Martin, Linda, and Robert Wilner oral history interview, 2016 May 10 and 2016 May 24. OH-02692. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1rj4cx1v
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AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN, LINDA, AND ROBERT WILNER An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ?Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV ? University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White Editors and Project Assistants: Maggie Lopes, Amanda Hammar iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) 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 Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE During the early 1970s, the boom of Las Vegas included many single people following family who had already settled there. Among those was Martin (Marty) Wilner. Marty?s parents were Leo and Mickey Wilner. Leo moved to Las Vegas to become the Executive Director at Temple Beth Sholom, the only synagogue in town. Marty, who was born and raised in California, had recently earned his doctorate in psychology at the University of Houston. He became a counselor at UNLV. Not long after, Marty met Linda at a Jewish Singles event. Linda was a divorced, mother of three children, who had moved from California to find comfort in living near her parents. Robert Wilner is one of her three children. He was adopted by Marty and works with his mother in the real estate business. In this interview, they recall together the Las Vegas of the 1970s. For Robert, he remembers his bar mitzvah, and growing up with Jewish friends under the careful eye of his grandparents. As an adult, he has enjoyed a successful career as a real estate agents working with his mother. For Linda, the success of real estate was being part of one of the most robust housing markets in the country. She and Robert recall an extensive list of visionaries who developed the valley, as well as the inherent challenges of water, unions and maintaining their high level of ethics. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Martin, Linda and Robert Wilner May 10 & 24, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface??????????????????????????????????..iv SESSION ONE Introductions and Robert talks about his nickname ?Robbie? and Andy Katz. Wilner family history: from Eastern European background; settled first in New York; later California where Martin/Marty was born; his parents Leo and Mickey moved to Las Vegas in 1963; Marty attended University of Houston; moved to Las Vegas in 1972 and worked in counseling center at UNLV; then went into private practice counseling. Tells how his father came from Los Angeles for a position as executive director of Temple Beth Sholom, friends with Sam and Bea David. Recalls what the Jewish community was like at that time ?????????????.1 ? 5 Explains that Al Benedict established the Wilner Foundation; close friendship of Al and Leo; foundation sends children to camps; mentions Blaine Benedict; flying home on junket planes from Houston courtesy of Al and Billy Weinberger. More about Leo?s personality; Leo?s father was a butcher. Rob shares his memories of his grandparents, Friday rituals. All recall how Leo Wilner was with all the kids at Temple Beth Sholom??????????????..6 ? 10 Recall Robert?s trip to Israel after his bar mitzvah; Camp Ramah; how Jewish life has changed with additional synagogues. Linda talks about first meeting Leo and Mickey Wilner; being divorced, single mom of three in the 1970s; how she came to live in Las Vegas from California; closeness with her parents. She also shares how she met Marty at a Jewish Singles event; how the Wilners accepted her. More about Leo connectivity throughout the greater community, not just Jews and Temple Beth Sholom???????????????????.?..11 ? 17 Discuss the series of rabbis at Temple Beth Sholom; Rabbi Cohen, Rabbi Lederman, consistent person being Leo Wilner; Leo being a consultant to the formation of Congregation Ner Tamid; Mickey?s work with Sisterhood; rapid population growth of the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Rob?s 1983 bar mitzvah is talked about; how everyone in the temple came; Cantor Simon Bergman. Martin compares to his bar mitzvah in Los Angeles and being Leo Wilner?s son; impact of being Leo?s grandson?????????????????????..?18 ? 21 Conversation comparing being Jewish in Las Vegas today versus in the seventies; Rob?s involvement with Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation. Mention Mitch Ogron, he tutored vi Rob on Hebrew and blowing the shofar. Talk about the Woman of Valor Award at Temple Beth Sholom; named after Mickey Wilner; Israeli American Council. Rob?s adoration of his grandfather Leo?????????????????????????????.22 ? 27 Other people who have left a legacy in Las Vegas Jewish community: Herb and Irene Kaufman, Allen Brewster. Herb gave Leo a car one year; Frontier Hotel; Leo?s relationships with Mel Exber, Jack Entratter, Oscar Goodman, Hank Greenspun, Brian Greenspun, Harry Reid. Speak about rare incidents of anti-Semitism, Imperial Palace episode; neighbors near Oakey location of Temple Beth Sholom, Dr. Kresiler, Faye and Leon Steinberg, Kevin Diamond????28 ? 