Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stardust Memories

Growing up my family's favorite vacation haunt was Las Vegas. Or, rather, it was my Dad's favorite. I can recall one time when we went to Las Vegas three times in one month. I honed my driving skills during those long drives.

At first we stayed at the Sands Hotel, but eventually my Dad developed a fondness for the Stardust. He claimed he had great luck there, but I'm sure it didn't hurt that he was comped generously also with free rooms and meals. We got to know the Stardust very well.

Now, though, it's gone. I wasn't aware that it had been shut down--it has been a few years since I've been there--until I saw the footage of its demolition on the news last night.

All those trips to Las Vegas in my youth pretty much ruined the Vegas experience for me and I never really have the urge to go there. I'm not a gambler, thankfully, and even as a kid I never enjoyed Las Vegas. Still, the Stardust played a part in my youth and I'm saddened to see it go. It had become a familiar and somewhat comforting destination for us. Now there's nothing left and I can't make an argument for keeping any part of it. It had history--the Rat Pack, Siegfried & Roy, Casino--even if its buildings weren't architecturally interesting. They should have at least preserved its neon sign, which to me was as much a symbol of Las Vegas as the actual Vegas sign.

The last time I was in Las Vegas I was surprised to realize how little of it I recognized. New casinos had popped up with more attractions within them but they lack a certain lurid appeal that the Las Vegas I first visited in the late 1980s exuded. Soon after that first visit Vegas began changing.

With the Sands and now the Stardust gone my Dad may have to resort to paying for his rooms for now on.

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