Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride, Boulder City Museum & Historical Assn.

The Rest of the Story: Gail Chase
Museums have files full of interesting stories, events recorded in yellowed clippings and old photographs, isolated in a moment of time with no preface or epilog. Most of these stories remain no more than unfinished glimpses of history - but once in awhile, decades later, the rest of the story comes to us - sometimes happy, sometimes not - and the picture is completed.

On September 26, 1936 four-year-old Gail Chase from Boulder City was mauled by a South African lion kept chained at the Desert Sand service station between Las Vegas and Boulder City. The lion - part of an ersatz zoo operated at the station by Julian Frackiewicz - attacked Gail when the family stopped for gas. It was a sensational story published as far away as England. Gail was in and out of hospitals for two months, but recovered fully.

But then what? What kind of life did Gail have after her brief moment of public tragedy? Is she still alive today and where is she now? These answers came unexpectedly out of cyberspace one day last November when the museum received an e-mail from Gail’s daughter in England searching her family’s history.

Gail married when she was 18 and her first child was born brain-damaged, Gail believed, from effects of the above-ground nuclear testing going on in Southern Nevada while she was pregnant. This child died at 16 after a lifetime of hospitalization. Gail had a second child, divorced, moved to California and re-married, had a third child, divorced again, and then raised her two children alone working mostly as a waitress, sometimes as a model. Her second child died when he was 40, and Gail herself died in 1995.

“As for me,” Gail’s daughter writes from Cambridge, England - many thousands of miles from her family’s roots - “my mother instilled a great spirit of independence in me and taught me terrific survival skills.”

The daughter’s letters, tucked away with donated photographs, neatly ends the story and closes the file.

Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum.

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