Remembering the Blackman Family
By Catherine Blackman Hammelrath, Las Vegas
I was born at the Las Vegas Hospital 12/27/35. Dr. Van Meter was in charge, with my mother, Isabelle Slavin Cuddy Blackman, and my father, Alfred W. "Tex" Blackman, assisting.
We lived at 2001 Goldring, where the UMC Trauma Center stands today. My parents lived in that house 50 years, moving out in 1980. Art Goldsturm told me he had a hard time taking that house down when it went.
My parents owned nine contiguous lots in the old Woodlawn subdivision. We had our own water well, horses, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and lots of cats. We had an alfalfa field where we played hide-and-seek, and the Tate fields across the street kept us supplied with crawdads and mosquitoes.
The silo (still on Tonopah Drive) belonged to Mr. Filbey who raised silver fox. I rode my horse around there once, but when she got the scent of those foxes, she reared.
Tony (AKA Rex) Bell lived on Charleston in a great ranch house. Then later, he lived just up the street from us. We all grew up together. I dated his brother-in-law.
I played in the halls, surgical wards, and rooms of UMC when it was the "new" county hospital. That was before it opened. No construction site was locked up or guarded in those days!
Charleston Blvd was gravel west of Main Street when I was real young. Before the underpass was built 1949, we used to read the names of the boxcars. I used to sit outside at night in the summer and hear the cattle at the stockyards; I smelled 'em too when we drove by!
The cottonwoods along Charleston from about Western to Shadow framed Red Rock so beautifully. And the air was crystalline clear.
My older siblings rode their horses downtown to the Boulder Drug store on Fremont Street (now part of the Golden Nugget). We would walk downtown via the railroad tracks. We ate Sunday dinners at the Sal Segav Hotel, the Green Shack, Sills Drive-In, and Bob Baskin's restaurant on 5th street.
I was never allowed to go to the Mermaid Pool just north of Fremont on 5th. My mother was a med student and said it was not safe. Same for swimming at the Old Ranch. I did spend every summer at Lorenzi's (later called Twin Lakes), which is still the biggest and most fabulous pool there ever was. The Muni pool was a blessing when it came along too.
I rode my horse in the Helldorado Children's Parade, always held on Saturday morning. My dad borrowed a sidesaddle from someone for me to use one year. That was a miserable ride!!
I went to grade school at 5th Street Elementary when K.O.Knudson was principal, then D.D.Kellar.
At Las Vegas High School, I was in band and marched in every parade that came along. In 1950 I rode the Rotary Club float in the beauty parade. And did it again for Nevada Southern University (later called UNLV) in about 1955.
I graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1953. Our class still has wonderful reunions. So many of us grew up together from kindergarten through high school and still delight in seeing one another today. There are several classmates with whom I remain in touch on a regular basis.
My dad was the first CPA in Las Vegas. My mother was one of the founders of the local Beta Sigma Phi. Earlier my dad helped build the old Boy Scout stone cabins that stood west of where the downtown CAT terminal is today. The Helldorado quarter-horse races were on a track where the present City Hall stands. Later came the War Memorial Building where we had band concerts. Then came what is there today.
I used to play on the steps of the old post office. The Williams Bldg was on 2nd St. (now called Casino Center) just behind the White Cross Drugs on the corner of 2nd and Fremont. My father had his office upstairs in that building, and the bowling alley was downstairs. Cornell's shoe repair shop was downstairs also, and a restaurant. Across the street were the Safeway and Van Buren & Cox Jewelers. I watched them build the present Golden Nugget building from my father's office windows.
The old Markete Spot market was on the southwest corner of Carson and 2nd. On Fremont St. I played in M.J. Christianson's store; M.J. was always so kind. I loved looking at all the beautiful things, and he always had a fascinating mobile display of some sort in the window at Christmas. I still love jewelry stores with china and silver!
Bertha O'Connell worked for Nan Davis of M.W. Davis Jewelers on Fremont between 3rd and 4th. Nan had another store, The Merchandise Mart, next to M.J. They sold a variety of nice things, including the Oz books, which I adored. Then Bertha moved to the next store on the corner of 4th and Carson, whose name I've forgotten. They had gorgeous stuff there. We used to drop in during lunch hour, and Bertha was always happy to answer questions and play the fabulous music box for us.
We had an hour for lunch then. That was long enough for a hot dog at the candy store across from school on Bridger, pastry from the bakery on 5th St., a visit to Bertha, a Popsicle from the Rancho Grande on 2nd.
I ushered at the El Portal Theater; my dad did the books for Ernie Cragin and Bill Pike. I used to sit in the projection booth and watch the movie when my dad went up there to work at night.
I miss old Las Vegas.