Mama needs a new pair of shoes


AGMA found herself part of a uniquely American ritual this week. It’s one that thousands upon thousands of American Baby Boomers participate in a regular basis. One that knows no racial, gender, cultural or economic barriers. You just have to be over 21…

She made a pilgrimage to one of the 600+ casinos in the U.S.


I realize that casinos are present and popular in other parts of the world.  But our casinos in the U.S. are gigantic, over the top affairs filled to the brim with aging Boomers. Graying, sallow, drawn and sometimes wheezing Boomers.

Makes me proud of my generation. Not.

Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with a bit of dabbling in games of chance now and then as long as it doesn’t consume your life, retirement account and make you like the Walking Dead.

Must. Press. Button.

It’s actually kind of fun. Especially if you win.

I wouldn’t know about that.

My first encounter with the gaming world was in Las Vegas in 1987.  The AGMA’s celebrated their 10th anniversary of nuptial bliss with a trip to Sin City. I was 33 years old. It was pretty much fun.

That was at the very tail end of the Rat Pack Las Vegas. The last gasp of the Vegas glory days. Hotel coffee shops still served 50 cent shrimp cocktails, $3 prime rib dinners and $6 all you can eat crab legs. Rooms were cheap and drinks in the casino’s were always free.  And dark, smoky lounges were sprinkled throughout the casino floor with smoky, sultry lounge singers.  It was a veritable cacophony of sights and sounds when somebody hit a jackpot – flashing lights, sirens and that wonderful loud klink, klink, klink of coins dropping down.

Those were the days of The Tropicanna and The Sands and The Stardust.  When the concept of the mega hotel-casino was in it’s infancy and thoughts of bringing your kids there were ludicrous.

As cliche goes, those were “the good old days”.

I’m glad I got to see that remnant of the old Vegas.  It was iconic, and, for better or worse, a quirky, crazy part of American history that’s now gone forever.

Anybody who’s been there in the last twenty years knows what I’m talking about.  Now you need a 2nd mortgage just to be able to stay and eat there.  No more smoky lounges on the casino floor. No more coins – now you get a piece of paper from the slot machine with your winnings printed on it to a recording of clink, clink, clink.

Totally lame.

Back in the day, I played $1 minimum bet blackjack at The Hacienda.  Some of the places off the strip were 50 cent minimums.  Now, it’s a miracle to find a table with even a $10 minimum. Too rich for my bank account…

Oh – I never won.  Ever. It didn’t matter what I played.  Blackjack, slot machines, roulette, machine poker.  But I never gambled much – maybe $50 in a day.  A good day was when I went up to the room at night with anything other than nothing. Cha-Ching.

Once pretty much confined to Vegas and Atlantic City, now it seems like casinos are everywhere.  The expansion started on Indian reservations, then to riverboats, but that wasn’t enough.  States, many of them Bible thumping red states (go figure…) wanted a piece of the multi-kazillion dollar gambling pie so they legalized casinos. The revenues support the schools you know. Yeah right…

Fast forward to a few days ago.  I’ve been on a trip.  Again.  Visiting family and old friends in Arizona. Good times.

On the drive up from Tucson to Phoenix, I made a pilgrimage detour.  The casino I went to is on some of that prime real estate that the U.S. Government graciously gave the Native Americans as a thank you for “allowing” the white settlers to have their sacred, traditional rich hunting and farming lands.  In other words, it was a barren patch of scrub desert that couldn’t support a family of kangaroo rats. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Kudos to the Native Americans for now having a lucrative purpose for that God forsaken, piece-o-crap land. Thanks Uncle Sam.


Unfortunately, AGMA was not shocked at what she found inside.  The Woodstock generation fighting over the Davincci Diamonds quarter slot machines.  Boomers who protested at Kent State sitting in front of poker machines with their oxygen tanks beside them.  Smoking a cigarette.  Slumped postures and glazed over eyes and a big line at the ATM machine.

All incredibly depressing.  It was the middle of the day on a Thursday, the weather outside was spectacular – sunny and mild – and the joint was full.

How the mighty are fallen.

I fished my $50 offering out of my wallet and started my dance with several one armed bandits.  Twenty minutes later, when the carnage was over and the dust cleared, I cashed out.  I tenderly put my redemption ticket in the payback machine, grabbed my 55 cents, and fled into the sunshine and fresh air.

It was difficult to find an exit. They do that on purpose.  Bastards.

Actually, I consider my bad luck rather fortunate. It gets me in and out pretty fast. And I know I will never become one of the gambling Walking Dead.

Must. Push. Button.

AGMA’ll be back in a casino again.  Oh yes….  Hope springs eternal in AGMA-land.

I know that the big jackpot is waiting for me one of these days. Not.

But it’s fun to dream about seeing those flashing lights and hearing that clink, clink, clink sound.  Even if it is a recording.

Come’on triple 7’s!  AGMA needs a new pair of orthopedic shoes!

