[Transcript of interview with Kenny Epstein by Barbara Tabach, May 1, 2015]. Epstein, Kenny Interview, 2015 May 1. OH-02290. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
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An Interview with Kenny Epstein 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 ©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 & Editors: Barbara Tab ach, Claytee D. White n 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 in Preface On a pleasant spring evening at sundown in April 2017, a Pop-Up Shabbat draws a crowd of Jews to the Jackie Gaughan Parkway at the El Cortez Hotel & Casino. Proudly, and quietly, watching from the sideline is Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez. He seeks no recognition, but is enjoying the gathering for Sabbath services and the music that will fill the air. Kenny Epstein is also a classic enthusiast of Las Vegas history. The nostalgia is evident as one walks through the casino and reinforced by the stories of a man who has experienced the city’s growth since moving here in 1959 at the age of 18. The timeline of Kenny’s teen years begins with his bar mitzvah in Chicago and a story of prizefighter Rocky Marciano giving a brief toast. When he was 15, his parents, Ike and Adele Epstein, took the family to visit Las Vegas. About three years later, his father became an executive at the Stardust. Kenny’s own imprint on Las Vegas history was just beginning. In this brief interview, he mentions an illustrious list of mentors and recalls many historic moments from the history of the Las Vegas Strip. All of which led to his ownership of The El Cortez—advertised as the longest continuously operating hotel/casino. IV Table of Contents Interview with Kenny Epstein (includes Alexandra Epstein Gudai) May 1, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface..................................................................................iv Explains that his parents moved from Chicago to Las Vegas in 1959, when he was 18 years old; fell in love with the city when he visited at age 15. Mentions Elliot Price, one-time Caesars executive; Rocky Marciano, who attended his bar mitzvah; friendship with Les Miller, father of Bob Miller; Hank Greenspun and A1 Benedict recommendation for his gaming license. Talks about some favorite local restaurants, Green Shack, Luigi’s, Anjo’s............................1-4 Talks about working at Caesars from the first day it opened until coming to work at El Cortez in 1975; meeting Jackie Gaughan at Lake Tahoe; Cal Neva Lodge; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin; father’s friend E Walker of Walker Furniture. Mentions Jerry Zarowitz, Jay Sarno. El Cortez being on National Register of Historic Places; Siegel’s 1941 restaurant and past ownership that included Benjamin Siegel and Meyer Lansky; daughter Alex mentions his working at Barbary Coast when she was young..........................................................................5-8 Discusses Jewish businessmen who opened up Strip hotels and casinos; Fortune 400 list of richest families. Talks about Carl Cohen, president of Sands, and his relationship with desegregation of the Strip. Howard Hughes’s impact on Las Vegas hotel development; entertainment of the earlier era; Folies Bergere, Minsky’s at the Dunes, Hallelujah Hollywood at Bally’s, Cirque du Soleil, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and other lounge performers.................................9-14 Mentions looking at Prairie Meadows (Iowa racetrack). Talks about 1980 MGM fire and a 1960 fire at Stardust Hotel; coming to terms with Ralph Englestad and Hitler birthday party at Imperial Palace and Nevada Council for Holocaust education; Steve Wynn........................15-17 Shares stories about relationships with law enforcement over the years in Las Vegas; Chester Simms and Simms Family Foundation; Mormon influence of city; Nate Mack, Jerry Mack, Parry Thomas, and Bank of Nevada; obtaining a loan.........................................18-21 Gun story about Jackie Gaughan; personal story about his first time shooting a gun when he was nine years old; mock trial for his poor shooting with a Winchester rifle in Wisconsin and Marty Gilfoyle, a one-time racketeer. More about Jackie Gaughan, Michael and Jackie Jr. Gaughan... Parents and grandparents ancestral roots. Lesson learned from Jay Sarno..............22-27 v THE SOUTHERN NEVADA JEWISH COMMUNITY DIGITAL HERITAGE PROJECT at UNLV University Libraries Use Agreement Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: 13/IT2-15 We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on_( I along with typed transcripts as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. I understand that my interview will be made available to researchers and may be quoted from, published, distributed, placed on the Internet or broadcast in any medium that the Oral History Research Center and UNLV Libraries deem appropriate including future forms of electronic and digital media. