Transcript of interview with Paul Pradia by Claytee D. White, July 13, 2010
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Interview with Paul Pradia conducted by Claytee D. White on July 13, 2010. Pradia, who moved to Las Vegas in 1995, teaches golf and is a board member of 1st Tee of Southern Nevada and the Nevada Senior Games, working to promote women golfers. He remains an active member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
An Interview with Paul Pradia An Oral History Conducted by Claytee White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editors: Barbara Tabach and Gloria Homol Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach and Claytee D. White ii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Library Advisory Committee. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases, photographic sources (housed separately) accompany the collection as slides or black and white photographs. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iii Table of Contents List of Illustrations v Preface vi Interview 1-34 Index 35 iv List of Illustrations Paul Pradia golf photo Paul military photos Paul and Theresa Pradia, family photos Golf photographs Frontispiece Following Page: 5 10 27 v Preface Paul Pradia grew up in a family of 19 children in the small rural town of Cameron, Louisiana. He starts his story here recalling the year he entered high school— 1953. It was a world that endured disastrous hurricanes over the years. As a teen, his first job was at a local fish factory where employees earned 90-cents an hour. Dissatisfied with wages, an emboldened Paul asked the owner for a 10-cent raise to avoid a workers strike. Throughout this narrative, he shares how this characteristic served him well. In 1957, upon graduation Paul enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge with enough money to sustain himself for about a month. With the help of the Elk Lodge he was able to complete his education at Southern University. This is where he met the love of his life, Theresa, with whom he has three children. Paul also joined ROTC and became a commissioned officer in the airborne division of the US Army. His military experiences opened him to a world of opportunities outside rural Louisiana and a world where he learned to deal with racism unlike that of the South. With the military and then with civilian government jobs, he moved his family to cities like Seattle and Spokane, Washington, and Salt Lake City, Utah. While working with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), Paul picked up his first golf club. Soon he excelled at the sport and eventually he became a teaching professional. At the time of this interview, Paul has played golf in "all 50 states, 19 countries on three different continents and over 650 different golf courses." He is actively in programs and organizations that promote golf for female players and people of all ages in the Las Vegas community. He moved to Las Vegas in 1995. vi Paul and his many golf trophies, This is Claytee White. It is July 13th, 2010. I'm in the home of Paul Pradia. Paul, would you pronounce your last name and spell it for me? P-R-A-D-I-A, Pradia. Pradia. Wonderful. So how are you doing today? I'm doing just great. Wonderful. So we're here today to talk about black golf. But before we get involved in that at all, I'd like to know something about your early life, where you grew up and what that was like. I grew up in a small town called Cameron, Louisiana. I referred to it as the last tack in the heel of the boot. It's near the Texas border and the Gulf of Mexico. And when I say small, it was really small. I like to tease and say that when I left they had to change the population sign because nobody was going to move in and nobody was pregnant, so they were minus one. So how many people? I'm not really sure, but it was less than a thousand. I went to a one-room school the first eight years of school. Well, there were several one-room schools in Cameron. It was very segregated. I didn't become involved with white people at all. And then when I was a freshman in high school they consolidated the schools and made one school. So which year was that? Fifty-three, 1953. They were early. Huh? That was early. No, no, no. One consolidated schools for blacks, not for everybody. They brought all the little black schools together and made one consolidated school. I see. So tell me about your brothers and sisters. I had 18 brothers and sisters. I had seven brothers and — no. I had six brothers — there were seven of us — and 12 sisters. My father had two wives. Both of them died of childbirth or there probably would have been more of us. I'm the youngest of the boys. I have four sisters who are younger than me. I have no idea how old my father was, but he was at least ~ he had to be at least 1 a hundred or more when he passed away. Tell me about the farm. What kinds of crops? You know, by the time I came along they had stopped farming. But I know they grew rice and sugarcane. And I don't know what else they may have grown on the farm. Did they ever talk to you about how hard that work was, especially the sugarcane? Not really about how hard it was because it was a way of life. The sugarcane was a very popular crop in southwest Louisiana or south central Louisiana as well. But my town was largely a fishing town. They caught a fish called ~ shoot. I'm trying to think of the name of it. I don't remember the name of it. Okay. Something very unusual? Well, they used it just for fertilizer it was called pogie fish. I'm not certain that that's the proper name for the fish. They had large fish boats that went out into the Gulf of Mexico and picked up these fish. They made fertilizer. They cooked them, took the oils and made makeup and stuff like that and shipped this fertilizer throughout the country and throughout the world I guess they shipped some of it. So the fish, it wasn't edible? I don't know of anybody who ate that fish. Wow. So now, how has the oil spill in the Gulf impacted your town? Initially it didn't because it was near New Orleans on the other end of the state. And now I've heard that there were oil balls found on the beaches as far west as Texas. So some oil had to touch the beach in Cameron. In my last conversations with my relatives — I have a few relatives that still live there--they had no impact. That's good. My hometown was destroyed three times by hurricanes during my lifetime and rebuilt. Well, they're in the process of trying to rebuild it now. But when I graduated from high school in 1957, my hometown was completely washed away. They estimated that about 600 people were killed, but I think there were probably more because I don't think they accounted for all the fishermen who may have been in town during that time of year. I had an interesting growing-up life. I was just a happy-go-lucky kid, always the smallest 2 one in the group, so always picked on by the big guys and they would run away when I confronted them. But when I got to junior high — or rather when I got to my junior year in high school I went to work for the fish factory where they made this fertilizer. We were working for 90 cents per hour. Everybody in the factory worked for 90 cents an hour. It didn't matter what skill level they had. My cousin was telling me that the owner (Mr. Smith) would always come to the factory twice per year and he would be wearing a white suit. He'd take the dipstick out of one of the tractors, wipe it on his coat and check the oil, then put it back in the tractor. So I said, if this guy can afford to ruin a white suit every time he comes to town, he can afford to pay us a dollar an hour. Less than two weeks from the time he told me this, Mr. Smith came to town. My cousin was driving the little tractor and moving the bags around and I was sewing the bags. I said we're going to strike; we're going to have a strike. This is just prior to noon. I said we're going to have a strike and we're going to ask for a dollar an hour. So I got four or five other young guys who said that they would be willing to participate. We broke for lunch. Everybody went outside to eat their lunch. The young guys said we're not going back to work until we get a dollar an hour. The older guys were angry. They said you young fellows just come out here and work for the summer, but we've got families we've got to take care of and we work all during the season. So they said we're going back to work. We got some two-by-fours and we said you're not going back in there; we're going to bust your heads. They said, okay, who's going to go and talk to Mr. Smith about the raise? I said I'll do it. I went up to the office and talked to the secretary. I said I'd like to see Mr. Smith, please. She said why would you like to see him? I said I'd like to discuss wages. So she called him and he said come on in. I went into his office and said, Mr. Smith, we've determined that we're not going back to work until we get a dollar an hour. He said go back and tell the boys to go back to work; they got it. That was the end of our strike. I didn't know whether we were getting the dollar or not. He probably would have given you a dollar and a half. He probably would have. Whatever I asked for I guess. But it showed up in the paycheck that we 3 got a dollar an hour. Then I was banned from work. Nobody in the town — By who? Everybody, everybody who owned a business would not hire me. So when I graduated from