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Transcript of interview with Margie Joanne Corderman by Leora Cohen, March 11, 1981






On March 11, 1981, Leora Cohen interviewed city planner, Margie Joanne Corderman (born September 30th, 1933 in Sac City, Iowa) in the kitchen of her home in Boulder City, Nevada. The interview covers the history, growth and development of Boulder City. During the interview, Margie discusses Six Companies houses, swamp coolers, pollution and Boulder City locals having to commute to Las Vegas and Henderson for work. Some of the occupations Margie has held in Clark County, Nevada, include, Clark County Deputy Assessor, engineering aid, planning technician, planning director, and engineering technician.

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Margie Corderman oral history interview, 1981 March 11. OH-00427. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman i An Interview with Margie Joanne Corderman An Oral History Conducted by Leora Cohen Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2017 UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman iii The Oral History Research Center (OHRC) was formally established by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System in September 2003 as an entity of the UNLV University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The OHRC conducts oral interviews with individuals who are selected for their ability to provide first-hand observations on a variety of historical topics in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. The OHRC is also home to legacy oral history interviews conducted prior to its establishment including many conducted by UNLV History Professor Ralph Roske and his students. This legacy interview transcript received minimal editing, such as the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. The interviewee/narrator was not involved in the editing process. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman iv Abstract On March 11, 1981, Leora Cohen interviewed city planner, Margie Joanne Corderman (born September 30th, 1933 in Sac City, Iowa) in the kitchen of her home in Boulder City, Nevada. The interview covers the history, growth and development of Boulder City. During the interview, Margie discusses Six Companies houses, swamp coolers, pollution and Boulder City locals having to commute to Las Vegas and Henderson for work. Some of the occupations Margie has held in Clark County, Nevada, include, Clark County Deputy Assessor, engineering aid, planning technician, planning director, and engineering technician. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 1 Margie Joanne Corderman interviewed by Leora Cohen, March 11th, 1981. 612 Avenue L in Boulder City. Margie, how long have you lived in Boulder City? I came here in August of ’53. And where did you come from? We came from Tucson. Tucson. Ah, what made you decide to move here? Well, I was living in Tucson with my brother and sister-in-law and their family, and I had taken their oldest son back to Iowa with me for the summer. And while we were back there, my relatives moved to Boulder City. So, they gave me a phone call and said don’t go back to Tucson because we don’t live there anymore. And so, I brought the son back to Boulder and I have never left. What was Boulder City like then? Well, it was quite a bit smaller than it is now. We only had about a—I would imagine about a fifty-four hundred population. Ah, course we had the pretty green parks that we have now. Because it was all under federal jurisdiction. And it was just a real small town community. Okay. Um, what was it like being under the federal jurisdiction? Well, I can say that now, the people in Boulder City are quite spoiled because of it, those that have stayed here. Ah, for instance, when someone would mow their yard, you didn’t have to take care of your clippings. You’d just put ‘em out in the street and the government come along, pick them up for you. Or if you had a sprinkler system that broke, they’d come and fix it for you. And course we had the federal rangers, rather than policemen, although their function was similar. What about the liquor laws back then? UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 2 Well, there was no liquor law at that time. I’m not quite sure when that came into effect. There’s no liquor or gambling in Boulder City at the time they moved here. How did you feel about that? Well, it really didn’t bother me because I don’t drink. (Laughs) (Laughs) It was a case of, well, we had one—one fellow in town that had a taxi service, and he was called quite frequently, to go to either Railroad Pass or the old Strike Inn, to take people there and bring them back, that didn’t have cars. Because they couldn’t have their liquor in town. What was your occupation, when you first came here? I went to work as a trainee with the county of Clark and in the assessor’s office, and I was there for approximately three years, and came up through their ranks, up to (unintelligible) What does that do? What we did there was, whenever a deed is recorded, they’re all put unto microfilm and then the microfilm is sent down to the assessor’s office from the recorder’s office. And we reprint the deed, read the deed, and work it on to the assessor’s plats, and this verifies ownership of properties within Clark County. After that you were an engineering aid? After that I came to work for the city of Boulder City, where I started as an engineering aid. And then? Then I went into the field of planning and got in as a planning technician. Then city planner, then planning director, and I am now an engineering technician in the engineering department. Were you involved in any of the planning of Boulder City? UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 3 Yes. I was instrumental in one thing that Boulder City is pretty well noted for now, is their beautiful nine hole—nine hole golf course. And two fellows that work in the engineer department and myself laid out the whole golf course. We were down there when there were bushes over your head and you couldn’t see each other and we did all the rough engineering on it—it was those six units of subdivision homes there, bounded, on the golf course. Okay, and you’re still involved in planning here? Ah, not in planning. I’m back into engineering now. We’re now in the process of developing two parks in Boulder City: Lewis Homes Park and Villa Del Prado Park. We have consulted out the Villa Del Pardo Park but our city crews are doing the Lewis Homes Park. How do