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Transcript of interview with Lorna Kesterson by James M. Greene, October 18, 1974






On October 18, 1974, James M. Greene interviewed news editor, Lorna Kesterson (born December 30th, 1925 in St. George, Utah) in her office in Henderson, Nevada. The two discuss Kesterson’s work in news editing as well as her original reasons for moving to Nevada. They also discuss teenage social life of Boulder city, during the 1940s.

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Kesterson, Lorna Interview, 1974 October 18. OH-01011. [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 Lorna Kesterson i An Interview with Lorna Kesterson An Oral History Conducted by James M. Greene 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 Lorna Kesterson ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2019 UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 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 Lorna Kesterson iv Abstract On October 18, 1974, James M. Greene interviewed news editor, Lorna Kesterson (born December 30th, 1925 in St. George, Utah) in her office in Henderson, Nevada. The two discuss Kesterson’s work in news editing as well as her original reasons for moving to Nevada. They also discuss teenage social life of Boulder city, during the 1940s. UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 1 (Audio begins mid-sentence) Kersterson in her office of the Henderson Home News in Henderson, Nevada, October 18th, 1974. These tapes will concern the teenage of Mrs. Kesterson during 1943-1944 in Southern Nevada, in Boulder City particularly. These tapes are to be deposited in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas library Special Collections section of Nevada History. Mrs. Kesterson, I understand that you were born in Utah. Would you please tell us when and how long you stayed there and when you came to Boulder City please? I was born in Saint George, Utah, and we lived in Zion National Park—we lived there until I was fifteen, when we moved to Boulder City in 1943. Did dad find work in Boulder City? Yes, he worked for the park service and he was transferred there— Ah yes, many have in my experiences. And what did your address—when you first came to Boulder City? What was your address? We lived at 710—714 Clark Street. And there was six in our family. It was a two-bedroom house but it was the only one available. The parks come from the Bureau of Reclamation. That’s understandable. Your family wasn’t the only one that had (unintelligible), I’m serious. What was your father’s work in the park service? He was chief ranger of the National Park Association. So he was a ranger. And then in your early memories, or first memories here of Boulder City, are that of going to school? Are your first memories then, are they really of going to Boulder City High School? Mrs. Kesterson, I’m trying to remember correctly, the 1940s were the Bobby Socks years. Is that not true? That’s right. A lot of the fellows went into the service and that was the fun time. UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 2 That was the fun time, yes indeed it was. Were there any military men stationed in Boulder City at that time? Yes. Yes we had, I think it was (unintelligible) Camp Rollestone? Mm-hmm. How long was that in existence? Just during the war? Yes. Do you remember the principal’s name? And some of your teacher’s names that might still be in Southern Nevada? Would be helpful if you could name from Boulder City High School. The principal’s name was Delbert Levers. And at that time, the elementary school and the high school were in the same building. They were? The building that was down at city hall. The building down at city hall. Hmm. Was the elementary school and high school. Yes, the elementary children met downstairs and the high school was upstairs. What was the building across the street, which is now the library and senior citizens center, used for at that time? Well, it was more I guess, of a city hall, only it was only the federal government. I see. I never went there, I guess. UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 3 Did you participate in any type of athletics as a high school student? Yes. I was, I played on a Boulder City girl’s baseball team or softball team for several years. For several years? Yes, I pitched. (Laughs) Any other social activities in comparison to let’s say, your daughters’ teenage social life? What differences was there in the day? (Unintelligible) I was going to mention that the time I went to school, (unintelligible) was a popular course to take. And when I came, I had been taking it in Utah, so when I was transferred to Boulder City, I signed up for a (unintelligible) again and I was the only girl in the class. And we got about half way through the year before the principal found out that I was in the class and he wanted