Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with Robert Paluzzi by Claytee White, September 5, 2006

Document

Information

Date
2006-09-05
Description

Claytee White interviews Robert Paluzzi on September 5, 2006.

Digital ID
OH_01427_transcript
Physical Identifier
OH-01427
Details
Contributor
Interviewer
Place
Resource Type
Citation

Paluzzi, Robert J. Interview, 2006 September 5. OH-01427. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1ht2gq4p

Rights
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 (https://www.library.unlv.edu/speccol/research_and_services/reproductions) or contact us at special.collections@unlv.edu
Standardized Rights Statement
Digital Provenance
Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room
Language

English

Format
application/pdf

DRAFT COPY An Interview with Robert Paluzzi - September 9, 2006 - - 1 September 5th, 2006. My name is Claytee White. And I'm in the home of Mr. Robert Paluzzi. Pronounce your last name one more time for me. P-a-1-u-z-z-i. It's Vicky's, my daughter's home. Okay. And we're in Las Vegas at his daughter's home out in the northwest. So how long is this visit? Just a couple of days to say hello to you. That's wonderful. I really appreciate this. r I come all the way up f om Newport Beach. Oh, okay. So do you live near the water? Yes. Oh, wow. Not on the waterfront. Okay. But I love that area. So how long have you lived there? Well, I spend half the time there and the other half at Indian Wells, California, in the Palm Springs area. My wife has a home in Laguna Niguel. That's where she lives. That's a couple of miles from Dana Point. And then the rest of time we spend in the desert, this year. We just moved down there, so we haven't spent that much time in the desert. Okay. Now, tell me about the Indian gaming. Isn't there some Indian gaming near Palm Springs now? Yes, there is. How do you feel about that? Well, at first I thought it was kind of bad. But then as far as Las Vegas is concerned, I think they're just building new customers for the gaming in Las Vegas because if it's anything like golf, everybody wants to play Pebble Beach. And so every time somebody says they're going to Indian gaming, they always say, oh, you've got to go to Las Vegas, got to go to Las Vegas. So in the long run I think it's a plus for Las Vegas. Well, good. That's good to hear. Now, tell me where did you grow up? A little town called Sayre, Pennsylvania, S-a-y-r-e, Pennsylvania, Northeastern Pennsylvania, - - 2 actually not too far from -- about 30 miles south oflthaca and Cornell University on the New York side. They're on the New York side,just on the border of Pennsylvania. So which year was that? When were you born? Oh, February 9, 1920. Wow. What was that area like back in the 20s? It was a railroad town where my father like most immigrants landed in New York. And at that time they were coming so fast around 1900 or 1902 that they were assigning them to diferent areas to go to. Some went to the steel mills in Pittsburgh. Some went to the coalmines. Anyway, he was fortunate he got in the Lehigh Valley Railroad. That's a small railroad running between Buffalo, New York, and New York City. And that time on the Great Lakes they would bring everything to Buffalo and then they would put them on freight cars and ship them to New York. And from New York they shipped around the world. So he ended up as a machinist with the railroad. And that's where I spent the first 20 years of my life. And from there -- that was 19 -- yeah, 1940 the war was looming. And so I used to kid everybody. I said, "I'm going to volunteer and find a good hiding space." Well, as it turned out, that's what happened. What happened? You volunteered? Yeah. I volunteered, yes. It was the day of the draft, and I said, oh, they're not going to draft me; I'm going to be a hero and I'm going to sign up. And so I volunteered at that time to what was known as the U.S. Army Air Force. They dropped the Army after that. October 15th, 1940, was the day of the draft. And I was shipped to Mitchell Field, Long Island, New York,just about 30 miles outside of New York City and was there for a couple of months. Let's see. I was there more like eight months. And in early 1941, I first heard the name Las Vegas. And that surprised me because I had never heard of it that I could remember. I may have. Anyway, at that time the war was coming closer and closer. So they were going to build new bases around the country. One was in Connecticut, which is now Bradley Field. And then there was another one in the East. And the third one I had heard of was the U.S. Gunnery Range in Las Vegas. Still I never gave it any thought. But that was in early 1941 before the war. - - • 3 Well, before I knew what happened, I was on a troop transport boat going to Iceland. We were the first Air Force expedition there six months before Pearl Harbor. So I was in Pearl Harbor wben that happened. So I had never heard of Las Vegas and I spent 26 months in Iceland. So you went to -- okay. Now, how were you in Pearl Harbor? I was in Iceland. I was not involved in Pearl Harbor. I was there six months before Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was in December. I was up there in July. So what was happening in Iceland? Why were we sending men to Iceland? Well, this was the Air Force. They were using the old P40's. At that time Iceland was right in the middle of the shipping lanes. There were shipping lanes going from New York to England and