you feel about the growth that’s taking place in the past few years? Well, there’s really two sides to that. Ah, I can see where people would want to keep it small and have it pretty well controlled. But, on the other hand, I can reflect on younger people who had graduated from high school. Now years ago when we were in a rather dormant period, they couldn’t find jobs here and they had to go out of state or out of town to find work. Then when Boulder did start growing it kept a lot of our kids here in town, gave ‘em jobs and a feeling of security. Now we are back to the point where it’s very hard to find jobs. Because it is limited growth and once again these people are having to go out of Boulder City to find employment. Did they wish to have more industry? Ah, yes. Industry would help. Ah, Boulder City has lost several industrial firms that have wanted to come to town, where we could have employed more people. We have the Simtek Corporation now, they employ, I think about thirty people, we had Fisher Pen they have approximately twenty-five people, ah, Cars Engineering—and that’s really about the three biggest ones that we have in Boulder right now. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 4 I’ve heard that Boulder City is basically a retirement town, do you agree with that? Well, when I left planning—the planning department in ’76, we did a poll then, which turned out to be a pretty good poll and it averaged that forty percent of our population were senior citizens. And twenty-four percent of our population were living in mobile homes, at that time. Ah, what kind of social life did you have here in town? You mean—personally or? And in the past how has it like changed, in the past? What has Boulder City offered to you? Well, when I first came here, Boulder City had in the field of recreation a peewee boys baseball team and a midget boys baseball team, and that was it. We now have approximately 490 players involved, just in kindergarten through fourteen-year-olds. There was no women’s softball. My sister and I got the women’s softball started. We started out with four teams. We’ve had as many as eight. We’re back down to about four now. We, I am also a member of the, what we call BRAVO, it’s the Boulder Recreation Association Volunteer Organization. It has been in existence since 1947. They were instrumental in building the bleachers at the softball field, helping through the Department of Interior to start the cemetery, and just through the years, we have had an influx and a decrease in membership. And right now what we do is hit the sponsors for all the ball teams. We have a little booth that we run at the ballpark, and through those proceeds, we sponsor the junior high football team, which would not be in existence if it were not for those funds. Do you belong to any other organizations in town? I belong to the Chamber of Commerce. Belong to any of the churches? Grace Community Church. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 5 Is there anything that you would like to see, like an organization open up here in Boulder that isn’t here now? Well, one thing that has come in, just—just recently, that I think the town has—again, we’re in a recreation viewpoint, that we haven’t had in the past, is the novelist program. There were a lot of people involved in that and of course that’s really good, health wise even. Ah, there’s a new thing out that Boulder City is turning into an art town now, they have a cultural arts center and what do you think about that? Well, we’re in the—in the process now, through the city forces, we have just installed, in memory of Frank Crowe, who was the builder of Hoover Dam. We’ve laid out new sidewalk areas and a bus, which will be displayed, unveiled, this Saturday, on the 14th, in memory of him. And in our (unintelligible) organization, we do have one member, Mr. Elton M. Garret, who is on the arts guild committee, that just opened a new little office in Boulder City. And the historical society, in Boulder City now, plans to—in the future sometime, when funds are available, to build a museum on this Frank (unintelligible) previously. And perhaps it will just mushroom from there and get to be quite a tremendous museum. The museums gonna have things about the dam? Right, and what I understand, we will have movies of the dam and then movies prior to the construction of the dam, and then of course, it’ll have all types of artifacts, displays, and this type of thing that you normally would find in a museum. This weekend, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Boulder City. Are you involved in the celebration in any way? No. Not really, as far as the celebration goes, other than the laying out of the sidewalks and the statue area of Crowe Park. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 6 Seems like Henderson’s getting closer and closer to Boulder City. How do you feel about that? And then, like pollution-wise? I can look out at Eldorado Valley and see pollution there and so much smog. How do you feel about that and what can we do about it? Well, one thing that people have always said is that the Henderson smog is coming to Boulder City and a lot of people don’t realize it. The plants from Henderson that caused this pollution are in Henderson there, in the county. And it is a true fact that they do infiltrate into the valley and, however, Henderson has come in with clean industries, like Levi Strauss, Sylvania Battery Companies coming and fortunately they are on the end of the town of Henderson, closer to Boulder City. I think a lot of the pollution is caused from—like I spoke of before, people in Boulder City having to drive to Las Vegas or to Henderson to work. This caused emissions, which cause a problem. So it’s kind of all tied together, in that sense. Ah, this house you’re living in, the, all the avenues, A, B, C, D, L, were they built during the dam days, in the thirties? Yes. We have maps on record that were turned over to us from the Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, that it was the original town site layout and this is exactly they were built exactly the way those original plans came out. So whoever did the original planning knew what he was doing—or she. Okay. But it’s not an original house, then? This—this house? Mm-hm. Yes. This is a Six Companies house. This was put up by the Six Companies; we have done a lot of alterations to it. Mm-hm. