Viola Johnson, along with her baby daughter, left Fordyce, Arkansas in 1942 to join her parents in Las Vegas. Before coming to Las Vegas, Viola worked chopping cotton in Arkansas. Her mother was then working at the El Rancho Hotel as a maid, and her father worked at the Basic Magnesium plant in Henderson. After moving to Las Vegas, the family all lived together in a tent on Jackson Street in the Westside.
In 1943, Johnson married and she and her husband moved to a small house on Jackson Street. Soon after her marriage, she went to work at the Flamingo Hotel as a maid. She later left that position, and began working in the pantry at the Rivera. She eventually went to the International (now the Las Vegas Hilton) and worked in the pantry there, retiring after fourteen years.
She was very active in her church, singing in the choir, and teaching Sunday school. She passed away in 2004.
The interview provides information about labor conditions and the Culinary Union during the early years of the Las Vegas strip casino development.
Photo courtesy of Viola Johnson.
May not be reproduced without permission.