also to Murmansk, Russia. That was very, very important that we supply the Russians with everything that they could use. And they were knocking out the boats like crazy. So they had an air base they used, an English air base right in the middle of the town called the City of Reykavik. It was a city airport. So they would fly around as far out as they could, checking on submarines and checking convoys. There were convoys every day going to and from New York to Russia or to and from New York to England or so forth. So what was your job specifically? At that time when I first joined the Army, I was in what we call the Quarter Master Corps. I didn't know what the Quarter Master Corps was. I just signed up. And I soon found out that Quarter Master Corps at that time supplied all the food, all the clothing and even coal, anything on the base that you would use. They supplied all the supplies that way, mainly food and clothing. So when I went to Iceland, we did the same thing. We brought all the supplies. We had one supply ship we had loaded. It wasn't a big company. We only had maybe less than a thousand people all together. Wow. That's small. Yeah, it was an expedition Air Force. We weren't supposed to do it, but we did it. So I did that for the 26 months I was in Iceland. And then I thought I was going to come home. I signed up for OCS, Oficer Candidate School. Before I got a chance to tum around and come home, they shipped me to England, not even a stopover in the United States. So I went over there. I was there about a couple of weeks and they - • 4 called me and said, "Okay, you can go to Oficer Candidate School." I said, "Forget it." I liked England. Oh, really? Oh, yeah. Now, was England being bombed at that time? Yes, it was. It was in the middle of '43, October of '43. It was in the middle of the V-bombs and buzz bombs that they call them. So why did you like it? Well, after being in Iceland ... Oh, yes. Okay. Iceland didn't have much to offer in the way of entertainment. You could go out, but you didn't see anything when you went out. There wasn't anything, you know. I think there was maybe 40,000 people living there at that time. I don't know how many, but not very many. But England was where all the activity was. And I thought, oh, boy, this is for me. So I immediately got a seven-day furlough, which I never had before, and went to London. I watched the buzz bombs flying all over and running down into the tubes or the shelters. I really just took to it. I stayed there for another two years, all during the war, all the way through. I was the first one to leave the States to go overseas and I was the first one to leave England to come back to the States. Now, did you get a chance to go home at any point? No. I never saw the United States at wartime. I never knew about it. So you got back to the United States in which year? In 1945. The war was over. So after the war ended. Yeah, the war was over in June of 1945 -- or May. Did you see any action? No. At that time I was in Air Force Supply. I started to say I went from the Quarter Master to Air Force Supply; in other words, I was at the biggest supply depot in all of Europe, a place called Burtonwood near Liverpool. And we had motors and wings and anything that went into making - • an airplane. Did you ever regret not going into action? Not really. Not really. Good. 5 I was like everybody else. I went where they told me to go. No, I wasn't going to go down -- see, the Air Force is a whole different world than the infantry, even to this day. Vicky's son just left the other day for Afghanistan on his third tour of duty. Now, between high school and going into the military, did you work at all? Well, yeah, I did odd jobs. Yes, I did. I had no plans to go into a college because at that time it was the middle of the Depression, 1938. I always remember my brother, who is an "A" student, couldn't even get a job. He finally got a job as a lineman at an electric company. He wanted to go to college so bad. There was no such thing as scholarships. And I said, if you can't make it, I can't. So I worked that period between '38 and '40 just doing odd jobs. That's how I ended up in the Quarter Master Corps. When I went to recruit, they said, "Well, what have you been doing?" I said, "Well, I think the last job I had was working at a gas station." Ah, we got the right job for you; Quarter Master. And so that's how I ended up there. So what did you do when you came home in '45? I got married in England. Vicky was born in England. I see. In '45 -- so I got home early. I got discharged in Fort Dix, New Jersey. So now, did you ever consider staying in England? No. Oh, absolutely not. And your wife wanted to come back? Well, she wanted to come to the United States? Yes. Yes. So I was living in New York at the time. And a friend of mine had worked for IBM all during the war as an account executive. At that IBM and the computer business was very, very, very small. And he would have certain sections of New York that he would service for IBM. And he got me into IBM's school in the headquarters at 57th and Madison A venue, which was a big, big company at that time, still is . - - 6 I went to school there to study computers and never even heard what a computer was all about. This is 1945. So I took a crash course. You might call it crash course, three months. And I could have a choice of many jobs, but they got me a job with the U.S. accounting department of the government. And I worked down near Wall