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Transcript of an interview with Gertrude Rudiak, Richard Rudiak, and Dani Ramage by Barbara Tabach, December 30, 2015






On December 30, 2015, a few months after her 100th birthday celebration, Gertrude Rudiak, with the help of her son Richard Rudiak and granddaughter Dani Ramage, reminisced about living in Las Vegas since 1946, nearly eighty years. They explore the ancestral roots of Gertrude (n?e Rightman) and of her deceased husband George Rudiak. Their courtship and marriage at the brink of World War II and George?s enlistment in the US Army Corps is what brought the couple to Las Vegas and the gunnery school which is now Nellis Air Force Base. After his tour of duty, George settled into a law practice where he specialized in quickie-divorces, but also carved out a reputation supporting civil rights and working for legislation to eliminate working and living discrimination of blacks in Nevada. Gertrude was an active member of Las Vegas. She played the pipe organ, hosted large Seders at Passover and managed the Rudiak household that grew to include five children. Over her long life, Gertrude embraced many positions on community boards, including being Temple Beth Sholom?s first female board member. She was also a teacher in both secular and Jewish education. Her efforts have been recognized by the Jewish National Fund, the United Jewish Appeal, and the Anti-Defamation League. Additionally, Mayor Carolyn Goodman presented Gertrude with the distinguished honor of a key to the city of Las Vegas in 2014. The city declared August 2, Gertrude's birthday, Gertrude Rudiak Day in recognition of her long-standing commitment to Las Vegas.

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Richard and Gertrude Rudiak with Dani Ramage oral history interview, 2015 December 30. OH-02525. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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AN INTERVIEW OF GERTRUDE RUDIAK WITH RICHARD RUDIAK AND DANI RAMAGE 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 On December 30, 2015, a few months after her 100th birthday celebration, Gertrude Rudiak, with the help of her son Richard Rudiak and granddaughter Dani Ramage, reminisced about living in Las Vegas since 1946, nearly eighty years. They explore the ancestral roots of Gertrude (n?e Rightman) and of her deceased husband George Rudiak. Their courtship and marriage at the brink of World War II and George?s enlistment in the US Army Corps is what brought the couple to Las Vegas and the gunnery school which is now Nellis Air Force Base. After his tour of duty, George settled into a law practice where he specialized in quickie-divorces, but also carved out a reputation supporting civil rights and working for legislation to eliminate working and living discrimination of blacks in Nevada. Gertrude was an active member of Las Vegas. She played the pipe organ, hosted large Seders at Passover and managed the Rudiak household that grew to include five children. Over her long life, Gertrude embraced many positions on community boards, including being Temple Beth Sholom?s first female board member. She was also a teacher in both secular and Jewish education. Her efforts have been recognized by the Jewish National Fund, the United Jewish Appeal, and the Anti-Defamation League. Additionally, Mayor Carolyn Goodman presented Gertrude with the distinguished honor of a key to the city of Las Vegas in 2014. The city declared August 2, Gertrude's birthday, Gertrude Rudiak Day in recognition of her long-standing commitment to Las Vegas. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview of Gertrude Rudiak with Richard Rudiak and Dani Ramage December 30, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface??????????????????????????????????..iv Mentions that Gertrude celebrated her 100th birthday in august; still lives in house she and husband George built in 1953 in Scotch 80s. With input from granddaughter Dani Ramage, the family genealogist, and son Richard Rudiak, discussion of Russian ancestry of Gertrude?s parents; first settled in North Dakota when land was being given away; her father (Datsie Rightman) became a chiropractor at Palmer School in Davenport, Iowa, and also had a creamery; moved about to Wisconsin and eventually to Ontario, California; raised in an Orthodox Jewish tradition with multiple languages spoken, including Yiddish??????????????????.1 ? 