Western Basque Festival
Western Basque Festival
2007, kronika
160 orrialde
Miel A. Elustondo




When the Nugget first opened, it was on a strip of old Route 40 that was a lot like Route 66. A few of the funky little «tourist courts» can still be found on the overdeveloped road into Reno, but most of that stuff is gone. There are two other small casinos in Sparks —Dotty's Casino, which uses the original Nugget building, and the Silver Club Hotel— but they're enveloped by the huge shadow cast by the empire that John built, and B Street has become malled, pedestrianized, landscaped, and otherwise stripped of its tackiness. It didn't survive quite long enough to become retro.

        At some time in the late fifties —and no one is giving out details here— Ascuaga and Gates ended up with the original recipe for Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken. Thinking that might be something worth exploiting, they opened the Golden Rooster Room, which sounds fancier than it was. It was a fried chicken buffet.

        And to promote it they commissioned an actual golden rooster. This was an 18-karat gold statue of a rooster that San Francisco artist Frank Polk worked on for four months, to be unveiled at the opening of the new restaurant. But in December 1958 U.S. Treasury Agents showed up and confiscated it, charging that the Nugget was in violation of the Gold Reserve Act. That act held that a private individual was not allowed to possess more than 50 ounces of gold «unless it is in the form of an object of art». The agents scoffed as Ascuaga's assertion that the rooster was an object of art.

        The casino formally protested, a magistrate returned the rooster, and for a year and a half the matter was dropped. Then in July 1960 Treasury agents showed up again and handed the owners a complaint entitled «United States of America vs. One Solid Gold Object in the Form of a Rooster». The rooster was seized and held for two years. «The rooster's in jail», Ascuaga told everyone.

        And then, at a jury trial in March 1962, ten men and two women declared the rooster a work of art and it was freed to return to the Golden Rooster Room, where it remained until 1987, when the Golden Rooster Room was dismantled to make way for an expansion of... Trader Dick's!

        Today the rooster sits in a special glass case near the check-in desk.


        Joe Bob Briggs-ek idatzia da, 2001ean, The Vegas Guy kazetan. Hori idatzi ez ezik, bere gisako ondorioa emateko gauza izan zen: «Eta esan behar dudana hauxe besterik ez da: kontuan hartuta auzi ofizialeko hizkera, oilarraren bahituran egon ziren argazkilarien kopurua, abokatuek epaiketan izandako jarrera eta, urrezko oilarrak, gaur egunean oraindik, 60.000 dolarreko balioa duela gutxi gorabehera, esan behar dut Dick Gravesek eta John Ascuagak lagun mordoa daukatela auzitegi federalean. Gauzak garai hartan egiten ziren bezala egin zituzten».

        Hiru hitz, bukaeran: I miss 'em. Gure morroiak ala garai haiek, Joe Bob?