34 Describe Mickey Wilner, hospital volunteer, Friday Shabbat dinners; Rob elaborates on how his parents influenced his feeling of being Jewish; impact of his grandfather; Andy, Mike Katz, Manpower; Stacy Fisher, Steve Eisen, Weisbarts, Mike Rabinowitz, Daniel Shaley, Dr. and Mrs. Pokroy, Rolinskys, Jerry and Marcy Welt, Tiffany Welt, and Roussos and Marshalls, and several others that they recall from that early era. Nate Mack Elementary School, Fine family, opportunities seen in growth of the valley???????????????????35 ? 41 Conversation about Linda going into real estate and becoming an agent; Rob followed her into the business. How they were involved in the creation of Quail Ridges. Rob formerly worked in film and television; has an Emmy Award; working with his mother in real estate. Talks about attending Bishop Gorman High School, why he went to a Catholic school, other Jewish students there (Schwartz, Goldberg); also, Andre Agassi, who Rob played tennis with and lessons with Marty; Rob attended UNLV, member of AEPi fraternity, college friends included Tim Kelley (MGM), Eric Berman (Cheesecake Factories and Chili?s); Steve Wynn?.??????42 ? 46 Rob speaks about being adopted by Marty and wanting to change his last name to Wilner at a young age???????????????????????????????..??47 ? 49 SESSION TWO Tell in more detail about Eshet Chavil Award, aka Woman of Valor Award, in memory of Mickey Wilner; Sarah Saltzman; Congregation Ner Tamid; words of Dennis Prager and how they apply to Leo Wilner and the family values. Marty?s story of his father demonstrating honesty and his values??????????????????????????...50 ? 54 Discuss the idea of being Jewish in Las Vegas versus where their parents were from; influence of age; Woodlawn Cemetery; large number of unaffiliated Jews here. Recalls Kolod Center at Temple Beth Sholom; causing mischief???????????????????....55 ? 59 vii Tells about Wilners moving to Francisco Park when moved to Las Vegas in 1963, population 70,000; Linda moved to city in 1970, population 200,000; how Jews were drawn to each other; Rob points out how that modified in the 1990s, east and west areas competing for finances; Jewish Community Center????????????????????????..??.60 ? 63 Talk about decision to live in Henderson; Linda going to work for Mark Fine/Mary Moore at Rancho Vista Realty; start of Green Valley Ranch subdivisions; starting Quail Ridge Estates; agents for The Fountains; Paradise Valley Country Club Estates. Recall the early days with one fire station in Green Valley; Pardee Homes; floodplains and drainage; how the area seemed ?far out.? Mention streets that ended and were only two-lanes, such as St. Rose, Eastern, Pecos; riding horses; lack of police???????????????????????.....64 ? 68 Linda?s story of thinking she sold a wrong piece of land; Summerlin?s beginnings; attraction of Henderson to homebuyers. She talks about the Chamber of Commerce; Alice Marts; recruiting members; Hank Nolte, car dealer; promoting Henderson; reinvesting her commissions in land. Marty points out the attractiveness of no state income tax in Nevada; incentives for businesses; migration of Californians to Nevada; sold property to developers in individuals????.69 ? 73 Talk about PEPCON explosion in Henderson, temporary impact on selling real estate; Rob recalls the incident as a high school student; damage to home; builders adding flood channels; story of missed opportunities; vision of Leslie Dunn to build Galleria Mall on Sunset in 1990s; Richard MacDonald with MacDonald Highlands; Richard Lee and First American Title company lecture tapes* (donated tapes to Special Collections)???????????????74 ? 79 Explain how vacant parcels of land occurred between developments; Linda recalls first home she sold and how prices have escalated over the years; Del Webb developments that sell a lifestyle; vision of Del Webb and Rich MacDonald; risk-taking that occurred. Explain relationship between ?rooftops? and ?commercial? building; time before freeways in Las Vegas??...80 ? 84 Talk about the other children, son who is a chef; daughter. Explain importance of building relationships in real estate sales. Linda tells how she got into selling real estate; early days of pioneering the sales process without computerization; how being Jewish helped her referral business in 1970s; growth of number of agents, until 2008 recession; competitiveness; ?.85 ? 93 More about selling within Las Vegas; differences selling in Henderson vs. Las Vegas; union issues; water concerns; high-rise development and flight patterns; risks for developers; Queensridge as an example; pricing to meet consumer abilities to pay???????....94 ? 98 Mention who the visionaries have been in residential living: MacDonald, Molasky, Fine, Summa Corp, Del Webb, Pulte, Kovera, Lewi, America West, Canarelli, Rhodes. Talk about buying frenzy, developers gained fast wealth; foreseeing a market downturn and personal ethics; opportunities that came from living in Las Vegas???????????????...99 ? 