Street on Maiden Lane. That's when we first had the sorters and keypunches and so forth. The punch cards? Punch cards, yeah. Do not pull, spindle or mutilate. You've seen those cards. Yes. And we had to get those all lined up for all the millions of cards that were sent out during the war for allotments. There were millions of them. So I worked down there for I think six months. And then when my wife got here, we moved to Pennsylvania. My family was in the clothing business. And I was also studying the fur business when I was in New York. So when I got to Pennsylvania, I went into the family business, the clothing and tailoring business. Now, had your family been in clothing all along? My older brother started out as an apprentice tailor for a dollar a week. That's how things were in 1934 or '35, a dollar a week. So tell me the diference between the Depression before you went in and then the atmosphere when you got back in 1945. Well, before going in, the country was in a standstill, dormant. It wasn't doing anything. That's the real Depression. The Depression started in 1929. And then through the next six, seven to eight years until the war, it was the war that transformed the country into a busy area. So you would take any job that you could get for most people. And at that time there were a lot of people -- I told we lived in a railroad town. And we used to see thousands and thousands of homeless that would be riding the freight trains going from one town to another looking for work. But there wasn't any work. I did odd jobs. IBM at that time was nearby and that was a good-paying job. There were very few companies like IBM around at that time. They were in Endicott, New York, which is only about 30 miles from my hometown. Most of them were little factory workers making underwear or making this or making that. - - 7 And I used to caddie a lot. That's where I made my money, odd jobs. I was one of those that used to work hard as a caddie just to make spending money. But then after the war, well, the whole world changed. As I say, I didn't see any part for the four flush years that I was gone. So I had no idea what was happening in the United States other than what I read, but that's not a good barometer. So I can't tell you what was happening here. But after the war, naturally it started to get a lot of jobs. Everybody was corning back from the service and everybody was gung-ho. They had all these years to plan on what they were going to do when they got out of the service. And I had planned on staying in the clothing business. But then as a caddie, I used to swing. I was always interested in golf. l swung and I swung. And when I went back to Pennsylvania to live, I joined a country club there and got so interested in it that I spent most of my time playing golf rather than working. So I got to the point where I said, oh, boy, this is great; I'm going to see ifI can find a place where I can play year-round because in Pennsylvania you play seven or eight months and that was it. So in 1949, I told my wife we're going to move out West where you can play golf all the time, get a job. I bought a big Chrysler New Yorker and a 27-foot trailer and we hauled it across the country. We had two children. We had a good time. We ended up in Tucson. So we're there and a friend of mine, who either was in a trailer park or someplace, said, "How would you like to go to Las Vegas?" This is where I come into Las Vegas, 1949. And I said, "Yeah, sure, why not." So we drove up the Colorado River from Tucson. And the first casino that I ever saw was the Railroad Pass. Is it still there? Yes. It is? Yes. Railroad Pass. I can still picture it going up that little hill there. And, you know, like everybody else, I was fascinated. I was never a big gambler, not even in the service. I was not a gambler. And so from there we drove down into Las Vegas, two-lane highway, Boulder Highway, one going, one coming, 1949, over Hoover Darn -- no, we didn't go over Hoover Dam. No. Did we? No. We come up the east side of the river -- no, we didn't get over Hoover Darn. • - 8 So how did you come into -- Let's see. You have to go past Railroad Pass to go to Hoover Dam, don't you? Up the river on the west side? Well, anyway ... I came in that way, but I just assumed that I came through the dam. Maybe you did. I could be wrong. I don't know. So anyway, we went down the hill into Las Vegas. Henderson was a little mining town at that time. I can remember walking into the Golden Nugget. The Horseshoe was there, Binion's Horseshoe. The Mint hotel had thousands of flashing lights in front of it. I don't know whether it still has it or not. And we stayed at a place called the Apache Hotel. It was not downtown but just behind it, under the station. And we were there for two nights. I never got to the Strip; never even knew there was a Strip out there; never heard of the Strip. Well, it was just becoming the Strip at that time. Yes. That's 1949. Right. So that was my -- and then we went back to Tucson . Oh, you didn't stay? No. Okay. Just for two nights. Just for two nights and we went back to Tucson. So then I was looking for a place to settle down and somebody suggested Prescott, Arizona, which is up in the hills. So we just took off with the trailer and the car and went to Prescott. And I figured with my clothing experience and golfing experience I could get by somehow. And so I ended up there in Prescott for two years I think. Fifty-one, yes. 1951, October 1st. Oh, prior to