high school I had no job. Hurricane Audrey came along and washed the town away. After the hurricane, I went to work for the Red Cross. I always wanted to go to school. I had one of the most unique graduating classes I guess. There were five people in my class. I was the salutatorian. My cousin was the valedictorian. We had three boys and two girls, which was opposite of the makeup of most high school classes. So I went to Southern University [Baton Rouge, LA]. I had an older brother who had gone to Grambling, but he drowned in hurricane Audrey. I went to Southern University. I had enough money to pay tuition and fees and for my lodging for one month. I didn't know whether I was going to be able to stay, but I knew I was going to Southern University. There was a minister (Reverend Washington) who was I guess ~ I don't know what they call the head of the Elks Lodge. Grand something or other. Grand somebody. But anyway, he heard about my situation and convinced his Lodge that they should gave me a scholarship which allowed me to stay in school. Wow. That's wonderful. So four years there? Four years there. And what did you do afterwards? I met my wife while I was there. Good. Now, did you join a fraternity? Yes. Omega Psi Phi fraternity. There is but one. Yes. Why did I ask? No. In fact, my wife was a Delta already. The Omegas had been banned from the university a couple of times for whatever reasons. Hazing. I suppose so — so I didn't make the fraternity until I was a senior. I never got to pledge align while I was there. But I joined the fraternity. 4 My limited experience in world affairs was growing up in Cameron. We had one store, a general store that was owned by a black man. I didn't know that one could get things on consignment and could sell them. I thought you just bought stuff, put it in your store and sold it. There were no professional blacks in Cameron. Not even a mortician? Not even a mortician when I was growing up. So teachers were the only people you could look up to. Naturally, I wanted to be a teacher. But I was more impressed by the military. I had a cousin who was killed in the military and he had a military funeral. They did a 21-gun salute at the conclusion of the service. I was convinced that I want to be a general in the military. I found out that Southern University had an ROTC program. Grambling College recruited me but I didn't want any sympathy because my older brother had attended Grambling, he's the one who drowned in Hurricane Audrey and I didn't want to be associated with that. Plus, Grambling was out in the country. I wanted to go to the city. I wanted to go where there were sidewalks, bright lights and paved streets. So I went to Southern, enrolled in ROTC and got a commission in the army. Well, that was the only ROTC that we had at that particular time. When I graduated I went back to Cameron — excuse me — after I got married. My wife and I got married during the Christmas break of our senior year. I went back to Cameron to teach. So I taught for two and a half glorious months and then I had to go fulfill my military obligation. And you went in what rank? Second lieutenant. I went to Fort Benning, Georgia. And then from Fort Benning, Georgia, I was assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington. I was really fascinated with — well, I had been out of Cameron maybe three, four times, but I hadn't been very far. I hadn't experienced any rolling hills like they have in Georgia. Well, they call them mountains. I call them rolling hills. Okay, good. And then when I got to Fort Lewis, Washington, I saw real mountains. I was so fascinated. So which year was it that you got to Seattle? I got to Seattle in '61 — or '62 rather. Because you had gotten married--5 Paul 1962 Paul Pradia 1961-Airborne January of '62. Yeah. See, when I got the commission through ROTC, I had to go to officers' orientation class. That was at Fort Benning, Georgia. Okay. So do you go through a basic training as well? Well, it's officers' orientation. It's not a basic training per say. Okay. So it's different. Right. Right. You get your commission. You are an officer, but then you have to complete the school for the branch of service to which you are assigned. You see, Southern University had a general ROTC program. Upon completion of your studies, you were asked to list your first, second and third choice of branches of service and the Army assigned you a branch not necessarily of your choosing. You had to go to that particular school and complete it to keep your commission. What was the military like race relation-wise in 1961-62? Terrible. Well, for me it was the first time that I had a one-on-one conversation with a white person. I stood next to a guy whose name was Peoples. He was a very intelligent guy. He had gone to LSU. We hit it off pretty well and we had lots of conversations. But upon completing the officers' orientation course, I was disillusioned because I thought, well, an officer has to make lots of money, but the pay was $222.30 a month. While I was on temporary duty at the officer's orientation course I got paid extra for temporary duty. So I wanted to stay on temporary duty as long as I could. I had a choice. I would either have to go to airborne school or ranger school. And ranger school required you to be in the Okie Swamps in Florida. I knew nothing about swimming and I didn't want to be in that water. So I said I'll go to airborne school. I went to airborne school and had five jumps, four of them before I found out what it felt like to land in a plane. The fifth one would have been the same except when we went up it was too turbulent for us to jump. We landed and completed our final jump the following day. I was able to stay on temporary duty from October to the end of December. Then I reported to Fort Lewis in January of 1962. I was assigned to the 12th Infantry Division. It was strange, there were companies that had sergeants acting as platoon leaders (jobs typically performed by 2nd lieutenants). But I was assigned to a company where they already had 6 all the platoon leaders they needed. So they made me the motor officer and the communications officer, two things I knew absolutely nothing about. They didn't want to give me a command. They didn't want me telling these white folks what to do. Well, I did that for maybe six months or so and then they wanted me to be the supply officer. My commander sent me over to the supply room. He said go over and report to the warrant officer and he'll teach you everything about supply. I went over there. I thought about it. I said, nah, I'm a second lieutenant. A warrant officer's rank is lower than mine. Why should I be reporting to him? I went back to the commander and said I don't want to do that job. He reassigned me to my previous job in the company. Finally one of the other officers was reassigned. So they had to give me a platoon. It was interesting. They gave me the platoon that had an old sergeant who was an alcoholic. They called him "Smirnoff' Smith. I learned more from him than I did from anybody even in the four years I spent in ROTC. The old sergeants looked at me like I was a young kid, I did look very young because I didn't have any facial hair and I was the same size that I am now. They would ask me, well, why are you wearing your dad's uniform? But it was all good. That's great. I thought I wanted to be a general. But then the military didn't think much of me and I didn't think much of the military. So how long did you stay in? Two years and three months I think. Something like that. That was the bare minimum, wasn't it? Well, the bare minimum was two years. When I was processing out, turning in my gear, President Kennedy was assassinated. The Army extended everybody, so I had to go back to work in my old job for two and a half months. I see. Wow. So where did you and your wife decide to go when you left Seattle or when you left military? We decided to stay in Washington. That's when we went to Seattle. Fort Lewis is near Tacoma, down in that part of the state. It's only like 40 miles away from Seattle. We had some friends there and they told me that I'd have no problem getting a job at Boeing Aircraft Company. So I 7 was all set to go to work for Boeing Aircraft Company. The day that I left the military Boeing laid off a bunch of people, a bunch of engineers and other professionals. Grass sort of grew up in the streets of Seattle. I filed an application with every company that would accept an application in Seattle. Never found a job. I even filed an application at Fort Lawton. Fort Lawton was a small military base on the outskirts of Seattle. Well, since I wasn't successful in getting any employed, I said, well, maybe we'll go back to Louisiana and teach. Theresa's grandfather was a very instrumental guy in getting things done, he got an interview for me. And I got a job to in the school district. In? In Monroe, Louisiana. Okay. A little larger. A little larger, yeah. Paved streets and that kind of stuff. But they offered me even less money than I was making when I started teaching. My first teaching contract was for $3700 a year. And that was in Cameron. I want to regress a little bit and go back to that. That's fine. Yes, please. I got that teaching assignment and I taught for the two and a half months. I had a friend who graduated with me. We both majored in education and we both had about the same GPA. But then there was the draft and you had to go