8 Talk about George, Gertude?s deceased husband and his ancestral roots; he was born in Moscow; family escaped anti-Semitic Russia when he was five years old; his attendance at University of California at Berkeley?s law school. Story of how Gertrude and George met and courted in Los Angeles area; stories of ?David? namesakes in Rightman family; her nickname ?Getty Girl?; marrying George in Yuma, in 1942; eldest child, Geri Rudiak was born in California??..9 ? 14 Discuss five Rudiak children, four sons and a daughter; move to Las Vegas when enlisted in the Army Air Corps; Air Gunnery Range now Nellis Air Force Base; what the city looked like in the 1940s; Henderson and the titanium plant, Showboat, Water Street, town of Pittman; rented house on 14th Street and Stewart. Richard talks about being born in 1952; living in Huntridge area and then Scotch 80s; George?s law practice and other attorneys, Paul Ralli, Joe McNamee, Frances Horsey, quickie-divorce cases, being one of the first Jewish lawyers in Las Vegas???15 ? 19 Talk about original Temple Beth Sholom; Cantor Kinnory; Gertrude recalls being involved on temple board; talks about her music degree and playing the pipe organ; Jewish community moving west; Hebrew School; Wila Kohn; Abe Schwartz; Richards recalls BBYO and other Jewish youth organizations; AZA director Dave Gordon; Shelley Berkley and B?nai B?rith Girls; conventions. Geri (Dani?s mother) and her relationship with moving the Hebrew School to Milton I. Schwartz and Adelson campus??????????????????????????.?.20 ? 25 Tell about the Danny Kolod Center at Temple Beth Sholom; Albert Einstein Academy; kidnapping of Cary Sayegh; Milton Schwartz; Greenspun family; Geri Rudiak was on school board for 29 years; George and Gertrude also involved on temple board; Carolyn Goodman and Meadows School; more about Jewish education?????????????????????.26 ? 31 vi Discuss George?s Russian birth, anti-Semitism, and his involvement with Civil Rights Movement locally. Describe early casino/hotels on Strip; racism that existed for black workers and segregation; mention Pearl Bailey, Moulin Rouge, Westside and discrimination of 1940 and 50s; George introduced civil rights legislation in 1952, failed and coast him reelection to state assembly. Talk about Lloyd and Edythe Katz owning integrated Huntridge movie theater; Bob Bailey and NAACP; George honored in 1995 Hall of Fame of the Historic Moulin Rouge Preservation Association???????????????...???????????????.32 ? 36 Talk about other siblings; owning home since 1953; Richard attended Pomona College in Claremont; musical talents of Rudiak children; Helldorado Days and Parades. George?s papers; he died at age 80???????????????..???????????????37 ? 42 Gertrude reminisces about playing the pipe organ. Richard talks about not feeling as connected to his Judaism and what makes one feel part of a larger community; Jewish National Fund; Jewish Reporter. Loss of the tradition of speaking Yiddish. Celebrating Gertrude?s 100th birthday; Bob Unger; charity and changes in the community; Dani compares to Minneapolis experience she had???????????????????????.???????????.43 ? 48 Richard talks about growing up in general in Las Vegas in the 1950s and 60s; activities, Red Rock, Mt. Charleston and such. Family recalls Seders in the home; 20-some people would join them; George was the leader; what was served and Gertrude did all the cooking; holidays; Geri was annoyed that she did not have a bat mitzvah??????????????????.49 ? 53 vii viii ix x xi 1 Today is December 30th, 2015. I am sitting in the Rudiak home in the Scotch 80s. You are Gertrude Rudiak and I also have Richard, Dani Ramage and Rose Rudiak sitting with me. RICHARD: And Alex Ramage. This is Barbara Tabach. Rudiak is spelled R-U-D-I-A-K, correct? GERTRUDE: Correct. BARBARA: So we're going to start with Gertrude. You celebrated your hundredth birthday in August. GERTRUDE Right. August 2. BARBARA: Wow, that's amazing. So you were telling me you have lived in this house ever since you?this was your first house that you? GERTRUDE Well, we built it. We had it built. BARBARA: You built it in what year? GERTRUDE It was during the war. RICHARD: No. 1953. BARBARA: So it was a few years after she had moved here. RICHARD: Yes. BARBARA: So where I'd really like to start with your story, Gertrude, is I'd love to have you tell me what you remember about your parents. Where were they from? What was it like to grow up wherever you grew up? Tell me a little bit about your youth. GERTRUDE: [My parents] were born in Russia. DANI (granddaughter): Akkerman. RICHARD: And they were probably in their twenties when they came to this country. Why did 2 we move here to Vegas, I don't know. BARBARA: They came to the United States, then, as young adults. RICHARD: Not Vegas. Talk about Nyanya and Datsie. GERTRUDE: Yes, Nyanya and Datsie, my parents. RICHARD: Tell them the names and where they moved to, the