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Signature of Interviewer Date Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, NV 89154-7010 702.895.2222 VI THE SOUTHERN NEVADA JEWISH COMMUNITY DIGITAL HERITAGE PROJECT at UNLV University Libraries Use Agreement Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. I understand that my interview will be made available to researchers and may be quoted from, published, distributed, placed on the Internet or broadcast in any medium that the Oral History Research Center and UNLV Libraries deem appropriate including future forms of electronic and digital media. There will be no compensation for any interviews. interview(s) initiated on___ _________ along with typed transcripts as an unrestricted gift, Signature of Interviewer Date Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, NV 89154-7010 702.895.2222 Vll [Today is May first— May first, May Day. —2015. This is Barbara Tabach and I’m sitting in the offices of El Cortez with Kenny Epstein and Alexandra. Yes. And you are? I'm Katie. Katie, hi. I'm Barbara Tabach. [Colloquy not transcribed] BARBARA: So how did you end up living in Las Vegas? KENNY: My parents moved here, which I'm very fortunate that they did. They moved here in 1959. And how old were you? I was eighteen. I came out when I was nineteen. I love Las Vegas. Loved it when I came here when I was fifteen, visiting. Loved it. And let me ask, where were you moving from? Chicago. [Colloquy not transcribed] So who were some of the other interesting mentors in those early days for you? Oh, we had a lot of people. We had Elliot Price; he was a long-time friend. I've known him since he was an executive there; I've known him since I was ten years old. He was a good guy. He brought Rocky Marciano to my bar mitzvah. Really? Yes. He was from Boston. It was just a lot of different guys at Caesars. A neighborhood of mine was in the plane with Rocky when it went down. He was? Really? Yes. He made a speech at my bar mitzvah and he said, "You know, I'm not much for speeches, but I can tell you one thing's for sure; I can beat every man in the house." That was his speech. That was his speech. Where was your bar mitzvah? Chicago. Not the Bismarck—at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. So Chicago, were there a lot of Chicago people that moved here?... Well, there was Les Miller. He was from Chicago and he was a good friend. He lived next door to us on the Desert Inn Golf Course. Of course, his son got to be governor [Gov. Bob Miller], He was a good guy, a real good guy. What exactly drew your dad here to live? Well, gambling was not legal anymore. So we had to...We just left. It was legal here and it was just like if you're . This was like the place to be. So he came for the opportunity. Sure. Did he know people here already? Oh, of course. ALEX: Did he have a job? Yes, the Stardust, Yes. So what else? Tell me the history. 2 Well, I can't. I can't. If you want a history, you'd have to move in with me. Well, okay. [Laughing] Just ask me about individual people; that would be better. ALEX: Weren't you a member of...It was Congregation Ner Tamid, right, or was it Temple Beth Sholom first? Beth Sholom. It was over on Oakey. So you had your bar mitzvah. Did you plug into the Jewish community when you came here? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Can you tell me about that? What was going on in the Jewish world? The main guy was Hank, Hank Greenspun, and he was a great guy. Hank was on my...You needed two people to recommend you for a gaming license, and it was Hank Greenspun and A1 Benedict. So I had two good guys. Why did they recommend you? Because I asked them. It was as easy as that, huh? That's all. They were friends. Any specific stories other than that with Hank Greenspun? He did a really long oral history and I've been listening to his. Well, he's a different type of a guy. He's got such a history that it's...You know. Yes, he was a natural storyteller. A natural storyteller, a writer, a newspaper guy. He was a very good guy, very good guy. Everybody has faults and shortcomings, but overall he was a hell of a guy. 3 Well, he was very passionate about things... Very passionate. What I could tell you about Hank Greenspun, I mean just one little thing that he used to be at all these Israel fundraisers and this and that. And he'd say, "Twenty-five thousand." He'd be passionate. "Come on." He'd get everybody going. Guys would tell you, he pledges but he doesn't pay his pledges. So what? What he does for...Don't worry about it. If he had money, he'd pay the pledges. And sure enough, he makes—whenever he made a lot of money, he paid all of his pledges and more. You know how much he's given the university, what they've done. I mean, a great guy, very good guy. ALEX: How did you meet him? I don't know. Through my parents as a teenager. He was friends