31 thoughts on “Mama needs a new pair of shoes

  1. We spent a weekend in Hershey PA just after they opened a brand new casino, adjacent to a horse racetrack. We ventured over to check it out. It was such a sad, depressing experience. Forget about the glitzy, well dressed, elegant, cocktail swilling crowd that you used to expect in Vegas, or even Atlantic City decades ago. These were poor, desperate souls, looking angry and miserable, tearing up tickets, soiling the shiny new bathrooms, looking like they were spending the only money that they’d not blown on lottery tickets. We had a quick lunch in one of the overpriced restaurants and left. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went to see my podiatrist and he said I need a pair of those custom made orthopedic shoes. Based on the price he quoted, I’m starting to think that the best solution is to find that $100 bill I’ve got stashed and head over to the Indian Casino.

    Papa, needs a new pair of shoes, hit me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah – if your luck is like mine, the $100 will last about 30 minutes. Unless you are skilled blackjack player – the odds are so much better at blackjack. I used to play blackjack when the minimums were reasonable, but now they are crazy hight. Maybe you’d be better of laying a bet down on the Superbowl. I mean, there’s a 50% chance your team could win right? I wonder what the line in Vegas is… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Was just having a conversation about this very thing this morning. I have been to a casino once and determined quickly that I can just as easily chuck some of my hard earned money into the toilet, push the lever, hear a satisfying swish and probably have the same payoff I would likely get with a slot machine. As a bonus, I can also relieve my bladder in the same “machine” – something I’m pretty sure would get me arrested at the slots in a casino. But, in matters of taste there can be no dispute. I have siblings who really enjoy the exercise of giving money to casinos. Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know – I wouldn’t mind losing if I could get some play for my $$. I mean, if I could win enough to keep me playing for a few hours before losing it all, I’d be really happy. $50 for a few hours of delusional thinking that I might actually win the big one is a great entertainment value. Heck – it costs nearly $50 for my husband and I to go out to a movie if we get popcorn and soda! As it is, my gambling experiences of late have been much like your toilet analogy. Without the bladder relief. *sigh*

      Liked by 2 people

  4. We have 2 casinos in our area, and I’ve never been to either. I’ve never had an urge to go to either, not even out of curiosity. The idea of losing even $1 turns me off. I need every penny I have. But I do keep hoping that if one of my relatives wins big, maybe they’ll share.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love to play blackjack. It is the only game other than real poker, where the gambler has any advantage over the “house.” I will, however, never play in an Oklahoma reservation casino again. They charge fifty cents for every hand you play at blackjack – win or lose. I didn’t know that was the law in Oklahoma, so it was a shock the first time the dealer reached over and took one of my chips. I guess they are remembering when the white man just arbitrarily reached over and took their land. Pay-back is hell!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome – I love it!! It’s karma come with a vengence! Like a user fee for the blackjack table…

      I used to love playing blackjack and was pretty good at it, but then the minimums kept going up and up. Now it’s all out of my budget allocation. Two busts and I’m out! First world problem right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Years ago, i walked into a casino while on a business trip. Can’t recall where! But i took the 2 quarters in my wallet to the slot machines. One quarter in first pull hit….yeah, real coins came out. They all went back in; 30 minutes later, all gone. I moaned about losing all my money for days. All 50 cents!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy heck – if I could get 30 minutes of play out of 50 cents, I’d be on top of the world! That’s an amazing feat Pat! But if you felt really bad about it for days, maybe the casino isn’t the place to hang out! 🙂

      I got ruined on my 2nd trip to Vegas. One of the people on our trip put three dollar coins in a slot machine and won $1000 on their first pull. 28 years later, I still expect that to happen to me but nothing so far. I’ll keep you posted…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. In my first marriage, in the late 60’s to early 70’s, we used to go water skiing with the in-laws at Lake Havasu outside of Las Vegas. On the way home they always stopped to visit the casinos. Since I’m mathematically challenged, I never played any card games, mainly just the slots (but barely, since I’m basically cheap.) It always amazed me to see people slumped over on their stools, repeatedly feeding coins into the machines and robotically pulling the levers, while sucking on a cigarette and being served free drink after free drink. Very unhealthy. And there were no windows, so you never knew if it was night or day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure every corporation that has gaming interests employs a psychologist who comes up with diabolical ways to disorient casino customers! No windows, no clocks and very difficult to find the exits. And I’m sure there are more subtle things happening on a subconscious level. Sounds a bit paranoid, but I don’t doubt it!