that, prior to moving there, I used to play golf at the Prescott Country Club at that time and I got to know the pro very well and I used to help him all the time. So I was kind of working my way in. And he played in a golf tournament in Long Beach and did very well, came in second. And about that time they were looking for a golf pro in Apple Valley, California, and they ofered him the job. They said, "Stop on your way back, take a look, and see if you like it," which he did. He come back and he said, "Bob, how would you like to be my assistant? We'll move to Apple Valley, California?" And I said, "Well, that sounds pretty good." It's warmer - • • 9 there. So I went to move there after taking a trip and looking at it. I was there about a year and there wasn't that much activity. It was a brand-new club. And so there wasn't really enough to support two families. So I took another job working in a little doll factory that made garments for dolls, again going back to my experience in sewing. And I did this for the year. I let him take over the golf shop and I went over there. So at the end of another year, he didn't like the desert and sand. He said, "I don't want to live around here." He was originally from North Carolina. So he left. So they offered me a job as a golf pro. So I was there until about 1958, '59 working every day, every hour, a one-man shop. It was very dificult. I wanted a lot of golf, but I got too much. And I wasn't playing. I was just working. Golf pros don't play. They're not Tiger Woods. They don't go out and play tournaments. They stay home and fix the tournaments and so forth and so on. So you scheduled the tournaments? Yeah, the club tournaments like most pros do now. So I said, "That's enough of that," because I was doing too much. I was weighing about 125 pounds then. At the same time there was a job opening back near my hometown in Pennsylvania, Towanda. And my brother called me and asked me ifl was interested. And I said yes. So back to Pennsylvania ... And now how did your wife feel about all this moving around? Oh, she liked it. I guess she did. I can't really -- she never complained about it. Let's put it that way. So I was there for a while and a friend of mine bought some land in Canada, Ottawa, which seems like a long way from Pennsylvania, but it's on the border up through New York State and there's Canada. Okay, right. I always told him I wanted to build my own golf course. He said, "Why don't you come up and build a golf course for us?" And he said, "We'll give you a piece of the action." I said, "Ooh, that sounds pretty good." So I spent two years -- I would actually have to go right through Cornell University campus to go to Ottawa. So that's where I first got into the so-called hotel school. I first heard about the hotel schools at Cornell Ithaca. So I finished the project in Canada. I wanted out because I didn't want to live there. He said, - - • 10 "Well, the only way you can make anything out of it is to move here." I said, "Oh, no, I'm not moving." So now, you didn't move to Ottawa during that two-year period? No. I was going back and forth. So what exactly did you do? I designed and built a whole golf course. They even laid out the lots for the homes, a marina, and then the whole 18 holes of golf. So I did the whole thing. My partner's brother once said to me, he said, "You're building a monument to yourself." He was right. Was it a great golf course to play? Well, I think at the time yes, not anything like you see on TV these days. You can't compare anything to those that you see nowadays. So why didn't you want to move there after doing all of that -­Oh, it was cold, cold, cold. Oh, too cold, okay. It's right on a wood belt, right on the St. Lawrence River. Ottawa was only like about 40 miles north of the St. Lawrence River. And you can only play golf -- it was really a real estate development. The whole idea was to sell the lots. The golf course was just a come-on. So anyway, I said, "I'm not doing that anymore." And I ended up with nothing. So here I go starting all over again. So I come back home, back to Pennsylvania. I said, "That's it." I said, "Forget the golf, forget all that's here; I'm going to find a steady job someplace." And I remembered Las Vegas because when I was the golf pro in Apple Valley, we used to fly into Las Vegas -- we used to drive up. And we would land in the old airport on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard South. George Crockett, does that name ring a bell with you? Yes. He had the first airport there. And all my friends in Apple Valley all flew airplanes because the airport was right next to the golf course. So I got tired of these people going like this. So I decided to learn how to fly. So I would practice going from there to Baker and to dry lakes and sometimes we'd go to Las Vegas . So what appealed to you about Las Vegas? Why did you think of it again? - - - 11 Well, I don't know. Going through Cornell University that hotel school stuck in my mind for some reason. I don't know why. I had nothing to do with it. I took a couple of courses in agronomy as I was going back and forth, but not in the hotel school. And I knew that there were a lot of opportunities in Las Vegas if you keep your nose clean. And anybody can get you a job. But if you don't take care of that job, you don't have it. So by myself! drove all the way out. I knew one person in Las Vegas. (End Tape 1, Side 1.) What's George's last name? Stillings, S-t-i-1-1-i-n-g-s. He