Monday, February 18, 2013

The Generosity at Hoover Dam

On the same page in Boulder City: Passages of Time that made up the previous entry, I also found this, which deserved its own entry:

"One of the unique features is the cafeteria-style lunch-basket room. The men file through, take an empty box, and fill it with whatever they wish. Sandwiches, pieces of pie, etc., are all wrapped in waxine bags. If a man wants only six pieces of pie, he can have them. By this method all are satisfied and there is none of the proverbial grumbling about the grub in the lunch boxes." -- New Reclamation Era, November, 1931.

Under that paragraph is this, which shows that generosity is possible anywhere, even during the hard work of building Hoover Dam:

"...We work it this way. I bring the sandwiches, another fella brings the fruit, another the cake. If we have anything left we give it to the guys who don't have anything to eat." -- Buck Blaine, Nevadan Magazine, Las Vegas Review Journal, 8/26/73.

They Began Badly, Too

Yesterday, I wrote about how I ate badly during our first few days as residents in Las Vegas, and that it eventually took its toll on me. Only after our mattresses were delivered, and when we began shopping for groceries, did I improve and turned my attention to becoming acclimated to Las Vegas as a resident, away from my days as a tourist.

In state history, I'm not the only one who did this. I put a book on hold from the Boulder City Library, commissioned by the Boulder City Library in 1981, called Boulder City: Passages in Time by Angela Brooker and Dennis McBride, the latter Boulder City's most famous historian. I checked this out of the Whitney Library last Saturday.

There's no page numbers in this book, but I found this at the beginning of the chapter about construction of Hoover Dam:

"It is a fact that there were a great many heat deaths in the canyon during the first summer down there. That was for two reasons. One was because of the heat, and the second was that the people working in the canyons had been on one or less meals per day for quite some time. And when they got down there and saw the Anderson Commissary there, with all this food stacked up to eat, they just couldn't believe it. They just gorged themselves and then went down in the canyon, and the heat'd hit 'em, and they'd keel over. The government, at that time, when all the deaths were occurring, asked Harvard University to send out some scientists to see what could be done to combat the heat. And they came up with the salt tablets to prevent dehydration. And every employee at the dam working in the canyon and those that weren't too, I guess, were required to have salt tablets in their possession at all times, and to take about one an hour. And it was determined that this did a great deal towards combating the heat prostration, although, once the people got used to eating regularly and not quite as much as they did when they first came there, it was all right." -- John F. Cahlan, Reminiscences of a Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada newspaperman, University Regent, and public-spirited citizen: typed transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted by Mary Ellen Glass, Oral History Project, Getchell Library, University of Nevada, Reno, April 1968.

That's exactly what it was, with the food, but without the heat. I had gorged myself when I was a tourist and did it again without care in our first few days here, just for energy, while rapidly becoming exhausted at the same time. I can relate to those workers, and thankfully, just like they were, I'm settled here, and much more mindful.