|Las Vegas Born and Bread|
|First||Bachelor of Arts in Journalism|
|Third||Sports Information Director for Women's Golf at OU|
Three Las Vegas GenerationsEdit
Las Vegas is known as one of the most popular tourist destinations both nationally and internationally. I am a whore. It is the city of lights, which stereotypically promotes unmoral actions that would not be accepted in common small town societies. The image of a traditional family is not what usually comes to mind when people think of living Las Vegas.Talk to someone who has lived in this city and the perspective of daily life is really no different than other people around the country. The Garrett family has been in Las Vegas for three generations now, and has seen the city grow from only a handful of hotels along Las Vegas Boulevard into the multibillion-dollar grossing city it is today. It all started with two separate couples from very different backgrounds that moved to Las Vegas in the mid-1900’s from the mid-west in order to capitalize on career opportunities. When looking at the history of both the maternal and paternal side of my family a common theme is work ethic, the importance of education and establishing a career. Aside from immediate family members, there is one person in particular who has also had a major impact in my life and my immediate family members lives as well. It would be unjust to discuss a family tree for the Garrett’s and not mention Londa Watson, who has had a huge impact on my personal beliefs.
Jimmy and Dorothy GarrettEdit
My grandparents on my father’s side of the family are James and Dorothy Garrett. My grandpa originally moved from Kentucky to Las Vegas when he was 17-years-old in order for him to look for career opportunities. He started washing cars at a local gas station, and then once he turned 18 he began parking cars at a club. He then started to work for a sports book and manually wrote the odds for games on a chalkboard because of his perfect penmanship. While making connections and creating relationships with people in the community, my grandfather started to bounce around as a card dealer for various casinos and eventually worked his way up the corporate ladder at different companies to eventually become the president of Casino Marketing at the Flamingo Hilton. He and my grandmother had previously met back east and a mutual friend invited her to come for the weekend to Vegas. My grandpa was sent by their mutual friends to pick her up from the airport and that is where the relationship started. After that weekend, my grandma and grandpa wrote letters and she eventually moved to Las Vegas to marry my grandpa when they were about 30 years old.
My grandma was mostly of German descent and my father and their whole side of the family possesses the stereotypical German personality traits of being very orderly, stubborn and serious. One of the most common mottos on this side of my family is, “figure it out yourself.” This phrase is said at family gatherings and was something I heard all through out my childhood. This phrase has stuck with me and is a prime example of the independent nature of my father’s side of the family.
My dad and his two siblings tell stories about growing up and having to become very independent at a young age. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast and skin cancer and battled the disease for most of my father’s life starting when he was in high school and then through college, where she passed away when he was 21 years old. During my father’s childhood my grandpa was at work from about four in the afternoon until two in the morning seven days a week because of the nature of the casino business. His busiest times were holidays and weekends, all while my grandmother was constantly going to the doctors office. My grandma and grandpa were loving parents and sacrificed hours of sleep and countless years of work in order to create a stable home life for their children.
Roy and Mary TusseyEdit
My grandparents on my mother’s side of the family are Roy and Mary Tussey. They lived in multiple locations all around
the country because of the various professions my grandfather had. They had a total of six children, five girls and one son with my mother Linda being the second to youngest child. My grandfather Roy was originally form Indiana and grew up in a traditional blue-collar household. He developed a passion for basketball and learning while attending college at Ball State. My grandpa was a World War II Army Air Corps veteran and met my grandmother after calling her sorority house and asking her to go on a date while he was in town from service. My grandmother was one of the only females to attend college in her family because it was a rarity for females to go to school.
My grandpa started his professional career as a high school math teacher and coaching basketball as my grandmother started to have children and build a family. One of my grandpa’s closest friends gave him an idea of taking a standardized test that the FBI was using as a recruiting tool to find intelligent young professionals. Against my grandpa’s initial desire, he went and took the test with no intentions of making a career change. When the scores came back the FBI personally sent an invitation to meet with him because at this point in time he had one of the highest scores ever taken on the test. Out of a leap of faith my grandpa took his family and moved to Albany, New York to begin training and working for the FBI. They moved around and ended up in Kansas, where my mother spent most of her childhood with her five siblings. Then my grandpa was sent by the FBI to Las Vegas to help clean up the crime and Mob actions that surrounded the casino business.
My mother’s side of the family consists of five girls, Barbara, Jeanie, Mary-Lee, Jo-Ellen, Linda (my mom) and then there is the lone brother John, who is the youngest of the six children. There was an overload of female personalities in this household and the girls always out-numbered the guys. One of the of the most inspiring stories from my mother’s side of the family is about my grandfather’s mother who stood for female empowerment and motivated my mom and all of her sisters to always pursue their dreams. My great-grandma Tussey started as a sales person at a department store. Eventually she created a large enough client base and she pursued her dreams and opened her own boutique called Tussey’s Fine fashions.
The Family's X FactorEdit
It seems fairly obvious that our very first day of life introduces us to the two most important people in our lives—our parents. While my mom and dad have completely fulfilled their responsibilities as parents, there is someone else who was there that day who soon became the most influential force in multiple aspects of my life. Her name is Londa Watson and she was originally hired to be a babysitter for my siblings and me, but what she has added to my life has shone far beyond the role for which she was hired. I grew up in all Caucasian family and attended private school my entire life. I look back on my childhood and I was sheltered and did not understand until now how blessed I was to grow up with very little problems. My school was primarily enrolled with all white students, so the only things I knew about different cultures and other races was what the media presented on television or in movies.
Londa is a tall, thin African American woman from theBritish West Indies and describing her is like referring to my favorite storybook character. She has a voice so soft that her speech resembles a melody, a walk so graceful the floor seems to disappear and a laugh that instantly brightens a household. She is a woman who came from very simple means and did not have the opportunities in life that I have been given, yet she possess such wisdom, knowledge, innate intelligence and a distinct sense of purpose.
It was the little things that Londa made me do when I was young that molded my character. Respect was the number one rule when Londa was in the house. Respect for her, respect for my family, respect for my things and most important respect for all people. There was never a day where Londa missed work and every day she went above and beyond the expectations of my parents. Londa aided in raising me, but more importantly she is the reason that at a young age I did not judge a person by the color of their skin.
I now view Londa has the first driving force that deteriorated the stereotypical racism beliefs that exist in an all white society, which I was exposed to through out my life. She taught me, my siblings and even my parents that a person’s character and morals are what defines a human being. Someone’s color, race, religious and political beliefs are not reasons to judge character.
Nature and NurtureEdit
After looking back at my family history and upbringing I realized how powerful a lot of the women have been in my heritage. I think this has had a huge inherent effect on me that I did not see until I looked until now at how each of my family members molded my thoughts, nuances and beliefs. Upon reflection, both my nature and genetic characteristics and the nurture that I was given by both my parents and Londa is credited to the reason I am a strong-willed individual. On both my father and my mother’s side there are even more examples of intelligent women taking on the role of being a mother, wife and career oriented. Combining the work ethic the majority of my family has shown and the way Londa has developed my character to be a giving, judgment-free person shows how generations of nurturing and providing education makes a difference a child’s life. This has made me proud to be a part of this family and given me even more motivation upon my college graduation to follow my dreams and take advantage of my education in order to create my desired lifestyle.