with my dad. I don't know how I met him. I met him (when) it was a small town. We'd hang out at the Desert Inn Golf Course or at the Stardust or just go to the hotels for dinner. There weren't that many restaurants. You had the Green Shack. You had Luigi's. You had Anjo's. You had ten restaurants here that were decent, not fifty or sixty. So it was a small place. Did you feel it growing? You really don't. Nothing happens overnight. It's just gradual. It's just like you're getting older, aren't you? You remember when you were fifteen? It didn't happen overnight now that you're whatever age you are now. I'm seventy-four. It didn't happen overnight. That's the same as the city. It grows and you don't even notice it. The only thing you notice is you've got more highways, you've got more freeways, you've got more this, that, or a bigger building; that's all. So you were at Caesars, and how long did you work there? I worked there from the day it opened until December 1, 1975, when I came here (to El Cortez). Tell me how that all happened. What brought you here? 4 Jackie Gaughan. Tell me about him. Well, he was a friend of my father's and he had an older...partnership. You know what I mean? And he gave me the opportunity to buy in. So I did. I'll tell you one thing that my father said to me that he had a lot of other opportunities to buy in to other hotels. And my father said, "The El Cortez might not be as glamorous as Caesars Palace, but being on the square is more important than the beautification of a project. He's going to take care of you. He's going to be on the square and he's going to be honest and that's who you've got to get hooked up with." My father gave me great advice and I listened to him. When I first met Jackie I was fifteen. We were up at Lake Tahoe with Jackie. He had a place up there called the Tahoe Biltmore. It was a small, little place. It had a hundred slot machines. You had to walk upstairs and it was all on...You know. He showed us all around the place. Later on that day—we were staying at the Cal Neva; that was the hot spot in Lake Tahoe, the Cal Neva Lodge. Frank Sinatra was there—well, he wasn't there at this particular time, but he had just left. I think Dean Martin was there, or coming in. It was a small, little showroom, maybe seated two hundred and fifty people. So we come back; we spent a couple of hours with Jackie and with this friend of my dad's, E. Walker. You know the Walkers. Of Walker Furniture? Yes, Walker Furniture. This is before the people who own it now. Right. I've met Sharon Walker. Yes. This is Sharon's father—with Sharon's uncle we were up there with. When we got back to the room, we're getting dressed to go to dinner. My father says, "You know that fellow we met today?" I says, "Mr. Gaughan?" He says, "Yes. He's a triple threat." You heard that before, the 5 expression triple threat. Explain that. Well, a football player, when you say a football player—we're in the gambling business—so you say a football player is a triple threat. He can run, pass and he can go on defense, too. He can do everything. You know what I mean? He's a triple threat. So he said, "That fellow we met today?" I says, "Mr. Gaughan?" He says, "Yes, he's a triple threat." I said, "What do you mean by that, Dad?" "Well, he's a go-getter, he's smart and he's honest. Those three things is a cinch. He's a cinch." And I was fifteen; that was 1956. So almost twenty years later I get to be his partner, nineteen years later. What about that? That was pretty good. That is pretty good. Yes. And then from there we came here in 1975, December '75. And then in '79, we opened up the Barbary Coast and then the Gold Coast, the Orleans, the Suncoast. And we sold all those places; and then I took the money and I bought this place. The quality of being honest for Jackie in this city, did that set him above and different from others? Above and beyond. Above and beyond. I don't want to say everybody's crooked, but everybody has faults. He had faults; don't get me wrong. But when it came to honesty, that wasn't one of his weaknesses. He took the worst of it all the time. In fact, I used to say to him—when I say we get robbed, we get robbed every day; somebody steals; something goes on every day—and I said to Jackie one day when we caught somebody stealing again—it could be a kitchen worker stealing six steaks or it could be a slot guy stealing twenty dollars in quarters or something bigger. There's always something going on. And I'd say, "Jackie, how do you sleep at night? 