to move (unintelligible) but I completed the class anyways. And just that. Differences in the social activities between those that they have today—in Boulder City during those years, not many of the young people had a car. Yes. And there wasn’t any gas (Laughs) and so we were— And you’re thinking of gas rationing, of course? Yes. We were left to our own resources. Could you tell us Mrs. Kesterson, about the size of your classes in Boulder City at that time? The number of students that were graduating, say, your senior year? Yes, I think we were about the fifth graduating class from Boulder City High School. And before that, they went to Las Vegas and we had about twenty-eight seniors I think, when we graduated. Twenty-eight? Mm-hmm. UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 4 So the school has grown considerably. Did they have a football team back then? I’m not sure I can’t remember (Laughs) Probably Mrs. Kesterson, the school in Boulder High School wasn’t large enough to have a football team. But certainly, we are interested in what other activities you had at that time. No doubt you had to be inventive, each and every one of you. You had a girls club? What activities did a teenage girl have? Food clubs? Were there home economics classes in school? Yes. There were? We had home economics and a lot of the girls would make instead of each other’s homes and when anyone had a party, everyone was invited, nobody was left out. There was no one left out. There was a word left in a central location I could hear telling where the party was and everyone could go. But one of the (unintelligible) without television, which we didn’t have at that time. But everybody enjoyed the softball games. The men had softball games and the women had softball games and the boys had softball games and everyone in town went to the softball game every night. And that was the way most people spent their summer evenings. And nearly everyone walked to the games because Boulder was small. And that was something new to me because in Zion, you couldn’t go anywhere without riding. So it was nice to live in a town. I should say. Was heat a problem as far as resting at night or sleeping? I think at that time you had swamp coolers, but did you have (unintelligible) coolers? Yes, we had coolers and maybe because I was in Zion, but I did never really notice the heat really. Mm-hmm. Did you play tennis yourself? UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 5 Yes. I loved tennis. Rode bicycles. It occurs to me that all of a sudden now, we have a nice, great big Lake Mead there. Was it used by your girlfriends? Your teenage self? Did they use Lake Mead a lot? We did— ‘Course I understand gas is a problem. But bicycles maybe? No, well, some of the people went down on bicycles, but we didn’t usually till we could get the car. But I did Life Guard every so summer. At Boulder Beach? Yes. What was Boulder Beach then? If I remember during that period, I was on desert maneuvers at Camp Ives approximately to the junction of highway sixty-six and ninety-five above (unintelligible) California. We would come up once a month to Lake Mead just to swim. And we would stay, if there was a room, the rooms by Hualapai Lodge, we would stay there and sleep in bedrolls if there were no rooms. But at that time, if I recall, the lake was approximately three quarters of a mile away to where it is now. Where at that time, in the 1940s, early 1940s, it seemed like it was just a couple hops and a little run, and maybe less than a hundred feet or two hundred and you’re in the lake. Was the lake (unintelligible) back when they were filling it then? It wasn’t. I think the two years that I was a life guard, it wasn’t that high. It wasn’t that high? It was higher than it is now. But it’s still the Boulder Beach that everyone’s excited to walk on the bottom. (Laughs) UNLV University Libraries Lorna Kesterson 6 Yes. We only had one life guard stand, and there was only two life guards because there weren’t that many people travelling. A senior girl and a senior boy? Yes. Mm-hmm. My goodness, how long would each of you be on duty? Well one came on at ten o’clock and got off at six and one came at twelve and got off at eight. Was the beach crowded in those days? No. We could watch everybody easily. Did you have any swimming parties down there? Or slumber parties? Or were the girl scouts an organization in Boulder? No, not too—I don’t remember. I bet if they had an organization (unintelligible) I wanted to—what day in the spring did you graduate from Boulder City and in what year from Boulder City High School? At this point in the interview, Mrs. Kesterson’s place of business would not allow the interview to continue. However, we wish to thank her for taking time out from her busy schedule to give us an insight into a senior girl’s year at Boulder High School in the 1940s. End of tape. (Audio ends)