Pushing Ginger Rogers Around in Las Vegas
By Anthony Buccino
But in no time at all
we had arrived at the top floor
In a former life and a former career, I traveled around the country working on meetings and conventions. You could say that I saw a lot of the country, three coasts and the breadbasket. That is true, but what I saw the most were airports, hotels and convention centers.
About 10 days after I began my
career in association management, the trade association that
employed me had its incoming first family leave
Incoming president Bob Peel later recalled how the hijackers forced all the men to the window seats, had them empty their pockets, bill folds and hand over their passports. The hijackers were looking for Jews or Americans with Jewish names on board the ill-fated flight.
Of all the cash and possessions
discarded into the aisle for the hijackers to pillage, the incoming
president, a Midwesterner from the fertile fields of
He had no photos in his wallet of his grandchildren, only his hunting dogs. Ultimately, the hijackers released the dad, but kept the son as a hostage for the next 16 days.
This story has a happy ending for
The family was reunited. The son, Bob Jr., was released and two weeks later in
Meanwhile, my wife and I
discovered the old world charms of the Big Easy,
If you can enjoy New Orleans in
August, the rest of the year is easy as pecan pie.
NOLA has become our most-visited city for vacations despite it
being in a separate time zone.
If you can enjoy New Orleans in August, the rest of the year is easy as pecan pie. NOLA has become our most-visited city for vacations despite it being in a separate time zone.
For a while there, BBSI sent me to some distant city one weekend a month. Over time, I hit, Scottsdale, Ariz., Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Fla., Peachtree City, Ga., Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Some cities I visited more than once or twice. It sounds exciting, to see the world, its airports and hotels. My boss's wife, Muriel Vella, put it well, "Nothing takes the glamour out of travel like travel." While my new boss was lining up trips to Germany and Italy, I longed for home-cooked meals and watching my lawn grow.
On my flight from O'Hare to Lansing, Mich., I swear the whitecaps were splashing the belly of our puddle jumper. Another weekend trip found me outside the Los Angeles airport in my afternoon free time at the rooftop hotel pool. Each time a plane landed or took off my iced-drink slid a few inches on the tote table. How could anyone nap with all this thunder? Might as well try to nap on an aircraft carrier deck.
On a weekend trip to
About half an hour later I asked
why the traffic signs were giving us the mileage to
We found a nice restaurant overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf and since it was Sunday night, we had the place mostly to ourselves. We sat and ate and drank and laughed and outside the fishing boats bobbed on the docks. No, I don’t remember what we ate, only that the time we spent in the lazy harbor was a good one.
Also, Dr. Ruth was in Philadelphia. She asked me for advice. Actually, she asked me for a milk crate to stand on so she could see over the podium. A lot of the husbands showed up to hear what she had to say to the women's group. We wrote questions on index cards and after she spoke, she addressed questions on the cards. One question concerned the change in temperament when a couple gets behind a locked hotel room door. When the lights go out, the sparks fly. We also had a Benjamin Franklin impersonator. You'd think with all the children he had, someone might have asked him about the locked-hotel-room-door syndrome. If anyone did, I didn't hear the reply.
When we stayed in downtown
While I toiled in
When I had a break, we took a quick trip to the top of
the John Hancock building. My daughter, Andrea
said, "Ma, the people look like bugs." I walked to the
edge of the scenic overview, she was right, the cars were smaller
than Matchbox toys. Meanwhile, my wife refused to come
to the window. She chose instead to cling to the wall within inches
of the elevator, ever anxious for our descent to the fine soil and
concrete of Chicago Streets.
When I had a break, we took a quick trip to the top of the John Hancock building. My daughter, Andrea said, "Ma, the people look like bugs." I walked to the edge of the scenic overview, she was right, the cars were smaller than Matchbox toys. Meanwhile, my wife refused to come to the window. She chose instead to cling to the wall within inches of the elevator, ever anxious for our descent to the fine soil and concrete of Chicago Streets.
One of the perks of working at a trade association convention is hob-knobbing with the nearly rich and famous, or both.
Dear Abby was with us in
I got to meet Dear Abby, but not
Palmer or Stevens. I had heard that Dear Abby wanted a photo of
herself with me for her collection, so I couldn't say no.
I got to meet Dear Abby, but not Palmer or Stevens. I had heard that Dear Abby wanted a photo of herself with me for her collection, so I couldn't say no.
were some big shows in
have thought that they'd have a hard time filling at theater for a
show that starts at 2 a.m., but that only shows what I know about
Vegas. I was disappointed to realize how jaded I'd become when I
sat, unimpressed as
Roy did truly amazing feats with people and animals on a stage a
few feet away from me.
During later visits, I stayed in the largest hotel in the free world, the Las Vegas Hilton. In those days, the free world was much smaller than it is today.
It always seemed that when we
In no time I was selected to push her around the cavernous halls of the Las Vegas Hilton.
After a wrong turn at a Y-split in the hallway, I had to retrace our way back to find the elevator. Miss Rogers quickly grew impatient with my navigational skills.
But in no time at all we had arrived at the top floor of the largest hotel in the free world.
Off to the side the
Elvis Presley suite being reconditioned for tours. The room where
Ginger Rogers sat on a riser talking about black and white slides of films from her heyday to our blue-haired spouses of beauty and barber suppliers, or, just about the only other people in world who remembered her films and her heyday as their own.
When a slide with writing
appeared backward on the screen,
The poor girl tried to explain again and again to the former glamour star that all the slides were backwards on the rear-projection set up they had requested. The young girl had a lot of restraint and patience with the old lady.
And when the blue-haired ladies ran out of questions for Rogers, a few burly waiters and I secreted her to the service elevator for a grand exit. I pushed Ginger Rogers, in her wheelchair, of course, out of the service elevator onto her floor and shortly got lost again. I'm pushing Ginger Rogers around in the largest hotel in the free world, in a part of that hotel where I have only been once, and that was to get her in the first place, and a part of the hotel where my kind could never afford a room on my own.
She successfully pointed out how incompetent I was and told me to be back promptly in time to get her to her waiting limo in time for her flight leaving Las Vegas. Remarkably, my thirty-something brain was able to find her a second time and bring her heavily-powdered body, wheelchair, and all, to her waiting limo.
Nowadays, whenever I see one of
her old movies, I fondly recall the four-letter words she used to
tell me I was lost when I pushed Ginger Rogers around in
Originally published as I Pushed Ginger Rogers Around Las Vegas on October 3, 1996, in Worrall Community Newspapers.
Adapted from RAMBLING ROUND Inside and Outside at the Same Time
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards. The Pushcart Prize-nominated writer has been called ' “New Jersey’s ‘Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’
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