Dick Taylor has died


He came to Las Vegas to help get the Hacienda off the ground.  As its first General Manager, he helped put the struggling casino on the map and became good friends (and right hand man) to owner, Warren "Doc" Bailey.

He loved Las Vegas and became a historian who kept the history of the Hacienda, Bailey, the Moulin Rouge and much more alive.

Thanks to Doc's vision, the homes in Mt. Charleston became a reality over fifty years ago.  Dick was one of its first residents and became its official historian.

He was one of the first people we interviewed as part of the "Classic Las Vegas" Archive Project and his interview is available on DVD at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.  We did the video oral history at his mid-century modern home adjacent to Rancho Bel-Air.  He had a palm tree shaped like a tiki god in his front yard.  As I drove up to his drive-way, I knew we would be good friends.

Over the years, I have gotten used to every few months getting a letter with clippings, pictures and more from Dick, all related to Las Vegas history.

When I was doing the "Untold Stories" series at the Springs Preserve, Dick was a frequent guest (driving down from the mountain) and an occasional speaker.  I will always be grateful.

He was a passionate about Las Vegas history and his lady friend, Terry.

Word came just few minutes ago that Dick Taylor passed away in his sleep last evening.

Rest in peace, good friend.  I will always be thankful for your friendship and for the history you fought so hard to preserve.

God speed.

Untold Stories and the Future

Thursday evening was the final "Untold Stories" at the Springs Preserve.  We had a great panel of Las Vegas High School alumni that enjoyed talking to about their high school days.  The audience was terrific, with many alum attending as well.

Due to budget cutbacks at the Springs, they are refocusing their educational programming and one of the programs impacted was "Untold Stories".

I am forever grateful for the 2.5 years that they supported the program.  It was the only monthly series that allowed long-time residents to share their stories and memories of a younger and smaller Las Vegas with residents.

We covered a number of historic topics from "The History of Fremont Street", "The History of the Strip", "A Look Back at the MGM Grand Fire", "St. Thomas" and more.

I want to thank all the people who participated on the panels over the last 30 months.  We covered a lot of different historic topics and I am grateful to all who came out to share their history.  I also want to thank the class members as well.  Each month it was a joy to look out from the podium to see familiar faces and know that there are people who really are interested in learning more about this place we call home.  Finally, I want to thank Dr. Michael Green for always being available, often on short notice, to be the historian for the evening.

As they say, when one door closes another opens and that is what happened here.  Within days of learning that "Untold Stories" was ending this month, I was offered the job opportunity of a life time.  Unfortunately, it will take me away from Las Vegas. 

However, we will continue to archive the 130 video oral histories that we have collected over the years and hope to have that monumental task completed by this time next year.  Late last year, with the help of a grant from the Historic Preservation Commission, we delivered the first 25 archived interviews on DVD to the Nevada State Museum and to Special Collections.  We are currently working on the next set.  So our work does continue though I won't be a monthly presence the way I have been for the last five years.

The Friends of Classic Las Vegas will have a meeting next month (details to TBA, so stay tuned) and will continue to be a vital voice in historic preservation.  I won't be able to do as much of the organizing as I once did but I will still be involved and look forward to advising the group.

This blog and site will continue on as well.  I will still be writing here and a few people have offered to contribute historic and cultural pieces as well.  So, if you are a regular reader, fear not, Classic Las Vegas is not going anywhere.  We will still be here and the power of the internet will make it possible to stay connected to you.

As for me, I begin a new adventure later this month as the Digital Archivist for the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio in San Francisco.  It is a world class museum and I am excited about this opportunity.

In the meantime, historic preservation in Las Vegas still needs all the support it can get so I do hope you will stay with us and continue to learn more about the 20th Century history of Las Vegas right here.


Thursday nite's Untold Stories: Las Vegas High School, the Wildcat Lair and the Rhythmettes



Don't miss this wonderful look back at the history of Las Vegas High School with stories by the alumni.  It's a great way to hear history from the people who were there:

During the formative years of the city of Las Vegas, there was only one high school, Las Vegas High.  The school was built because of the determination of one woman, Maude Frazier.  Located on 8th Street, many townspeople believed it was too far out of town and was too large.  Maude and history proved them wrong.

It became a beacon of education for school-age kids not only in Las Vegas but all across the valley.  Students were bussed in from Boulder City and other small towns.

The students had their rituals as all high schools do.  The Wildcat Lair was the teen club where dances were held and in the years following World War II, performers from the Strip would stop by and sing a few tunes or tell a few jokes before heading back to the showrooms.

The Rhythmettes were the idea of Evelyn Stuckey.  A precision drill team made up of young girls to help rally school spirit at athletic games, assemblies, Helldorado Parades and more, she made the name Rhythmettes synonymous with excellence.  Under her tutelage, the drill team performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1960s.

Join us on Thursday, March 4th for "Untold Stories" as we look back at this wonderful, colorful and lively history. 

Our panelists will include a

Rhythmette Cheryl Purdue and other Las Vegas alumni such as John Ullom, Rollie Gibbs, and that delightful couple, Gail and Donna Andress.

Dennis McBride and Paul Carson from the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas have graciously agreed to bring a number of items related to the school as well.

Thursday, March 4th

Untold Stories

Las Vegas Springs Preserve

Desert Learning Center

6:30 pm


We hope to see you there!

Untold Stories this Thursday: African American Entertainers in Las Vegas



We kick off a the new year with our first "Untold Stories" on Thursday, February 4th with a look at African-American Entertainers in Las Vegas.  We will discuss the early days of segregation up through what it is like to perform in Las Vegas today.

Panelists include:

Claytee White:  Director of UNLV's Oral History Program

Skip Trenier:  cousin to Claude and Cliff Trenier and member of the band

Audrey Henry:  dancer with Debbie Reynolds and others

Sonny Turner: Lead singer  of The Platters from 1960-1970

Michael Ryan Tyler: Musician who has played with Wayne Newton and others in today's Las Vegas

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

6:30 pm

Las Vegas Springs Preserve

Desert Learning Center

Admission $9

Discounts available if you buy a class pass!