My parents and I departed Harrisburg International Airport on a plane chartered by the American Legion for a direct flight to Las Vegas. They are in their late forties and I am twenty one. Once the seatbelt light goes off, virtually everyone lights up. The fuselage of the plane is engulfed instantly in a cloud of nicotine laced smoke. This trip report is for May of 1978 and is a little late. Being a charter flight and sponsored by an American Legion, there is an open bar and gambling as well enroute. I come to find out that drinking at a high altitude means that not as much alcohol is required to get drunk or in most of the passengers' cases, drunker. A pool is taken to guess the landing time in Las Vegas. Tired and saving my energy for Las Vegas, I do not drink or gamble. We land at 11:07 am, which strikes me as the only logical time to have bet on, 11:07-7 come 11. But I didn't have it. Deplaning, most of the people are still flying even though we are on solid ground. My dad is no exception.
We check into the Showboat for 8 nights at $28 a night. Dear father wants me to chauffeur him around the strip. Dear mother just wants to get away from dear father. We take our first pass down the strip. Caesar's Palace has SAMMY on it's marquee. Roy Clark is at the Frontier. Unlike today, the strip is easy to navigate, making convenient U turns and no center median with palm trees. Steve Wynn is still begging Howard Hughes for the piece of small property next to Caesars.
A few miles from our hotel, I get fed up with the demanding direction from dad and stop the rental car on the strip and get out of the drivers side, leaving him to drive. I stomp off down the strip. Dad drives off to who knows where. A few minutes later, a passerby stops me, asking for directions and mistakes me for a local because I am walking with an attitude that he thinks is WTF Vegas.
I tell him sorry, I just hit town. He moves on.
An hour or so later, I find dad back at the Showboat, playing craps, winning, and being very loud. The pit boss warns him as he is controlling the action and worse, he is winning. I bid him adieu and come to find later that several of the players around the table are taking advantage of his condition and are stealing his winnings. A lesson to the wise. Vegas will prey on the weak minded. If you get drunk, have someone watch your back. Dad is cool, he is just a country boy having a good first time in Vegas.
I go the pool and meet the attendant. He is in his late 40's. He tells me that he came to town 17 years ago and the secret is to take any job you can to establish yourself and take it from there. His skin is dark but very wrinkled from years of desert sun. His son is a Vince Van Patten clone who is a local HS football star that spends his asst pool duties talking to a pretty brown haired waitress who comes to see him daily by the pool. I imagine her name is Maggie and is of Irish decent.
I do the obligatory dinner with the folks, and then take them around town. When they are ready to wind down and finish the day gambling at Showboat, I drink in my room, get stoned and head out about 10:00pm, the time when the night is just starting.
I hear about a nightclub that has a Rod Stewart look alike and set out across town to find it. It is off the strip. I find it and inside it is a good crowd. I meet two oriental girls who are friendly and like to dance. I take turns with them and notice a distinct odor. They are attractive but just have this smell about them. They are amicable and we part ways after an hour or so. I come to find out years later that this smell was garlic.
Somewhere along the line, I meet up with sisters from San Francisco. One already has a male companion, I become her somewhat plump sister's. We bowl at around 3:00am at the 100 plus lane Showboat alleys. We drink. We flirt. We split from the other couple and end up in my room. We get under the covers but little else. She was reluctant to remove her tube top but I did give her a picture of me with my shirt off. We talked some more. The sun is starting to come up. We can't find her sister. I take her where she wants to go. I wonder years later if being a resident of San Francisco that if she ever regrets not taking up the offer of a little action as those opportunities from the opposite sex are few in that town. I wonder more what happened to my picture as I have few from my early 20's and would like to show it to my wife, to show her that I was once thin.
End of day one.