before the board for them to determine whether you were going to be drafted or not. And he had not gone before the board, so he couldn't get a job. Nobody would give him a teaching job because they figured he'd have to go to the military. He had what we call coke-bottle eyeglasses. Everybody knew he couldn't pass the physical. So when I was ready to leave teaching, I brought my friend Griffin out to meet the superintendent. I said, Mr. Hackett, I've got my orders to go on active military duty and I brought my replacement. He looked at me. His eyes were as big as coke bottles. Who's this guy bringing his replacement? I like that. So I introduced him. I said his name is Henry Griffin. He said do you know that Mr. Pradia signed a contract for one year? He said yes, sir. He said do you know that he has signed to get paid nine months out of the year rather than the 12 months that teachers get paid? 8 He said yes, sir. He said do you know that I'm keeping this job for Ms. Harrison who is in school now and she's going to graduate next year and she's going to have this job? And he said yes, sir. I'll accept all those terms. So he couldn't find any reason not to hire him. Interestingly enough, Griffin retired from that school system. Even after integration he retained his job in that school system. Wow. That's a good story. Now let's see where we were. So we were back trying to find a job. Oh, yes. I signed a contract in Monroe and I was going to teach. I got a call from Fort Lawton, Washington, saying if you want to work for the government, you need to be in Salt Lake City, Utah in less than two weeks. I had fabricated my application. Well, I didn't really fabricate. I just, let me see, enhanced. I said I could type 30 words a minute. I couldn't type at all. I had never typed. So I rented a typewriter and I learned how to type. I call it typing. I used four fingers and a thumb. But I had a dilemma. I'd signed this contract saying I'm going to teach. And this is like in June. I've got to make up my mind. So I said I'm going to work for the government in Salt Lake City, Utah, Fort Douglas. And how did your wife feel about this? Oh, she was excited because we had three children and one of them, the middle child, who was our second son, was born hydrocephalic, water around the brain. He needed medical treatment that wasn't readily available in Louisiana. The only place he could get the treatment was in New Orleans at the Charity Hospital. The service was horrible at the hospital She was excited about going to Salt Lake. We accepted the job in Utah. I went to meet with the superintendent of schools in Monroe. I said, sir, I have this job offer to go to Salt Lake and I'll be making $2,000 more a year working there than I will here. You'll either have to let me out of the contract or you'll have to come and get me. So he tore up the contract. Wonderful. Yeah. And we were off to Salt Lake. Well, my son was having a problem at that time. So my wife was taking him to New Orleans. His shunt wasn't working properly. I drove to Salt Lake. 9 I thought the military was bad. But when I got to Salt Lake I didn't see any black folk. I stopped near the outskirts of town and got a motel room. The next day I reported to work at Fort Douglas. No black folk there either. There was one black sergeant on Fort Douglas and he was on leave at the time. My boss told me, go out and find a place to live. He gave me a couple of days off saying you can come back to work on Wednesday I guess. I spent all weekend and a few days riding around. I didn't see any black folk. Finally I saw this guy. It was a black guy and a white guy, a white guy driving a white Cadillac, black man sitting on the other side. They were going east and I was going south. Salt Lake has got some pretty big blocks and you can't turn left and all that kind of stuff. So I said, well, there's got to be some black folk in that direction if he's going. I tooted my horn. I was excited. They didn't even look my way. I went around the block and headed east. Finally I found a little area where there were some black folk. I talked to a lady and she was going to rent me a room. Then she thought about it. She had two young daughters and she decided she didn't want to rent the room to me. She said she had relatives coming in from California and she wasn't going to rent the room. She introduced me to another lady, her cousin I guess who lived across town. She rented her basement room to me. Theresa was put out that Theron, our son, didn't receive the kind of treatment he should have received in New Orleans. So she was ready to come to Salt Lake. I was still in the army reserve. I did two years active duty and I had four years reserve duty that I had to do for a total of six. I was scheduled to go to army reserve duty in one week. She said she didn't care; she was coming to Salt Lake City anyway. She came to town and brought the boys. That's right. We only had two children then because my daughter was born in Salt Lake. She brought the boys and we occupied that basement. He vomited everywhere, just messed up the people's house. It was a shame. There was a good clinic for birth defects there in Salt Lake and they decided that they would treat our son. Theresa took him to the clinic and they said nothing was wrong. When she brought him home, he vomited all over the place again. So she took him back, put him on the table and said you guys keep him until you find out what's wrong, and she left. I see why you were attracted to her. Yeah. Yeah. After some test, they found that his shunt was too small. The spinal fluids that flow 10 Above: Theresa and Paul Pradia in 2007. In 1967, Paul and Theresa with their children: Theron, Paula and Anthony. Anthony and Sheila Pradia Family Front Row: Katrina, Laura, Brianna Suzanne, Erin Elizabeth. Middle Row: Paul, John, Anthony (father) Sheila (mother) holding William. Back Row: Anthony Jr. and Jeffrey. through the brain and is pumped back through the heart had particles in them that would clog up the shunt. So they did a shunt and placed the tube on the outside — or just under the skin down into the heart. They cut the chest cavity open, put it right the heart. It worked fine. Wow. So did you know that Salt Lake City was mostly Mormon before you moved there? I didn't know anything about Salt Lake City. I knew about the Great Salt Lake, but I didn't know about Salt Lake City. When I got there I didn't know anything about Mormons. I had heard the term and I read a little bit. I knew that the mean average temperature in Salt Lake was in the 60s or something like that. I saw these garments hanging on the line outside the window. I said, gosh, I know it's cold here, but I didn't know people wear long underwear in the summertime. This was in June, you see. Mrs. Howard, the landlord, said, no, that's the Mormon garment. I didn't know anything about it. But later I found out quite a bit about Mormons while working for the army reserve and being assigned to the Mormon Battalion. I was a captain in the reserve back then. I was talking to these young men in the courtyard, they said, this garment will protect you from all bodily harm. I said you mean if I were to hit you on the head it wouldn't hurt because you're wearing this garment? He said, no, not physical, other kind of bodily harm. It was an eye-opener for me. The Mormons tried to recruit us, now. Of course. I wouldn't be recruited. I said if I have a college degree and you will allow your 12-year-old son to be a missionary and a priest and you won't allow me to be a priest, what makes you think that I would join the Mormon Church? And they said, well, when you die you're going to turn white and then you get all the privileges. I love it. Wow. I've never heard that one before. Oh, they had all kinds of things. One day we were standing out in the courtyard during my first drill I think. And these guys, these lieutenants said we're going to go to the steakhouse for lunch. I said I'll go. They said you can't go. I said I don't know why. I've got money. I can afford a steak once in a while. They said, no, we're going to the church steakhouse. I didn't know anything about the church steakhouse. So I couldn't go. But it was fun watching their expressions when I said I would go with them. 11 Good. So is that where you worked — I worked for two years at Fort Douglas for the army reserve. I was the only black civilian on Fort Douglas and we had that one black sergeant. There were seven people in the office, I found out that and they had a pool going on how long I would stay. They were betting that I wasn't going to be able to make the adjustment. But I stayed and I enjoyed it. Then we went to church — well, I've been Catholic all my life. That's right. You were from Louisiana. Well, my wife was not Catholic. She was from north Louisiana. We met at Southern University, she converted just prior to our marriage. We went to church and we met ~ well, we saw this black couple. There was a guy. His name was Phil Watts. He was a lecturer. He did the readings in the Catholic Church. We had a new baby. So we sat in the back. They had a little cry room back there. We'd been in the cry room. And when mass was over he'd go out the front door and we'd go out the back. So we didn't meet for a while. Finally we met them at a Christmas Party. He drove a Mustang, a new Mustang. And we had an old Ford Falcon. We thought, well, we won't be able to hang with these guys, you