was a former hotel manager of the Apple Valley Inn. That's where the connection comes in. So I went to him and I said, "George, I need a job. I don't care what it is. I'm going to start from scratch." And he got me on as a desk clerk with the Stardust because at that time the Desert Inn just bought the Stardust, or sometime in that era. So I went there, started as a clerk, knew nothing about the business. And then I looked around. You know, like everything else, as I look around, I'm going to find which is the best job in this hotel. I was not into gambling, so I had no desire to be a pit boss or a casino dealer or whatever. I was more interested in the service end of it. So I would study everything I could about the front desk, the back desk. And at that time -- this is where it gets interesting in the hotel business -- at that time there was no such thing as hotel sales. The Stardust, the Dunes, maybe the Tropicana, I think were the only three, if there were that many, who were starting to get into the convention business for their hotel, not too many of them. So I said, "Now, that sounds like a good thing there." And the fellow at that time who was in charge of sales for the Stardust with the name of Mark Swain, S-w-a-i-n -­and do you know the name Bob Schmuck by any chance? No. Bob later worked for the Convention Bureau. Anyway, I got to know Mark because he would come back and forth to the front desk with pre-registereds and all that. He knew about my golf background. Golf always played a part in something. So he said, "The next opening that comes in sales, you're it. 11 So I said, "That's great; that's what I like." Oh, about that time I've moved into the Chancellor Apartments. Still there. I understand - - • they're tearing them down or doing something. Where are they located? On St. Louis, St. Louis on the curve there. Near Maryland Parkway? 12 Yes, between Maryland Parkway and the Strip. It was a four- or five-story apartment house. It's still there. Somebody just told me the other day that they're finally condemning it after all these years. But millions of people started there. We moved in there. About that same time my son ran into the son of another person named Charlie Monahan. Charlie is a great name to remember, Charles Monahan, who is in my estimation the father of the hotel convention business in Las Vegas. He was a golfer and I was telling him that I worked at the Stardust and would hopefully get the next opening. At that time Caesars was being built. I didn't know it. I didn't have no idea. I went between the house and Stardust and back again. I didn't even go down the Strip. So they were building Caesars. And how he got involved in it -- the convention center, the rotunda -- is that still there, the rotunda, where they used to play basketball years ago? I don't think so. I think they're remodeling all of that. Okay. Anyway, the rotunda, they used that for big conventions. I think that was built in about '59, but it didn't do much for a few years. Then they brought in a sales director from Florida who was the first in how to get conventions and big conventions. These were big city conventions, not small ones. His name was Desmond Kelley. He was the first director of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Desmond Kelley. He was out of Florida. So when they were building Caesars Palace, there were three people really involved that started Caesars. Jay Sarno was the designer. Nate Jacobson was the business manager. He was an insurance man from Baltimore, but he was a very astute businessman. And the gambling was handled by Jerry Sarawitz, who was at that time at the Sands hotel. So Sarno called somebody in Florida and said, "We're going to build a hotel, but we're going to build it with some convention space in there. And I'm looking for a good director." So he said, "Well, you got one?" Well, in the meantime, Charlie moved to Las Vegas from Miami because his son I think had • 13 asthma or something, Mike Monahan. And he said, "You have one of the best right there in the convention center." So Charlie went to work for Caesars. Then when I met Charlie at that time he said, "Oh, boy, you're perfect for the business because you play golf and you can do this, you can do that." So he said, "Why don't you hang around for two more months and then come work with me," because they were still building it? And that's how I got into the hotel sales business. So that was 1966? Caesars? Exactly. Exactly. Now, when did you come to the Stardust, come to Las Vegas? That would be I think '64 or '65. Okay. So you were here for a year, a year and a half before you went to -­Yeah. Yes, I think so. Okay. Now, before you start telling me about the work in sales, at that time Las Vegas was known because it had Mob connections. Yes. They built this city, really. So tell me about the atmosphere. Did you realize that these people supposedly had Mob connections, and how did you know? Well, that was all over town and all over the country. But at that time Las Vegas was small. And as long as nobody was killing each other on the streets, they would let it go. And there wasn't that much violence or whatever you want to call it. And actually, I couldn't even talk about some of it because I was never involved in it. I thought it was still part of the movies. I had nothing to do with the gambling end of it. And I'm sure that there's a lot more to it that I don't even know about. Also, business at that time was very, very, very slow in 1965, '66, '67. Business started to pick up when Howard Hughes came into it, '68 or thereabouts, and gave it the respectability. