Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

John Robinson Pacheco interview, June 24, 2019: transcript






Interviewed by Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez. John Pacheco's father, Francisco, arrived in Las Vegas in 1942. John was born in 1947 and raised mostly on 27th Street. He is a graduate of Rancho High School and UNLV. He is a retired artist known for hand-painting signage for many local businesses. As a very civic minded person, John has received many local awards and served on committees for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, East Las Vegas community, and much more.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Pacheco, John Robinson Interview, 2019 June 24. OH-03701. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Original archival records created digitally





AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN PACHECO An Oral History Conducted by Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernandez, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes 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. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Photo by Jerry Rimmer John Pacheco is professional artist and Las Vegas native. His family has resided in Las Vegas since the 1930s. Pacheco grew up during the heydays of iconic casinos like the Dunes and Desert Inn. While in junior high, Pacheco discovered his love for art and developed his talent through various means such as T-shirt design and sign making. During the anti-war movement in the late 60s and 70s, Pacheco enrolled in college to avoid the draft while he worked in a sign making business. Eventually, he bought the sign business where he worked. His sign painting career included the signage at famous Las Vegas restaurants such as The Venetian, and introduced him to local famous figures such as Jerry Tarkanian, coach of the 1990 Champion Runnin’ Rebels team, and Otto Merida, former president and founder of the Latin Chamber of Commerce. His artwork and inspiration span various media forms such as paintings, magazine covers, and photography to name a few. Known throughout the artistic community as someone that has lived and worked in Las Vegas since the inception of the local art scene, Pacheco is part of the history of Las Vegas and its art renaissance. He was also on the Las Vegas Beautification Commission that worked towards revitalizing Las Vegas through the promotion of the arts. v Most recently, he helped the builders and organizers of the Las Vegas Healing Garden located in the Arts District of Las Vegas. Due to his proximity—he lives just a few yards from the Garden—and his attentiveness, Pacheco now acts as the unofficial caretaker of the garden. Pacheco is one of the few Las Vegas natives whose life story and career intertwined with the growth and evolution of the city. Today, he lives a quiet life in retirement in the middle of the Las Vegas Arts District, the nuclear center of the Las Vegas art scene, a place that he influenced and watched grow since the very beginning. When he is not planning parties or entertaining guests, he is tending to the Las Vegas Healing Garden where he likes to contemplate on his life and do his part in keeping the memories of the 58 victims of 1 October alive, a job he takes very seriously. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with John Pacheco June 24, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Monserrath Hernández, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………..iv Pacheco talks about the origin of his name and how he changed it form Jesus to John and his family’s origins in California and Mexico. Recalls his father buying land in Sunrise Acres in the 40s, the residential segregation in Las Vegas, Las Vegas’s early roads, and Tom Rodriguez. Mentions his father’s work as a cement finisher and his mother’s work in casinos, Huntridge Theatre, attending Roy Martin Junior High School, selling monster T’s, and his artistic beginnings………………………………………..………………...1-5 Talks about having a charge account at fourteen, working at Macayo Vegas, attending Vegas High School, Bishop Gorman, and Rando High School, and participating in various college sports. Recalls joining the Latin Chamber of Commerce in the early 70s because of his sign making company, painting the sign for the Venetian Restaurant and Poppa Gar’s Restaurant. Describes the family tradition of making tamales every Christmas, his family’s guisados, and the importance of beans as a Mexican staple…5-10 Elaborates on the various Mexican restaurants that were in town in the 50s, how he enrolled in college to avoid the Vietnam War, joining the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, joining the National Guard and the anti-war movement he supported. Talks about his training in the National Guard, being part of the committee for the East Las Vegas Community Senior Center, how the city has changed, how UNLV has changed since he attended, working at a sign company while attending college, spending time in the gullies when it rained, and the sign companies in town during the 70s…………..