know, they're out of our class. They gave us their address and we went by and looked at their house. We said, oh, gosh, they've got a new Mustang and they've got the barn to park it in. They became our lifelong friends. In fact, they live in Sacramento, California now and we visit back and forth and tease about our humble beginnings. Oh, that's great. So I was there for two years. Then HUD decided that they would recruit some blacks to integrate HUD. Well, they came to town. I was out driving a jeep. I don't know. I was someplace I shouldn't have been anyway. So Phil called me. Phil Watts is the black guy. Yes, okay, with the Mustang. Yeah. He called me for an interview. I said, yeah, I'll go down to the library for an interview. I got there just in time to meet the guys who were going to interview. They interviewed me while walking out to their car to get back on the airplane to go back to San Francisco. They said, okay, you've got to take the federal service entrance exam. I thought that was rather strange because I already worked for the federal government, working for the Department of Defense. We, (Phil, 12 one other black guy and I) took the exam. I scored the highest. So I had an opportunity of staying in Salt Lake; going to Helena, Montana; Spokane, Washington; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and those kinds of places. I always wondered why would they go to Salt Lake City to recruit blacks when they were coming from San Francisco? They could have gone over to Oakland and got all the blacks they wanted. But I later found out — well, we made the deduction that they said if you can survive in Salt Lake, you can survive anywhere. That's exactly what I was thinking. Yeah. Yeah. So I went to work for HUD in 1966. So which location did you select? Spokane, Washington, because we had lived in Seattle. So you liked Washington. I loved Washington State. Still love Washington State. The rain didn't bother you? Well, in Spokane it doesn't rain nearly as much. But the rain didn't bother me at all. I enjoyed the rain. Good. So we moved to Spokane. My goal was to get back to Seattle. But it didn't happen. But we kind of fell in love with Spokane for a while. Good. So what kind of work did you do for HUD? I started out as a mortgage credit examiner loan specialist trainee. I spent my career with HUD and I retired as — well, I had become the state coordinator for the State of Nevada. I started out as a GS-6 and I retired as a GS-15. So the GS-6 was in Washington in Spokane? Yes. And then how long were you there before you transferred to Nevada? Oh, I didn't come directly to Nevada. I went to Greensboro, North Carolina in the interim. I went to Cornell University on a special program called Education for Public Managers. It was a highly competitive program where individuals who were GS-12s and higher could compete from around 13 the country. I was the first person to be selected from a small office. There were others selected from the regional office headquarters office in Washington DC. I found out later that I was the only person ever selected from a small field office for the program. I went Cornell University. I had the option of getting a master's or just taking the courses that were required for management. And I decided, well, I'm working for the government; I don't need a master's anyway; they're not going to pay me more if I get a master's. So I just took the courses that would make me a better manager. So how long did it take for those courses? One year. Okay. So did you move your family to Cornell? Yes. Wonderful. The government paid to send me there, move my family and paid for my books, tuition and fees plus my salary. Sounds good to me. I was excited about that. Oh, you had to be. By that time, I had started to play golf. So where exactly were you when you started, which city? Spokane, Washington. What influenced you to start? I was sitting in my desk one day and one of the guys came over and said, hey, we would like to know if you'd like to play golf for the HUD team? I said I didn't even know we had a HUD team. I don't know anything about golf. This is in 1971. He said you don't have to worry about it. We play for a little brown jug trophy. We play the Small Business Administration. And we have to have five players to make up the team, but they only take the four best scores. So it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you come out and play. There was this one guy who had an extra set of clubs. He said he'd loan them to me if I would play. I said, well, I want to be a good sport. I wanted to find out more about them anyway because I had no contact with anybody in the office 14 except when I went to work because I was the only black there. I referred to myself as the spook that sat by the door because we had an office with a long counter out front and a door that led to this counter. People who came in had to go around the corner and be taken to wherever they were going. My boss sat me right there by the door. So everybody who came in saw me. They knew I was there, they knew that FHA had a black employee. SBA didn't have one. We were in the same building. So anyway, I'll get to that a little later. Getting back to playing golf, so this was on a Thursday afternoon. He said we're going to play on Saturday. We're going to play at Wandermere Golf Course. You just be there and we'll bring the stuff you'll need to play. I said okay. I was playing in the last group. Knowingly I saw my first golf course that Saturday morning and I played my first round of golf. I shot 135, which is terrible. Now, the lower the score the better. So tell me what is a great score. A great score, par. 72 or lower. So this course is a par-72 course? Yes, par 72. And I shot 135. And the other guys shot? I don't know what the other guys shot, but our guys won. On the last hole there was a big tree that cast shade over most of the green. There's a balcony at the clubhouse. Both teams were up on the balcony drinking beer and laughing. I walked in and I said I don't know what you guys are laughing about because I'm never going to play this stupid game again anyway. They said okay. No mention of it anymore. Our team won the trophy. It sat in it's usual place in the office. I had seen that trophy, but I didn't know what it was. It was a little brown jug with a golf ball on the top. But the golf ball wasn't familiar to me because the only thing beginning with a "G" that I recognized was the Gulf of Mexico. Okay, good. So the following year the same guy came over and asked me if I wanted to play with them. So do you know them a little better now? Not really because — 15 Still not that much interaction? No, no interaction. Every morning I would come to work at eight o'clock. I'd be there on time and I'd go straight to my desk, sit down, get started, people would come by and look at me. Some of them would speak. Some of them would just come by to look at me and see that I was there. So I remedied that, too, because I stopped coming in at eight o'clock. I started coming in at 8:05. My boss called me in. He said, Mr. Pradia, you used to come to work on time all the time and now you're coming in at 8:05. What's the big deal? I said, well, you know, Mr. Valentine, when I come in at eight everybody in the office comes around and looks at me and I'm disrupting their work. I said if I come in at 8:05 and I walk down the aisle and come to my desk, everybody knows I'm here; they don't have to get up. I never heard any more from him. I eventually started going back to work at eight. Anyway, they invited me the next year. They said do you want to play golf? So I said, well, I don't mind playing with you, but I don't have any clubs. The guy who was loaned me the clubs the year before no longer worked at HUD. So he wouldn't loan me the clubs. The guy who invited me said, well, they have clubs out in the valley that are on sale. I said that doesn't matter; I have no means of getting out there. He did this on a Thursday afternoon. We're playing on Saturday. He said, well, I'll pick the clubs up for you. I gave him ten dollars. He picked up some clubs. A set of clubs for ten dollars? Well, they only cost $1.50 each. This was in '72. He just bought some irons. He loaned me one of his woods and he gave me some golf balls to play with and that kind of stuff. Again, I'm playing in the last group and, again, they didn't expect me to do anything. But at the end they are laughing again I was under the same tree and they were up on the balcony. I said I don't know what the hell you guys are laughing about; I'm playing ten strokes better than I played the last time and I don't know what the big deal is. They said, well, we're not laughing at your play. We're laughing because you're playing with these little kid's clubs with red handles. I said I'll fix you SOBs; I'll buy a set of clubs and beat all of you. Okay, good. There was an enterprising young man who was in the clubhouse, a black guy who played golf. He 16 was a friend. From where? How did you know him? Well, I knew him from little parties we had in Spokane. Okay. So this was in the community? In the community, yeah. He was in the area. So he said I'll sell you a set of clubs for a hundred dollars and I'll give you everything from the putter to the driver, a golf bag and all that kind of stuff. His name was Herb Daley. I said okay. But now I'm puzzled. I don't know where I'm going to get this hundred dollars. But I