We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I first went to Las Vegas in 1954. Somewhere in my garage are the black-and-white photos I took with my Kodak Brownie. We stayed at the TravelLodge on the Strip, where the Imperial Palace now stands. The Strip ended a short way south from there. Most hotels had a Western theme. Downtown, there was only the Golden Nugget and Fitzgeralds, now the Fremont Experience of lights and tacky. After 5PM, men wore suits or sport jackets, women wore cocktail dresses. Dinner and a show, with top headliners, was $10. All-you-can-eat Prime Rib was $1.99. Gorgeous women in skimpy outfits served free drinks to gamblers. Pit bosses gave free decks of used cards to kids. When my poor family in Detroit migrated to LA in the 1930s, my trusting great-uncle Sam was suckered out of a week's wages, a few dollars, for a tiny parcel of desert land. In the mid-'60s, he got twenty-thousand dollars for it, equal then to two-years of middle-class salary, where the Luxor now stands. For twenty-years I stayed at the Desert Inn, until it was the last of traditional, classy Las Vegas, and haven't returned for 17-years.
Now? Don't ask. OK, I'll tell you anyway. The hotels are humongous and glitzy and expensive. Almost everyone is in jeans and shorts and T-shirts. Has-been shows cost a small fortune. Buffets are $15-$30. There are half as many cocktail waitresses and, really, most are 40-70 years old. One moved so slow, we looked around for her walker. (The pretty young things are off-Strip, like at the Rio.) Used decks of cards have to be bought for $5 or more. Corporate Las Vegas squeezes every penny of costs and dollars out of tourists. Fortunately, always being with my pesky, wandering boys, and my eagle-eyed wife, probably saved several thousand dollars, as I never escaped to the tables.
Shopping around, we got a good deal at the Monte Carlo, between Bellagio and New York, New York. I found 2-4-1 coupons online for Nathan's. The snappy, original hot dogs are as great as ever, the fries still the best, and they've added a Philly Cheese Steak to the menu that (although no Cheez Whiz was offered) was excellent. I'd returned to my Coney Island heaven, several times.
With our LegoLand season passes, admittance to Madame Toussaud's famous people wax museum was free. At the entrance:
I got to perform with the Rat Pack, then duked it out with Ali, I floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee.
The highlight was my pre-Easter bunny-ears greeting to President Obama
You and I first hit the strip in the same year. On our yearly trek home for Christmas my mom would make Vegas the first stop, or maybe Barstow. I remember as a kid running wild up and down the streets by myself (age 9 or 10). We felt secure then for some reason (door guards, etc.?) There was nothing set up for the next generation--no baby sitting, no things to do, no kiddie corral, etc. Today of course the entire focus is on developing the next generation of gamblers. I hate gambling. I hate what it has done to this country and no one should ever forget that it was the Democrats who took legalized casinos out of Nevada and onto "indian reservation lands". That was the mobs boy Mondale and their daughter Ferraro. Funny thing happened on their way to the California primary. They stepped off of the typical route through CA and went to Tahoe for last minute instructions. We--the people of CA--we understood why and did not vote for them. We always knew that Ferraro was dirty, we just didn't understand what a castrato Mondale was--but, he was the one that took gaming to all 50 states. We must never forget what that cash flow is capable of--armies, drugs, they do run the world now. Hard to say "no" to all that cash! AND, please, please don't tell me that Harry Reid is his own man!
I do have a funny memory of those early days in Vegas. One year we were driving my grandpa back home--that must have been 1964. He was an old man then, but still wiry, and very feisty. He carried his cash in a special little purse which he had tied around his calf with his garters that held up his socks. He gambled and lost and tried to get mom to pay for it. Mom knew better--she told him to go in and get his stash. So he did. Right there inside the casino--up front. He dropped his pants all the way down to his ankles and pulled up his spare purse to pay off the debt! My mom was embarrassed, but thanks to her good nature she did get a good laugh out of the situation! Hope you will enjoy too !
Thanks for the warning.
I was considering a trip to Vegas.
Long drive. 99 degrees at midnight. Drunk drivers. Still, it used to be worth it.
Now, without bargain meals and room rates, the odds are all on the casino's side.
Forget it. Maybe the casinos in China will offer better deals.
Re: your family lore. If your grandpa really did own a piece of land in Vegas, it can't be where the Luxor now stands. That land was originally owned by Howard Hughes, dating back to after WWII. Prior to that, it was rr right of way or rr owned. Hughes' estate sold it to the developers of Luxor. How do I know all this useless info? I did a paper in grad school on land uses in Vegas and spent two days in the library at UNLV researching who owned what, how much they paid for it and when it was again sold. Hughes' estate controlled much of what is now called the north end of the Strip, where Luxor, Mandalay, etc no stand. He did not own the parcels at the corner, south of Tropicana or the parcel where MGM Grand now sits. Just thought you might want to know. . . .