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 7 As all of these houses on Avenue L were all Six Companies houses and they’re all pretty well kept up. At the time my folks purchased this house, it was in about ‘5—’57. We were still under federal control, which meant that they could own the house but they leased the land from the government that the house sit upon. So when the city got ready to incorporate in ’60, they offered every resident the opportunity to purchase their home. My folks bought the house for four thousand dollars furnished and the lot cost eight hundred and fifty some dollars. Oh my gosh. (Laughs) (Laughs) and now it’s worth? Well, now I would say the house—it’s a two-bedroom house, course we have a—it’s quite a deep lot, ah, it’s not too wide, but it’s a deep lot; we have done a lot of improvements in the backyard, and I would say now we could probably realize a forty, forty-five thousand dollar home. How come these older houses didn’t come with heaters? How come they didn’t build heaters and air conditioning? Well, they had swamp coolers. Mm. Well, from what I understand—I wasn’t here in those days, but the front part of our house, which is now enclosed was a screen porch, and at nights, because they didn’t have air conditioning or some folks didn’t even have swamp coolers—they would wet sheets and hang them up on the outside of the screens of the porches. And then, with the wind in effect, they had a swamp cooler, as far as the mechanism goes. Because the wind would come through the cold, the wet sheet and cool you down. Now this particular house, when we moved here, there was a—evidently had UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 8 been a, either a kerosene stove or a wood stove in this kitchen, and that must have been what they cooked on. They had the chimney that came up and went out the wall. Ah, tell me about some other people that have lived here as long as you have, I’m interested, why was a junior high school named after Elton M. Garret, as opposed to somebody else who’s lived here as long as he has? Well, Mr. Garrett from what I understand was one of the original teachers in Boulder City. In fact, City Hall, where I work, we have an area now that is a vault and from what I have learnt from Mr. Garret, he started out with the—the county gave him seven typewriters, and his first typing class was held in Nate Hall, which had just a door—no windows, just the overhead lighting. He was also either principal or superintendent of Boulder City schools for quite some time. He’s quite a historian, he’s a real estate broker here in town and like you say, he’s been here for a very long time. He had the first original Boulder City newspaper, very sharp at journalism, and one of my favorite people. Oh. Is there anyone else that you want to talk about, and how do you feel about the MX missile coming out? Well, I really don’t think—well, lemme put it this way, if we have to have such a thing, and it looks as if we do need that type of defense—to keep abreast of the times—why don’t they do it in the ocean somewhere? Ah, from Nevada’s standpoint, it’s gonna have a horrendous impact, especially as far as the water rights go. We have agriculture of course in the northern part of the state. We’ll be taking the water rights away from these people. It’s going to bring in a tremendous amount of people, which in some cases is good and some cases it isn’t. It’ll put a lot of people to work. But my thoughts on it are that by the time they get it built, it’s going to be obsolete. It’s really a—to me, it’s a, “Why bother?” type situation. UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 9 How do you feel about the Sagebrush Rebellion? Hm. Okay. The Sagebrush Rebellion was a—just people in the western states—well, Nevada, eighty-seven percent of Nevada is federally owned, and the people of Nevada want that land to be turned over to the state of Nevada so they can run the land. So the state can run the land? Mm-hm. Well, here again, I think you’re keeping people from doing what our constitution says we can do. It’s the home of the free—land of the free and the home of the brave, and it’s more or less isolating them if the states go in and take the land and keep them from making a living. Okay. Ah, you’re one of the few women in your occupations, aren’t you? Well, more and more you see more women getting involved, which I think is—is terrific. I am not a staunch advocate of ERA, don’t get me wrong. But if a woman has the brains to do the job that a man does, she should get the work—the pay, that a man does, if the work is the same as a man does. I feel that women are just kinda set back and been overrun and not realizing that they had the talents that they do have if they applied themselves. And I think this is tremendous, what they’re doing now, and will do in the future. Is most of your family here in Boulder City, then, now? All of my family here—is here , except one brother, who’s in Concord, California. If there was anything you could change about Boulder City, what would it be? Personally, I would like to see the controlled growth ordinance lifted. Why is that? UNLV University Libraries Margie Joanne Coderman 10 Well, I don’t feel that a population of ten thousand people merits the type of retail stores that we have—we can get. If we, if a company wants to come in here, they try to take a traffic count somewhere, if you don’t have a required number of cars passing, they will say, “Well, we can’t put our store in this location.” And I believe that there are so many, like I said previously, number of people that are in construction. These kids are married, have a family and the housing in Boulder City now, the price of a home and the valuation of a home has gone so high that they can’t afford to live in Boulder City. We have several people in City Hall that are employed there now that have moved to Henderson because they couldn’t qualify for housing in Boulder City. Ah, I am a people who needs people, I wish you would say, I—I like people. I wouldn’t want to live in Las Vegas, don’t get me wrong. Or, I—I have lived in Henderson, and I’ve lived in north Vegas, and I didn’t like either of those places. But Boulder City just seems to attract a different type of people—a good type of people. And is that what makes Boulder City special? I think so. It’s a—it’s a very friendly town. Ah, when someone stops and says, “Hi, how are you today?” They really want to know. They aren’t just saying it because you passed them on the street. Is there anything you want to say that hasn’t been said? Or you’d like to say? No. I think we pretty well covered it all, don’t you? Mm-hmm. Okay. Thank you. You’re welcome. (Tape ends)