Treva Roles is one of six children born to Louis and Katherine Smith, and spent her childhood in Erie, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois. During the Great Depression, Treva’s father used his entrepreneurial skills and creativity to turn his traveling salesman profession into a lucrative family business selling personal inventions. Eventually, he decided to sell the business, and buy a motel out west and “retire.” The motel ended up being the Fair Price Motel in Las Vegas, and Treva soon moved out to help the family run it. Her parents lived on Fremont Street. Shortly after moving to Las Vegas, Treva met Ralph Roles, a local fireman, whose family lived on West Charleston Blvd. The two were married just three months later. While on their honeymoon, Treva’s parents purchased the Del Mar Motel, and soon thereafter, Treva and Ralph purchased the Rummel Motel. Treva and Ralph owned and operated the Rummel Motel for 20 years, selling to Taiwanese investors in 1979. Treva and Ralph raised their three sons, all of whom are now chiropractors. In 2000, the couple fulfilled a dream of living on a golf course when they moved to Sun City Anthem. Two years later, Ralph lost his battle with Alzheimer’s. Treva’s current community activities include playing mahjong and involvement with the Women’s Club at Sun City Anthem.
Thomas Kerestesi was born in Redding, California. Son of Austrian immigrants, Tom’s family relocated to Las Vegas in 1956 when his father was offered a job with the Cragin and Pike Insurance Agency. The Kerestesi family moved into McNeil Estates, the neighborhood where the father would live for nearly fifty years until his passing. Tom attended West Charleston Elementary School and Hyde Park Junior High School, before entering Bishop Gorman High School. In high school, his extra-curricular activities included tennis and participated in Boys State. After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno with a major in Accounting, narrowly missing being drafted into the military, Tom moved to Los Angeles to begin in own career in insurance. Longing for home and newlywed, he soon moved back to Las Vegas with his wife Buffie, and joined Cragin and Pike as an agent alongside his father. Tom would remain at Cragin and Pike for the next 38 years, where he dealt with underwriting the gaming and construction industries. Tom has served as a member of the Las Vegas Rotary Club, president of the Nevada Independent Insurance Agents, and has been awarded Outstanding Alumni of the University of Nevada. Tom and Buffie have two children who both also still live in Las Vegas.
Kenneth Fong reflects on growing up in Las Vegas and being the son of two successful and philanthropic community members, Wing and Lilly Fong. When Ken was born the family live in a modest home on 20th and Stewart. It was a close-knit neighborhood and era, kids played tag and roamed freely. When he entered third-grade, his parents moved their family to a newer subdivision near Rancho and West Charleston Avenue: the Scotch 80s. Their new custom home on Silver Avenue reflected Asian architecture and the family’s Chinese cultural heritage; it also included a pool and a small basketball court. Memories of the neighborhoods are distinct. He learned to be comfortable with his sister and he being the only Asian Americans in school at the time. He kept busy with community volunteering at Sunrise Hospital and tutoring younger children on the Westside among other high school activities. Ken speaks lovingly of his parents and their achievements, family outings to local venues such as Mount Charleston and Red Rock and to California, where they bought Chinese baked goods. His mother, Lilly was born into a large Chinese American family of ten children, each of whom achieved a college education. After her marriage to Wing, she moved to Las Vegas with plans to work as a teacher. Ken retells the story of her encounter with discrimination and overcoming that, and her trajectory to be the first Asian American elected the Nevada Board of Regents. His orphaned father, Wing, immigrated to the United Sates in 1939 to live with uncles. They worked as cooks in Las Vegas and established the first Las Vegas Chinese restaurant, Silver Café. Wing was merely thirteen years old and spoke no English. These were not to be obstacles. He would go on to graduate from Las Vegas High School, earn a college degree in business, have a successful career in commercial real estate and banking, building the notable Fong’s Garden. Ken calls his father his most influential mentor. Today Ken is also a successful in real estate management, active at Grace Presbyterian Church, involved in Rotary Club, and a proud father of two daughters.