story of their coming here. GERTRUDE: My mother's name was Mollie and my father's name was Nachman. That was my dad, Nachman. BARBARA: Where did you grow up? GERTRUDE: They came from Russia, well, the southern part of Russia, because at that time Russia was very antagonistic towards the Jewish people. So they finally picked themselves up and left to get away from the tyranny from the Russians. We moved here because...Who was it shipped here? BARBARA: I'm going to ask Richard. Richard, did you know their grandparents? RICHARD: I knew them, yes, somewhat. They came out of Akkerman, Russia, I think they did not come together; I don't think they were married at the time they immigrated. Dani [Ramage] would actually know this the best. We had an uncle of my mother's come to the United States first. GERTRUDE: Who was it? RICHARD: Yehiel. GERTRUDE: Oh, Yehiel. My mother's brother. RICHARD: And I think he sent money to assist other people coming over to the US. My grandfather came over next. I think he landed in Ellis Island. DANI: Your grandfather went through Canada, actually. 3 RICHARD: He went to Canada. He arrived at the Canadian port of entry. Then I guess he sent for the woman who'd become his wife, Mollie, or Molke. No? GERTRUDE: Yes, Molke. RICHARD: Am I telling this wrong? DANI: Kind of. RICHARD: Well, then tell it. BARBARA: We'll let Dani, the genealogist, tell us. This is great. So we have multiple generations here. Dani, you're the granddaughter; you're the daughter of Gertrude's daughter. DANI: Yes. My mom was Geri Rudiak Rentchler. GERTRUDE: How old was Geri when she died? RICHARD: Mom, sixty-three. BARBARA: So tell me what you know about family genealogy. DANI: Well, with this particular story, a lot of the family lived in Akkerman, Russia, which is now Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in the Ukraine. They've changed the name. It's off the Black Sea. Anyway, but they had been starting to have pogroms there, and there was one in their town, which a lot of Jews left around that time. Our family was actually kind of, I think, not sure whether they wanted to leave. But her (Gertrude's) uncle, that we were talking about, really wanted to go, and he took off without telling anybody, because he was trying to talk everybody into going, and they wouldn't go, and he finally was like...One day they didn't know where he went, and he ended up writing them a letter saying, "I'm in the United States," and trying to get everybody to come. But, yes, from what I understand, he was responsible for bringing a lot of the family here. 4 GERTRUDE: Which uncle was that? GERTRUDE: Yehiel Kelber. BARBARA: Where did he settle? DANI: They all ended up first in North Dakota, because they were giving away free land out there. You were able to homestead. You had to stay, I think, on the property for so many years. Of course, trying to homestead and have a farm in North Dakota is impossible. They said it was insane. Not good for farming. So a lot of people ended up leaving. A lot of the Jews where they lived left. I don't know if there's even any left. I can't think of what town they were in. I think they were in a couple of towns around there. But my grandma's mother, Mollie Rightman, (n?e Mollie Kelber) had the time, had two brothers. One stayed there. I'm trying to remember. There was a lot of movement at first. I think Mollie Kelber, Gertrude Rudiak's mom, came with her mother and father, and they went through New York. One of the comments, she said, was that she was surprised at how...They had always heard that the United States was supposed to be this wonderful place, and when they got there, she's like, why are people coming here? It wasn't that wonderful there, when they first got there, for the immigrants. I don't know exactly the process of how they ended up in North Dakota. They said it was so frozen and cold, and so much snow that they had to...I think there was even a story of having a cow stay in the house once, in the living room, because otherwise the cow would have frozen. BARBARA: I believe that. I'm from the Midwest. DANI: Yes. They were giving away land. BARBARA: But they have all moved to warmer climates. DANI: Yes, yes, yes. I would, too. So her parents, Gertrude's parents, ended up in Wisconsin 5 eventually. I guess first you were born in...You were born in North Dakota, right? GERTRUDE: Right. In which town? I don't know why I can't remember the town. Do you remember which town? GERTRUDE: Not Ashley, North Dakota. DANI: Dickinson, North Dakota. I think when she was just a couple of months old, they moved to Davenport, Iowa. Is that right? GERTRUDE: Datsie went to the chiropractic college there. DANI: Datsie