In 1990 I went trick or treating on the Strip. The Stardust had just remodeled and they had these planters that also would shoot a jet of water three or so feet, kind of a lob shot, from pipe to pipe. As a little kid, (a dumb little kid) I found these to be remarkable. The water would just shoot out and then land, without even a splash. The Stardust, of course, was across the street from the Silver City and next to the Westward Ho. There was a McDonalds on that block, and also the Frontier, which might have been the most depressing casino ever. Even as a little kid I was terrified of the place, though, many years later we'd sneak in for bikini bull riding. To the north of the Stardust was Circus Circus and the Riviera and past that was the El Rancho and after that was Wet n' Wild and finally the Sahara (if you ever want to test someone that claims to be from Vegas, ask them if they remember the time and temperature display on top of the Sahara). Now, 20 years later, the Stardust, Silver City, Westward Ho, Frontier, El Rancho and Wet n Wild are all gone. The Sahara is closing next month and the Riviera will be shut down and destroyed just as soon as the economy recovers. Circus Circus seems safe, and maybe that's meant to be, I should have one place that I remember growing up in. When my mom was living at the Salinda we'd walk down the strip past Fun City and the Bonanza and the Ihop and go to Circus Circus to play the games. I was pretty good at the one where you shoot water to blow up a balloon and get a prize. We'd usually win a few stuffed animals and walk back home, often stopping at Vegas World for hot chocolate in the coffee shop, it came in thick brown mugs and I was allowed to draw on the keno slips with crayon while we waited. And don't forget, Vegas World is gone as well. The apartments where my mom lived were destroyed to make room for the Mirage and the Salinda is now a parking lot. Fun City is gone but at last check the Ihop might still be standing. Going north of the Stratosphere, there are still places I remember, but I suspect they are gone just as well. My life got pretty settled by 1989 and I can always go back home to the east side but yet I feel something is missing. The memories that a kid makes from five to nine are important. Those are major developmental years. Many of mine were made on the northern Las Vegas Strip and all the places are gone. I've been fighting this nostalgia all week long, even going as far as searching youtube for vintage vegas videos. But you know what? It's all gone, and all the super 8 in the world isn't going to bring that part of my life back.
Vegas World. A truly nutso place.
The Sahara. The clock is just beneath the S on the top of the tower.
The amazing fountain.
The El Rancho. Wet n Wild can be seen in the middle bottom of this picture above the van.