………….10-15 Explains the importance of hand painted signs before printing machines or computers, his marketing training, the types of signs he used to paint, his sign making process, and his favorite sign gig he ever painted for the Venetian Restaurant. Mentions Larry Ruvo, his involvement with the Latin Chamber, Eva Garcia Mendoza, Lonnie Hammargren, Gov. Bob Miller, Dr. Alvaro Algeria, being part of the Las Vegas Art Commission, and painting a multicultural mural at Walter Bracken Elementary………………….….15-20 vii Talks about the murals his painted in town, being appointed to the Las Vegas Beatification Committee in the 70s, Bob Coffin, the Las Vegas Healing Garden, and Lois Tarkanian, and his photography work. Recalls the start of the LV Beatification Commission, their mission, how they contracted artists, and their efforts to revive Las Vegas. Mentions Helldorado, the history of First Friday and what is it today, the Arts District, and the Arts Factory……………………………………………………..….20-25 Explains the difficulty the arts face in Las Vegas and the construction of the Las Vegas Healing Garden. Mentions Jay Pleggenkuhle, Mark Hamelmann, Seigfried and Roy, Nancy Pelosi, and Mayor Caroline Goodman, and how he helped the people in charge of building it. Talks about what the Healing Garden means to the community………...26-30 Elaborates on the difference between graffiti and public art, how the art scene has evolved throughout the years, and what the city needs for people to invest in art. Mentions the Cockroach Theatre, Bob Kostilaki, Life Is Beautiful, the Jerry Tarkanian painting he did and Cliff Flindlay…………………………………………………….31-35 Recalls watching the Runnin’ Rebels win the 1990 championship, Tarkanian signing some his prints, how the Latinx population began increasing and expanding throughout the city, Otto Merida, the painting he created for the Latin Chamber, and his relationship with the Latin Chamber………………………………………………………………36-40 Explains the artwork around his studio; from his escapades with drugs to his commissioned artwork. Talks about his work with Circus Circus, the anti-war movement in Las Vegas and at UNLV. Mentions watching some atomic testing, how people in St. George were affected from the testing, and the atomic bomb school drills he did as a child…………………………………………………………………………………..41-45 Elaborates on Helldorado carnival and parade, learning about Las Vegas’ segregation practices until recently, and how Downtown Las Vegas changed since Zappos established their headquarters there. Talks about speaking Spanish growing up only to his mother, her daughter attending the Latino Youth Leadership Conference and her educational endeavors, his thoughts on the future of the Latino community in Las Vegas………46-50 Explains how he identifies, his preference of Latino over Hispanic, his mentors over the years, the local artistic talent, his thoughts on what it means to be a Las Vegas native, and what he wants his legacy to be………………………………………………..……...51-55 Final Page: snapshot of Pacheco with interviewers and thank you note……………..56 1 Today is June 24, 2019. My name is Laurent Banuelos-Benitez. I am in John Pacheco’s art studio in the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. Today I am joined by… Monserrath Hernandez. Maribel Estrada Calderon. Barbara Tabach. And today we’re interview John Pacheco. John, can you do me a favor and spell your name for me? I’m John Pacheco. It’s J-O-H-N, P-A-C-H-E-C-O. But on my birth certificate it’s Jesus Robinson Pacheco, which is my mother’s maiden name. Before we started recording, you started telling us how you changed your name from Jesus to John. Can you go into detail about that story? Before kindergarten, I had a babysitter; it was Johnny Cavarubius and his wife. His name was John, so I liked the name and I asked my mother, could I have that name? Really, nobody ever understood Jesus, at least in Vegas in those days. What was your mother’s reaction to you asking to change your name? That’s so long ago I don’t remember, but I know I got it changed. I also want to ask you, how do you identify? I identify myself as Mexican. I don’t believe there’s a country called Hispania. Going back to your roots—tell us where your parents are originally from? My father’s mother was born in El Rancho de Los Angeles, which is Los Angeles now. His father, I don’t know where he was born; maybe Hermosillo. My mother was born in Guaymas, Sonora. I’ve got a lot of relatives down there. In Hermosillo and Guaymas there is a big Robinson family. 2 What brought your mom over from Sonora to the States? They used to go on shopping trips to L.A. and then she met my father there. Were you born in Los Angeles? I was born here in Vegas. 