In 2011, Ian and Shanna Anderson moved into their McNeil Estates home with their two young children. Though both of the children born-and-raised Nevadan, neither Ian nor Shanna is. However, as the couple explains in this interview, letting their roots grow in Las Vegas has been quite easy. Ian has lived in Las Vegas since 1997 and Shanna since 2008. Ian was raised in Central corridor of Phoenix, where he explains he was in the minority as a white person. Shanna, by contrast, is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan. They met, married at Taliesin West (Scottsdale, AZ) and settled in Las Vegas, where both work in the office furniture industry. Shanna and Ian share a passion for design, especially midcentury modern design. So when they felt the need to move from their Summerlin home, they looked for a house in the center of the city. Something clicked when they saw 2601 Mason Avenue. It was a burnt out shell of a dwelling, but their vision of what could be became a tale of imagination and patience. They talk about the upside and downside of living in this Ward 1 neighborhood; there is the proximity to work, concerns about education for the children, and where they shops and play. They talk in detail about owning a perfect family home in a remarkable part of Las Vegas.
Karen Sarret Bartolo’s life in Las Vegas from 1948 to the present exemplifies the vast changes that took place in the social, cultural, and physical landscape of the city over the course of the twentieth century. Schools and businesses mentioned in interview are/were located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Karen Sarret Bartolo moved to Las Vegas from Reno at five years of age in 1948 with her parents, Jules James Sarret and Ila Burgess Sarret, and younger brother, Gordon. Upon arriving in the city her father opened Sarret's Office Supply, the family rented a small, two-bedroom house on Tenth Street, and Karen attended John S. Park Elementary School. Younger sister Lynn was born in Las Vegas...The Sarrets reveal how quickly Las Vegas and the Clark County School District grew in the second half of the twentieth century. Although Karen completed eighth grade at West Charleston Elementary before going to Las Vegas High School (one of the city’s two public high schools), her siblings attended Hyde Park Junior High school. Gordon then matriculated to Western High School, while Lynn graduated from Ed. W. Clark High School.
Chris talks about living in Las Vegas since he was 6 months old. He also talks about starting his own valet parking company while he was in college. Later Chris talks about Silver State Film Productions, a film company he founded. The schools Chris attended during his childhood were located in Las Vegas, Nevada at that time. Film producer Chris Ramirez moved from Colorado to the east side of Las Vegas in 1973, when he was six months old. Son of Greg Ramirez, owner and founder of Viva Zapatas restaurants, Chris and his family moved to Rancho Bel Air, where he completed his school years, in about 1980. Chris and other Clark County School District students of his age participated in a school desegregation program unique to Las Vegas. After completing fifth grade at Howard Wasden Elementary School, Chris and his classmates rode a bus for one year to Mabel Hoggard Sixth Grade Center in North Las Vegas. After sixth grade he attended Hyde Park Middle School and Bishop Gorman High School. Chris’s family and school connections combined with the barter culture in Las Vegas combined to create an emphasis on “who you know” rather than “what you know.” Chris formed his film companies on the basis of his Las Vegas knowledge and his contacts and credits Las Vegas for allowing him to be in the right place at the right time to meet and work with celebrities and become an entrepreneur. Chris enjoys the urban excitement of living, doing business, and participating in the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas.
Clinton Wright discusses the riots in the predominantly Black Westside neighborhood in Las Vegas in 1992 after the Rodney King verdict. Wright describes how the riots lasted three to four days, and he thought they were instigated by people who came from California and Los Angeles. He said that the shopping center in the Westside burned, there were firebombs, and white drivers were attacked and beaten up while the police did little to control it. Wright was known as a photographer and a newspaper offered him $50 per hour to take pictures of the riots. After some consideration, her turned this offer down because he believed it would be dangerous for him with a camera.
Jimmy Gay discusses racism in Las Vegas before and after World War II. He says that prior to WWII, there wasn't a lot of prejudice, and there were only a few African American families. After WWII, he says that the influx of soldiers returning and the migration of Black families from the South led to Las Vegas becoming the "Mississippi of the West."