Reader snapshots: At Harrah’s in South Lake Tahoe, 1966

[Editor's Note: Kenneth R. Unger, a C.P.A. and car enthusiast from Chandler, Arizona sends these photos to share with fellow readers of Old Cars Weekly. They are from a 1966 Harrah’s antique car show in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Kenneth offers this background about the photos.]

“As a college student in the mid 1960’s at Arizona State University I had the wonderful opportunity to work for Harrah’s Club during the summer months.  Harrah’s would actually send recruiters to numerous college campuses scouting for summer employees at South Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  Those older than 21 could work in the casinos. Harrah’s, Harvey’s and other casinos hired many college students.

“Generally, Harrah’s operated about one-fifth of its gaming tables during the fall, winter and spring seasons, but opened up all tables for the summer season. The tables were staffed with summer employees who completed a 10-day to 2-week dealer training program.  If a person was over 18 but under 21, they would be assigned restaurant or gift shop type of work. 

“As an over-21 accounting major I worked in the money count-room counting the drop from the tables and the restaurant and bar banks. I also worked overtime when needed as a casino cashier, dealing with all sorts of customers.

“As most car enthusiasts know, Bill Harrah was a great car collector, building the largest antique and classic car collection based in Sparks, Nevada just outside of Reno.  Employees were granted discount passes to the collection and I managed to go through the numerous buildings in Sparks many, many times during the three summers I spent at Tahoe.  I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Harrah (we employees were told to address him as "Bill" if we did), but I have acquired many friends over the years who did get to know him and even bought, sold and traded cars with him in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Some even worked for him in the collection at a very early age. Bill Harrah passed away in June 1978 and his life story makes very interesting reading.

“Outside the entrance to one of the main warehouse buildings, was a restored antique popcorn wagon which is shown [here].  My "boss" from Harrah’s, Bob Cranmer, is standing on the left.

This antique popcorn wagon was looking good back in 1966 but
later fell in disrepair. Kenneth chanced to meet the new owner
recently and was able to show him what the popcorn wagon
looked like in its glory years.

“Recently on a antique car tour in Paso Robles, California, I became friends with a gentleman that told me he had recently acquired this wagon in a state of disrepair and I informed him that I might just have a photo of the unit outside of Harrah’s Collection I took back in 1966.  I located the photo and sent him 8" by 10" copies along with the other photos that were of a Harrah’s antique car show held in the South Lake Tahoe parking lot during the summer of 1966.”

If you have snapshots you would like to share, please e-mail them to: oldcars@krause.com

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