      And once upon a time you actually had to feed the coins in before pulling the handle. Now all they have to do, if they have the credits on the machine, is press the “Repeat Bet” button. So people now get to lose their $$ two or three times as fast! And 90% of the time, I don’t understand the machines and their payoffs! It’s probably really good that I don’t get into a casino very often…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My ex is a recovering gambling addict + she was a travel agent. So I saw my share of Vegas, including the fading you mentioned from the late 1980’s. Its last gasp lasted through the nineties actually, albeit overshadowed by the mega resorts that now overwhelm the Strip and Downtown. I’m glad I was able to stroll the venerable Sands at least once or twice. The vibes of Bugsy Siegel and Howard Hughes spoke to me. But it’s all over now, Baby Blue. Glad I got to see a glimmer of it. Great post as always, AGMA.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks much! Yeah – you could definitely “feel” the old Vegas in some of those old hotel/casinos. I really liked The Stardust. And I agree that it lasted into the 90’s. It became harder and harder, but you could still occasionally find a hotel coffee shop on the Strip that had those great prime rib specials or cheap shrimp cocktails. But they are all gone now. However, I’m thinking that you still might be able to find the “vibe” off the strip where the locals hang out. Or maybe downtown? Has downtown become mega or is it still a bit old school? I might have to make a trip out there – it’s been about 10 years since I’ve been out there. Cha-Ching!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. OH I remember those rare visits to sin city back in the 50’s. As kids we couldn’t go in because our folks wouldn’t let us. Than in the 60’s we visited again..this time the Golden Nugget was THE hotel. Those were the days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow – you did see Vegas when it WAS the Rat Pack Vegas. How cool! When I started going in the late 80’s, we were warned away from staying downtown because of the crime. And it was very seedy in parts. But I’m sure that’s totally changed now and it’s gone upscale like the rest of it. Hopefully the Elvis wedding chapels are still there! 🙂


  10. My grandmother used to take the bus from Massachusetts to Atlantic City with other Senior Citizens. She loved the “free” roll of quarters they gave them for the slot machines.

    As for me, I saw Las Vegas for the first time in the late ’90s when a business conference was held there. During a break, I rode the elevator up with a pair of Asian women. First woman; “my husband going to be so mad at me. I lost lot of money at baccarat.” (I’m thinking $500? maybe $1000?)
    Second woman: “how much?”
    First woman: ninety two thousand (yes, THOUSAND) dollars.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t even comprehend that… I’m upset about my paltry $50! But I can tell from the James Bond movies that baccarat is just for rich people. 🙂

      I found out that my 82 year old MIL goes to the casino every day. Every day. She drives (first problem) 18 miles each way (second problem) to get the “free” give-a-ways. Wednesday’s it’s a bottle of wine. Sunday’s it’s a six pack of something. Other stuff other days. I asked her if she gambles every time and she said no. Yeah right… When I asked her if she needed all the “stuff” they gave away (which I knew she didn’t) she said no, but that she took it because it was free. ???? Said she can give it as gifts (doubtful- she’s unfortunately not a generous person) or sell it in a garage sale (which she’s never had.) I told her that, at 20 years her junior, I was at the point in my life where I wanted to get rid of stuff not try to get more. She finally admitted that she goes out there for the social interaction. Soooo sad. I wish we could talk her into moving into a senior community where she could get that social interactions without driving 36 miles round trip each day to a place that just steals her $$ and gives her a bottle of wine to make her feel better. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun post and blog! I found you via Grandfatherly…ok the name got my attention so I had to check it out. I agree with you about the casinos. The only casinos we have in Texas are on Indian reservations. But now on the coast we have a casino boat that goes out into international waters so you can gamble. The bad thing is that is you have lost your $50 you are stuck on the boat and can’t just walk away. Husband and I have been out once but we probably won’t go again as the boat was way too small. However, I hope it does well. I will be back to explore your blog more. Cheers for the weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my – I fear I’ve never responded to this. Yikes! So sorry!

      Welcome to AGMA! Yeah – the name gets a lot of folks. I actually had the name before I had a blog. It was one of those, “If I ever wrote a blog I would call it….” It just feels so right!

      They used to have those boats in Indiana on the Ohio River. They would float out like 15 feet from the riverbank for each gaming session. I guess if I got desperate, I could have jumped in and swam back to shore! But they were pretty big boats so you could at least wander around after you lost your $$. Which I always did. Now it’s all legal so they still have the gambling riverboats, but they don’t have to leave the dock.

      I know that I am going to look really dumb asking this (but that never stopped me…) but what is Grandfatherly? I feel like I should know this.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  12. Great images which brought back great memories of trips made with various people to various gambling meccas, first in the Southwest and now wherever we can find one that has a hotel. Our first child was conceived in a casino-hotel in Reno!
    I also observed (and felt) the aging (and glamming) of Vegas over the years. That’s what drove Spouse and I to Laughlin in the early 90s, on recommendation of my parents, who had begun to feel priced and crowded out of Sin City.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I stopped in Laughlin once on the way through. Yeah – I lost there too…. I also lost money once right up the road (down the road?) from Reno in the Lake Tahoe area.

      I was in Colorado over this past Labor Day weekend and was driving back to Denver via the “scenic” route (i.e. it took forever) and drove through Black Hawk, CO which looked like a tiny speck on the map. But good Lord – it was like Las Vegas squished in between two mountains with road going through it! Casinos and hotels everywhere! That was the last thing I expected on this winding canyon road. It was surreal… Have you ever been there?

      Just out of curiosity, what did you name your Reno baby?


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