Ken Beaton: Marking the moment
I moved to Carson City in June 1975. The next month I signed a Carson City School District teacher’s contract for $12,000 a year. Since my weekends were available, I completed several part-time bartender applications. Two weeks later, Dug Picking, the co-owner of Dug’s West Indies, called me. DWI was located on the “Million Dollar Mile” —now Burger King’s North Carson Street location.Upon opening the door, DWI guests entered a Caribbean port bar with a wooden ship’s wheel, 10 portholes evenly distributed on the walls of the bar, lounge, and restaurant, hanging fish nets with Japanese glass floats, refinished wooden hatch covers for cocktail tables and a couple of anchors decorated the lounge and dining room. DWI was “Home of the Original Blue Mai Tai.” Dug was born in a Jewish ghetto in Estonia. He was 6 when his family sent him to China, avoiding the German Army’s invasion during WWII. In China, he learned to speak the local dialect. As a preteen, Dug was hired on a tramp steamer sailing the tropical south Pacific waters. He earned his doctorate degree in the school of hard knocks and hustling as a sailor. Dug settled in Las Vegas when the mob ran the town, another doctorate. In Vegas deals were completed with a handshake. If a person made a mistake with the mob, their body was usually discovered in the Clark County desert. Dug moved to Lake Tahoe in 1960. He was the matre d’htel at Harvey’s Top of the Wheel in Stateline. After working long hours for seven years, he realized his first dream. Dug’s West Indies’ grand opening was Friday, Oct. 13, 1967. He gave superior customer service while resolving problems.Dug was a genius creating curiosity. Each January, Dug would close DWI to vacation in Mexico. In 1976 after vacationing for two weeks, Dug spent the last two weeks of January renovating the men’s room. He removed two urinals to install a six-foot-wide waterfall with water slowing falling in a tropical motif. Three males could easily use the waterurinfall in unison. Rumors spread quickly in Carson City. Less than a week after he opened in February 1976, two or more women would sit at the bar, order and pay for their drinks. After taking a sip or two, the spokeswoman for the “field trip” would say, “I hear you have a waterurinfall in the men’s room.” “That’s right, ladies.” “Can we see it?” “No problem, follow me. I’ll check to make sure it is unoccupied.” After the all clear, I would lead the gals into the men’s room. Each woman had to carefully study the waterurinfall. Similar to David’s statue in Rome, she visualized one or more males with tight butts. Some women would giggle nervously. The ultimate bragging rights were if you could honestly say, “I saw the waterurinfall at Dug’s West Indies.” I was Carson City’s most unusual tour guide for women only.From 1967 to 1979 Dug conceived and planned the details of his Big Dream, “The Windjammer,” a ship with a bar, buffet restaurant, casino and ship’s museum to be constructed with a separate lighthouse on Windjammer Blvd. at “the Crossroads of Nevada,” the intersection of 395 and Highway 50 west to Spooner Summit. Our city, state, and country were built on the dreams of men and women.To make a long story short, Dug sold stock to build a replica of a four-story Oregon lighthouse, but he was not successful arranging the financial package to construct the Windjammer. His dream died when the lighthouse was auctioned. NDOT was highest bidder, using it for offices for about 15 years.On Dec. 18, Facilities Management Inc. of Carson City began destructing the NDOT Landmark building. Dug’s dream became dust, marking the Carson Freeway Project’s final phase. You may call it progress. Unfortunately, this was the second time “a wrecking ball” had torn down a part of Dug’s American dream in Carson City. After completing the freeway interchange, NDOT’s Scott Magruder and dignitaries could dedicate a historical marker to Dug Picking, marking the moment.• Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.