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Dr. Boyer
Dr. Boyer in front of the Arkansas Doctor Museum
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The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project

The Oral History Research Center became a reality because of the vision of Dr. Harold Boyer combined with the ingenuity of Lied Library staff including the Dean and the Director of Special Collections. Dr. Boyer donated funds to capture the stories of early Rotary Club members and to ensure that additional projects would follow. The center’s first project includes the initial rotary interviews and is named for our benefactor. The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project is a look at early Las Vegas through the memories of those who lived it and is enhanced with photographs of some of the narrators.

Dr. Harold Boyer
Complete Transcription (.pdf)

Audio Transcription
November 15, 2000 - Part 1A | Part 1B | Part 2A
November 30, 2000 - Part 1 | Part 2

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A small sampling from our Boyer Early Las Vegas Collection...

Judge L. George

Judge L. George Part 1

Ann Rozone

Ann Ronzone Part 1 & Part 2

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Laura Belle Kelch was born September 1, 1912, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and came to Las Vegas in 1939. Before moving West, she attended the University of Cincinnati and pursued a degree in the field of Applied Arts. Laura later lived in New York City and Los Angeles before finally making Las Vegas her home.

She arrived in Las Vegas with her husband, Maxwell Kelch, who is among the Las Vegas Review Journal’s list of “The First 100 Persons Who Shaped Southern Nevada.” In the interview she recalls her husband’s accomplishments and specifically the founding of the first radio station in Las Vegas, KENO. Outside of the work she performed with her husband at the radio station, she was active in improving the Las Vegas Library by becoming the Chairman of the Library Association. She was a founding member of the Las Vegas Art League, and a member of the Mesquite Club, which is the oldest women’s organization in Las Vegas. Laura along with her husband Maxwell played an extremely important role in the shaping of early Las Vegas. Her interview gives an overall, first hand account of what early Las Vegas was really like.

Complete Transcript (.pdf)

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Darrell Luce has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 1932. His mother Gladys Dunkle Luce, who was a graduate of the University of Nevada Reno (UNR), served as a church worker for the majority of her life. Darrell’s father, Harvey E. Luce, who also graduated from the UNR, was an electrical engineer. When his family first arrived in Las Vegas they lived on South 4th Street, which was primarily occupied by railroad workers at the time. Living conditions in Las Vegas were rather primitive with very little air conditioning.

When Darrell was a child, his father owned an electrical appliance business in Las Vegas and one in Boulder City, so he was privileged to watch the dam through most of its construction. Darrell attended the 5th Street Grammar School, a Military Officers Training School near San Diego, and finished at Las Vegas High School before following family tradition and enrolling at UNR.

Darrell Luce shared great accounts of living here during WWII and during the atomic testing years at the Nevada Test Site. Other notable subjects that were discussed include the Basic Magnesium Incorporated (BMI) plant, Carver Park, and early downtown. Currently Darrell Luce is retired and still lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Jayne. They have been married since 1952.

Complete Transcript (.pdf)

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Julia A. Payne was born and raised near Santa Monica, California. She came to Las Vegas in 1961 shortly after graduating high school and after the passing of her mother. She spent a few years in Las Vegas and then decided to go to Columbus, Ohio, to be with her family, but soon returned to Las Vegas to begin a career. She discusses race relations, employment opportunities, and her work in Las Vegas during the 1960s and beyond.

Payne worked as a maid for three days upon returning to Las Vegas, quit and began working at the Employment Opportunity Board (EOB), where she worked in the Neighborhood Youth Core, one of the many components of the neighborhood enrichment program. After working for the EOB, she accepted an offer from Mahlon Brown, who at the time was the attorney for the EOB, to be the supervisor for the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). She worked at VISTA for seven years before deciding to become a security officer at the MGM Hotel, where she witnessed racial discrimination from tourists and from management. While working at the hotel, she took up a part time position at the Southern Nevada Drug Abuse Council (SNDAC), where she assisted in providing treatment in the methadone clinic.

In 1980 she began working for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, where she was responsible for overseeing all of the treatment programs in Las Vegas. Then she decided to move and buy a farm in Elko, Nevada, where she would later receive a call from the Governor to offer her the Drug Czar position for the state. She accepted and moved back to Las Vegas. The primary responsibility of being the Drug Czar was to coordinate all the substance abuse efforts between treatment prevention and law enforcement. Then it was decided that the Drug Czar position would be phased out, so Julia quickly received another offer to become the substance abuse coordinator for the adult Parole and Probation Department.

Today Julia is the executive director of the Nevada Treatment Center, where she has been able to utilize her knowledge and experience in the constant struggle with the problems of drug addiction.

Complete Transcript (.pdf)

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John P. West
MP3 format - Part 1A, Part 1B, Part 2A, Part 2B, Part 3A, Part 3B, Part 4A, Part 4B

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Louise Yoxen worked in Germany at the end of World War II participating in our occupation efforts with France, Great Britain, and Russia.  She explains the implementation of the Marshall Plan from a very personal perspective.  Continuing with U.S. State Department work, she accepted the next assignment in North Africa.  Originally from Florence, Alabama, Yoxen’s work in Germany and Africa finally brought her to Las Vegas in 1951.  This interview offers a look at our town forty five years into its development, through the eyes of a person who had lived and worked on two other continents.

Complete Transcript (.pdf)