University of Nevada, Reno




My Las Vegas life: I did it my way

By JoAnn 


JoAnnIn 1967, my husband and a friend decided Las Vegas, Nevada, was the place to live. My husband had a cousin that was a big boss at the Stardust, and that’s where he wanted to work. Things didn’t go his way. The cousin wouldn’t hire my husband, but I went to work at the Stardust the next night. What a change in my life.

I worked as a change person on the late swing shift, 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. The Stardust was always full of customers. Movie stars would show up and even play the slot machines. I often thought, “What is a girl from a small town in Illinois doing here?”

I met a lot of nice people while working at the Stardust. We all have angels, and they were always around me.

A co-worker friend of mine became an angel for me. She knew my life was bad. My husband liked to drink and have fun, but he didn’t like to work. We were live-in managers at a mobile home park. My husband spent the rent money people paid him and so things were not good.

I moved in with my female co-worker and her family. Her mother babysat, and her father took me to work. Things were going well. I loved my job and had a nice place to live. Swimming pool and all. What a life.

When I got on the good side of life, I moved to a small town outside of Las Vegas. The town was Blue Diamond, Nevada. The town had a small store, a church, post office, school and recreation center. My son and daughter were very happy and so was I. I was still working at the Stardust and having fun.

All the employees knew each other, and yes, we all would go places after work. At this time, there were no drugs and people controlled their drinking.

We would go to the shows and the great dance places the casinos had. The Dunes, Landmark, Desert Inn and the Hilton Sky Rooms were always fun, and you never knew who would show up. ...

Now I have been married 30 years, and it has been a really fun time. My husband retired from the Air Force and worked at a secret place for the next 10 years. He went to work at the Sporting House (the first athletic club in Vegas).

We have been on cruises, rodeos, NASCAR races, boxing matches and a lot of great shows. Willie Nelson, Cher and Garth Brooks are on the top of our list. We were always in the front row. Life has been fun. We didn’t really have a lot of money, but if you knew people, that’s what got those great rooms in Vegas and front row seats. I even met Elvis. ...

I named this “I Did It My Way,” because if you listen to the song, you will know that no one has a perfect life, but we all need to smile and do our best. Thanks for letting me tell my story. Now I want to hear yours.

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