Before Las Vegas was filled with strip malls and casinos, it was a small town fueled by teenage trouble in the shadow of the Rat Pack’s glitz and glamour. On typical weekends in 1965, Las Vegas high schoolers could be found circled around kegs at a desert bonfire, dancing at Teenbeat Club or cruising Fremont. On game nights, Rams, Wildcats and Warriors dressed in their school colors would fill the stands of Butcher Field.
Those were the good ol’ days that alumni from some of Vegas’ original high schools—Las Vegas High, Rancho, Western and Gorman—reminisce about. At a Western meetup in July, former students remembered the names of the truant officers who busted them when they ditched school. Others looked back at a youth when everyone was recognized in the Mob-run town. It was a time with more spirit and a greater sense of community.
“The people who were really in charge never paid attention that people our age had a town here,” says Downtown Las Vegas native John Pacheco. “And, hey, we had a life.”