102 viii ix x 1 SESSION ONE BARBARA: Today is May tenth, 2016. This is Barbara Tabach. I'm with the Wilner family for the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage project at UNLV. We're going to concentrate today mostly on your relationship with the Jewish community and things you've seen, but if you ever feel like you want to broaden it out a little bit about just the history of the city that's terrific because Jews have been very important in the development of Las Vegas. So if you would each introduce yourselves and spell your names that would be great. We'll start with you, Rob. ROB: My name is Robert Wilner. It's R-O-B-E-R-T. Some people call me Rob. Wilner, W-I-L-N, as in Nancy, E-R. BARBARA: Do you prefer to be called Robert or Rob? ROB: As you grow older somehow...three letters, Rob. BARBARA: Everybody that I meet, who knows you, calls you Robbie. ROB: They call me Robbie or Little Robbie. My dear friend Andy Katz called me Little Robbie Wilner. BARBARA: Yes. That was in his interview. LINDA: The interview with you? BARBARA: Yes. MARTIN: And I'm Martin Wilner. I usually use my middle initial as well, which is S. So Martin S. Wilner. It's M-A-R-T-I-N. Middle initial S. Then, of course, W-I-L-N-E-R. I'm Linda C. Wilner, and it's L-I-N-D-A, W-I-L-N-E-R. BARBARA: So Marty, if you would start with your family legacy and what do you know about your family?s ancestry? Where did the roots start? Get me from there to United 2 States and then to Vegas. MARTIN: It's hard for me to go back too far, but other relatives of mine?actually, it's interesting you asked that question because they're currently very interested and they are going way back. But as far as I know, my father's and my mother's parents were, of course, from Europe. I believe it was Austria and Russia. Interestingly enough?I don't know the villages, of course?but when Linda and I, we've traveled to Europe many times, in Eastern Europe, and the places, the towns or cities or villages are long gone. So we don't know exactly, but definitely from Austria and Russia. Those are my grandparents. Beyond that is a little fuzzy, but we think there were further lineage from Europe. My parents came here. They were born in the United States, in New York, Brooklyn, like nine out of ten people it seems. I have an older brother, Bob or Robert Wilner. He lives now in Laguna Niguel, California, and he's four years older than I am. But he was born in New York when my parents moved there. They stayed in Brooklyn for many years. It's written somewhere, maybe even in here when they moved to Los Angeles, California, where I was born in 1946. I went to school there and then I left there and went to school elsewhere to receive my doctorate. My parents moved here in 1963 I believe it was. We can double-check that in some of the data you already have, but I'm pretty sure that is correct. My brother was living in California at that time, where he still lives. He's married and has one child. I was still working on my doctorate degree and was not here really until after I finished it, which was in 1972, I believe it was. BARBARA: Where were you going to school? MARTIN: I went to the University of Houston. The main reason that I chose there was because, 3 as you may know, they have some very fine medical facilities. The other nice thing was that Rice University and Baylor University were all driving distance. So I took classes at those universities and some of the other students there took classes at University of Houston. So it was wonderful training for me. Then I came back here. After I finished my degree, I came back here in I believe it was '72 and opened a private practice, but I also worked at the university and I taught and I worked at the counseling center there. BARBARA: At UNLV. MARTIN: At UNLV, yes. LINDA: You also went to school there, too. MARTIN: Yes, and I went to school there, too, for a relatively brief time. I stayed there for, three, four years, I believe, primarily because I was more interested in private practice. I therefore opened a private practice not too long after I finished my academic training and I worked with adolescents and with families. But in a short time...I preferred to work in the psychiatric hospital settings here and I was chief of the service for many years in a local psychiatric hospital. Then I personally retired eighteen years ago and have enjoyed it very much. In terms of family lineage, like I said, I can't go too far back. But maybe by the time you're really into your project maybe I'll have more details to say regarding that. BARBARA: Well, tell me what brought your parents here? MARTIN: That's a good question. At that time I know there was only one synagogue, and that was Temple Beth Sholom, in the early sixties. My father was an executive director in Los Angeles of a synagogue for many years. And a close friend of his, may he rest in peace, Sam David, Sam and Bea David were friends of my parents for many, many years and they lived here 4 in Las Vegas while we were in Los Angeles. So Sam happened to be on the board, one of the members of the board at that time at Temple Beth Sholom and they were looking for either a first or a new?I believe, a new executive director, and Sam knew my father very well. Of course, he knew what he did. My father, thank God, was well-known in his field. Sam representing the board said, "Leo, would you consider moving to Las Vegas?" Those days the first response was, "Where? Las Vegas?" That kind of...Who lives in Las Vegas? So obviously, my parents discussed it. Then