Las Vegas Memories

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Las Vegas Memories

A couple days ago I spoke with my “Vegas Mom” on the phone. The reason I call her that is a long story that I might divulge here at a later time. For now we’ll just call her Mom. She moved to Las Vegas around 1974 and worked as a Keno Runner at the Stardust. She was there for many years till she went to the Las Vegas Hilton as a Keno Runner. Her claim to fame before she retired (well, actually they stopped Keno at the Hilton) was that she was the oldest Keno Runner in Vegas.

When the Mob ran Vegas

I was speaking to her about the Las Vegas Press Club and as usual she brought up the old Vegas days. She regrets deeply when corporate business took over and ran the Mob out of the casino business. She, as most employees from back then say, loved when the Mob ran things. As an employee she was taken care of and respected much more by them.

My Mom was at the Stardust when everything was going down that happened in the movie “Casino.” I could listen to her for hours talk about those times. Her memories are a great walk through Las Vegas history.

Aku Aku at the Stardust

As we spoke I read to her some of the pages from the 1963 Branding Iron and she loved hearing all the old names and places mentioned. One such place was the Aku Aku. She was recently given some old memorabilia from there and it brought back a boatload of Las Vegas memories.

The Aku Aku was a Polynesian restaurant inside the Stardust. The Stardust was embracing the “tiki” popularity that was also embraced by Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber. They offered an array of rum-based cocktails. This was the place to be and my Mom loved going there with her girlfriends after their swing shift was over.

Mom’s memorabilia from Aku Aku (and other old Vegas institutes) is probably worth a little something on EBay now but she wouldn’t part with it for the world.

As our conversation went on for close to two hours I listened to tales of Binion’s, the Rat Pack, Elvis, and more. I learned who were the best and worst of the tippers and who was friendly or not. Although Las Vegas’ history is shorter than most US cities we have managed to pack an exciting history in a relatively short time.

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Elizabeth Crane

Elizabeth Crane grew up not wearing a helmet, drinking from the hose and not wearing a seat belt. She managed to survive and now spends her time developing websites, drinking coffee, and eating chocolate.