1947 in Las Vegas Hospital, 8th and Ogden streets. What brought your parents from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? Work. What industry? They were building for the war. There was no war then. But the titanium plants and all that and stuff that was going on. I think it was ’42 or ’41. We moved to Sunrise Acres. He had money to the house. This makes me sick. He had money to buy the house in Huntridge, but they wouldn’t let him; he was a Mexican. Blacks couldn’t buy downtown, nor Mexicans. BARBARA: Did they talk to you about that? No. How were you aware of it? My brother just told me last year. Was Huntridge the more affluent neighborhood at the time? Well, probably. It was new, I assume, middle class. Of course, I wasn’t around then. You mentioned a brother. Do you have other siblings? I’ve got two brothers and two sisters. One brother died a few years ago; his name was Frank. The other one lives in New Mexico. He grew up, after Vegas, in San Jose as a schoolteacher and retired. My other sister is really old, a lot older than all of us, and she’s in a home right now in Florida. Tell me about your earliest memories of growing up here? 3 It was all desert down there at 26th Street—a block of desert from 27th and Charleston to 26th, across from my home. It was like tumbleweeds. I think the last paved road was probably Charleston to 25th Street—I don’t even think Eastern was paved; it was called 25th. Up there it was dirt, crusted dirt, and there was a Dairy Queen right there where Fremont meets Charleston, and we’d walk up that far. There was a little shopping center there. There was a bar—they’re always there—and there was a cleaners, the mother named that center on Maryland Parkway. What’s the gay center there? The Center. Just the Center. The LGBT Center; her son Bob Forbuss started it. His mother had a dry cleaner [business] there in the same shopping center. Saint Viator’s was there and Sally’s Liquors and a few others. Can you believe Saint Viator’s started there? What was school like? I liked school. There was no prejudice back then because everybody came here to rebuild their lives and everybody got along. I didn’t know about prejudice until people like Tom Rodriguez and everybody came from Texas to here and they talked about it. Then you pay attention to it. They brought their experiences from wherever they came from to the conversation here. Yes. I don’t think it was very prevalent here because look who was the maids and the workers of the hotels. I don’t remember none of that. Of course, I grew up pretty popular and I could fight real well, so nobody messed with me. What kind of work did your parents do? My father was a cement finisher. My father plastered the inside of the circular opening at the top of the tall monolith at Huntridge Theatre. And my mother was a maid. Most of her life she didn’t work. 4 Did your mom work in the casinos? Not a casino. Well, yes, there was the Sal Sagev downtown, which was Las Vegas spelled backwards. Then she worked at one of those places, the Desert Inn and Paradise Road, kind of condos. I don’t know what they called them back then, motels. What projects did your dad work on? I don’t know. All of them. There wasn’t very many people here, so he was the cement finisher; he had to work on every project. But the one I really care about, because they’re trying to make Huntridge a historical—it probably already is. But I had one of our neighbors telling me this. My father was plastering the giant hole at the top of the monolith. Can you tell us a little bit more about the Huntridge? Not too much. Did you go to movies there when you were younger? I went to a couple. But my mother would drop me off downtown and then I would walk down Fremont and back home. Back then it wasn’t dangerous. There was houses on Fremont Street or around that all had fruit trees, and you could walk over and pick fruit off of them. Then there was Bell’s Toy Store, but you go in there and they would kick you out if you didn’t have any money. What was that store like? That was a toy store, a really nice little toy store at 15th and Fremont. I went in there one time and then never went back. I wasn’t welcome. How did you get started in art? You mentioned earlier that you went to Rancho High School and you were president of the art club there. I got started getting in trouble at Sunrise Acres drawing during class. How old were you at that time when you were getting in trouble? 5 Third grade. I was drawing all the time. When I got in seventh grade, I got little markers and at Roy Martin Junior High School I started lining people up at my house with my mother’s ironing board and selling monster T’s with markers. What were those? Can you tell me more about those? I don’t know if anybody remembers Rat Fink. It was a big thing back then with hotroders. The big ugly rat and it was on everybody’s T-shirt. Well, you guys are too young. I started doing monster T’s, monsters and hotrods and stuff. Then in eighth grade or the beginning of ninth, I’m not sure, I went to the art supply store; it was next to Macayo Vegas. It was probably eighth grade or maybe the beginning of ninth. They gave me a charge account for a compressor for an airbrush, and then I did airbrushed T-shirts all through high school. Jack Walkinshaw, what a great guy. Would you sell those? Yes. I also put the high school logos on shirts. How much would you charge for them? I don’t know. Five bucks or something. They gave you as a young—how old were you when they gave you a charge account? Fourteen years old. I can’t believe they did with a fourteen-year-old. That’s amazing. Back then—this is what I hate about Vegas now; everything is corporate. Back then you knew every owner by name, by family. Like the old western movies where the people walk in. It was a small town. Plus, I got a job at Macayo Vegas washing dishes, so I had a job. As a matter of fact, when I moved to the Arts District, I threw a big party and Macayo Vegas—five years ago—donated all the food to my party here. That was five years ago, four years ago. 6 MARIBEL: You