they moved and he became the executive director of Temple Beth Sholom here. As I said, I think it was in '63. So I believe he may have been the first executive director. LINDA: I think he was. BARBARA: I think he was, too, yes. MARTIN: My mother, she, of course, came with him. But, as I said, I was still in school; my brother was in California. BARBARA: What do you remember or do you recall any reaction to the fact that your parents were moving to Las Vegas? MARTIN: Oh, yes, very definitely. In particular, I remember reaction of our friends in Los Angeles. They said, "Why would you ever go to Las Vegas? We understand why you would go for fun. But who would establish a career there?" I don't remember my response at the time. Retrospectively, it was really a wonderful thing to do. I, was still in school at University of Houston, I didn't really want to go back to Los Angeles. I think part of the reason my parents decided to move here was not only job opportunity, but for the same reason that I was; I was just tired of a huge city. It was really risky for them. They never lived in a small city. I mean, Brooklyn, New York; Los Angeles, 5 California; and then Las Vegas, Nevada, population approximately seventy-five thousand. But, as you well know, and everyone who lived here awhile well knows, the population just mushroomed. It was kind of startling to us that they wanted to do it. I don't know, but I'm assuming financially it was also a good thing for him. They were ready to leave Los Angeles also because, like I said, it was just too many people and we had friends here, Sam and Bea David and a couple of other families that they knew. BARBARA: That's nice. So was the Jewish community large in your opinion or small at that time would you say? MARTIN: Very small. It really was. Of course, with only one synagogue those people who were synagogue-oriented folks who went to synagogue, they would only go there. It was conservative then, as it remains today. But the Jewish community was quite small at the time. However, even though a small size, it was a lot of strength, actually. LINDA: It was close-knit. MARTIN: Yes, it was close-knit. It was much more like a family and it's easy to understand that. Everyone knew the active synagogue Jewish people very quickly. In addition, it was nice because this city had a group of professionals that were doing well enough even in those years to help support the continued development of a temple. Obviously, it needs financial support let alone more and more people growing. So there was a good nexus to choose from. Many of them were hotel executive people. I hope that you're aware of or will be aware of in particular of Al Benedict. He was a very close friend of ours and the family, may he rest in peace. He only passed away a couple of years ago. Al and Jane Benedict. But many of the hotel people were actively involved in Temple Beth Sholom and, of course, became very close to my father. LINDA: The Sands. 6 MARTIN: The Sands Hotel. Yes, many of the major hotels, yes. BARBARA: Why do you focus on Al Benedict? MARTIN: Well, that's a good observation on your part. Because although I know many of those hotel people, particularly Al, I mention because while my parents were both alive, he established a foundation called the Wilner Foundation in honor of our family, particularly my parents. He was very close to my father even though obviously in very different businesses. But Al particularly liked my father I think because my father would emphasize the need for growth, the need for financial help, but would never overdo it and Al always appreciated that. My father was a good writer. Some of these folks in the hotel business really were not that great writers and he would write things for them and they were always very appreciative. But Al, because he set up that foundation?and now it's probably a good fifteen? LINDA: Oh, it's more than that. MARTIN: Maybe twenty years? Something like that. ROB: Almost thirty years. Because if I recall it was right after I went either to Israel or my bar mitzvah. MARTIN: Well, maybe it was. Time flies. It's still in existence. It was designed specifically for meritorious children, not based on financial need?the need didn't matter?meritorious children who wanted to further their Jewish identity to go to summer camps here or anywhere, frankly. And it was also funded only by private donations. Thank God, we've sent many children to camps as the camps have become more and more expensive. ROB: And Israel. MARTIN: It's a little harder to do. Some Israel, but Israel is much more expensive. So we 7 focused on those that were not as much. Al was active right pretty much towards even towards his last year. He was active, but from a distance. Al was president of the Jewish Federation. Al was a CEO of the MGM Hotel, obviously a very busy man. But he also was the type that said, "I love being Jewish; I'm proud of being Jewish; I want to help Jewish causes, but I need not every second someone asking for something." So he served his time, so to speak, and then he says, "Marty, you need to take the foundation. Can you do that?" He's always contributed financially and I've always given him reports until he passed away. I always met with his son, Blaine, as