Remembering a Nevada Pioneer, Beating the Chill and More on Adult Film Stars

Betha Ronzone Elementary

Betha Ronzone Elementary

I remember a department store in the Boulevard Mall called Ronzone’s. Any connection to Ronzone Elementary School?

Indeed: They were both named after Bertha (Bishop) Ronzone, a Nevada pioneer who opened a small outpost importing goods from California and selling them to miners. She opened the first Ronzone’s storefront in Manhattan, Nevada, in 1917, later expanding to Tonopah and Reno. In 1968, Ronzone opened a gorgeous location at the then-new Boulevard Mall. It operated until the 1970s, when Diamond’s, a Phoenix department store (also with humble beginnings) bought the chain. In 1984, Dillard’s purchased Diamond’s, and in the 1990s, Ronzone’s original building was demolished for the Boulevard expansion. So goes Vegas.

Yup, It Gets Cold Here.

A recent query about firewood in Las Vegas spurred some unexpected commentary on social media and among friends, mainly along the lines of, “As if it ever gets cold in Las Vegas! Hahahaha!” Yes, snarky ones, it gets cold enough. This is Southern Nevada, not Southern California; we live in a high-elevation desert, not on the coast. Unlike, say, San Diego, Las Vegas isn’t temperate. And whereas a dry heat isn’t nearly as oppressive as heat mixed with intense humidity, a damp cold beats a dry cold. Just ask those poor, bone-chilled souls who were still roaming the Strip at dawn on New Year’s Day, while the lucky ones were parked in front of a roaring fire.

Hart to Heart

The answer to last week’s question (about adult stars hailing from Las Vegas) wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, so thanks to a reader who wrote to remind us of Veronica Hart/Heart, born Jane Hamilton in Las Vegas in 1956. The reader says she worked with Hamilton in the 1970s as a switchboard operator at the original MGM Grand; both were attending UNLV when Hamilton’s moonlighting was discovered. “We rented the movie one night, and lo and behold, there was our little Janie,” says the reader. Hart, one of the biggest stars of the adult industry’s shot-on-film era, performed in 158 movies and directed 43. She went on to have small mainstream parts in Boogie Nights and Magnolia, and reportedly worked as a docent at our now defunct Erotic Heritage Museum.