Ah, a subtle way to bait me into the nature versus nurture debate! This proud (some would say cheerleading) Las Vegas native is most definitely a product of his city’s unique environment, rather than a reaction to it. Combining that with my nature—which is to not stray too far from home—if I were born in Telluride, I’d probably still be there, likely a City Council member operating a weed dispensary/mountain bike shop. And what if my parents had set up shop in Chapel Hill? Well, after a stint at the University of North Carolina that left me with large debt and a larger addiction to Tar Heel basketball (screw Duke!), I’m sure I’d be embarking on a new phase of life farther south in, say, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, giving sailing lessons by day and drinking lessons by night—all in pursuit of the perfect novel.
Historical questions directed to the Native often coax other old-school Las Vegans to send an email to help complete the story. Such was the case with the January 21 query about the Ronzone family, its department store, the elementary school and the family matriarch, Bertha Bishop Ronzone. A few helpful readers wanted to point out that Ronzone’s first opened in Las Vegas in 1929 on Carson Avenue, and then moved to Fremont Street in 1935. Like many retailers along Fremont Street (including Sears and JC Penney), Ronzone’s was lured from Downtown by Irwin Molasky’s fabulous new Boulevard mall, which opened in 1968 adjacent to Molasky’s equally fab Paradise Palms subdivision.
Other readers wanted to be sure I gave Bertha Ronzone her due as an important figure in Nevada and Las Vegas history. That’s difficult to do in such a small space, but I urge interested readers to dig deeper into this Nevada pioneer by using our university system. Both UNR and UNLV’s Women’s Research Institute include biographical information available online, plus UNLV’s impressive Special Collections has a box of Ronzone family material on campus.
For a city with no history, we sure seem to have a lot of it.