mentioned hotrods. Were you ever interested in lowriders? I never could afford it. You just liked drawing. Well, yes. Lowriders came later. My brother Felix was at San Jose State and knew the original starters of lowriders. These kids have to have a lot of money to buy those or make them, right? Anything hotrod. I just drove old cars all my life. In college I had a Porsche. And then after college I had a Mercedes because I had the sign company. Can you tell me a little bit more about Rancho High School and your time there? I started out at Vegas [High School] my sophomore year. My brother put me in Gorman for a while because I didn’t make JV basketball team, so I could have been first string there. Then they changed the law that you couldn’t switch from regular schools to parochial schools to play first string, so I came back to Vegas. When they changed the zoning, then I went to Rancho. Some people think I got kicked out because there was another guy named Pacheco that was notorious here in Vegas, real bad guy. Matter of fact, if I got pulled over by the police late at night, I would yell out the window, “No relation,” so I didn’t get thrown up on the car hood and handcuffed. Real bad guy. What was he notorious for? Oh, it’s ugly, ugly, everything. Well, you look it up because he took a girl out—and I don’t want to mention it—to the mountain and did something terrible. And he shot the doors out at the juvenile with a shotgun. BARBARA: When you were growing up, Las Vegas had that rough edge around it, would you say? 7 Well, it did. It was a small country town and there wasn’t much to do. There were the rough people and then there were the regular school people. Some of the ruffians used to hang out at our school, the older ones, and wait for the girls to get out of junior high school, but I never had problems. I had two older brothers and one of them was notorious for fighting. He taught me how to box like Muhammad Ali. Nobody ever messed with us. If it was too much for me, I’d call my older brother. But athletics, it sounds like, was important to you, playing basketball? Yes. When we were little I used to get a pole in my front yard and practice jumping over stuff. It was natural for me to go into pole vaulting and track, so I lettered in that my sophomore year. I went over to Vegas High and they were pole vaulting, and back then it was a small town, so they had mattresses to line up. I went up and practiced and I landed between the mattresses on my ankle, and I didn’t do it my senior year. MARIBEL: The Chicano movement was prominent during the 1960s and by that time you were a teenager. I don’t know. I never heard anything about it back when I was in high school. I got in the Latin Chamber of Commerce real early, in the early seventies. I went to a meeting. It was in an Oriental or Chinese place on Las Vegas Boulevard and I don’t think there was over ten people at that luncheon. What drew you to the Latin Chamber of Commerce? Nothing. They just asked me to join. Who asked you? Otto. Well, there was a trick. I was in business. They would honor you, so you came and got honored. 8 What were you being honored for? I don’t know. Scatter. BARBARA: You’re being modest, I’m sure. I was a very young Hispanic in business. I owned a sign company. I got lucky and I worked for a sign company when I first got out of high school. Later on when I was at UNLV, the owner got married and she sold me half of it, and later on I took over the whole thing. But I wasn’t much of a businessman. It lasted ten years. What kind of signs were you doing? Hand painted-type stuff. Store front design, plexi logos, t-shirt printing, screen printing. For the local businesses in town? Yes. Is there any particular one that stood out to you that you remember making? I did the Venetian Restaurant. I don’t know if anybody’s ever seen that. Have you? I did so much from 1965 to 2000. Not many people…All this stuff is from way back when, when I was doing a lot of stuff. I happen to have that here somewhere. I got a million photographs from back in those years. Here it is. Here is the menu. I did it. It was just a square block building. I put it on my Facebook, the beginning and after. This is the menu for it. I remember, yes. I did the whole outside. There was another one called Poppa Gar’s Restaurant, which was where all the VIPs hung out for breakfast and sat. We don’t have that anymore, a little coffee shop where everybody goes. Poppa Gar’s at Oakey and Western. Who were some of the people that would hang out there? 9 Everybody that was anybody important: The sheriffs, the Lambs, the business owners. I was lucky to do signs for him and then trade them out. There was even the VIP booth where I had my name on it, and I was young. Where was that building located? At Oakey and Western. There is no place like that anymore, where prominent locals would meet for breakfast. The oldest diner in town is now famous, Vickie’s Diner at the historical White Cross Drugstore. The Venetian -- at Valley View and Sahara. There was a lot of stuff. One sign that somebody remember, there was a palm reader on Las Vegas Boulevard and there was a big picture of a palm. That’s been gone for forty years. Some architects came out of back East and did a book on signs. They were really talking about the neons or something, and they included my sign in that. I don’t know what the book is. Very cool. Coming back a little bit to your family, in the resume that you sent us, in the back you had a paragraph talking about tamales and making those with your family. There was a magazine that asked my sister to—they were going to have a party and have our family over there because we used to make tamales every Christmas. Yes, you did. Can you go into a little bit more detail about that? She threw a party, the owner of the magazine, and we went over there. That’s all. It’s just a short, little thing that happened. I meant more of the tamales. 