Andrea's column: What happens on vacation...When I saw the ad for a new television series starring Dennis Quaid, I was intrigued. I like the good-looking actor and, especially, his twinkling, contagious smile. His new show, set in 1960s Las Vegas, looked like a winner.
By: Andrea Langworthy, Rosemount Town Pages
When I saw the ad for a new television series starring Dennis Quaid, I was intrigued. I like the good-looking actor and, especially, his twinkling, contagious smile. His new show, set in 1960s Las Vegas, looked like a winner.
My husband and I sat down to watch the first episode but I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was on recollections of Vegas in the 60s, The city was a leg of my family’s trip to California.
That summer, we left Minneapolis and headed south for a night in Lincoln Neb. We stayed with an Army buddy of Dad’s and his family. From there, we drove to Cheyenne, Wyo., where we checked into a Western-style motel with wagon wheels and a hitching post. It even had some tumbleweed blowing across the parking lot.
The next stop was Las Vegas, where we would stay two nights. My four siblings and I were mesmerized by the casinos along the strip. Their names — Golden Nugget, Stardust, Riviera, Sands, Tropicana — were lit up like Christmas trees. Dad pulled up to one and told us to wait in the car while he went inside to find out how much two adjoining rooms would cost. Five minutes later, he came back to the car and said he’d try the next place.
After the fourth or fifth attempt, Dad said a man had told him about a place at the end of the strip that was under construction but nearly finished. The rooms were done and so was the pool. The word “pool” had the rest of us cheering. Even Mom, who wanted to get a suntan.
After we checked in, we went to one of the flashier hotels to look around. Dad explained the slot machines to us as we watched people slip a coin in, pull down the arm, and then, do it all over again. Our lesson in gambling was short-lived thanks to a big man in a shiny suit who said children were not allowed in the casino.
The next day, after a morning of swimming, we had lunch and walked to a women’s specialty shop we had seen the night before. Mom went into a dressing room to try on cocktail dresses. She modeled each one for us and when she came out in a sleeveless, knee-length, gold brocade sheath, Dad said, “That’s the one.” Mom smiled at him and said she thought so, too
Later that afternoon, my parents got ready for their big date. They would bring us a pizza before they left. We were not to leave or even open the door. Being the oldest, and almost a teenager, I was in charge. “We’ll be back by eight,” they assured me.
Just as they promised, they opened the door at eight o’clock. Dad threw a plastic bag stuffed with money on the bed. “Look what your father won,” Mom said. We wanted to count the coins and bills but Dad said it was time to get to bed if we wanted to leave for California first thing in the morning.
We saw a lot of sights on that trip. The Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, the Painted Desert, Disney. We even visited my mother’s Aunt Nan and Uncle Gunnar in La Jolla. They had orange trees in their back yard.
My most vivid memory, though, is my mother in that shimmery, form-fitting dress with pointy-toed high heeled shoes to match. The night of her date with my dad, she did not look like a housewife with five kids. No, she was a Vegas showstopper.