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Desert Companion

Random Access Memory: December 2019

Droll, odd, tragic, and awkward moments from the many Decembers of Las Vegas history

Christmas TreeDecember 1, 1948: Mrs. Elizabeth Resner, 15, dies a day after giving birth to twins, one of whom died in childbirth. Classmates from Vegas High will be pallbearers at her funeral.

December 2, 1922: Local residents gather at the Majestic Theater to hear Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover speak by radiophone from Los Angeles about the proposed Boulder Canyon Project.

December 3, 1943: December’s war quota of passenger car tires has been slightly increased to 2,600 tires for all of Nevada.

December 4, 1909: The Isis Theater opens to a packed house, at 10 cents a ticket, where every motion picture is “intensely interesting, whether comical comedy or dramatic drama.”

December 5, 2000: After two decades of low pay and scant benefits, part-time adjunct English professor Carol Conder leads an organized protest at UNLV to improve economic conditions for this marginalized group of academic laborers, who quietly make up 42 percent of the university’s teaching staff.

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December 6, 1958: The Riviera Hotel offers a reward of “$25,000 leading to conviction of the assassins” of the hotel’s head-honcho, local gaming kingpin Gus Greenbaum, 65, and his wife Bess, 64, after their brutal slayings at their posh home in Phoenix.

December 7, 1922: Following a poorly attended parent night at our town’s schoolhouse, the newspaper writes, “There does not seem to be any reason why parents who send children to school should not be able to meet with teachers at least once a month.”

December 8, 1948: Dorothy Ruth, 27, daughter of “the immortal George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth,” marries Dominick Pirone here, and plans to remain in town permanently.

December 9, 1999: County Regional Flood Control approves $31 million to finally halt the regular flooding at the Charleston Boulevard underpass near I-15.

December 10, 1915: “Hordes of hoboes” arrive daily on freight trains traveling through the city, keeping law officers very busy.

December 11, 1955: California entrepreneur John Paschall is in town promoting the construction of a two-hour monorail system between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

December 12, 1963: Hair stylist Rodney Rodriquez from the Revlon Salon in New York criticizes Vegas for having too many blond women, saying every woman here “must have a showgirl complex.”

December 13, 1966: Former Boulder City High School graduate Capt. Michael Hyde, 28, the first Nevadan to graduate from the Air Force Academy, was killed last week “when his F100 was shot down in Vietnam.”

December 14, 1977: Dr. Glyn Caldwell of the Center for Disease Control says, “There’s adequate data to support  there may be an increased incidence of leukemia among the 3,413 witnesses to a 1957 atomic explosion, named ‘Smokey,’ at the Nevada Test Site.”

December 15, 1977: The newspaper reports, “An underground nuclear device was successfully detonated yesterday day at the Test Site.”

December 16, 1977: Army officials announce, “There has been no confirmed link to leukemia in participants at the Test Site during the time of the 1957 ‘Smokey’ nuclear explosion.”

December 17, 1952: GOP leader Sen. Henry Bridges (R-New Hampshire) urges the use of atomic weapons to end the Korean War.

December 18, 1993: MGM Vice President Gene Shutler claims the Strip resort owns “most of the sidewalk around the hotel,” and that culinary union members picketing on sidewalks outside the hotel will be arrested by Metro.

December 19, 1952: Dense fog envelops Vegas and, for the first time, a visibility of zero is recorded throughout the valley.

December 20, 1993: The city of Las Vegas returns a two-acre Paiute sacred burial mound “that rises above Main Street near Owens Avenue, and is currently littered with discarded garbage,” back to the local Paiute tribe.

December 21, 1919: Capt. Richard Hobson, former hero of the Spanish-American war aboard the USS Merrimac, is speaking here to encourage voters to elect only pro-Prohibition candidates to office.

December 22, 1943: Dr. Roy Martin, 65, pioneer physician who came here from Nebraska in 1905 and built our first modern hospital, dies from a heart attack.

December 23, 1909: “Although hurt some by shoppers’ mail-order habit,” businessmen report business here is “constantly improving.”

December 24, 1952: Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, is performing at the Thunderbird.

December 25, 1905: “Near its little huddle of tents and shacks clustered near the railroad,” our new city’s first public holiday celebration is produced, with few financial resources, “for the happiness of all local children.”

December 26, 1919: Charles Sprague has purchased the Winterwood Ranch to plant cotton for “King Cotton to reign in our valley.”

December 27, 1955: Clark County’s annual birth records, or “stork market returns,” have been shattered, with more than 2,700 babies born here this year.

December 28, 1993: In the news, President Bill Clinton and his administration officials have recently engaged “in extensive efforts to silence allegations that he used state troopers to facilitate his extramarital affairs while governor of Arkansas.”

December 29, 1982: Director Frank Sain of the Convention Authority berates local media for portraying Vegas as “failing resorts and empty casinos.”

December 30, 1985: Asbestos removal is underway at Clark County’s public schools, including Dr. Roy Martin Middle School.

December 31, 219,998,312 BCE: A mile above the Vegas Valley, gigantic deep-diving dinosaurs, or ichthyosaurs, swim in this tropical sea while lunching on large cephalopods.


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