Saturday, October 28, 2006

Atlantic City

Among the really "older generation" most every one had a story about "their trip to Atlantic City". I remember mother told stories of loving what she thought of as gambling. She discovered pinball machines in Atlantic City. If you had a really successful game you were awarded a free game, hence, it was gambling. Atlantic City and the Catskills were the only resorts that middle income folk in the middle Atlantic states could aspire to visit.

We were lucky. One of my first wife's rich uncles gave us a trip to AC as a wedding present. After our honeymoon, we decided to cash in on that present before heading back to college for me, and a job for her. (She had graduated by then.)

Let me set the stage for our visit; it was 1947, well before gambling came to AC, we arrived on a blazing hot day. Atlantic City was on the way down hill. Only the boardwalk, a very few fine hotels, the annual Miss America contest, and the high diving horse on Steel Pier were left of the glory that had been. Whether the casinos have now restored the glory or an expensive form of tackiness can be debated.

We checked into the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall (I'm showing off that I remember the name if not the spelling). There starts the first story. When we pulled into the little alcove under Hadsdon Hall to leave our car with valet parking, I noticed that the rear tire was going flat. I didn't know what to do, so I took the way any spineless kid would do. We ignored it and proceeded into the hotel. To avoid any calls from the valet parking people we immediately went for a walk. We walked too far in the dressy clothes people wore on the boardwalk in those days. (This is the start of the second story. First story concludes later.) Dying of thirst, we went into a pleasant looking lounge and ordered vodka tonics. We knew little about drinking. I knew that in the army if you were thirsty you chugalugged the first beer and felt better. So we did the same with our "sophisticeted drinks". "That tasted good, let's order another!" When we ordered thirds, the fatherly waiter asked if we knew what we were drinking and informed us that the vodka was one hundred and something proof . We didn't really understand all that , but agreed the next would be our last and that we would drink it slowly.

On the way back to the hotel we had this very serious and rational conversation about how we hadn't noticed that the boardwalk was downhill on our walk to the lounge, but it was definately uphill back to the hotel. It dawned on one of us that, of course, the lounge was south and the hotel was north. South is always down and north is always up. There, that solved that.

When it was time to leave several days later, we approached valet parking with trepidation. When we handed in our ticket, the valet smiled and said, by the way, you had a flat tire and we had to tow your car. We had it fixed, but we have to add $1.15 to your bill. (It was 1947). What an anticlimax!

(What I forgot to tell is that I knew my spare was also flat. I had locked the trunk and taken the truck key with me. In those days there were separate keys for ignition and the trunk. 10-30)

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