is her father. That's our family name for him. RICHARD: He had had a creamery in North Dakota. I guess he was a middleman between the farmers and the larger stores. So, whether it was milk, or cheese, or eggs, or whatever it might have been, that was his work. He basically brokered between those who raised it and produced it and those who sold it to the public. He had learned about chiropractic through...He had had one customer who had disappeared, and then, after a couple of months, was suddenly back. He thought the person was dead because she or he was in very bad health. Then he returned and said he found this miraculous new kind of doctor called a chiropractor. So, whatever triggered the idea to go become a chiropractor, I don't know. GERTRUDE: He went to Palmer School in Davenport, Iowa. RICHARD: So he went to Davenport and became a chiropractor. It only took a year back then. GERTRUDE: That's where I got my first adjustment. BARBARA: That's amazing. I read that you did chiropractic treatments for a long time. GERTRUDE: Yes. Oh, yes. All my life actually. When my family grew up, also chiropractors were then called MDs. My dad went to the Palmer School in Davenport, Iowa, and became a 6 chiropractor, and he was very good, too. RICHARD: Where did he go after that? He went to Wisconsin to practice. That's what took him to Wisconsin. GERTRUDE: They went on to Wisconsin. But what they moved for, I don't know. DANI: They lived in Wausau. RICHARD: Well, maybe to New York first. I don't know. GERTRUDE: Yes, New York first. RICHARD: There was a New York episode in there, and they weren't succeeding in New York. So they moved to Wausau, where they apparently did quite well. Then why did you move to California? GERTRUDE: Because California had two colleges, whereas Wisconsin had only one, and he wanted to be sure that we would be in a state where we could go to college when we got old enough. So we moved to Wisconsin, because Wisconsin had a college? BARBARA: So where in California did you move? GERTRUDE: Wausau. BARBARA: In California? GERTRUDE: Oh, in California. Ontario. RICHARD: Ultimately. You went through Eagle Rock, and then you landed ultimately in Ontario. Before that, I don't know, I think the family was Orthodox Jew. Yes? Your grandfather was. GERTRUDE: He was very, yes. RICHARD: How much of that?I guess my grandmother Mollie was also fairly Orthodox. It's been more and more diluted over the years. I think that's the American experience with Jews. 7 We aren't as Orthodox as we used to be; that's what I'm saying. I don't know about my grandfather, her father. Was your dad Orthodox, also? GERTRUDE: Datsie's father? RICHARD: No, your father. GERTRUDE: Oh, my dad. I guess so. He didn't go to shul or anything. RICHARD: So he wasn't too Orthodox, then. DANI: I know they started...I found Yehiel's family started a temple in...I think it is Ontario. And your parents are on the list of founders. GERTRUDE: He lived in North Dakota. DANI: He moved to Ontario, too. He did. They had an orchard and stuff there. RICHARD: They had a ranch there in Ontario. DANI: Oh, yes, and the ranch, right. Yes, they did start a temple there and it's still there. But I don't know what happened. Her parents died...Her dad died before I was born and her mom died when I was about nine. RICHARD: What I was trying to ferret out here is obviously there was some Jewish training, whether it was Talmudic or what...probably my mother's grandfather had that kind of training. The emphasis on education had to come from somewhere, which was why they moved to California. I know your father spoke, what, six languages? He had Russian, French, German, Yiddish? DANI: Yiddish, Hebrew. RICHARD: English. Anything else? GERTRUDE: French, German? RICHARD: Russian and that's it. So five languages. 8 GERTRUDE: He was a chiropractor, my father. RICHARD: Yes, you mentioned that. I'm guessing that's why the move to California is because of that rooting in education and language although he didn't share the languages with her growing up. We got the Yiddish, though. BARBARA: So you spoke Yiddish? GERTRUDE: Yes. DANI: She spoke Yiddish to me. GERTRUDE: I can write it, also. DANI: So I can understand everything. BARBARA: That's great. A lot of people didn't even share it that far. So that's good. RICHARD: You have to be a writer for Hollywood these days to speak Yiddish. So that's where that came from. So they moved to California and apparently struggled. GERTRUDE: We moved first to Wisconsin. RICHARD: Yes, but eventually you moved to California. GERTRUDE: We left there because Datsie said Wisconsin had one university and California had two. So he moved to Wisconsin. BARBARA: That's