managed to get the buy to buy the set of clubs. So how much is a set of clubs now? Oh, you can buy them for any price. You can go up to three, $4,000 for a set, about that. But you can buy a used set for ~ you can probably get one for a hundred dollars at some swap meet or somewhere like that. Okay. Yes. Anyway, he sold me these clubs. He agreed to give me seven lessons. I said okay. So we went to the driving range. He started to teach me. He hit some shots and he hit the ball really good. He was hitting the ball better than those guys I was playing with. He said, now, this is the only way you can do it. I said, Herb, if it's the only way you can do it, I don't need your instructions. He was about six-two, weighed about 240, 250. So tell me your height. I'm five-six and three-quarters and weighed 150. I said no way I can hit the ball as long as you and that kind of stuff doing what you do. I said I'll teach myself how to play. I said I'm a pretty bright guy; I can do it. We had a bet that I couldn't do it; I couldn't break a hundred because he knew I had only shot 135 and I shot 125. By the way, he was from North Carolina. I won the bet. He made certain that I didn't take any lessons from any of the pros. He went around and asked them if I was taking lessons. He told the black guys who played don't teach me anything. It took me awhile. But within a year I beat all those guys out of HUD except one. Wow. Doing it your way? Yes. We defended our championship a couple of times while I was there, but then it sort of fell apart. We still had the brown jug trophy when I left. 17 Good. So now, those black guys at that other golf course, was there a special course where black men played in — Spokane? Yes. No. We played all the courses. We even formed a black club. Well, we couldn't play the country clubs. There were two country clubs there. But you have to be a member of those anyway. Right. You have to be invited. I got to play one of those while I was there. See, I started playing and then I went off to Cornell University and I played golf there. They had a championship golf course on the campus. The first order of business when we met in the business school was we had a golf tournament, the professors against the new incoming business students. Naturally I signed up. Well, they had a tradition on who won and I was going to make certain that the students won that time around. I beat my guy. I don't know how we did totally. But it was fun. Good. Tell me about the different clubs. I know there are irons, woods, putters and drivers. Are those all the clubs? Irons, woods, putters and drivers. Yes. That's basically. They have — what is it called? I can't think of the name of it now. But it's between a wood and an iron. Hybrid. Yeah, it's smaller than a wooden club, but larger than an iron. So the iron is that one with the small — Well, it's a thin face and it has an angle. Okay, good. And the wood is the larger one? The larger ones, yes. A putter you use on those little putting greens? On the putting green, yes. And the driver is when you're going to hit a long distance — Driver is the largest one in the bag and it's teed up. You put your ball on a tee. Oh, you don't always put it on a tee? No. No. Why? 18 You only tee off at the beginning of each hole you don't use a tee again for the play between there and the putting green. Okay. That's good information. Great. So you know nothing about golf? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh, okay. I'm interested in golf in Las Vegas because I learned that black men started playing golf here about the 60s, maybe a little earlier. And some of those black golfers, I have a photograph. So I want to know more about golf in Las Vegas. Well, there's a golf club here called Valley View Golf Club. In fact, there are three black golf clubs here in Las Vegas. So tell me the three. Let's see. Valley View, Silver State and — Municipal? No. That's the Municipal Golf Course where they played golf. I'm told that blacks were only allowed them to play, The Municipal Golf Course and Craig Ranch, which is now closed, in the early years. Municipal is closed? No. Craig Ranch is closed. So where is Craig Ranch located? It was on Craig Road just east of Martin Luther King. The City of North Las Vegas closed the course and they're building a park on the site. So tell me when your family came to Las Vegas. We came to Las Vegas in 1995. Okay. So '95. And at that time were you retired? No, no. I was transferred here. The government declared that they were going to eliminate some HUD offices around the country. There were about seven offices in the state of California. My boss, who happened to be a fraternity brother ~ well, he was the deputy regional administrator ~ wanted to protect me. He decided that he would get me transferred here to Las Vegas as the head 19 of the office. If they eliminated all of these offices, I would have a job and I would be the head of the HUD office for the state of Nevada. Wonderful. So I came here in '95. Was it the first time you had been head of one of the offices? I was the head of the office in Sacramento. There are 23 counties in northern California served by that office. Well, I was the acting head of the office. I was acting manager for approximately two years, because the manager left and they were in the process of doing this reorganization. It turned out they didn't eliminate any of the offices. They were successful in closing only one. They closed it, but left a phone there in Ohio, in Springfield. Then they had to reopen it because it takes an act of Congress to close a government office. So I got transferred here and I stayed here. So as much as you liked Washington, were you able to fall in love with Las Vegas? Not really. I'm still not in love with Las Vegas. I live here because it's economically sound for me to live here. When I retired in 2000,1 wanted to move back to Washington State, but Theresa didn't want to go. She wanted to go back to northern California and I didn't want to pay California ~ the state tax. We decided we would stay here. We bought two condominiums, one here and the other in Sacramento and tried commuting for approximately two years. I mean it didn't work out for us. So tell me about golf here in Las Vegas. Golf in Las Vegas is overpriced. It's relatively open. There are some golf courses who don't want large numbers of blacks to play at one time. They won't openly say it. Even today? Even today. What kind of feeling do you get when you go there? Well, we just played a tournament. Valley View Golf Club just played a tournament at Rhodes Ranch. The tournament was set for 7:30 when we were supposed to tee off in the morning. Well, I called out to find out something about the tournament. They said we don't have it on our books at all. I called the tournament chair for Valley View, and he said, I'll call and talk to them. They 20 moved our starting time to 6:30 and would not accommodate all of our players. So we were out there at 6:30 in the morning instead of 7:30 to play. Various people in our club said that staffers talked about how they said they didn't want us out there period. Other high-end clubs referred to my group of four people as Valley View. They couldn't accept us as just four people playing golf for own enjoyment. I see. So tell me about the Valley View Golf Club. It's more than 50 years old. I think the most members we've ever had in it is 105 or so. We currently have about 75 or so. And we play golf tournaments around the valley. In fact, we're playing one this Saturday at Tuscany Golf Course. I don't think we've ever played at a — no, we've never played at a country club as Valley View. But I've played at a number of the country clubs here in town. By the way, I'm a teaching professional now. So how did you get into teaching golf? I mean you're a person who taught yourself how to play the game. Yeah. When I retired I was the junior golf chair. When I first came to Las Vegas I went to the Valley View Golf Club meeting. I was kind of brash, as I generally am. So I nominated myself for president, president of the club. Did you know anybody there? No. No. I was just meeting the people. But I wanted to be the president. I nominated myself. A young fellow, whose name is Ed May, became the president. They elected him. He didn't know anything about golf. I mean he had been playing golf, but he didn't know anything about being a president of a club. I had previously been the founding president of a club in Spokane. Oh, I see. Yeah. It was called Pine State Golf Club. I was the president for two years. And that club is still going. It was founded back in '73. So now, what do golf clubs actually do? They hold golf tournaments. They have junior golf programs that teach young people how to play. Good. Wonderful. So that's where I started teaching. I started teaching golf in Spokane, Washington back in the 70s. 21 Then I belonged to another club in Sacramento. It's the Northern California Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association. Then when I came here I nominated myself to be president. The president appointed me as the chair of junior golf. Well, they didn't really have a junior golf program. There were two members of the club who had started a junior golf program, Lee Daniels and Johnny Griffin, and they had about five students. And then when I became chair we built the thing up to — I don't know how many students. We had 100 and