Growing up in eastern Washington, frighteningly faraway from any “good” delis, I always looked forward to visits from my Grandpop (and his carry-on insulated lunchbox full of delicious salty belly lox). Every time I visited my Grandpop in his row house in Bensalem on the outskirts of Philadelphia, he would trick me into trying what he described as the sweetest and most delicious dessert, halvah, an experience I liken to taking a bite out of a stick of chalk. Since my visits with my Grandpop were few and far between, he successfully pulled this practical joke two to three times before I got wise to him. Conversations I had with my Grandpop and other members of my Mom’s family while eating Jewish food like belly lox and poppy seed bagels, matzah ball soup, kasha with onions, pot roast, and bowtie noodles, and (only under coercion) halvah, were a window into my Jewish heritage.
Throughout the summer I worked on many collections – the one I found to be the most interesting was the Leonard Blood Papers (collection number: MS-00161). This collection documents the life of Leonard Blood, who was responsible for hiring people for the Boulder (Hoover) Dam project between 1931 and 1938. The collection contains a scrapbook of articles featuring Blood, documents from the Boulder Dam project, his Navy and Naval Reserve paperwork, and his employment history.
(Photos of Renee Lee come from the Renee Lee papers, MS-00587)
While working in Special Collections I have come across many collections with interesting pieces, but one collection that has remained in my mind is the Renee Lee Collection. The collection documents the later years of Renee Lee’s career as an actress and singer in Las Vegas. My favorite items in the collection are two images of Ms. Lee. The first image is a picture of her posing in a showgirl outfit in the 1960s. The second image is of her again posing in a showgirl’s outfit, but about 40 years later. As soon as I saw the two photos juxtaposed, I was reminded of the popular “Throwback Thursday” internet trend in which a person recreates a photo from her past to show how she has changed or stayed the same. I admire the pride Lee took in her body and professional image no matter her age.
Hana Gutierrez is an undergraduate student assistant in UNLV Special Collections.
Front Row: L to R: Dallas Reiber, Christina Molina, Ian Baldwin,Kayla McDuffie. Second Row: L to R: Karla Irwin, Hana Guiterrez, Lindsay Oden, and Hannah Robinson. Not pictured: Jocelyn Ascensio
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