6 We just caught another guy stealing." And he said, "They don't take everything." Jackie, he says, "They don't take everything." He was something else, Jackie. So how did you...fit that to your personality? Well, Jackie was a mentor. I tell this to a lot of people. I said, "When you have good parents, it's very difficult to make a mistake." And I had great parents, great parents. Now I have great parents. I had a great mentor in Jackie. I had a lot of people that helped me. I mentioned Jerry Zarowitz. He was a close friend. In fact, his son is a partner here with us. He's sick now, but he's a partner with us because Jerry asked me. "Talk to Jackie. I want something for my son." We bought everybody else out, but he didn't want to sell out. He's still with us. So I had him as a mentor. Jay Sarno was a hell of a guy for me. I was going to get a gift shop at the MGM when it was being built. He says, "I'll design this for you." I says, "Okay. Well, how much money do you want?" "I don't want anything from you." He had a girl by the name of—I think Joy Harris was her name and she was a designer. He designed the whole thing, plans and everything for me. I didn't get it, but...And he wouldn't charge me a penny. He was a good guy. So he was another guy that was a good mentor to me. So I had a lot of people that helped me. When people meet you and they find out you own the El Cortez, who are some of the people they ask you about the most, or first? Well, people our age—we're up there—may ask you a lot of things about the past and what happened. But these younger people, they don't even know anything about anything. So they don't even ask questions, many of them. They just—“You own the El Cortez? Oh, that's great." But they don't ask anything about history or anything like that because either they're not aware of it or they're not interested in it; or they're in the moment. Kids are in the moment—younger 7 people. Most people, they don't read papers anymore. They don't read books. They are on these phones. They're on the Internet. They're not reading anymore. So they're not into... But this hotel has a lot of history— Oh, a lot of history. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Right. And Alex got that done; she did that for us. We're trying to—it's a small place. So we don't have the facilities that these bigger places do. So we have to go off nostalgia and that's what we're doing for our restaurant, Siegel's 1941, to bring back the heritage because he and Meyer Lansky and these other killers—we have pictures on our walls—owned this place. And when did they own it? They owned it in 1945. They owned it for a year and a half. Why they bought this place is because they were building the Flamingo at the same time and they wanted to have all their people working. And then when the Flamingo opened, they sold it back to the owners that they bought it from and moved everybody to the Flamingo. So if you've seen the movie Bugsy, they show some crappy place that he had downtown in Las Vegas. It looked like the El Cortez, but it's a movie. But that was what they did. Do you remember coming here as a kid? Well, in the fifties. I was bom in '41. So '45,1 was four years old. The first time I was here I think was in '56, '55-56. Do you remember coming here when you were a kid, Alex? ALEX: The El Cortez? You weren't here when I was little. When I was born you were at the Barbary Coast the whole time. You were there until I went to college, I think. Yes. No, because she didn't come down here much. We'd go to the Barbary Coast; that was 8 their place. Even though I was a partner here—I used to come here on Sundays for the football and that's about it. So one of the things that I’ve discovered as I’m working on this project is that the number of businesses that were on the Strip were opened up by Jewish transplants from other places. Why do you think that occurred? Well, it's very simple—I hope you know this besides asking me—because the only people that were really in the gambling business were the Jewish people, Italians and Irish; that was it basically. Now, I'm not saying there wasn't other people. There was a fellow from Chicago that was one of the biggest. He might have been an Irishman, too, Johnson. But that was the people that were in this business. You had tool and die workers were guys from Czechoslovakia and Hungary; that was their trade. But that's who started it. So when they started gambling it was just the Irish, Italians and the Jews, mostly. Even back east where the WASP-y—Carl Bradley, who was an Irishman, he was a horseman. He had a Derby winner and he was a society gambling operator, Carl Bradley—look him up, Alex, on the computer. He had a place in Saratoga. He had a place in — he was a high-aligned, WASP-y...Nobody went there but the high-aligned people, Sinclairs and people like that. But for the most part, it was Jewish and Italian and Irish. So they came here. Most of the places started here—the El Rancho was by— ALEX: E.R. Bradley? Yes, I think that's who it is. Palm Beach and Saratoga. He had a big family. He was a big horseman. He had a gambling house in Palm Beach. That was the society. Of course, there were no Jews allowed in those places, like the Everglades Club or something like that. ALEX: Beach Club? 9 Beach Club. Nobody was allowed in there unless you were 400. ALEX: What is 400? Four hundred families. ALEX: What does that mean? You never heard of the four hundred? Shows you what a baby you are. Well, tell us. I don't know the four hundred. You don't know the four hundred? Look that up. What is the four hundred? You've heard of that, Joe, haven't you? No? JOE: No. Am I that old? See, we're going to learn something together today. ALEX: The four hundred richest families in New York? It was called 400. 