something students or more. Wonderful. And how do you recruit the students? Just anybody who wants to play. Word of mouth. Churches, schools, wherever. The Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association had its program. And then there were some white guys who decided they wanted to do an inner city youth golf association. Well, Jim Hart, who currently works for First Tee was involved in that program, invited me to join them. I joined them and I became the vice president of that group. First Tee? I was vice president of First Tee. But this was prior to First Tee. See, First Tee came about as a result of combining Southern Nevada Inner City Youth Golf Association and minority — I mean Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association. And I was vice president of the Inner City Youth Golf Association and I became one of the vice presidents of First Tee. So the Inner City Youth Golf Club had been around for a while? No. It started in 1995 when I came here. The Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association had been around a long time. Jim Colbert and Tiger Woods and a few other people were instrumental in bringing the First Tee program to fruition. I see. Wonderful. Now, does First Tee do things other than scholarships and teaching youngsters to play? They call it life skills. They teach life skills and golf. Good. We have a young lady, Lee Daniels' granddaughter, who just received a 10,000-dollar scholarship through First Tee. Wonderful. So you have boys and girls? Boys and girls, yes. 22 Do you have any women playing golf? Here? Any black women? I taught 100 black women how to play golf for no fee. That was after I got my teaching license. But you asked me how I decided to teach golf. Yes. I had been teaching junior golf all this time from the 70s. I heard about this school and they were having a class here. So I decided to take the class. And when I decided to take the class I enrolled. McDaniels ~ do you know Coach [Al] McDaniels from UNLV? Huh-uh. Which sport? He coached the track team. Okay. So I only know the basketball coach. Well, he took the track team to the nationals and he took some students to the ~ Fantastic. We only know about the basketball coach. Ah, okay. You don't know about the golf coach either? No. Dwaine Knight? No. Oh, they have quite a few ~ Is there a lot of publicity on him? Yeah. I don't read about him in the newspaper. A few of his players play on the PGA tour. Okay, good. But Coach McDaniels was taking this class. The United States Golf Teaching Federation is where I went to school. I didn't know him, but there were only two blacks in the class. And he sat on one side of the room and I was on the other side. He thought I was a pretty sharp guy. He said would you like to come out and teach golf for me out at the university? And I said fine. I went out there and taught golf for six years. 23 Fantastic. He and I have become good friends as a result of our teaching golf together. I wear knickers all the time, I feel that it makes me a better player. I noticed that when I came in. How did that come about? I just saw that the old guys in Scotland and England wore them. So I thought, hey, I'll start a tradition with me. And then when Payne Stewart came out — Payne Stewart was a golfer on the PGA tour. When he came out he was wearing knickers. However, I was wearing knickers before Payne Stewart. He said that all of us golfers are between five-eleven and six-two and we weigh between 195 and 210 pounds and we're all blond and blue-eyed. So he wanted to be distinguished when he came down the 18th fairway. So I say that now. I say all of us golfers are blond and blue-eyed, between five-eleven and six-two. I want to be distinguished. So I wear my knickers. Okay. Now, you're also a member of the Municipal Golf Club? No. Oh, you're not. Okay. No. We play golf there occasionally. So where are you favorite courses in the city? The Paiute. The Wolf Golf Course out at the Paiute is my favorite golf course. Is this near the Paiute Reservation? It's on the Paiute Reservation. They have three golf courses there. Their goal was to have four. But the Wolf is the high-end golf course. I had a friend that worked out there, so I used to play out there a lot. There are lots of good golf courses in Las Vegas. They're all overpriced. Even the one on the Paiute Reservation? Uh-huh. All of them are. Uh-huh. So what do they charge? Well, you could pay as much as $500 for a round of golf. Yes, that's true. There are a couple of golf courses in town that you could pay as much as $500 for. And then there are 300-dollar courses and then there's 150-dollar courses and that kind of stuff. 24 To play one game? One game. One game. In fact, Shadow Creek — Steve Wynn owned Shadow Creek. Shadow Creek used to cost a thousand dollars to play a round of golf and that entitled you to one-night stay at the Bellagio ~ not the Bellagio, the other two that Steve Wynn ~ The Wynn or the Encore. No, no, no. That was before they were built. You're talking prior to the Bellagio. So the Mirage and Treasure Island? Yeah. You could have a one-night stay atone of those two hotels and a round of golf for a thousand dollars. And then when the MGM acquired it, they reduced the price to $500. There's another golf course in Boulder City called Cascata. It cost $500 to play a round of golf there. So how much does it cost at a place ~ who do I see all the time? On Washington there? Right. The municipal course. The Municipal Golf Course? Uh-huh. How much does it cost there? You know, I'm not really certain. I think it's 35, $40 for locals, and if you're out of town it will cost you right around a hundred dollars to play. Okay. I see. So if you could play golf anyplace in the country you wanted to, this is your dream golf game, where would you play it? In the country or in the world? Ooh. Okay. In the world. I would go and play the old course in Scotland where they're playing the Open Championship. My dream course in the U.S. was Pebble Beach and I played there. But where my ashes are going to be scattered when I'm cremated is Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane, Washington. That's where I learned to play. I see. So someone would have to sneak and do that or they can actually scatter your ashes there? I don't know what the laws say. But I told my wife when I died I wanted to be cremated and I wanted her to go up and rent a golf cart. First I wanted her to dump a little bit of my ashes in each 25 hole. And then one of my friends told me, well, wild animals will probably dig that up. I don't want to spoil the golf course. So just sprinkle a little of my ashes around the course. Well, my son-in-law heard me talk about it. And he said, why waste that time and money? He said I'll go up to Spokane and play a round of golf and sprinkle you around. And then my son agreed that he would go. So they are supposed to sprinkle me on the golf course. I like that. I like it. I think that's great. What did it mean having someone for a long period of time like Tiger Woods playing golf to the level that he played it? What did that mean to black men playing golf? Well, he's still playing to that level. He's just kind of on the downside right now, but he's still the number one golfer in the world. Yeah. Right. That meant more to black golfers I think than anything related to golf because now we don't have — at one time we had quite a few black golfers on the tour ~ not quite a few, but I mean eight or ten black golfers playing at the same time. And now we only have Tiger. He's the only one out there. And to have the best golfer in the world playing meant everything to black golfers. Okay. Wonderful. At least the ones I associated with. That's what I mean. A few minutes ago we were talking about golf courses. What is the difference in a 32-dollar course and a thousand-dollar course or a difference in the Municipal course and Pebble Beach? Well, Pebble Beach, it was just referred to in the last tournament that they had there that it was the most gorgeous meeting of the sea and the berm in the world. It's so picturesque. It's so well maintained. It's unbelievable. At the Municipal Golf Course, they cut the greens whenever they think about it. They don't spend a lot of money on it. The other championship-type golf courses — well, all the private clubs, they built them to keep blacks out. And they are in pristine condition most of the time. They have elaborate clubhouses. My wife and I were just at a wine tasting sponsored by my fraternity at the Dragon Ridge Country Club. Danny Gans belonged to the Dragon Ridge Country Club. Presidents play at these places and that kind of thing. The governor 26 and all those, all the important people play golf. That's why I wanted to play. I see. I played golf in all 50 states, 19 countries on three different continents and over 650 different golf courses. Wow. So where are some of the countries that you've played golf? Ireland I'm sure. But where else? No, I didn't play in Ireland. I went to Scotland to play the old course. Scotland. Sorry. Yes. But it was closed for unscheduled maintenance. So I played the course next to it. I've played in England. I've played in Germany. I've played in France. I've played in Italy. I've played in Belgium, Norway. I wanted to play in the smallest country in the world. What is the smallest country in the world? Shoot, I can't think of the name of the country now. But I drove