretty small town—wasn’t any people here