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Anyway, so Caesars was the first hotel built with the convention business in mind; in other words, they built rooms in advance so they could hold. And we would try to sell those convention rooms and the sleeping rooms, naturally, to go with it. And one of the first projects I ever remember was Charlie and I went to the Chicago. And this is before the eight-hundred numbers. And any time you called from a hotel, you were calling long - - - 14 distance. So we went to Chicago and each got a room at a hotel. And we had a list of companies and associations that we would contact and try to get them to hold their convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. And at that time there was no such thing as people coming here for a convention. They'd say, "Well, who would ever go to a convention in Las Vegas with all the prostitutes, the gambling, the gangsters and all that? I mean nobody would ever -- and they would lose the family jewels and nobody would ever go to a meeting." And I said, "No, you've got to come try it, just come out and try it." Well, anyway, we built file after file of all these people. For two days we just called and called and called. And that's how we started our whole solicitation of conventions. And it was the first time it was ever done in Las Vegas because we were into the way you were supposed to do things, not waiting for somebody to come along and say, "Hey, can we have a meeting in your place or something like that?" So it was like a snowball. So we finally get maybe one or two to come. And I remember walking them walking in the lobby to the hotel like they still do to this day with eyes creeping left and right waiting for the prostitutes and the gamblers and the loan sharks and everybody else. And after they register and go up to their room, they stay up there for about an hour and then all of a sudden, they say, "Gee, what am I doing up here?" So they go back downstairs and walk by these slot machines that are making more noise, still to this day. They would say, "This looks like fun." So they learn how to get change. So they go out to dinner that night. They'd maybe come in on a Sunday. But the next morning they'd go to the meeting. And everybody would show up at the meeting whether it was a guilty conscience or whatever. So at the end of the second day, they were like veterans. They'd been there all their life. They would run through the hotel, play the slot machines. Anyway, that was the whole start of the -­So this is the beginning of hotel sales. Yes. And the convention sales. As we know it today. Do you remember some of the first? And how did they feel when they walked into Caesars • • Palace for the first time? Did they think it was beautiful? Oh, yes. Different from anything? 15 Oh, yes. Yes. Caesars was the first hotel that started big and got bigger. Most hotels after that started and went downhill, never quite made it, even before and after Caesars. But Caesars was a first-class operation. It had three top executives that knew what they were doing. Oh, it used to amaze people how well they did. Everybody was waiting for it to fall on its face, but it got bigger and bigger and bigger and you know the rest of the story. Anyway, the first convention I ever remember was one that Charlie had had down in Florida called the America Apple Association, people that grew apples. He got them to come out here and have their first. And we opened in August and this was in late September of '66. We were just getting brand-new business. And from then on, it was -- the end of the other story is, once those same people who came in very apprehensive would go home, they would tell ten people. And they'd say, "Oh, you've got to see it, you've got to see it." Out of those ten maybe two of them would come back. And every time we got a convention to go there, we would always use them as a referral to other groups that we were soliciting. So it was just a snowball, just like that, to where we're now the largest convention center in the world. So now, tell me what you did. I know that you would make some of those phone calls. But once the people got here for the convention, what was your job at that point? Well, when I first started out, I was a convention coordinator. My job was, once a convention was booked into the hotel, I would work with executive of that association and find out what he needed to have a successful meeting and make sure the rooms were in order and everything else. So I did that for the first five or six years as a convention coordinator or convention managers. I don't know what they call them now. Then I got into sales itself. I was always into sales because my job for the first four or five years was to try to get that same group to come back again. That saved a salesman from going through the whole process of soliciting. So my main purpose was to bring the group back the second time, which was quite successful I think . - - • 16 Then I became a sales manager. Then I started traveling on the road and doing sales pitches around the country. And most of the associations at that time were headquartered in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Chicago dates back to the old convention city where it was traveled by rail. And everybody could get to Chicago by rail. And that's where the big conv