through it twice trying to find the golf course. I didn't even know I had driven out of it and I drove right through. Shoot, I can't think of it now. Where is it located? It's near Germany, in that area. When we were driving through finally after I found out there was no golf course, I stopped on the side of the street, put a tee on the ground, put a ball in that and hit it out in the old farmer's farm. So you're playing your dream game on your dream golf course, Scotland, who would you be playing with? Who would I be playing with? Ordinary people or — No. This is your dream. My dream, my dream. Of course, they have to be golfers. I don't know. One of my all-time favorites is Charlie Sifford. He was the first black to get a PGA card, Professional Golf Association card. So I'd like to play with Charlie there. Generally there are four people who play. Tiger Woods would be included and probably Lee Elder. But if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd take my friends who I play with all the time from here. 27 Paul's winning golf swing. Paul at golf tournament with Brenda Williams. Below, a golf tournament in northern California. And you would take them to Scotland? Well, I want to play this course in South Africa. I just found out about it. They have a hole that the tee is up on the mountain. And they have a green in the shape of Africa, the continent. Only one person has ever hit the ball from that mountaintop down onto that green. So I would want to take my friends over there to play. That is great. Does the name Jimmy Gay mean anything to you, to the golfers here in Las Vegas now? Jimmy Gay was my fraternity brother. I heard about him — well, I think I met him. I'm not too certain. He didn't pass away until the 90s. I can't remember which year. I met him. I went to his house. Yeah, I did meet him because he had some old golf paraphernalia there and that kind of stuff. But he wasn't playing golf at the time. Yeah. He had had a stroke probably. Yeah. Yeah. I understand that he was one of the pioneers in golf here in Las Vegas and when golf was only played by blacks at the Municipal Golf Course and over at Craig Ranch. I don't know how many other golf courses there were at the time. I guess he sort of set the standard for golf here in Las Vegas. He was very good I'm told. Very good. He worked at the Sands and used to play with some of the Sands executives. So that's why he became sort of legendary here. I like the way golf is used as a tool to train young people and to give them scholarships. So what other ways is it used either socially or politically? Socially and politically it puts ordinary people in positions where they meet people they would never even have a dream of coming in contact with. I played golf with the mayor of Sparks. My boss in Washington said go out and do the things that people do in business. So I arranged a business meeting with him on the golf course. And I got suspended for it because they wouldn't let me pay for the round and the round was more than I could accept as a federal servant. I got suspended for two weeks. It was the most expensive golf game I ever had. Just the other week I was playing golf in Henderson up here at one of the fancy golf courses. The manager of the Centennial Toyota — we bought a car out there. I was wearing the 28 knickers. And we were talking about golf and that kind of stuff. I was out on the putting green. I'm just there putting away. And he comes out there and he says I remember you. He says do you still live out there by Centennial and that kind of stuff? He was excited that he knew me. Now, as a black man if I had not played golf, he would have never come to me and been excited about knowing me and that kind of stuff. I played with the minister of housing from Canada representing HUD when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona. I used to represent the office in Spokane - My boss would always me invited to play in golf tournaments. He didn't play golf. I'd go out there and play. So I knew all the mortgage bankers, the heads of the mortgage banking industry, all the heads of the appraisal firms, the heads of real estate. I knew all of those because I played golf with them. We'd play golf and then we'd grill our steaks and drink, play poker and raise cane. So it was for business, as well as socially. Oh, yes. It is said that more business deals are transacted on the golf course than any other place. And I believe that to be true. I believe it also. So what does that mean for women in the field of business? Women? They should play golf. There's absolutely no question about it. That's the reason I wanted to teach a hundred black women how to play because I wanted to see more women on the golf course. Well, almost every major conference that's held around the world begins with a golf tournament or ends with a golf tournament. So if you're going to be in the in crowd, you should be playing golf. So when you say a hundred black women, just for the record are you talking about the organization that's named a Hundred Black Women? No, no, no. One, two, three, four, five. Okay. You're talking about 100 black women. Okay, good. Actually I taught 125, but I charged 25 of them. So the rest of them, I taught them free. Okay? Okay, good. Now, do you know that the NAACP here, the local branch has a golf tournament? Sure. Sure. Do you and your friends participate in that? 29 Yes. Fantastic. They have a tournament that they combine with a lady named — I'm trying to think of her name. I can't think of it right now. But the Urban Chamber president at the time — I can't think of his name, but he's a fraternity brother of mine. He was married to this lady's daughter. Ann Gregory. Ann Gregory was the lady's name. They had an Ann Gregory tournament. Now they've combined the two. Good. As we go into the future with golf, how do you see it expanding here locally? Just what do you see as the future? Wow. Well, with the economic downturn it caused a lot of clubs to offer special kinds of concessions, like the course that cost $500 you might be able to play it for $350 or something like that. A lot of the courses that were sort of closed to public play are now opening to public play allowing more people to go out and see the good life, the part of it that you wouldn't normally get to do. When the economy reverses — and I'm sure it will — golf is going to flourish. Golf is the best sport ever invented by man, woman or child. So why do you say that? I can prove it because all of the best players in all of the other sports play golf. There's no question about it. Okay. I have no defense. And for women, you know, when the NCAA said that schools have to offer an equal number of sports, for men and women, they stated golf teams for women. And a lot of the schools can't field their teams. So it's important for young ladies to learn how to play. Scholarships are available ~ a lot of them go unclaimed. If women are going to head corporations and that kind of thing, they have to be a part of the mainstream and they have to be able to play. That's great. I think those were the major points that I wanted to inquire about. Any other comments you'd like to make on golf, golf here in Las Vegas, any segment of it? Oh, when First Tee was being formed I was a vice president and we decided that we're going to include Virgin Valley up in Mesquite. So I arranged for — well, I introduced the motion that Valley View have a position on the board. So Valley View will always have a board member of 30 the First Tee of Southern Nevada, which sets the stage for junior golf in Nevada. Wonderful. That's great. The board position is appointed. So until somebody's bold enough to make a motion and have it passed that they no longer want Valley View on the board, we'll have a black. We'll be in there doing something. Good. Tell me about the Nevada Senior Games. Nevada Senior Games has been around for 50 years. No. Is it 25 years, mom? Theresa? Nevada Senior Games? Actually it is 30 years. And we do all of the games that are included in the Olympics except the high-diving and balance beam board and all that kind of stuff. But we do track and field, tennis, pickle-ball, golf, swimming and all those kinds of things. And it's strictly for seniors age 50 and older. People only compete against people within five years of their age. Oh, great. It's a part of a National Senior Games. Well, here's the application. Theresa's got it. Oh, that's for the Senior Games? For the Senior Games. Anyway, we also do a walking program. Health and wellness is what it's about for seniors. We've been doing a walking program for like about three years. Our goal is to walk across the U.S. and touch every state. We wear our pedometers. Well, we do that twice a week, one hour on Wednesdays and one hour on Fridays. So you're actually walking enough miles to say that you're walking across the country? Yeah. We convert our steps to miles and then we plot them on the map and go around the country. At one time, they had those going around at UNLV and I plotted my miles at one point. I'm personally plotting my miles to every place we have lived in the U.S. We've lived in nine different states. And I'm more than halfway there. I put pedometer on in the morning when I get up and take it off when I go to bed at night. I plot all of my steps. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for all of this information about golf. So now, who do you think would make some good interviews for me? You mentioned the name several times of Lee Daniels. 