good decision making there. So tell me what you know about George, about your husband. What was his family background? RICHARD: His experience in Russia was a little bit different. BARBARA: He was born in Russia? RICHARD: He was born in Russia, also of Russian parents. He was born in Moscow and his experience was more...I won't say aristocratic, but it wasn't pogrom-ish either. They were always sort of able to maneuver in society more easily. Why that is, I don't know. Actually, my dad did 9 a tape many years ago. If I listen to that...I could probably provide you with that. That might give you some of the history of them. RICHARD: He tells the history. Then they left also during the war. It took them a year to get out of Russia. DANI: They said they literally left the day it officially started or something and they got stuck. They got caught immediately by one of the sides and ended up getting... RICHARD: They had bullets flying over their heads and what have you. So it was pretty rough getting out. I guess they smuggled a lot of things, sewed up things in the linings of their jackets, and what have you, so, if they needed money or something, they could trade jewelry for whatever it was they needed. DANI: She had spices or something. I understand that was? RICHARD: Spices, was it? She traded in spices. DANI: That would be cool if we could just trade spices. That doesn't work anymore. RICHARD: Spices, if you don't have it, and you like it, and you want it, it's a currency. They left out of Gdansk I think it was. DANI: I think he was born in Moscow and I don't know where they ended up leaving from. GERTRUDE: But Russia was also anti-Semitic at that time. You could only live in one certain spot and that's just where they lived. BARBARA: Was Rudiak his name? RICHARD: Yes. Her name was Malamuth; my grandmother's name was Malamuth. Did they land in Ellis Island, Dani? DANI: Honestly I don't know their travels. RICHARD: You have the manifest on them. 10 DANI: I need to work on?okay. Well, by the time I find it, we'll be beyond that probably. But I'll look. RICHARD: Anyway, they took a ship across and they came. Where they went ultimately...I don't know my dad's story that well. He did record it. Somehow they ended up in California, also. I think his dad did various things. I think he sold furniture and maybe he was involved in real estate. He had some big opportunities. [AFTER NOTE: There is a S.S. Susquehanna ship manifest showing that George Rudiak, with his parents, Abram Rudiak and Sonia Rudiak (manifest says Sora) immigrated to the U.S. commencing January 18th, 1921. The ship departed from Danzig, Poland, modernly known as Gda?sk.] GERTRUDE: What was his father's name? RICHARD: Abram. Her name was Sonia. GERTRUDE: That's a picture of him up there, George. RICHARD: Yes. Then he went to law school. BARBARA: Where did he go to law school? RICHARD: In Berkeley, California. There's a law school there, University of California, Boalt Hall. You went to Berkeley also, didn't you, Mom? Where did you go to college, Berkeley? GERTRUDE: Berkeley. RICHARD: In Berkeley. Now, that isn't where you met, but you both went to school there. You studied music. GERTRUDE: Yes. But I met him at...They had a school picnic and the big Dave came to the picnic and I knew the big Dave and I went with him and that's how I met George. RICHARD: It was a work picnic. It wasn't a school picnic. But that was down in Los Angeles I think you met him. Where is Griffith Park? GERTRUDE: In the L.A. area. 11 RICHARD: Yes. So it was in Griffith Park. It was later. But they both went coincidentally to the same college. I don't know what he studied in college. GERTRUDE: Music. RICHARD: No, you were music. Dad, I don't know. But he ultimately went into law and he studied law. But he didn't work as a lawyer initially; he couldn't find work. So he was in...Did he work administratively for the government? GERTRUDE: I don't know. RICHARD: I'd have to look this up, also. I don't remember off the top of my head. I do have this information. I will get it to you. BARBARA: That would be fascinating. Especially if you had that tape, I'd be happy to digitize that for you and transcribe it. That would be something that would be a really nice addition to this collection and for you, too. DANI: I have one on her side, too; my mom recorded her mom. BARBARA: Oh, wow. If we can help that way, it adds layers to the richness of the story. RICHARD: Well, we do have that. DANI: By the way, they arrived in Boston. I have that in here. RICHARD: So in any event, her mom had a cousin who was living with the family because his parents?I don't know what happened to the mother, whether she died. I'm