well. I remember, just a side note, when I was going to University of Houston, my parents could not afford at that time to fly me home very often. But they had junkets here for gamblers. So Al and Billy Weinberger, who was at Caesars Palace, mainly Al said, "Marty, any time you want to come home, you call me and you get on that junket." And I would come home frequently, just for the weekend. It didn't matter. Those flights were coming anyhow. It's those things that I was so appreciative of Al about. And he was very modest. LINDA: That's the word, modest. MARTIN: My father was very modest as well. He wasn't in the limelight. But because he wasn't, because he had strong values and I think modesty was one of them, but because of that in a city of Las Vegas where everyone wanted something, he rarely asked for things and he was constantly offered things. They came to him. That was partly because they loved him. They respected him. So the less he "moochered" them, the more he received from them in terms of not only personally or our family but for the temple. He put the temple, I remember as a young man, a child, sometimes it seemed to be above family. He was always there, especially High Holidays, arranging the seats and who would sit with this one and who would want to sit next to 8 that one and that kind of thing. LINDA: He was very serious about that. MARTIN: He was really very much into it. By the way, his father, Moses, was a very religious man. I remember him somewhat. He moved from New York to Los Angeles because he needed the better weather. But he was a shechit. BARBARA: A what? A shechit is...I don't know if it's Hebrew or probably Yiddish term for kosher butcher. BARBARA: Oh, okay. MARTIN: To this day, to this day I still have his knives wrapped because not only are they obviously sentimental, but I remember I had to wrap them, and they are as sharp as you can imagine to this day. So I remember him somewhat, but he passed away when I was still quite young. Those are very fond memories. I don't remember my paternal grandmother. I think she may have passed away, Bella, before I was born. Now, my mother's parents, my maternal grandparents I remember well because they passed away when I was in my mid to late teens. BARBARA: Did they ever live here in Las Vegas or ever West? MARTIN: Never did. I wonder how they felt about my parents moving. I don't really know. BARBARA: So, Rob, tell me what you remember about your grandfather. What did you call him? ROB: I called him Grandpa. I didn't have a nickname for him. But I came into the picture because obviously my mom married my dad here when I was three years old. We were living off of Craig Road and Fifth St in North Las Vegas, at the time with my mom?s first husband and I was so impressionable and he walked in my life and I just immediately said, 9 "Hey, Dad, how you doing?" So he put us in this add-water-and-stir type of family with grandparents. I didn't know my grandparents on my biological side because they passed away many years before I was born, but I was born in 1970. LINDA: You knew Grandma Bessie, no? MARTIN: Her mother. ROB: Sorry. Yes, I knew your mother. But my biological father's parents. I remember my grandparents were just the sweetest people and they just immediately took to the grandchildren, to me and the grandchildren. So I would love to go over there. Like my Grandma Mickey, she would have?I don't know why. She was diabetic or something. MARTIN: No, thank God, no. ROB: She loved the diabetic candies. MARTIN: God forbid you get diabetes. ROB: She made sure we were fed cinnamon toast in the morning, eggs. But my grandfather, I do remember him very dedicated to the synagogue. I mean that was his life blood. And that, in turn, probably brought me more to the Jewish community as such a young impressionable boy. MARTIN: If I may, can I interrupt, Rob, and help him a little bit recall? BARBARA: Can he interrupt you? MARTIN: Is that okay? ROB: Yes, yes, go ahead. MARTIN: One thing I think relative to Jewishness here and Jewish identity here that I think Grandma and Grandpa were influential is in the Friday nights. I know you can relate to that. ROB: Yes. I didn't even get there yet. Yes, absolutely. When I remember those times, it was just before my teens, so seven, eight and nine. They made sure that Friday night was a ritual. And I 10 enjoyed going over there because I knew that I could sit next to my grandfather after dinner?and I'll tell you all about dinner?but he'd always say, "Would you like to go to synagogue tonight?" I would sit front row, front and center, and look at him and he'd be on the pulpit in the nice big velvet chairs. I'd sing all the songs. Somehow I learned them through him. But I would sit there and wait until afterwards because the reward was Thrifty Ice Cream. MARTIN: Yes, see, that's how he got to go. ROB: But I'd always stay at their house. I remember my grandmother making the cinnamon toast and eggs and things like that. But I would sit with my grandfather. He had his ritual. I'm telling you he was very dedicated to the Jewish community. Kids my age or people my age now in their forties and fifties would always come up to me and say, "You know what I remember the most about Temple Beth Sholom was