Saturday, December 17, 2016

Back to Vegas

Entrance to Fremont St. Experience
As I've said many times before on this blog, I may not be a big fan of today's Las Vegas, but I do have a soft nostalgic spot for the Vegas of yore, when the tourists and entertainers were a lot more glamorous than the buildings. Luckily, our good friends Suzanne and Mike feel the same, so we were happy to meet them in "Sin City," earlier this week, to help celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

An hour after arriving, we found ourselves eating at Siegel's 1941, an old-school restaurant in the El Cortez, the longest continuously-running hotel and casino in Las Vegas and a favorite of 1940s mobster Bugsy Siegel, who, along with Meyer Lansky and others, bought the place in 1945. Following dinner, we walked over to the Fremont St. Experience, dedicated to preserving the neon heyday of mid-century Vegas. Situated in the heart of the old downtown area, the two-block Experience is covered by a protective ceiling that projects films above pedestrians, casinos and shops. Though I'm glad my parents' favorite casinos (from the old days) have been saved, the whole thing smacked of the worst elements of Times Square and Hollywood Blvd., so we did not stay long. (But we do love neon, so more about that part of Vegas in my blog entry below.)

 Tim (lower righthand corner) looking at all the neon and
ceiling projections

Mike in front of the Four Queens casino

Binion's casino
The next day, we spent a couple of hours touring the Nevada State Museum, an unassumingly hidden gem located in Springs Preserve, far from the hub-bub and gaudiness of The Strip. In addition to a permanent collection of artifacts tracing the history of Nevada, from dinosaurs to present day, the Museum is currently featuring two small but fascinating exhibits:"Les Folies Bergère: Entertaining Las Vegas One Rhinestone at a Time," about the Tropicana hotel's now-gone cabaret show, and "Branding Las Vegas, 1941-1958," highlighting hotel memorabilia collected by Richard and Nancy Greeno. Both are wonderful reminders of Vegas' true glory days.

Typical "pouf" headdress worn by 

1960s costume (front)

 And back

 Men, as well as women, danced in the Folies

Greeno collection: memorabilia from the now-gone New Frontier hotel

Tiki items from the once fabulous Stardust hotel

Frontier hotel poster

 When smoking was sexy: Tropicana hotel ashtrays

Desert Inn roulette wheel ashtray

Flamingo hotel: paper ephemera

Museum's permanent collection: old one-armed bandit slot machines

BTW, we stayed at the Signature at MGM Grand, a completely smoke- and game-free condo property, a couple of blocks off The Strip, that was relatively cheap, too. Highly recommended if, like us, you don't smoke or gamble.

Saw this double rainbow as we were leaving Vegas

Good luck followed us back into California 

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