Welcome to the next post in the series Letters from America 1985 -1987 that I wrote home to my parents in the UK. My father kept them all in a folder and on his death they came back to me with a note to publish them.
My husband David was flying around the country selling optical fibre cable. Whilst he was away for a few days each week, we took advantage of cheap late night flights to enable me to join him for long weekends, particularly if he was going to be on the West Coast for a number of weeks. This letter is about our first of several trips to Las Vegas and it is very long.. I am sure my parents read over a number of days. I am splitting it into two posts so hope you will pop in again next week for the second part.
22nd May 1985
Dear M and D…
As you can see from the letter head, we are staying at the Las Vegas Hilton….I think that the only way I am not going to forget anything, is to write some of this letter day by day, so pin back your ears as this threatens to be a long one. I will keep the writing small so that the paper does not run out!
We arrived at Houston Airport full of excitement and omelette (light supper before flying). We checked in, and I could have smacked the smirk off the guy as he hefted my quite modest suitcase (by my standards) on to the conveyer belt to be weighed. He remarked that I wouldn’t need that much for a weekend in Las Vegas which was very casual. He had no appreciation of the fact that I had spent a week, packing and unpacking, discarding and adding outfits and shoes so that I was covered for every eventuality. After all this was Las Vegas and you don’t know who you might bump into! I know that you understand Mollie!
We had a leisurely drink and sauntered down to the gate still full of anticipation. Where’s the plane? ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be a slight delay on Continental’s flight to Las Vegas of two hours.. have a nice night you all!’ We eventually took off at 11.20pm crammed in tightly with 200 other hopefuls. We arrived at 2.20 a.m. Houston time and 12.20 a.m local time. The cases were spat out one at a time so it was 1.45 a.m by the time we got to the hotel.
This is where the real fun began. It is the largest hotel in the world with over 3,000 rooms, 11 restaurants and a full casino in the foyer. ‘I am sorry but due to your late arrival we have no rooms of that standard available……. but because you reserved your room with American Express, we will be delighted to accommodate you in one of our popular rooms on the top floor, normally priced at $400 at the same rate as the room you booked! Whoever snagged our previous room – a standard double – enjoy!
We are now residing in one of their 36ft square private gaming rooms that you see in the movies. We tried not too look to provincial when we were ushered into the room by the bell boy to find ourselves with a full bar, two tables for poker, 2 suites and mirrored walls. When the lights are switched on, tiny bulbs in lines radiating from the door also light up and it is like walking over a starry sky. But where is the bed? In the sofa dummy! A very efficient housekeeper came in to unearth the king size bed and make it up and draw the 36 foot wide curtains revealing a full length balcony overlooking all of Las Vegas lit up like a Christmas Tree. Just goes to show that a flight delay can have a happy ending!
Despite the fact that it was now 4 a.m Houston time we were too excited to sleep and headed down to the Casino to explore. They have theatres leading off the foyer where you can see the big stars perform, but they also had live music in the bar. There were hundreds of people milling about, playing every game under the sun. You know what I am like with cards…. love it. I remember playing the slots when I was a child down at the seafront, but you have never seen anything like this.. I had to have a dabble. I put a dollar in a machine that had a $50,000 Jackpot and won!!! – 2 dollars.
Never mind, better luck next time. We eventually fell into bed at nearly 5 a.m with David setting his alarm for an 8.00 a.m breakfast meeting. After David left in the morning I sat outside in the sunshine, looking down on this iconic city that has been the star of so many movies we have watched. I could not help but wonder who might have occupied this VIP suite over the years.. perhaps Frank Sinatra… who knows. In the distance I can see the mountains and deserts that surround all the glitter and razzmatazz. I think we are going to be in for an adventure one way or another.
I will write more tomorrow….
With David at the convention all day, I decided to explore the hotel shops. They really must be joking… $175 dollars for a pair of your thong sandals Mollie. While I had a coffee, a model sauntered through the tables wearing what could only have been a Victorian white nightdress, with a large black straw hat. Total cost of the ensemble was $500! I can only assume they hope to catch someone who has hit the jackpot- crackpot more like it.
So having decided to restrict my shopping to postcards, I then wandered around the casino watching people playing at the tables and on the slot machines. The blackjack tables were doing a thriving business. Table limits differ, some are $3 to $3,000 but the highest appeared to be $100 to $30,000. Can you imagine it, my eyes were popping. It was such a waste of a beautiful day. I headed back upstairs badly in need of a nap after our short night’s sleep, but was lured onto the balcony again and I retired to the sun lounger for a siesta and a sunbathe. Luckily I am already very brown but I did put on some strong sunscreen and set a timer of an hour. Unlike Houston where the humidity can be as high as 96%, which makes it very clammy, here it is dry desert heat, and you can burn very easily.
In the evening we met up with a work connection of David’s from Dallas who we had met while on our last visit. We attended a couple of the cocktail parties being held by some of the larger companies at the convention and it was amazing how many expats we met. They were not messing around with the measures in the G&Ts, so fully primed we caught the Flamingo Express which is the courtesy bus from our Hilton to the Flamingo Hilton on the strip.
We of course had to go into the famous Caesar’s Palace where Liberace is currently playing, but being hungry by now, we wandered up the strip, ending up at the Dunes Hotel and Casino. We had dinner at their Sultan’s Table, which was excellent, you would have loved it. The centre of the restaurant is a revolving floor containing two grand pianos. The band consisted of two pianists and six violinists who played a selection of light classical, Strauss and popular music. The violinists came a serenaded every table and I felt like a movie star.
We returned to our hotel and after another G&T, spent our small betting allowance. David had tried his luck earlier with a couple of dollars in the slot machines and won $18, which we proceeded to lose! We went to bed very relaxed and David has just gone off to the convention, leaving me to my own devices! Very dangerous.. Anyway will write more this evening when I have got up to my mischief.
love to you both S& D
©Sally Cronin Images 2018
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me next week for part two.. Please share your adventures in Las Vegas with us.. Thanks Sally