Monday, May 3, 2010
Receiving a haircut, outside the barber shop in Boulder city 1935...By now, the nearby dam is nearly built. And Boulder City, also known as a reservation (since this is government land) is a pretty little town, with schools and churches, parks and shops along a main street. A town as much a part of the dam as the workers themselves, a celebrated city for its so-called cleanliness (no booze, no gambling, no prostitution...supposedly). And the city would try and remain this way even with the permissive Las Vegas so near.
How and why? The residents either obeyed the reservation rules, set and enforced mainly by a city controller named Sims Ely, or they had to get out. A gate at the entrance of the city meant everyone was checked for booze in each car. If caught, they were kicked out, never to be welcomed in the city again.
Sims Ely, an older character, noble in his efforts, demanded the town start clean and remain clean, without any "outside" influence.
However, as nice as things looked from the outside, the town was built fast and furious. Much of the building materials weren't of good quality. Some folks were hit by heat prostration right inside their own houses, as if they'd spent all day without water in the desert. Still, no one wanted to complain for fear of being kicked out. Families did not want to go back to the Hoovervilles outside the city, where cardboard was used for walls.
During the time the town was new, its reputation for civility was a national sensation. And it held this reputation shadowing the entire dam project.
Perhaps it's true that what one builds is often exaggerated in the mind of its creator. Yet this label of safe living made the place that much more friendly, and some would say more valuable, for keeping the town "clean".
We may argue that the rules were too tight, that prohibition had ended so being in the possession of liquor was no big deal, but isn't it true that bending or breaking rules do have ramifications, consequences that affect everyone? There seems a fine line between "following" and "living" the rules...