10 Oh yes, every Christmas we make them. We would all get together and help and stuff like that. I haven’t made them myself and I want to do that. I’ve been planning a tamale party for two years. I’ve got a few people that want to come. What other foods do you remember your parents making growing up? Guisados. A good story I have that I put on Facebook is the great Mexican restaurant myth. When you go there to get refried beans, they’re not refried beans. They’re fresh beans. My mother used to make a pot of beans and set them on the stove and there they would stay all week. Anybody else would say, “I’m not eating those; they’ve been there for a week.” But every day she would refry them. Then I went to Mexico and they don’t have the stoves back there and the refrigerators, so that’s why they do that. The great Mexican restaurant myth is you’re not getting refried beans; you’re getting fresh beans. It’s a whole different taste. Speaking of Mexican restaurants, do you remember if there were a lot of them growing up? There was El Chollo and El Sombrero, which is still over there. El Sombrero, when they came to town in the fifties, they parked their trailer in our front yard down at Charleston (16:51). They lived there for a while. Then I think their niece took over the restaurant and a couple of years ago they sold out. I think it’s still open, but they made it into a foo-foo Mexican restaurant, naming the things more European or something and charging more for the food. It’s gone now. Still the same good food, but… I don’t know. I haven’t been there for a long time. I haven’t been there for a year and a half. I go when my college friends come and take me there, because I’m on Social Security. But luckily, I’ve got a lot of friends, so I get to go to lunch a lot. It’s all gone. An added memory of my mother: When she used to iron the clothes, she would pound down on the iron. Till this day, every time I iron a shirt that sound is in my mind. It wasn’t till I 11 went to Mexico with her – they had an iron just solid steel, they would heat up and pound it on the clothes, then reheat it and on and on, After Rancho High School, did you go to the university? Yes. Can you tell me about the university at the time? Then, I didn’t even know a university existed. But they were calling to draft people for the Vietnam War, and I was against that so I jumped into college and had a ball. A lot of my friends are still…I joined the ATO [Alpha Tau Omega] Fraternity and I was in the Arts District, so I had a ball, a lot of fun. I’d like to go back and finish my degree. MARIBEL: Did you have friends who joined the Vietnam War? People went, yes. How did that affect the community here in Vegas? I don’t know how it affected the community, but I hear it affected them. I really didn’t talk to any of them that came back. I was against that. Matter of fact, I was in National Guard and I told them, “I don’t want to be here because I’m against the war.” They let me out. I got an honorable discharge. It started after Kent State. They were equipping us with guns with bayonets in case. I told them I would not use it against my mates. How much time did you spend on the National Guard? Two years. What was your job in the military? I was a tank driver and then I was in the mess hall. Where was the training, up at Nellis? 12 No. we would go (to Nellis) once a month and then we would go to Boise, Idaho for two-weeks. The National Guard Amory was at Eastern and Stewart. It is now the East Las Vegas Community Senior Center. I was on a committee to pick the sculptures and artists for the front of the building. How many Latinos were serving with you? Not many…there weren’t very many Latinos in school back then. The families I knew—I don’t know if you interviewed the people that own the… the Hush Puppy. They are a whole family here. That’s really a part of history. And then her brother was a maître d’ at one of the hotels. Very important family. BARBARA: What was the name? I think it was Lopez. The Hush Puppy Restaurant, you’ve got to get that one. There are a lot of people and there are a lot of people that were here and gotten old now and gone. I know, I know. We’ve got to catch them before that happens. I’m right in between. Now people my age are dying. I don’t know if you met Jesus or Juan. We grew up together down in the neighborhood. I’m old and I have senior moments. Anyway, he’s still down there. The whole neighborhood has all changed, too. How has it changed since you’ve grown up? When I grew up it was a mishmash of different cultures. You could smell one woman—I don’t know what country she’s from in Europe, but you smell her bread baking in the