Chapter 13  (1) (2) (3)  (4) (5) (6) (7)

1955 — Cornet Stores

Interesting Offer & Counter-Offer

The Lure of Las Vegas
(Previous Page)

Could I Keep a Secret?

Once I felt convinced that Joe Cornet Jr. believed I cashed the check by mistake—and was not trying to steal from him—I felt pretty sure I'd be employed by him for the rest of my working life. Then somebody made me a more attractive offer.

One of the supervisors came to me one day and asked if I could keep a secret. Well, I said I could—but would rather not hear any secrets.

"I think you'll be interested in this one," he said.

"Okay," I replied. "Tell me a little bit about it.

"Well," he said, "some of us have been offered better jobs than we have here—and these people would like to make you an offer, as well." Golden Nugget Casino

"Really?" was all I could say.


"Well, I'm willing to listen."

"A new shopping center is being built in Las Vegas—and the owners have offered a few of us jobs there—at more than we're making here—and with medical benefits, as well."

Well, Cornet had never offered me medical benefits—but when you're barely 24, you don't think much about that sort of thing. Anyway, I said that I'd be interested in hearing further details.

My friend went on to say that the owners of the shopping center hadn't thought of hiring a "company sign-painter" but were impressed by what they had heard about me—so they said I would be welcome to join the team.

Las Vegas, Here I Come!

Well, moving to Las Vegas was something I would never have dreamed of—but better pay and benefits were hard to turn down. And I was totally unencumbered girlfriend-wise. (Pat had given up on getting me to offer a real committment of any kind—but we remained friends.)

Now I began wondering how I was going to tell Joe Cornet Jr. that I would be leaving.

As it turned out, I didn't have to tell him. He found out about our plans and fired the lot of us on the spot.

We weren't supposed to report to our new jobs for another three or four weeks—but now we were all out of work. However, our new employers very generously said we could start right away at full pay.

Our new workplace was called Vegas Village and was the first fully-enclosed mall to be built in Las Vegas. Technically the mall was being built in North Las Vegas—but it seemed like all one city to us newcomers.

So I packed up and moved to Las Vegas. It was the middle of August and very hot. Worse yet, my Studebaker's radiator had developed a leak and I would have to stop frequently to fill it with water. So I made the trip at night when it was cooler and I could go farther between radiator fill-ups. I also carried as many jugs of water as I could.

Next I had to find a place to live, and answered a fellow's ad for a roommate. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, so I moved in. I also had to get my radiator fixed.

Since we ex-Cornet people were starting sooner than expected, our bosses had us doing a variety of odd jobs. The building was still under construction with most of the walls and part of the roof in place.

No air-conditioning had been installed yet, and working conditions were very uncomfortable in the triple-digit heat.

A number of young women had been hired, who would be sales clerks after the mall opened, and who were now uncrating goods and stocking shelves that had been completed. I got to know a girl named Marcia and we began dating.

Inexpensive dating was pretty easy in Las Vegas in those days. All the hotels and casinos had smorgasbords where you could have a delicious meal for one dollar. If you didn't throw your money away gambling, you could see some great lounge acts for the price of a couple of drinks. Louis Prima and Keeley Smith put on a great show that we saw three or four times.

One day I told Marcia about Bob Cornet taking me to Boise in his private plane. She said she was afraid of flying and had never been in an airplane. So I suggested we drive out to the airport and watch a few planes take off and land.

She agreed and we headed toward the airport, which had a chain link fence around part of it. As I parked alongside the fence, a small plane was just coming in for a landing. I turned off the engine and put my arm around Marcia as the plane touched down.

Guess what happened—after touching down, the plane skidded for a few yards and then went over on its nose. This was immediately followed by emergency vehicles heading for the accident site.

"That's it!" said Marcia, as she pulled away from me. "Let's get out of here. I've seen all of the flying I ever care to see."

Marcia was a very full-busted young lady, whose open collar blouses in the hot weather always got appreciative looks from the guys around the job. One day a foreman had a special assignment for her and asked me go find her. I stuck my head in the door to the room where I had last seen her working and loudly asked, "Is Marcia in here?"

A guy on the other side of the room called back, "No! She's out in front!"

Well, I couldn't pass up an opening like that, so I yelled back, "We know that—but where is she?"

