Saturday, March 10, 2007

Las Vegas Junkets And Tribute To My Father-In-Law

I really liked my wife's dad. He was a man who really enjoyed life. He died suddenly from a pancreatic infection at a much too young age back in the early nineties.

Al, or Dad, as I called him, was a small businessman in South Philly with connections to the garment trade and fashion world in New York City. Through his connections in the sixties and seventies, he and his wife were invited to casino openings and junkets all over the world. I remember his favorite invitation gift was a giant paper weight statue he displayed proudly on his coffee table, inviting him to the Las Vegas Caesars Palace opening in 1966.

Al and Molly, his wife, travelled to Europe, the Caribbean and of course, Las Vegas junkets for free. Junkets back then were more freely dispensed, not always requiring deposits, just a good business reference and recommendation. It was a gentleman's game. You were trusted until you proved otherwise - and if you messed up then you were never invited back to that casino, or worse, banned from all casinos. A marker limit of perhaps ten grand was set up for you at the casino cage. Everything was paid for: your airfare, your accommodations, your meals, your booze, and some extras! In exchange, you needed to show "action" at the tables for a certain amount of time daily. Some casinos monitored your "action" closer than others.

Back in the 60's a "high roller" was a green chip (twenty five dollars) player with maybe a ten grand bankroll! (compare to today!)

My father-in-law claimed that when he played craps, he rarely lost - over the long run his winnings exceeded his losses. He taught me craps ( not necessarily a good thing for me! ) and how to enjoy a good cigar after a great meal. He also was hilarious when he started joking and telling stories. He told me to take care of his little daughter and he would take care of me. I sometimes feel that he is still watching over us.

Dad was not really a hard core gambler. He just knew a good deal when he saw it. Junkets were more liberal back then. When Atlantic City built their corporation casinos, the rules began to tighten up. Dad would hop around, back and forth, from casino to casino in Atlantic City (Dad lived in Philadelphia) looking for the best deals. First Ballys, the Caesars, then back to Ballys. And later, the Tropicana. At Ballys, a so called friend forged my Dad's name on some of Dad's markers and made a real mess with my Dad's relationship with the casino. I don't think that Dad ever prosecuted his friend, but his so called friend was obviously not a friend anymore, and I'm sure the casino forced the thief to make good. (They have their ways)

I'll always remember my father-In-Law for his love of life, his "street smarts", his humor, and his dedication to his family. Rest in peace, Al. And if there is a Dice game in Heaven, I know you'll always avoid the sucker bets.


GroovesGirlVegas said...

a moving tribute to your "F.I.L"


I know lots of people who reminisce about old school style Vegas and I get sentimental about days of the past.

I have friends here in town who tell stories of how boulder highway was the outskirts of town.

My friend Betty Whitewood Willis designed the "Welcome To Las Vegas" sign. She told stories of how her father built the first two story building in downtown Las Vegas.

I think we all reminisce about the past. When you consider the enormous magnitude of the buildings here you kind of have to to adjust.

Your father in-law sounds like a guy who knew how to have a good time.

That is rare in this day and age.
People want instant gratification, or so it seems.

Peace and Light
Global Peace GrooVes Christine

Michael Leonard Fisher said...

Thanks Christine. He died back in 1993, and I still miss him. He loved life, and he loved Vegas even more!

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