Mid-west bumpkins, moving to California in August of 1973, our route took us right through Las Vegas. It was our first time in this storied place that we’d only seen in the movies. But we knew that from glamour, glitz, and gambling to devastation, danger, and despair, all could be found in Las Vegas.
When we hit downtown and saw that iconic hugeous waving cowboy and all the other lights, we could only cheer and stare. Bumpkins. We were bumpkins. Ignorant of Circus Circus, or any accommodations for children, my husband and I took turns gambling. One played the slot machines while the other stood just inside the casino doorway, entertaining our daughters and soaking up the air conditioning. Six-year-old Amina could read, and when she saw a sign that stated “No Children Past This Point,” she took it to heart and made sure that she and Asila, nearly four, stood well back.
Two years later, when my sister Reenié came to visit me in Bakersfield, the opportunity came, and we threw together a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas. We shoved some money in our pockets so we didn’t have to carry our purses and lit out for the casinos. Reenié was in her mid-20s but looked a lot younger. The security guard thought so, too, and approached her for her I.D. She couldn’t produce it but told him, “That’s my sister over there. She’ll tell you I’m 25.” He followed her over, I assured him of her age, and we kept playing the nickel slots.
With easy access to Las Vegas from all over the country, it was a perfect place to hold Judy’s family reunion in 2010. Brother Jim secured lodging for us in a lovely time-share resort just off the Strip. We could all be close to each other, cook together and spend family time, and we could partake of all Las Vegas had to offer. One night, the entire group took in a Cirque de Soleil show. Another evening, those who want to go out on the town did, while the homebodies spent a relaxing evening viewing the lights from our 10th floor apartment.
Friends drove down from Coos Bay one year in December, and we made the journey over with them. Seeing three shows in three nights and ambling the length of the Strip several times, we all enjoyed the time in this captivating city.
Though I am not much of a gambler, I did discover that I liked playing roulette the several times that I played downtown at the California Club. A friend whose husband was considered a “high roller” coached me through my first evening at the wheel. It was exciting, and I was winning. I could see how folks could get caught up and go overboard. But, my inclination was to stop while I was ahead, so I did walk away $100 to the good that first time.
I’ve had some good times in Las Vegas, and an occasional re-visiting provides all the glitz I need.
~ xoA ~