400; that was an expression. “I belong to the 400.” ALEX: What does that mean? The richest people in America. Oh, in the United States? Yes, but it was mostly New York, back East—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York. So everybody wanted to be on that list, right? Well, sure. What was the relationship with law enforcement back in the day? Here in Las Vegas? The sheriff was the main guy. There was no really—are you talking about law enforcement maybe amongst us or law enforcement amongst the people? In general. Whatever way you want to think about it. 10 It was like any other police force. But if you were a gambling operator, you did anything you want—besides murder. But besides that, I don't think there was — I don't think anybody got arrested. Do you, Joe? No. No. In fact, it was just that way. If you were a gambling operator and you owned a casino—and everybody was drinking in those days. After working, drinking, went to this place, went to this place. And they get in their car drunk and they say, whoever it was, "Mr. Epstein, we don't want you driving. We'll drive you." The policeman would drive or a cop car would follow you and they'd take you home and that would be it. That's how it was. That wouldn't happen today, would it? No, that wouldn't happen. It wouldn't matter who you were. That's how it was. So you were here working when integration took place on the Strip. And I'll tell you a story that I heard — who started integration. A lot of people are going to take credit for this. But the man who told me this, told me it himself and if he told me, I believe him. What happened was it was in 1960. I wasn't there at the time. But this fellow's name was Carl Cohen. He was the president of the Sands and he was an old-time guy. He was a good guy. He lived a couple of houses from us on Desert Inn Golf Course. I happened to be sitting with him and he says, "You know how integration started that blacks could come in the casinos?" He says, "I helped create that." You did. That's great. How didyou do that? He says, "Well, Grant Sawyer was the governor and he was talking to me one day. He says, 'This is not right. This is not right.'" This is 1960—fifty-nine or '60; I don't remember. "He says, 'This isn't right. This isn't right. We've got to integrate. And I want to bring it up, but every time I bring it up, I can't get it on to a vote. I just can't bring it up. Nobody will bring it up.' He says,'I don't know what 11 to do. This is bad. This is real bad.' So I told him, I says, 'Well, you can do it in a minute if you want to.' 'Well, tell me how. If you tell me how, I'll do it.' He says, 'You appoint the gaming commission, don't you? Well, you just make a gaming regulation that if you discriminate against anybody, they'll lose their license.' And that's what he did." And then Carl Cohen told him how to do it. Now, if he told me that I believe him. I believe him. That's pretty good information, isn't it? Yes, that's really good. Because it was a really important thing. Oh, I would say. I should say it's important. What were some of the other important things that happened on the Strip? Would you say Howard Hughes was important? Well, I would say absolutely Howard Hughes is important because he got the—supposedly— well, he did. I don't know if it was planned by the government, which some people say it was planned by the government because he had—which I don't know; I just read these things. The story is that he sold TWA and he made seven hundred million dollars. He had some kind of a tax thing and he didn't pay any taxes. So they were going to indict him for income tax evasion. And the story is—now, I don't know if it's true or not—they said, "If you do this for us, we won't indict you for income tax evasion. We want you to buy these hotels in Las Vegas and get the Mafia out of Las Vegas." And that's what he did; he bought all the hotels that the Mafia was all infiltrated in. It seems plausible. I don't know, but it seems plausible. And he bought all these hotels. And then after that all these big companies came in here. Or we'd still have little places like the El Cortez. We wouldn't have all these hotels like Wynn and Mirage and Bellagio and all these hotels. We wouldn't have them. 12 It would have stayed smaller. Stayed small because people - they had hidden partners and they were stealing money and they couldn't enjoy any profits, really. They were taking all the money out to give to partners that were hidden. So how are you going to grow? The only way you can grow is if you can keep on reinvesting, improving