31 Lee Daniels, yeah. Lee was one of the guys who started the junior golf program for Valley View. Johnny Griffin was the other person who was involved in setting up junior golf. Let me see if his name is on here. This is a roster of the Valley View Golf Club. And do you have any women on the Valley View Golf Club? Yes. Sandy Cohen. And has Sandy Cohen been around for a long time? She came after I did. Okay. Are there any females who have been in the city for a long time? Well, not that I know. I knew one lady. She was one of the ladies I taught. And she came out to work with us on a junior golf tournament and became ill I lost contact with her. No, I don't know of any that have been around a long time. Wait. Mildred Anderson. Now, I don't know if Mildred is open to interviews. Mildred has been a part of Valley — well, she worked for Sprint back when Sprint was here and she played golf there. And she became a member of Valley View after I did, but she was playing well before then. Now, she might kill me for giving her number out, but that's okay. You need the information. I was just talking to James Epperson. He was a past president of Valley View. Now, he might be able to give you this guy who's 84 — I don't know how long Evan Williams lived here. But he built Epperson's house. He's 86. Oh, I've got his number. It's 804-6632. He was a contractor. He doesn't play golf anymore Epperson was just telling me. Mr. Bell, Jimmy Bell. Wait a minute. Jimmy Bell Junior who grew up here in the golf program. Oh, really? He grew up in the golf program. Yeah. He went to South Carolina State on a golf scholarship. He claims to be one of the few people who beat Tiger Woods in junior golf. What is his telephone number? Now, that may be difficult to find Junior Bell because he moves around. His numbers change. But I'll see if I've got it here in my phone. That's right. I remember though. The last time I tried to call him I didn't get him. 32 He's a golfer as well? Yeah. Well, I don't know that he ~ he still comes to the golf course every once in a while. I don't think he plays. He may hit some balls, that kind of thing. So what age range are we talking about? Well, [Jimmy] Bell Senior is over 80. And then Louis Conner. You know Louis Conner? Louis owns the Seven Seas. Oh, I need to interview him. And he once belonged to Stallion Mountain Country Club. But they went bankrupt and closed the course and that kind of stuff. Now, Louis Conner's number is--this phone is terrible... Okay. So the only one you didn't give me is Johnny Griffin. I've got him here. Just a moment. But this is great. This is eight people. This is more than enough. But I expect some people to say no, so that would be fine. Yeah. There are some old guys like — the tap dancer, the famous tap dancer. Prince Spencer? No. Shoot. He's a movie star as well. Hines. Gregory Hines is a tap dancer and his dad lives here. He lives here? Yeah. But I don't have his number. I call it the gathering of old men. They go down to the Municipal Golf Course and they'll sit around there and hit a bucket of balls. There will be five or six of them and it will take them two hours to hit a bucket of balls. Who was I looking for, the number? Griffin. I got Griffin's number I know. Okay. Griffin's number is ... Okay. This is great. You finished your recording, huh? You asked me about my brothers and sisters and that kind of thing. Well, there were 19 of us. There's seven of us who are still alive. Wow. Anybody else in Las Vegas? No. Never. Since graduating from Southern I have not lived in the same town with any of my 33 brothers or sisters. Some in Houston. My brother and one sister live in Houston. The others, three of them live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The other one lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Wonderful. That's great. Nobody in Cameron? Huh-uh. Cameron was washed away by Hurricane Audrey in '57. And they didn't rebuild it? Well, no. They rebuilt it. And then it was washed away by Hurricane Rita right after Hurricane Katrina. And then it was washed away again a couple years ago. I have a cousin who lives in Cameron who lives on the highest — well, first, Cameron is marshland. There are no hills at all. My cousin built a hill. To relocate to Cameron, you have to raise your property to four feet above sea level. Well, he was going to go five feet, and they made a mistake when they delivered the soil to build the mound. They built it 15 feet. So he's got the highest hill in Cameron. That's great. So why do people keep going back to Cameron? Well, I guess some people never leave home and some people are nomads. Well, they don't know anything different. But it's been washed away three times. This one cousin was alive during 1957 when Hurricane Audrey washed it away. He lived in a mobile home beside his mother and father's house and it got washed away. He went back and put another mobile home down and it got washed away. Then in the last hurricane it didn't get washed away, but it got water damage. The water was high enough in there that it ruined everything in his home. So now he's on this hill. Well, what's going to happen, the next major hurricane that comes through, it's going to take the house right off that hill. But he wants to live there. Okay. Thank you so much for all the information. 34 airborne school, 6 Anderson, Mildred, 32 Ann Gregory tournament, 30 Bell, Jimmy, 32 Cohen, Sandy, 32 Conner, Louis, 33 Cornell University, 13, 14, 18 Daley, Herb, 17 Elder, Lee, 27 Epperson, James, 32 First Tee junior golf program, 22, 30, 31 fish factory, 3 Fort Douglas, 9, 10, 12 Gay, Jimmy, 28 golf first set of clubs, 16 HUD team, 14 golf, in Las Vegas, 20 Hart, Jim, 22 HUD, 12, 13, 14, 19, 29 Hurricane Audrey, 4, 5, 34 hurricanes, 2 Indian Canyon Golf Course, 25 Inner City Youth Golf Association, 22 junior golf, teaching, 22 knickers, golf apparel, 24 Knight, Dwaine, 23 Las Vegas, moving to, 19 Louisiana, 1, 2, 8, 9, 12, 34 Louisiana, Cameron, 34 May, Ed, 21 McDaniels, Al, 23 Mormon Battalion, 11 Mormon Church, recruitment by, 11 Nevada Senior Games, 31 Paiute Reservation, 24 Pebble Beach, 25, 26 Pradia, Theresa, 8, 10, 20, 31 President Kennedy assassination, 7 ROTC, 5, 6, 7 Salt Lake City, 9, 10, 11, 13 Sifford, Charlie, 27 Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association, 22 Southern University, 4, 5, 6, 12 Stewart, Payne, 24 teaching, first position, 8 United States Golf Teaching Federation, 23 Valley View Golf Club, 19, 20, 21, 32 Wandermere Golf Course, 15 Watts, Phil, 12 women, playing golf, 30 women, teaching to play golf, 29 Woods, Tiger, 22, 26, 27, 32 35
Paul Pradia grew up in a family of nineteen children in the small rural town of Cameron, Louisiana. He starts his story here recalling the year he entered high school: 1953. It was a world that endured disastrous hurricanes over the years. As a teen, his first job was at a local fish factory where employees earned ninety cents an hour. Dissatisfied with wages, an emboldened Paul asked the owner for a ten cent raise to avoid a workers strike. Throughout this narrative, he shares how this characteristic served him well. In 1957, upon graduation, Paul enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge with enough money to sustain himself for about a month. With the help of the Elk Lodge he was able to complete his education at Southern University. This is where he met the love of his life, Theresa, with whom he has three children. Paul also joined ROTC and became a commissioned officer in the airborne division of the US Army. His military experiences opened him to a world of opportunities outside rural Louisiana and a world where he learned to deal with racism unlike that of the South. With the military and then with civilian government jobs, he moved his family to cities like Seattle and Spokane, Washington, and Salt Lake City, Utah. While working with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), Paul picked up his first golf club. Soon he excelled at the sport and eventually he became a teaching professional. At the time of this interview, Paul has played golf in "all fifty states, nineteen countries on three different continents and over 650 different golf courses." He is active in programs and organizations that promote golf for female players and people of all ages in the Las Vegas community. He moved to Las Vegas in 1995.
- Pradia, Paul, White, Claytee D
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- Chicago citation style
- Pradia, Paul, White, Claytee D. Transcript of interview with Paul Pradia by Claytee D. White, July 13, 2010. 2010-07-13. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://utah-primoprod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=MWDL&afterPDS=true&docId=digcoll_unl_14ohr/171. (Accessed November 21, 2018.)
- APA citation style
- Pradia, Paul, White, Claytee D, (2010-07-13) Transcript of interview with Paul Pradia by Claytee D. White, July 13, 2010. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://utah-primoprod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=MWDL&afterPDS=true&docId=digcoll_unl_14ohr/171
- MLA citation style
- Pradia, Paul, White, Claytee D. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America <http://utah-primoprod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=MWDL&afterPDS=true&docId=digcoll_unl_14ohr/171>.