MAY 21, 1958
BOULDER, Colo.—Now I have spent my first evening and day in Las Vegas, Nev., and it was quite an experience. There you are surrounded by desert in a beautiful climate. It is warm, even at night.
We flew in after dark and could see the long avenue of lights stretching into the distance and a cross avenue with more lights at both ends. One is the actual City of Las Vegas. Here there are only one or two gambling night clubs. They are large, but as I understand it, there are certain restrictions in the city.
In the county, these restrictions do not exist, and so the major night clubs and gambling halls are at this end of the lighted road. There is a certain similarity to the pattern in each place, though they vary in decoration and in taste.
We quickly changed our clothes on arrival and then we were whisked from one place to another to get an idea of what night-club life in Las Vegas means.
Every place has gambling tables of all kinds, with slot machines on the side. There are a variety of places to eat, and there is always one place where at certain hours entertainment goes on. Nearly all these clubs have a pool and bedrooms stretching out in the rear where people can stay at not very extravagant prices. The food is excellent and also not very expensive.
They told me that two places had closed, victims of the recession, but on the whole I saw very little that spoke of hardship. They told me people come there from all over the world but they eventually acknowledged that the major part of their clientiele comes from Southern California.
And the major part of life while you are here seems to be gambling. That so many people should have so much time to spend and so much money to waste, unless they happen to be lucky winners, seems incredible.
When we were leaving, one man on the plane was overheard to say that he had lost $20,000, and another $400. I suppose they go back in the hope that their luck will change. Gambling in itself seems to have a fascination, for I saw people still at the tables when I went to meet my American Association for the United Nations people in a quiet dining room at 9 o'clock the next morning.
I had a most generous and thoughtful host, and my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Hershey Martin met me there, as Dr. Martin belongs to one of the big groups that furnish entertainment. I saw no show, but I met a great many of the people who are appearing there.
The following morning, between a press conference and a luncheon where I was to speak, I managed to see the last of the night clubs. I really managed to get a comprehensive view of the people as they were coming in to begin their day.
Las Vegas is a spot where you turn night into day, and lunch is an early time to begin your day. Many people sleep until 5 p.m. or so. A strange place and a strange life.
I suppose to a great many people this is relaxation, for they go back to their work exhilarated and rested. To me, it was incomprehensible, but I was glad to get a glimpse of something so totally different. I don't think I will ever get over being curious about every phase of human behavior.
During the day the American Association for the United Nations held a luncheon at which the guests were largely the non-gambling permanent residents of the town. Between 600 and 700 people attended. The luncheon was followed by a short organization meeting which broke up at about 4:30 p.m.
So many celebrities in the entertainment world dined with me before I took my plane on Saturday evening or came up to speak to me at different times that I'm not even going to begin to mention them by name for fear of forgetting someone. They were all kind and courteous and delightful, and I wish I could have seen some of the entertainment, but I had to have some sleep.
The following evening at 9 o'clock we took the plane into Denver. There I had the pleasure of breakfast with my grandson Bill and his wife. My niece Amy, who recently was married to John Wendt, called for me while my son Elliott joined us, having flown up from Arizona and spent the night on his ranch.
I met my great-grandson for the first time and was back at the hotel for an 11 a.m. press conference before driving over to Boulder to the state university where I spoke at noon to AAUN representatives from a wide area around Denver.