not sure about the mother. The father of the cousin was dragged to death by a horse in Montana. DANI: That was her dad's brother. GERTRUDE: That was on Datsie's side. DANI: Yes, that was your dad's brother, David. RICHARD: His name was David Ruben Rightman. So the son was born after the father's death 12 and he got the name David Ruben Rightman in honor of the father, as did my mother's brother, who also had the name of David Ruben Rightman?which was not a problem for the cousins to have the same name when they weren't living in the same household, but it became a source of confusion more for the community than for the family after the cousin became adopted. So there were two David Ruben Rightmans with the same address, with the same parental references and what have you. BARBARA: Wow. For those who might be not knowledgeable, it's customary in the [Ashkenazi] Jewish tradition to only name after someone who's deceased, not while they're living. RICHARD: Right. DANI: This one, the father and the uncle had died. So they were both named right away in his honor. GERTRUDE: It was Datsie's brother. RICHARD: Yes, it was her (Gertrude's) father's brother who was killed. What happened to the mother, I don't know. DANI: I don't know. I haven't been able to find out. I don't think she lived that much longer. She was around for a little bit, but not that much longer. RICHARD: I think there were two other kids. Wasn't there a Sadie and a Sam? DANI: Sadie and Sam. RICHARD: But we cannot figure out what happened to them. They died around 1920-ish, in the late teens or 1920, at least Sam did. DANI: Yes, in New York, there pretty close. RICHARD: Dani thinks there may have been some sort of structural problem...chest or lung. 13 DANI: She always called it pigeon chest. So something with them. I don't know if that's in the family or not. RICHARD: So it may have been that. It may also have been the flu pandemic of that era that killed them. We don't know. Whatever it was, David Rightman survived. He was older than my mom's (Gertrude's) brother, so he was named the Big Dave. Your brother (Gertrude's brother) was named the Little Dave. GERTRUDE: One was the Little Big Dave the other was the Big Dave. RICHARD: Well, that was later. The Little Dave outgrew? DANI: He ended up being taller than the Big Dave. RICHARD: So he became the Big Little Dave and the other one was the Little Big Dave. GERTRUDE: Right, yes. DANI: And the other thing that was really big in this family was nicknames. Everybody had a nickname, even farther back, like other cousins I found doing (around in our) genealogy. I'm like, is this a Jewish thing? I don't know. But every single person had their own nickname in the family. GERTRUDE: What was my nickname? DANI: Getty Girl. Your name is Gitel. Gitel Sluva Rightman. I don't know where Getty Girl came from. [Laughing} That's what Uncle Dave would call her is Getty Girl. BARBARA: That's cute. DANI: In school, too, they knew you that way. I guess probably because your big brother called you that. GERTRUDE: Well, Big Dave came from New York and his parents died. He came from New York. He was also David Rightman and my brother was David Rightman . So to separate it, one 14 was the Big Little Dave and the other was Little Big Dave. They're both dead now. BARBARA: Is there anything more we should know about the Rudiak side of the family? We've got the Rightman from North Dakota to? RICHARD: My dad had a sister. My dad was George Rudiak. He had a sister, Ernestine Rudiak, and she married an Air Force man by the name of Ed(win) Triner and she lives on the East Coast currently. She might actually, in some strange way...She lived here in Las Vegas when my folks came to Las Vegas and she may be able to tell you some of the early history as well; now that I think about it. But it would have to be via a phone conversation, if you're interested. So anyway, you got married...Well, Dad enlisted because of the war in the military. Then they got married. Where did you get married? You got married in Yuma, Arizona, right? DANI: Yes. RICHARD: Back then blood tests were required in California. I don't know why they went to Yuma. She doesn't remember. Mom doesn't remember. But for whatever reason, they went there. GERTRUDE: Ernestine was on the East Coast. RICHARD: No, Mom, we're not talking about Ernestine. We're talking about you and George right now, when you got married. BARBARA: So I read that they were married in 1942. RICHARD: Sounds right, yes. My dad was stationed here in Las Vegas. Mom likes to say they got shipped here by the military. He was initially posted at one of the bases in California. I'd have to look it up. I don't remember which