kitchen and you run down to her house. Then when my mother was making tortillas, everybody would come to our house. All the kids would line up. It was fun back then. It was small. There was one little, tiny grocery store where you could buy an RC Cola or something like that. There was really nothing around. The closest thing would be that Dairy Queen at the corner of Eastern, well, it 13 was called 25th then. Then there was downtown, the row of motels that was back in there. I used to go up to the motels and trade them for sweeping their sidewalks to swim in the pool. Later on I discovered that my friend Ted Wiens that has all the Ted Wiens Firestones, his wife, Sharon Zotti’s parents owned the motel that I used to sweep. Ted and I have been good friends since high school. What motel was that? The Sky Ranch Motel at approximately 23rd and Fremont. It was one of the first ones on the street. Going back to the university, was it a big school at the time? They used to call it Tumbleweed Tech. What does that tell? The art department was really small. It was nice. I had a lot of fun there. We’re still talking about it. The old neighborhood stayed the same because it has a well system started in 1941. It is a small area that has remained a country-island in the middle of the city. Do you remember the names of some of the professors that you learned with? Right now I remember…You can’t pull that on an old guy that quick. My favorite one, she’s got a sculpture garden. I can’t think of her name now. Then my most favorite one was my ceramics teacher and I can’t think of his name. That’s when some of these teachers came from the Bay Area and they would take all the students out in the desert and smoke pot, and I didn’t know about pot back then. There was a few of them, but right now…I’m going to have to think about it. Was that part of the art culture is to be exposed to pot back then? No. it was just a few teachers they brought from the Bay Area. I was a rah-rah-rah fraternity guy. How many fraternities were on campus at the time? 14 The big ones were Sigma Chi, Kappa Sig and ATO. I was in ATO. We bought a house from Kelly Naples on Naples Street right by the university, the next one up from Harmon. Next door lived Kelly Naples and his three daughters. I met one of them. That’s when the trouble started. We won’t talk about that. What did the fraternity do besides having fun? Did they do community work? Yes, I’m sure there was some community work. They had programs going. I was real busy because I was out doing signs because after high school I went to work for a sign company as an apprentice and I learned how to paint signs. Back then there were no computers and I was one of the best in town, so I always had work. I had a Porsche at the university. MARIBEL: Do you remember the name of the sign company? Yes. It was called Pons, P-O-N-S. I went to work there right out of high school. Then I got fired because I wrecked one of the trucks. Then the wife got a divorce from the husband and she was overwhelmed and called me back because I would do all the artwork. I ended up buying it. I did T-shirts for all the fraternities at UNLV. But, no, it was all fun. We used to have gully parties. Now everybody knows about gullies. Well, in the old days when it rained, it rained and all that water would come down over here to the right and Paradise Valley and all that. They don’t call it Paradise Valley anymore. But there would be big gullies of water rushing down. My brothers, which were older, before it got dangerous because you didn’t have car fenders or car parts or anything like that, you could get on an inner tube and go from one end of town all the way to the other end. BARBARA: I have a visual. Would there be a whole bunch of kids doing that? Well, no, see, older kids. Later on, like my age, I wouldn’t jump in those gullies because then you got trash in there. People dumped their trash in the desert. It’s dangerous. But the gullies 15 were still there. We used to have gully parties, big gullies as wide as this house and deep. We would take our keg down there and have keg parties. Like having a beachfront, huh? Yes, except it was arroyo. It would just be there. Nobody could see us down there drinking our beer. After the university what was your next step? I learned how to paint signs. Back then I didn’t realize what was going on because I never knew computers were going to come and I didn’t realize how important you are if you can paint signs. I was making money. Then I got offered to buy that company. MARIBEL: How many other sign companies were around? There’s the big ones, like Young Electric that did the big electric signs, but there was only a few hand painted ones and only three or four that were really good, and I was one of them. I had top customers back then. BARBARA: Hand painted signs were very important as I recall. You couldn’t get anything else. They didn’t have printing machines. They came up with a little stamp machine that stores used to use for those little, tiny cards. But until the computers came out…When they came out in the eighties, but really in Vegas nobody really started doing their signs on them until late eighties, early nineties. Was there an association of hand painters? The Nevada Sign Association I was a member of with Pons S