Fond Memories Not My Own
by Kathleen Wood
Some of my fondest memories of Boulder City are not from my own eyes, but those of my parents.
Though I am a native of Boulder City, I have not always lived here. I am a 1974 graduate of Boulder City High School, but I attended Las Vegas schools from K - 8th grade.
Because my parents owned the Visitors Bureau in the 70s and early 80s, I got a chance to see Boulder City and Hoover Dam memorabilia collected since the early 40s. My twin sister, Colleen, and I were so familiar with the opening minutes of the official movie on the construction of Hoover Dam which was shown exclusively at the Visitors Bureau for many years, that we could recite the first several lines of the narration. “Build a dam in the wilderness and the world will beat a path to it…”
I saw the early history of Boulder City High School through the pages of my mother’s yearbooks. My first introduction to Mrs. Gene Segerblom was not as a government student in her class my senior year of high school, but in a black and white picture of a young, attractive teacher by the name of Miss Wines. Later she appeared my yearbooks as Mrs. Segerblom.
My fascination with athletics started early as I leafed through pages of handsome young men in shiny basketball shorts. Not many Boulder City natives my age remember Ronnie Walsh, Howard Hooper and Shearl Nielson.
I see my own mother as an innocent, Shirley Temple look-alike with a beautiful, warm smile and agree with the late Gene Schultz, who told me on several occasions that “Your mother was the prettiest girl in the school”.
What an honor to be inducted into the 2002 Class of the Boulder City High School Golden Eagle Hall Of Fame with my childhood heroes, Ronnie Walsh and Shearl Nielson.
Had someone told me 25-30 years ago that I would become a pilot/narrator for a rafting company that started its raft trip at the base of the same dam my grandfathers worked at, I would have said, “Yea, right!”
My paternal grandfather, Roy Wood, was a security guard in the early years of Hoover Dam, when concerns were high that the dam could be a target of what we now call “terrorism” during World War II. When tours started taking place within the inner workings of the dam, he became an accomplished guide.
For many years, the best story about my grandfather was in reference to a bullet hole in a window of an office in the bowels of the dam.
My maternal grandfather, William “Jay” Giesey, worked for the Department of Water and Power for the City of Los Angeles as a lineman. He and a crew of men marched across the hot, dry desert from the Bakersfield area to the dam site, erecting the towers that would carry electrical power from Hoover Dam to Southern California. He and his fellow crew placed the towers that lean out from the canyon wall at the dam as a final achievement of their prowess.
Imagine my horror several years ago, when on a return trip from Las Vegas, I witnessed four towers falling to the desert floor in a puff of dirt during a move to eliminate one of the many series of lines criss-crossing the desert.
The same towers my grandfather and his crew meticulously put together one metal beam at a time in a very distinct pattern. I am not sure how long it took to erect a complete tower. Much longer than the few minutes it took to cut the legs of each tower, then pull it to the ground.
Imagine my amazement a few years ago, when returning from the launch site below Hoover Dam, I saw a helicopter hovering above the base of a rising tower, lowering a whole section of tower into place. The tower came together in a matter of hours in the same Gold Strike Canyon that my grandfather took days to erect a similar tower.
My fascination with the power towers comes from hours spent looking at old photos taken of my grandfather and his crew as they progressed across a dry, hot, dusty desert slowing erecting towers and stringing them together.
Some photos show free-spirited men dangling from sections of the tower in their bowsons seats, like acrobatic fliers from a Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Other photos show men on the crew demonstrating the fine art of the connecting and splicing of the electrical cable that was strung along the mighty electrical power lines.
Now I look with wonder at the progress being made on a daily basis on the new bridge a short distance from Hoover Dam. For the past several months, those of us lucky enough to work under the construction site, on the river, have watched men scale the canyon walls, workers be transported in square mental baskets from gigantic cranes along the canyon walls and surveyors scan the site from the horizon.
I imagine workers on the dam long ago and my fondest memories return in snippets of black and white images.