one. They got shipped here. Then they started having a family. Dani's mother was born. 15 [AFTERWORD INSERT: In 1943, George enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp. He first served at the headquarters of the Western Flying Training Command at Santa Ana, and lived with Gertrude in a hotel room. He was later transferred to the Las Vegas Gunnery School (now Nellis Air Force Base). That is how George and Gertrude happened to come to Las Vegas. Though transferred back to California to finish his tour of duty, in 1946, upon his honorable discharge, they returned to Las Vegas, where George began practicing law.] DANI: She was born in California, though. So I don't know exactly how it worked. RICHARD: She was born in, what, '43? DANI: Yes. Orange. But they weren't there long. I think she was only there for like a year and then they came here. BARBARA: And your mom's name? DANI: Geri Rudiak. And she married John Rentchler. And then they had me. And they had me and that was it. [Laughing] They were like, no more! BARBARA: So the daughter was the oldest of...There were five children? DANI: She's the oldest. RICHARD: Five children, right. At that point I think my father, to get more money, wanted to become an officer. So he petitioned to do what was necessary to go to officer's school or something. At that point they started digging into his history because we were at war. They discovered he was from Russia. And even though the Russians were allies, it was never the warmest of relationships, as you may know. GERTRUDE: Who, Frank and John? RICHARD: No. George. It may have been a blessing because, to get rid of him, they shipped him to the desert. GERTRUDE: That was here. 16 RICHARD: Yes. They didn't want him as an officer and overseas and commanding American troops or whatever. BARBARA: Interesting. RICHARD: So it may have actually gotten him out of service overseas, just the fact that he was born overseas. It's crazy when you think about it, but that was the attitude. Well, it was during the pre-McCarthy era. So you understand. BARBARA: We see history repeat itself even today. So, yes. RICHARD: So he got shipped here (to Las Vegas). I guess he flew around doing whatever work the military had him doing. They had him stationed at?were you stationed initially at the base? GERTRUDE: I've been there. RICHARD: You don't remember? Did you go out to?Nellis Air Force Base was called the Air Gunnery Range back then. It still has parts of it that are referred to as the Air Gunnery Range. That's where they were sent. It was really divorced (separated from the town)... At that time there were maybe twenty, twenty-three thousand, something like that, a very small population in the county. So there was a major differentiation between Vegas, to some degree?actually, North Las Vegas was part of Las Vegas back then. Henderson was...I'll tell you more about Henderson in just a second. But the air base was like its own little city, also. It was still where it is today, out on Nellis, but it was dirt roads practically getting to it. Maybe they were paved, but little two-lane roads. It seemed like forever-out-there because the relative distances?this is my memory of it?it seemed quite a distance to travel. The end of town going east was Eastern. That's where the street got its name; it was the eastern end of town. Really, the Boulder Highway was there taking you out towards Henderson. Henderson had its life, basically, 17 because of the titanium plant out there. But the Showboat Hotel was there. It's no longer there. But the original Showboat was there going out the Boulder Highway; and that was pretty much the end of Las Vegas. If you got past the Showboat, there was nothing; it was desert. Between the Showboat and, I guess, Water Street in Henderson, when you came to the plant in Henderson, there was maybe a?well, there was; there was a little town called Pittman, which I don't think it's referenced anymore. I think it's been subsumed in?I think it's part of Henderson now. But it was about midway between. It was about a fourteen-mile gap of desert (between Vegas and Henderson) and, right in the middle, was Pittman. They had like a post office and a gas station and place you could get bait if you were going out to the lake to fish. That was Pittman. Then again, to get to Nellis Air Force Base, from where we lived, you'd go up Charleston, turn left on Nellis, the same way you would today, but it was all pretty much desert. Am I telling this as you remember it? So when you came to town, Mom, I don't know if you lived at the air force base originally or in an apartment. GERTRUDE: No. We managed to rent a house. We rented the house on 14th Street