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Desert Companion

Random Access Memory

Droll, odd, poignant, and awkward moments from the many Augusts of Las Vegas history

Sick ChickenAugust 1, 1941: Judge W.D. Hatton renders a decision favoring the county against nuisance businesses in the red light district of “Block 16” — the only section of Las Vegas to allow booze and prostitution.

August 2, 2000: After 146 days without “measurable precipitation,” it finally rains .07 of an inch; Las Vegas comes close to breaking the record of 150 days without rain, set in 1959.

August 3, 2000: Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joyce Elders, speaking at the Orleans Hotel, says, “We’ve got kids graduating from high school who wear shoes that light up when they walk, and they have brains that go dead when they talk.”

August 4, 2005: Arvin Edwards, 32, is sentenced to four to 10 years for a shooting after a fight broke out involving NFL football star Adam “Pacman” Jones at the Minxx nightclub during the NBA All-Star weekend in 2003, which paralyzed bouncer and local guitar player Tom Urbanski from the waist down.

August 5, 2005: Two ducks carrying the West Nile virus have reportedly been found in the swimming pool of an unnamed major Strip hotel.

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August 6, 2005: As the West Nile virus “keeps spreading in Clark County,” officials refuse to identify the casino where the virus has been discovered, “citing a 2003 federal injunction that bars them from naming corporations with whom they often collaborate.”

August 7, 1940: Seven people, including four children, die in a West Side explosion of “Petrolane gas tanks.”

August 8, 2005: Once called “a den of downtown prostitution,” the Del Mar Motel on Las Vegas Boulevard, which charged $35 per hour for a room, has been shut down by the City Council.

August 9, 1975: The Happy Hooker, a film starring Lynn Redgrave, is playing at the Las Vegas Cinerama.

August 10, 1945: Las Vegas High graduate Dr. William Ogle, 27, who designed a cyclotron for smashing atoms, is in the news for his work on the atom bomb, which was dropped four days ago on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 11, 1982: According to the Association of Atomic Veterans: “250,000 veterans were exposed to radiation during 235 atmospheric nuclear explosions between 1945 and 1963, mostly in Southern Nevada. Thousands of them have suffered from cancer as a consequence.”

August 12: 1909: Las Vegans can finally receive “painless dentistry” — in Los Angeles, where silver fillings cost $1 each; and gold crowns, $5.

August 13, 1964: Local leaders call for a “10-man crime board” after an FBI report tags Vegas as “leading the nation in crime.”

August 14, 1950: The Asphalt Jungle, a film about “crooked streets and crooked lives,” is playing at the El Portal Theater.

August 15, 1998: Sheila Tarr Smith, 34, the NCAA heptathlon (seven-event) champion in 1984, and UNLV’s most valuable athlete in 1985, has passed away from a rare neurological disorder.

August 16, 1964: Tickets ranging from $2.20 to $5.50 go on sale for the upcoming Beatles’ concert in four days.

August 17, 1932: A separate second post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is organized here “for colored veterans only.”

August 18, 1922: Las Vegas is “cut off from the outside world for four days” when the Union Pacific train through town shuts down during the nationwide railroad workers’ strike.

August 19, 1941: Peter Pauff, 94, resident since 1905, celebrates his birthday with Mrs. Pauff, 87. Married 70 years, they “boast of having probably the longest record of marital happiness in Nevada.”

August 20, 1964: With more than 16,000 attendees, “most of the music is lost in the screams of wild-eyed teenage girls” during the Beatles’ two concerts at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

August 21, 1985: Based on attendance and gross receipts, Vegas entertainer Liberace has been ranked the No. 1 box office attraction in America, ahead of Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson.

August 22, 1985: Area health authorities “attempt to quash rumors that AIDS can be contracted while donating blood or from swimming pools.”

August 23, 1988: A 42-year-old mother and her four children — ages 18, 16, 13, and 12 — are arrested for allegedly selling crack cocaine out of their home to undercover police officers.

August 24, 1950: Judge Walter Richards rules that auto tycoon James Cashman Sr. is guilty of cruelty to animals for using a burro, a monkey, and several chipmunks as a political stunt, by tethering these creatures in front of his business for long hours in the hot sun without water.

August 25, 1907: Rumors are circulating that a bigger ice plant, with a 100-ton daily capacity, will soon be built to replace the ice plant that recently burned to the ground.

August 26, 1981: Claiming to be Vegas’ No. 1 psychic, Christy Hughes predicts greed eventually will turn this city into “a ghost town, with all the hotel rooms turned into quarters for government troops.”

August 27, 1981: Teachers are ready to vote tomorrow to avert a looming strike by accepting a 24 percent salary increase over a two-year period.

August 28, 1993: Although Nevada ranks near the top in the nation for AIDS cases per 100,000 residents, it ranks near the bottom for state funding of AIDS related programs.

August 29, 1981: A small article in the newspaper reports: “two rare diseases mysteriously have struck more than 100 homosexual men in the U.S., killing nearly half of them.”

August 30, 2001: Congregation Ner Tamid has announced it is the first synagogue in our valley to have a female rabbi, Jennifer C. Weiner.

August 31, 1947: “Midget auto racing” comes to town for the first time at the Last Frontier Sportsdrome.

Sources: Las Vegas Age; Las Vegas Morning Tribune; Las Vegas Review-Journal; Las Vegas Sun

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