April 6th, 2007
A little nostalgia for those ”over 40″ visitors.
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear when Las Vegas was the entertainment capital in the West where people came from far and wide to be entertained royally, as well as lavishly wined and dined. Impeccable service was Rule #1.
Pick up a cigarette and 3 hands appeared with lighters to do the honors. It was the best and least expensive vacation for adults.
Hungry? Your meal was ‘comped.’ Alcohol flowed as if from a never-empty spigot.
Frank, Dean, Sammy, Joey, Peter were on stage in the Headliners room while the lounges in casinos had Bill Cosby, Don Rickles, Vic Damone and more. Guests dressed in semi to formal attire and for the slip of $5.00 to the Maitre D you could sit at a table in touching distance of the entertainer. The headliner room had a cover charge but the lounge shows were the price of a 2-drink minimum. You could be listening to Vic Damone in the lounge and be sitting or standing next to Frank, Dean, or Sammy who stopped to see Vic in between their own two shows and sometimes they would heckle the entertainers.
Late at night, the Rat Pack would join you at the craps table and either try to make a big score or sometimes they would grab blackjack cards and deal some hands. Everyone called out their drink orders and all knew that Jack Daniels was Frank’s drink. Many times we were invited to Frank’s suite to continue the partying. Las Vegas was one big party and everyone had fun. All day, All night.
The Sands, Sahara, Desert Inn, Dunes and recently imploded Stardust, to name a few, were filled night and day. Rule #2, no clocks in the Casinos. One could easily walk from casino to casino on the Las Vegas Strip to check out the casino action or to see another great entertainer.
The good old days are just that now. Corporations entered the Las Vegas scene during the junk bond era as Steve Wynn opened The Mirage with minimum wage employees. Other hotels followed suit to change the Gamblers’ playground into family amusement parks with themes from Pirates at Treasure Island to Roman Guards made from cement at Caesars Palace. The thousand dollar chip dwindled to the 20 dollar bill per person for a Coney Island type thrill.
Many thousands of people moved to Las Vegas producing overgrowth, pollution of air quality and eventually high crimes and misdemeanors. The corporate owners court foreign gamblers whose private jets you can readily see at the executive terminal. Now, after approximately 25 years, Steve Wynn tries to return to yesteryear himself to court the hundred dollar player again at “Wynn Resort” and a soon-to-open second hotel/casino. Won’t happen. Overpriced, underfed.
Where comps for rooms, food and drink were the norm when Bugsy Siegel and friends ran most of the casinos, today the greed factor prohibits corporations from sharing their wealth. Lavish rooms (Caesars Palace 1966) were priced at $18.00 per night, every night. That same room is approximately $300 per night week days but double that amount on weekends and holidays. AND, today you pay for all of your food and beverages unless you are a multi-million-dollar loser!!