and building. That's the only way you build these big places. So I think it was a good thing that Howard Hughes came here. Don't you, Joe? JOE: I would say. Absolutely. And, Joe, who are you? Joe's my partner. Joey's my partner. Hi, Joe, hiding behind the computer there. JOE: I'm listening. Joe, what's your last name? Woody. Woody, okay. Well, it's nice to meet you. JOE: Nice to meet you. Joe, call around and see who won the Oaks. I'm trying to watch it and I think it's over with. [Colloquy not transcribed] So tell me about entertainment in Las Vegas. We had all the stars. We just had stars. What happened is—we always had just entertainers. That's all they ever had. Then when the Tropicana opened, they opened with the Folies Bergere. It was the first nude show, production show I should say. I think it was the first one --1 think the first nude show probably was Minsky's at the Dunes. But the first real production show. Then 13 came the Stardust, the Lido. And then Hallelujah Hollywood at the Bally's, which was the MGM. And then they got into the Cirque du Soleil now. They have six or seven of them going. So everything changes. Did you go to the shows or any of the lounge acts when you were young? Yes, we used to go to Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra; that was the big thing, to see them. We'd go. If my mother wanted to go, we'd go. Who was her favorite? She liked Dean Martin. She liked Frank Sinatra. But the greatest act that ever came to Las Vegas in my opinion, better than Sinatra, Dean Martin, better than anybody, was the greatest act I think I've ever seen and that was Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera and the Witnesses. There was no better show. And they were at the Sahara and they did like three shows a night, four shows on Saturday night. It was unbelievable. You couldn't believe how good they were. Really good. That was your kind of music? Yes, it was terrific. They were great. So you were raised on that music, huh? Well... ALEX: In the car. It comes back. When you’re young...Did you appreciate it then, do you think? ALEX: Yes, it's always happy, fun, entertaining music. It felt like Vegas. You went to school in Iowa, right? Iowa is a nice state. Des Moines's a nice city. Where did we go, Joe? Where did we go for the casino? Davenport or was it Des Moines? JOE: I think it was Des Moines. 14 I can't remember where we went. It was Des Moines, wasn't it? No. Davenport. Well, Des Moines has Prairie Meadows, which is a racetrack. JOE: That's where we were at. Des Moines? JOE: Yes. Yes, I think so. Just outside of Des Moines. Yes, that's where it is. It was about ten years ago? JOE: Yes. It was a long time. We went to the country club there. We had lunch. I don't even remember what the country club was. It had an Indian casino there. The Cattleman? Was it the Cattleman where we were looking at a casino, the Cattleman or something? JOE: Yes. Cattleman, a whole big thing there. So when you travel you go to casinos? No, no. They were looking at promoters to put a casino there. Ah, okay. No, we didn't do it. So tell me about...some of the things that happened in Las Vegas—the MGM fire of 1980. We owned the casino across the street from it, the Barbary Coast. I have to say Michael did a— we had so much business. People were just flocking in there. Michael said, "You know what we're going to do? We're going to stop the gaming and we're going to take care of all these people." Which is probably the best publicity we ever could've got. 15 JOE: For the fire? Yes, post-fire. I remember in 1960 at the Stardust Hotel there was a fire... The casino filled up with smoke. It just was pouring in from the kitchen or something. And the place wasn't going to bum down, but the place was full of smoke. And you know these people put handkerchiefs across their mouth and still played? It was the damnedest thing you've ever seen. Yes. That's scary. Scary. Loyal customers. How about the Imperial Palace's owner, Ralph Engelstad? Well, I never knew him. I didn't know him. But he was a maverick and he was a Nazi sympathizer. I'll tell you, I don't know if he was that bad of a guy. I'm probably sure he was a guy who didn't care about anybody but himself. He wouldn't care if he hurt Jews' feelings or anybody's feelings. I don't think that he was a...I don't want to make excuses for him. I think he was a nut. But I just think that this was like fun to him, having Nazi parties. He thought it was fun. I won't say he was a good guy, but he did a lot of charity work for Downs syndrome. He did a lot of charity things. But Hitler was nice to his next-door neighbor; he fed the next-door neighbor's dog. Do you remember that story? He was always nice to them. He was nice to my dogs. ALEX: What were the Nazi parties? He had birthday parties every year for Hitler's birthday and they dressed up as Nazis. ALEX: What? In a ballroom. Yes. ALEX: Where? At the Imperial Palace. 16 ALEX: Why? Why?