When I first moved to Las Vegas, in 1944, there were two hotels-- the El Rancho and the Last Frontier.   Nobody thought it would last.  There was no real industry, except gambling.  Land was selling on the Strip (except it wasn’t called the strip yet) for twenty five bucks an acre.  In those days, if  you told somebody you lived in Vegas they’d say, “You gotta be kidding.  Nobody lives there.”  And my mother, who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, would say, “It’ll never last. It’s a million miles from nowhere.”  

My mother and I didn’t move to Las Vegas until I was five.  My father was already there, working for his hero, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.  We were in L.A., living with my grandmother, on Dunsmuir St. near the May Company, because Mother didn’t want to raise her precious only child in that “hell hole.”  So, we would visit my father two, maybe three times a year, depending on how he was doing at the crap tables, and we would stay in a little bungalow at the El Rancho.  When he visited us, my father stayed with his mother and sister on Delongpre Ave. in Hollywood.  My parents weren’t exactly close. 

In fact, for years my mother was trying to build up the courage to divorce my father.  Not just because he moved to Las Vegas when I was two.  She didn’t want to be stuck with a gambler the rest of her life.  She would listen to “The Romance of Helen Trent,” every morning on the radio.  Helen was a divorcee.  Men fell in love with her left and right even though she was over 35.  My mother was over 40.  Helen gave my mother hope.  

The hope didn’t last.  My grandmother, who was my best friend in the whole world, died of a heart attack, and we had to move. Mother wanted to divorce my father and move back to Cincinnati, but my Uncle Max told her she was nuts!  What did she think, she could move back to Cincinnati and have men at her feet at her age with a kid, when she already had a husband in Las Vegas who was willing to support her?

So we moved to Las Vegas.  Only we didn’t get to live in the little bungalow at the El Rancho Hotel and have tea in a pot and cookies on a tray.  We lived in a duplex on Bonneville Ave. with a mean landlady named Miss Bliss and a broken air-conditioner.   

Linda Percy
6/10/2011 12:51:47 pm

looking forward to future postings!,

8/6/2011 03:03:29 am

Hey Marilyn - love the photo! Miss Bliss? Stranger than fiction for sure.


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