Saturday, December 29, 2018

Vegas, Baby!

I was playing around with some faded old slides of Las Vegas, hoping to bring them back to being presentable. I think they look OK now! 

There's just something about old Vegas - a combination of glitz and glamor, a place where you were encouraged to drink and gamble and gorge yourself on shrimp cocktails. And just knowing that the Rat Pack could be nearby provided enough star power to light up all of those neon signs. 

Before you gamble, why not stop in at Skagg's Drug Center and have a bromo? It'll keep you feelin' sassy. In a way, as much as I love those fantastic casino signs, I am drawn to the small shops to the left, including Sid's souvenir shop, and the nearby Trading Post. I wonder what cool stuff they had for sale 50+ years ago. "Vegas Vic" is near the end of the street, booming "Howdy, Partner!" at passers-by. 

Benny Binion's Horseshoe Casino was a landmark along Fremont Street going all the way back to 1951. Which probably means that it was not that old when this photo was taken! One of the most famous features of the Horseshoe was a display of one million dollars, made up of 100 $10,000 bills - people loved to have their photos taken in front of it. I hardly have any $10,000 bills.

Sadly, the Horseshoe closed forever in 2009.


Here is a photo of GDB pal Scott Heinz (that's him on the right) in front of the million-dollar display at Binion's around 1988. Cool!

And for those who are curious, here's what a $10,000 bill looks like (thanks to Wikipedia).


Nanook said...


Glitz and glamour - Vegas style. Not quite the same view I experienced a few short weeks ago, but definitely more to my liking. As is that cream colored 1959 Cadillac we see driving toward "Vegas Vic".

Thanks, Major.

Graffer said...

I had seen the million dollar horseshoe display in the past. When I went to Binion's Horseshoe in about 2005, the million was not where it had been previously. I went to the front desk and asked where it had been moved and was told that it had been sold off.

I knew the writing was on the wall for the Horseshoe if they sold off the only weenie they had that caused tourists to enter the casino. The rest of the place was worn out.

K. Martinez said...

This is the Las Vegas I would've liked to have seen, but it's no more. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

A display of one hundred $10,000 bills! Holy cow! I'd have to buy a second copy of The Game of Life to be able to pull that off.

Melissa said...

I love the "crown roast" design of the Horseshoe building.

I wonder if Skagg's had slot machines at the pharmacy counter like the CVS I visited.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I'm so used to thinking about these scenes as classic old Las Vegas, and yet in 1960-ish, this was all still pretty new. What a sight it must have been!

Graffer, just days ago I found a slide in a box of my junk that shows a woman posing next to the display of a million dollars. If I'd had time I would have scanned it and added it to today's post. I read that the original display of 100 $10,000 bills was replaced in 2008. "With $10,000 bills no longer widely available, the new display contains 2,700 $100 bills, 34,400 $20 bills and 42,000 $1 bills", according to Wikipedia. Definitely not as impressive somehow!

K. Martinez, ME TOO.

Chuck, gosh, I barely remember The Game of Life, except that there were little cars, and you could put pink (for girls) and blue (for boys) pegs representing people in them. Did you get 50 $10,000 bills in that game?

Melissa, it does sort of look like a crown roast! Apparently the casino was famous for its $2 late-night steaks. I'll bet Skagg's had slot machines! I've only been to Vegas once, but there were slots everywhere, including the airport.

JC Shannon said...

My parents went to Vegas in the early 60s, it was my first trip on an airplane. It was a Lockheed L-188 Electra. Us kids all got wings from the Flight Attendent, Stewardess then. I was hooked after that. I decided I wanted to tame that beast, and fly away into the sunset. On laughter silvered wings, of course. I agree with Ken and Major. Vegas, baby! Let's all meet for drinks at the Sands, Frank and Dean are buying.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I've actually got two photos (somewhere) from different times in front of the million dollars. The plexiglass around the money was thick like the panels in front of the tellers in a bank (on the wrong side of the tracks). I'll try to locate them for an addendum if anyone's interested.

Love the fins on that Caddie in motion. Rat pack cool!
Nice post, thanks.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

One photo found and e-mail sent ;-)

Chuck said...

The original, 1960 edition of The Game of Life came with 50 $10,000 bills. It also came with 40 $100,000 bills with Art Linkletter's face on them.

There's always a Disneyland connection if you look hard enough...

stu29573 said...

I have the Art Linkletter edition of Life! Why? I just collect stuff, lol!

Melissa said...

We list all the little people-pegs in our Game of Life set, so we used ball-head sewing pins. We didn't have enough with blue or pink heads, so our families were rainbow-colored. Eventually the bottoms of the cars had too many holes to hold more pins.

Anonymous said...

Here's some info to fill in a few details, and a b&w photo:

TokyoMagic! said...

I like the way that we can see part of the photographer in that first photo. His or her hands are showing in the side view mirror, along with his/her shirt and the strap the camera.

I remember Skaggs Drugs. I always that that was an unfortunate name for a store (sorry, Ricky Scaggs!)

I also remember that a friend had the Art Linkletter version of The Game of Life. His picture was on the cover of the box with the quote, "I heartily endorse this game!" My brother used to change it to "I hardly endorse this game!"

And I think I have a pic somewhere of my great-grandmother in front of the Horseshoe's million dollar display. I'll have to go digging.

Chuck said...

Stu, I played with friends who had that edition when I was a kid. By the time I had kids old enough to play, the game had been revised four times, and the Linkletter bills - as well as a lot of the familiar gameplay - were gone.

Fortunately, last year my wife managed to pick up a reproduction of the original, put out by Winning Moves. Oddly, the $1000,000 bill features Art Linkletter's portrait, but a mustache and dark hair have been drawn on the face. Perhaps Linkletter's family didn't authorize the use of his image?

Collecting stuff is OK by me. It's part of what makes this blog (and yours, and TM!'s, and others) so much fun!

K. Martinez said...

This is what I love about Gorillas Don't Blog. Reader participation. Thank you Alonzo/Scott for sharing your photo of you and your buddies in front of Binion's million-dollar display. It really adds a lot to today's post.

Anonymous said...

Yes! What Ken said. Thanks Alonzo and Major for the enhancements.

The portrait on the 10K bill is Salmon Portland Chase, Secretary of the Treasury. I always thought that an odd name. What if he had the drug store "Salmon Skaggs"?

I have a Horseshoe ashtray and also one from the Golden Horseshoe, which were very useful when I used to smoke cigars (one or two a year).

On our visits to Las Vegas, Dad would drive us downtown to sightsee, but we always stayed on the strip. It was odd for non-drinkers/non-smokers/non-gamblers to visit Las Vegas but he liked the desert. We would go to Hoover Dam, Red Rock/ Valley of Fire and similar places and enjoy the low room prices and buffets, underwritten, as Dad used to say, by people who were bad at math.

My main memory of Fremont street was walking along that sidewalk, I recall all the major casino signs, including the giant cowboy, but Skaggs is a blank to me. They undoubtedly had slot machines, Safeway had slot machines. The neon signs produced the most amazing buzzing sounds, like the whole street was lined with enormous crickets.

Most of this is now trashed by the "Fremont Street Experience", which ironically, destroyed the experiences I recalled.

Thanks for the look back, everyone. Very fine pictures.


Anonymous said...

*Golden Nugget, not Golden Horseshoe.


The Juice said...

The Horeshoe name was dropped in 2009, but the casino now just known as Binion's Gambling Hall is still very much open and you can still get your picture with a million bucks.