your grandfather." Because where his office was, as you came in and entered the synagogue, to the right his office was there and it was close by all the classrooms. So if you came out of the classrooms, you'd have to walk by his office. He'd always talk to every single child every time they passed by his office. LINDA: Everybody knew Leo. ROB: They knew Leo. To this day even if they were a little bit younger than I was, they're like, "I remember your grandfather. He was so good to all the kids." I remember when we used to have the community Passovers at the hotels at the Frontier, the Dunes, the DI, and every year it would be a different hotel because the hotel executives would say, "Hey, let's have it at the hotel here." Everybody who you could imagine who is part of the membership of the synagogue always went to those and he would always have a real silver dollar for the children, one dollar per child during Passover as a gift. I still might have some of the silver dollars. But that's what I remembered the most during those holidays and things like that. My Jewish life is because of 11 him and my parents re-instilled it. My mom obviously married a fantastic guy. I feel like I'm the luckiest guy! MARTIN: Then you went to Israel when you were pretty young, too, and that helped to mold you. ROB: Yes, that helped. But you guys encouraged, but I was like, "Listen, I've got tennis, baseball..." I think I had given up sports to...If I recall I was elected to be on the all-star team, the Little League All-Star team, but I chose not to be on that team so I could go to Camp Ramah in the summer. LINDA: That's what Grandpa said, "Send the children to Camp Ramah." ROB: I chose to go to Camp Ramah. I chose to have a Jewish life. I went to Israel. So I gave up a lot to be a part of the Jewish community. Of course, since the town has grown so much, you can't help but everybody has to...Some people live in Summerlin; some people live in Green Valley. So now we have all of these synagogues. But everybody drove to one place in the sixties, seventies and eighties and it was the perfect scenario. It was a perfect setup for a good Jewish life here. BARBARA: I think that is a really significant image of this city that it grew from that small core. MARTIN: Oh, yes. BARBARA: That's important. You're creating a great visual. In knowing Leo through other people's stories, particularly yours, is really important. So I'm curious to get you, Linda, involved in this conversation. Do you remember when you first met Leo? LINDA: I knew Leo and Mickey before I knew Marty. I'll never forget it. His was part of the 12 blessing that he enabled me to be able to go to the synagogue. Why do you say that, it?s because I was here. I was one of the first probably to get divorced. My, Lord, I mean I really had a path that took me to Las Vegas as my home; this is where I am. I remember my mother saying?and she did not even realize it?she says, "The way you make your bed is the way you live in it and you can't always go home." Blah, blah, blah. But she didn't mean anything by it. She was the most loving person in the whole wide world, my best friend. Anyhow, so I stayed in Las Vegas. I came from California. I came from Los Angeles. Every weekend I would go home to see my mother. But it was very important for me to meet people and be around people. And he offered me, "If you even cannot afford to go to synagogue, no questions asked." He says, "you bring your kids here." That's how this all happened. BARBARA: So you came divorced or you came married? LINDA: I came married and about a year afterwards I found myself with three children, no money, and here I am. BARBARA: What brought you here? LINDA: My ex-husband. The nice part of the whole thing is though he was a contractor and he said, "You go to real estate school." So I have to thank him. He said, "You go to real estate school and I'll do the contracting." Well, what happened is we just grew apart; and, therefore, hello. MARTIN: But what brought you here? LINDA: What brought me here? He went into business with my cousin who had a dry cleaning business here. So we came here. So that brought me here. ROB: Which now neighbors and is still around Olympic Gardens on Las Vegas Boulevard. BARBARA: Oh, really? 13 ROB: The original building is still there. LINDA: It was very difficult for me to come because I was leaving my mother and my father. So they said, "Don't worry about it; we'll follow you." I said, "Great." My dad had passed away. He never followed me. My mother stayed there. But it was so close that I was able to take the children back and forth and back and forth. I do have a wonderful sister who has three wonderful children. So I was able to keep my family intact with having family as well as being here. But my father-in-law was really the one that...He made me; I mean he helped me be Jewish, too, because he kept me in check. I mean I can't thank him enough for that. And then I had the best mother-in-law in the whole world, the best. I mean it didn't matter that I was married before. My children were her children. There's no question about it. Every Friday night we would go to dinner there and every Friday night they'd take the children overnight and they would go with Grandpa.