I grew up in Las Vegas during the 1960s and some of the 1970s, when the city was smaller and the population was much smaller. We lived at a various times, in three distinctly different parts of town.
We originally lived on Magnet Street in North Town, just off Las Vegas Blvd. North. There was an Arctic Circle drive-in across the highway that featured cold drinks, ice cream and hamburgers. We were not to cross the Blvd. without an adult.
There was a Wimpy's nearby and a small motor lodge motel. I went to Quannah S. McCall grade school with the owners' daughter.
I remember the stricken look on my teacher's face as she announced that President John Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas and we were all to go home right away.
In 1963 we moved on up to Charleston Heights which at that time, to a youngster, seemed like traveling to the far side of the moon.
There was an air-raid signal atop my elementary school, Rose Warren, in Charleston Heights. We were for years, the last house on Bristol Way and beyond us, it was desert all the way to the Calico Basin with a couple of bars and maybe a gas station or two in between. There was no Charleston Rainbow housing development back then, we were the end of the line.
All the streets to the north of us, including ours, was named after liquor. Bristol, Bourbon and Brandywine are the ones I remember most.
I remember that Helldorado was a major event that included three parades over a three day weekend, rodeo events, a carnival at Cashman Field and you had to have a Helldorado button or you wound up in the hoosegow.
You could take the bus across town from Charleston Heights (I think we walked down from our house to Torrey Pines to catch it), go downtown and transfer to another bus and go all the way down East Charleston to the Fox Theater or the Huntridge Theater and spend the day at the movies watching a double feature, maybe more than once. Then, we would take the bus route back in reverse and get home way after dark, usually.
I remember Anderson Diary used to deliver milk and such to your door. They placed the bottles in an insulated box that sat on the front porch next to the front door because milk still came in bottles back then.
There was a bakery that had a fleet of vintage looking delivery vans that delivered hot baked goods on some mornings.
And in the summer of 1968, with chaos exploding all across the country, I remember watching the Democratic Convention broadcast from Chicago on the television in our living room and as demonstrators were getting beat by Richard Daly's police squads, I remember hearing the sound of the large ice cream truck that featured soft serve ice cream, rolling through our neighborhood.
Our neighborhood grew larger when Sproul Homes put in a development that meant we were no longer the last house on the block and then built Charleston Rainbow out just beyond the earthen dam that was there for flood control
In 1972, we moved again to the southwest part of town between Sahara and Spring Mountain and Jones and Rainbow.
I remember the big flash flood the summer of 1975 that came rushing out of the Spring Mountains and tore through the Caesars Palace parking lot, leaving wreckage in its wake.
There was a small pizzeria called Carbone's in an A-frame building on West Charleston just across from the Tap Room where we would go for pizza after football games. There was a Shakey's next to the Tap Room but we preferred the pizza at Carbone's.
Hedy Fabrics was nearby and just a little further east on Charleston was the Red Rock Theaters where we could be found on weekends watching movies.
We were also frequent patrons of the Cinerama Dome over by the old Convention Center when it was still shaped like a flying saucer as well as the Parkway Theaters across from the Boulevard Mall.
I remember fondly the movie theater in the original MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally's) and the beautiful studio prints of MGM films we watched there. Afterwards we would go to the Nostalgia Shop and look at all the memorabilia. There was a Swenson's and an arcade that featured great pin ball machines and air hockey.
Back then, there was a detergent that was shaped like round hockey pucks called Salvo. We drove through the MGM Grand Hotel's porte cochere one evening and threw Salvo in the fountain creating quite a frothy mess under the watchful eye of Neptune.
But perhaps most of all, I remember cruising Fremont Street with my friends. My friend Al's mother had a large, tank of a car and on Friday and Saturday nights when we weren't at the movies or high school football games, we would all pile into that car and cruise up and down Fremont Street.
I later learned that Las Vegas teens had been doing that since the 1940s.
I still call Las Vegas my hometown and have fond memories of the friends and people I knew.
I still remember how much of the town was empty desert landscape and the Strip still had most of its original hotels (except the El Rancho which burned down just before we arrived in 1961).
I miss that Las Vegas.
What are your memories of Las Vegas back then?