(Continued in Next Column)

Came Close to Getting Fired—Again

Anyway, I had only been on the job for a few days when I came close to getting fired. Why? For working too hard.

I had heard that the owners of Vegas Village were a group of businessmen who were predominantly Mormon. I knew next to nothing about the LDS church, except that they didn't drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

Anyway, the first Sunday that I was there, I decided to go in and do some work. The odd jobs they had me doing had kept me from setting up my drawing board and doing any sign work. And I had spotted several places that definitely needed signs—mostly of the safety and directional arrow type—you know, arrows pointing to the Men's Rooms and Ladies' Rooms, etc. It was a big place that was easy to get lost in.

Well, I had just begun lettering a sign when one of my Cornet friends walked in.

"What are you doing?" he asked with a somewhat astonished look on his face.

"Trying to get caught up on some work," I replied.

"But this is Sunday."


"Mormons don't work on Sundays!"

"But I'm not a Mormon."

"That's not the point. Nobody employed by them is supposed to work on Sunday either. Look around. Do you see anybody else here?"

"Well, I see you."

"I just stopped by to pick up my took kit. You'd better stop and get out of here before you get caught. You could get fired for this!"

"Okay," I said, "thanks for the warning." So I saddled up and left.

Could Hardly Believe My Eyes

A few days later the last thing in the world I ever expected to happen happened.

I was working at my drawing board when all of a sudden Joe Cornet Jr. appeared.

"How do you like your job here?" he asked.

"Mr. Cornet," I said. "Hello. How are you? Uh—the job. Well, yes—I like it, but it's pretty hot here. I don't like that part."

"How would you like to come back to work for me?" he asked in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice.

"Are you serious?" I replied. "I thought you'd never want to speak to me again."

"Hey, I know this wasn't your idea and that you got swept up with the idea of working in Las Vegas. But I could use you back in Pasadena, and I can offer you better pay and benefits than you're getting here."

Well, talk about an offer I couldn't refuse!

So a couple of days later I was back in Pasadena and on my first day back on the job, Joe Cornet Jr. called me into his office.

Silk Screen Printing??

"Do you know how to do silk screen printing?" he asked.

"Yes, sir!" I quickly replied.

"I understand it's a process whereby you can make lots of signs all at once."

"That's right," I agreed.

"So if I gave you an area of the warehouse here, you could set up a silk screen printing shop and make signs for all the stores?"

"Yes sir," I agreed. "I certainly could."

"Okay," he said. "Follow me. I want to show you where you'll be working."

He lead me to a ground-level corner of the warehouse where there was a vacant room that would be plenty big enough to set up shop.

Then he handed me a signed, blank check and told me to go buy everything I needed to get started.

The nearest sign supply store was McLogan's in downtown Los Angeles. I used to get my lettering supplies there, and knew Fred, the manager. The first thing I bought was a book on How to Do Silk Screen Printing. I had seen it done, but had no clue as to how to set up a shop and get started.

So I sat down in McLogan's office and began reading. After an hour or so of browsing through the book, I decided I was ready buy what I needed, with some invaluable help from Fred.

I took it all back to Pasadena, and within a couple of days I had an operational silk screen printing shop. Joe Cornet Jr. could hardly wait to see it in action.

(Next Page)

Don Edrington's Home Page     Shy Guy from Hollywood High     Brief Bio   All Stories

Ch.1 Alameda - Los Angeles 1939-40   Ch.2 Echo Park 1943   Ch.3 Virgil Jr Hi 1944   Ch.4 Le Conte Jr Hi 1945-46   Ch.5 Gower Gulch 1946
Ch.6 Hollywood Hi 1946-47   Ch.7 Drop Out 1948   Ch 8 Norma Jean Salina 1948   Ch 9 Fort Ord 1949   Ch.10 Fort Belvoir 1950
Ch.11 Korea 1951   Ch.12 Back to Civilian Life - 1952   Ch.13 Cornet Stores 1953   Ch.14 Puerto Rico 1955   Ch 15 Signs by George 1956
Ch 16 Mexico 1958   Ch.17 Fullerton 1960   Ch.18 Fallbrook 1973   Ch.19 Assorted Strange Cyber Stories

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