January 2nd, 1931

3726 Florence St.
San Diego, Calif.
New Year’s Eve.
11:20 P.M. (Pacific time)

Dear Brother, –

Happy New Year!  Well, I beat you that time.  You haven’t had much of a New Year yet, and we haven’t had any yet.
New York had it at 9 o’clock and Chicago at 10 and Denver at 11, according to our time out here.  We have been hearing them on the radio, N.B.C. whistles and celebrations all over the country.

I am sure we were well treated by Santa Claus, and thank you very much.  That was very nice.  And a big one, so it was laid carefully away, for now.  We had about decided there were no more in circulation.  Lloydine had been trying to stop a big “One” but had not succeeded.  So everyone was glad to see it laid away.

As for presents I got slippers with Grandma’s dollar and Lloydine got a little electric stove for her room and Guy got a couple red elephant book ends.  Each got what he wanted.  And Guy got a couple neckties and handkerchiefs and some stockings and I got him a sweater.  He says to thank Grandma and wish her a Happy New Year for him, as well as the same to you.  He always leaves the writing to me, but just now he is sick in bed, has been since Xmas  He will sit up tomorrow, and is much better.  He had the “flu” but not very bad.  We have all had colds like it but did not have to go to bed.  Lloydine and I are well now.  Guy has a good doctor who knows him so he has gotten along fine.  We had Guy’s folks here for Christmas and also “Cousin Will” Martin.  We had a ten pound turkey and all the other things to make a good dinner – all of which I cooked myself on Christmas morning as I was working in the store till 9 P.M. on Christmas eve.  I worked every day from 12 noon to 9 P.M. clerking in Whitney’s China Dept. and Gift Shop and did my housework mornings.  Lloydine clerked before Xmas week 9 to 5.  Guy was out of work and not very well before Xmas.  He helped with cooking something to eat and came for me after work.  He fixed up a nice Christmas tree from a tree in our yard and decorated it fine.  He gave me a half doz. teaspoons and I got handkerchiefs and a sewing case and a necklace (from Maude) and this stationary (from the head woman at the store)  Then I got two pairs of stockings also.  Guy gave Lloydine a raincoat and I gave her a comb & brush & mirror set for her dresser.  She got money & stockings etc. from the Martins.  She will not clerk on Saturdays but she sometimes stays in her dentists office for him when he is gone.  She can study there and answer the phone for him too.  This helps pay him for working to straighten her teeth.  He has her come two or three times a week to have her teeth worked on and is doing a lot of good already.  It is almost five months since he began.  Will take 2 yrs.

Today was sunny and warm.  Einstein came on the steamer from New York and was a San Diego guest today.  I heard him speak on the radio.  He motored to Pasadena from here.  He will study there – experiment & teach –

It is now past the noisy hour of midnight and I wish you all a Happy New Year, and Good Night for 1930.  Welcome 1931.

Yours lovingly – Hemmie & family.

Next HNB Letter – March 3, 1931.

[1931.01.02 / day – HNB to John Backlund Jr. in Lasita, Kansas.]

Cache of El Cortez Hotel

January 1st, 1931

This is a retrieved version of the Nevada State webpage that was taken down on February 23, 2011.

Built in 1931, El Cortez Hotel is one of only three remaining major Art Deco buildings in Reno, and is an excellent example of this style. The foliated motif found on the terra cotta design on the building’s base and parapet are remarkable Art Deco details. At the time it was built, it was Reno’s tallest building. The hotel experienced such extensive use early on that an addition was built just a few years after its construction. The hotel included the Orchid Room, a swanky bar and a popular restaurant called the Tracedero Room. These rooms were elegantly appointed with stylish Art Deco ornamentation. The El Cortez was a high-class hotel, garnering an astounding $6 per night, compared to the prevailing room rate of $2.50 per night. The El Cortez was built in anticipation of increased divorce traffic after Reno’s divorce law was liberalized in 1931. The residency period for those seeking a divorce in Reno was reduced from three months to six weeks, to boost the already lucrative divorce trade. El Cortez was one of several temporary residential complexes constructed during this time.

The El Cortez Hotel
Photo by Mella Rothwell Harmon, courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office

Reno-based architect, George Ferris and his son, Lehman A. “Monk” Ferris, designed this hotel for real estate investor Abe Zetooney. George Ferris’s career in Nevada lasted over 30 years. He was educated at Swarthmore College and settled in Reno in 1906, where he opened his own architectural office. He was responsible for the Spanish Quartet of schools, including Mount Rose and McKinley Park, as well as the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City, and later in his career he served as the State Architect for the Federal Housing Authority. Ferris formed a partnership with his son Lehman in 1928, which lasted until 1932. Lehman had studied at the University of Nevada and worked with Frederick DeLongchamps before going to work for his father. He was one of the first architects in Nevada to specialize in steel frame construction, served as the City of Reno building inspector, was instrumental in the adoption of a Uniform Building Code, and chairman of the first State Architectural Registration Board in 1947.

The El Cortez Hotel is located at 239 West Second St. in Reno. The lobby and casino are open to the public; for reservations call 775-322-9161.