Press Club Branding Iron Record covers Las Vegas Sun 1963 Fire

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In my continuing saga regarding the issue of the Las Vegas Press Club Branding Iron Record 1963, an interesting and amusing article has gotten my attention. Although the article is about a fire that devastated a prominent Vegas newspaper, the Branding Iron Record managed to find a bit of satire and levity in the incident.

On November 20, 1963, an early morning fire destroyed the main building of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. The damage was reported to be close to $1.5 million.

The Las Vegas Sun reminisced about the fire in its October 6, 2000 issue in an interview with Barbara Greenspun. Barbara and her husband Hank were in Geneva when they were alerted that the Sun had been destroyed by fire. They returned to Vegas as quickly as possible to see total devastation and their dreams destroyed.

Barbara Greenspun was quoted in the Sun as saying:

“There was nothing to say–our dreams were a pile of ashes and rubble. I have always suspected someone torched that building, but my suspicions are without proof.”

Following is the complete copy of the article in the Branding Iron Record:

What's Below? Table of Contents

Tragedy–A Newspaper Burns

Tragedy–a newspaper burns to the ground.

“Sun Sets in Vegas,” was the discarded headline for the competing Las Vegas Review-Journal on that fateful Nov. 20 morning when the offices and shop of the Las Vegas Sun were gutted by fire.

What was the reaction in the community?

The Branding Iron Record sent a roving reporter through the city for a cross section of the reaction from some of the most prominent members of the community.

Here are their incredible and heart-rending comments:

Moe Dalitz, hotelman: “maybe we can recreate the fire and use it for the finale in the Lido show.”

George Franklin Jr., attorney: “This is the first time in history that an incendiary editorial had such devastating results.”

Richard Sauer, director of public works, City of Las Vegas: “Well, it’s a shame they didn’t buy that 40-acre plot I offered to Hank. At least, they’d have some place to move to.”

Don Saylor, director of planning, City of Las Vegas: “Actually, this makes the freeway problem a lot easier. We’ve been looking for a good location for an off ramp.”

Mayor Oran Gragson: “A gubernatorial race is pretty expensive–even a primary. They don’t sell insurance on them either.”

Glen Jones, former Clark County Sheriff: “I hate to see anybody driven out of business.”

Gov. Grant Sawyer: “I’m sure I can find jobs for most of the staff.”

Robert L. Brown, editor of the Review-Journal: “I wonder what Hank will have to say about us now?”

Ed Fountain, city commissioner: “I wish I still had the bottling plant. Might make a good newsroom.”

Sid Bliss, local businessman: “Hank turns his back on Vegas and look what happens.”

Allard Roen, hotelman: “We had a better fire at the Aku Aku.”

Edward Levinson, hotelman: “Maybe his next shop will be fireproof like our Fremont Hotel.”

Bill Peccole, insurance man: “If Hank comes out as well on his fire insurance as he did on his lible insurance, he can retire.”

Rodney Colton, former county commissioner: “I’d be glad to send the Sun a Geiger counter if it would help them get back into business.”

Clifford Jones, Thunderbird Hotel executive: “Why don’t they move the editorial offices to the T-Bird? The key members of the staff spend most of their time here anyway.”

George Dickerson, attorney: “The fire wasn’t trivial, I hope.”

Lynn Richardson, former North Las Vegas businessman: “It would be nice if Hank could meet me at Horace Tuckers home some evening and we’ll talk over the plans for the future. Bring a six pack of Coors.”

Donald W. Reynolds, publisher: “We want to welcome the Sun to the fold.”

Yes, the community certainly took it hard.


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Frank Spady

Frank Spady is the CEO and founder of the Las Vegas International Press Club. He began the journey at a meeting in 2009 with some Vegas businessmen, including John Laub. In 2011 the ideas at this meeting began coming to fruition and now Vegas (once more) has a Press Club that rival some of the top Clubs in the World.