Periodically, I need a break from all the evils of the U.S. government so I repeat chapters of my autobiography – some I’ve posted before. If curious – the title to my story is Humor is a Laxative for a Troubled Mind . . . that says it all, and it’s not in wetback language.
I lived in Las Vegas in the middle ‘60s before moving to Illinois to play softball and had a job working at Caesars Palace taking care of the liquor room. The pay was $12.45 per eight-hour shift. I lived across the street in an apartment complex where the Imperial Palace now stands. The rent was $17 per week, linen service included. And no cockroaches!
Working in Las Vegas on the Strip was a wonderful and exciting experience. Being single, I spent most of the day at Caesars. Had access to most areas and allowed to stand behind the curtain of the stage; watched all the many performers entertain.
Many had witnessed the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Martin, Davis, et al) come in periodically and take over the lounge show in the wee hours of the morning. Most lounge shows on the Strip closed by 2:30 a.m. but Caesars remained opened until late in the early morning.
Caesars was the classiest hotel on the Strip; the most beautiful girls, service personnel at their best, and as far as I could tell, good relations existed between management (the mob) and labor. Sitting next to celebrities at the bar occurred often. One night while sitting alone at the bar, Johnny Carson sat next to me.
“Where did the bartender go?” (He wanted to buy cigarettes) “In the back,” I responded. I lit a cigarette and Carson asked if I could spare one. Offered the whole pack but he refused, one was enough, he said. (Maybe the one which triggered his cancer – thanks Frank!
Joe Louis was the hotel greeter at Caesars at the time, and spent time shooting the breeze with him and gave him my autograph. Every day was full of surprises. You never knew what famous people you’d run into. Lil’ Black Cloud collected autographs of parking lot attendants.
My job as bar-boy was to keep the bars full of liquor inventory. I never had to work behind a bar. Having access to all liquor, I would keep the cooks happy by taking pitchers full of beer to the kitchens and ate the best food available. The beans and tortillas were a fading memory.
Lil’ Black Cloud was in charge of bathrooms; constantly eating chicken wings while flirting with cocktail waitresses. Baccarat, a very popular game in Europe, didn’t seem as popular in Las Vegas, so it appeared to me at the time.
One day the Baccarat table was surprisingly busy. The minimum bet was $20. The crowd at the table was betting the max, $2,000. A game took very little time; around 2 to 3 minutes or less. One person playing $2,000 each game had the most chips each worth $500. Each stack of chips appeared to be about 5 inches high and he had more than two dozen stacks. The group playing lasted more than 24 hours. I left the hotel that evening, and into the next evening, they were still at it.
I found out later the person holding the most chips in the game was the Chief of Police of Mexico City. No wonder millions of Mexican people have left their country; the rich have all the money and there’s not enough money to go around. Mexican citizens are forced to abandon their families and country to seek work because of the corruption by government (socialism/communism).
Immigrants will remarry in our country to seek legal status. This leads to the destruction of the family left behind in Mexico. How sad. Mexican citizens should pick up machetes and march to Mexico City and clean their corrupted government house. Socialism strips people of their self-respect, pride, dignity, incentive, individualism, and much more. Does that ring a bell? We are experiencing the same thing.
Pay attention to what Congress is doing and has done to our country. Socialism/Communism has crept into our society, turning our once American Dream into a nightmare. It seems that everywhere we turn, government is there waiting with rules and regulations. Representative government is a thing of the past. Billions in the stimulus bill are unaccounted for and some people are making a lot of money.
Having been plagued by ulcers at an early age, and working at Coca-Cola in Phoenix, drinking coke all day didn’t help. This caused the following problem. One night after work at Caesars, I stayed at the bar drinking a few Black Russians (bartenders were communizing us) until daybreak.
Back in my apartment across the street, I felt nauseous, rushed to the bathroom, got down on my knees, hugged the bowl and vomited blood. Weakened quite a bit; barely made it outside to hail a cab.
Upon arriving at the hospital, and assigned a room, I couldn’t hold off vomiting any longer. I ran to the toilet but before I got there, blood spewed out, splattered the bathroom door. I fainted and woke up the next day being fed intravenously; lost 10 pounds overnight. (Discovered a new diet to lose weight)
A few people attended to me while Lil’ Black Cloud stood by the doorway with a stethoscope around his neck. Las Vegas became history, went home (Phoenix) to recuperate. Lil’ Black Cloud remained at the hospital working on his internship. I would return in the early ‘70s.
When I did return, I couldn’t get a job . . . only cab-driving. I enjoyed it so much because once I left the yard I was on my own – Freedom! I would drive 15 – 16 hours per day, eight days per week. Because of my work ethic I was made a supervisor which gave me close relationships with many drivers and got to understand their personalities.
People of all walks in life came and went. At least one doctor; failed businessmen hustling on the side driving cabs to keep his doors open. People using phony names . . . fugitives from the law. We even had a homosexual driver that used his time off and dressed like a woman with a wig and offered oral-sex to male tourist for $20.00. Even some thugs associated with “The Ant” who was a mob hoodlum, who ran a loan-sharking business and burglaries in Las Vegas. Joe Pesci played that character part in the movie “Casino” which also starred Robert Di Nero. In other chapters I tell a lot of stories of my experiences driving a cab that I think you would enjoy.
Being free to stop anywhere at any time during my shift I would often atop at a diner to grab a quick cup of coffee. And one day after leaving the diner I got in the cab and the goddamn steering wheel was gone! For a moment I was overcome with fear until I realized I had sat in the back seat. You don’t really believe I believe there are eight days in the week – do you?
For new followers of my blog the reference to a Black Cloud is a fictitious character I created that I use in my autobiography. Everything that goes wrong in my life I use Lil Black Cloud as my nemesis and gets blamed for all my problems. I suppose even countries have Lil Black Clouds . . . America’s resides in the White House.
I may have used this before: “If the soup had been as warm as the wine; if the wine had been as old as the turkey; and if the turkey had had a breast like the waitress; it would have been a swell dinner.” (Pope John the 50th)