This is why I love living on the East Coast because in a couple of hours, I can be just about anywhere! And so, instead of heading south to deal with family members that I loathe, I headed for Atlantic City instead and stayed at Bally’s.
And I strolled by the Wild West Saloon right off the boardwalk and they were not serving turkey, but you could certainly get your drink on and your gambling. For myself, I had been imbibing ‘free’ champagne while at the Bally’s slots and decided to stagger down the boardwalk and came across this joint.
I believe in doing just what the signs says, “Go WILD!” LOL! Damn! Am I on the ‘strip’ or the boardwalk? Oh well, it was too cold to take the plunge and so I headed back inside and down the hatch it flowed, champagne, that is!
However, I do want to say that Atlantic City has become a really sad city. The people who worked in the casino/hotel were telling me that they were surprised to even see people looking enthusiastically around Atlantic City because there is just nothing to come to Atlantic City for these days. I could not get them to understand that I come to stand by the ocean and just watch the wild waves crash on the shore and that the best time of the year for me to enjoy doing this is when it is cold because I can be sure that I am not amongst a crowd, jostling for a space on the beach. There was much laughter following this because I was told that there are no crowds even at the peak of summer.
It did not used to be this way. My uncle, bless his soul, is dead now but he spent all of his retirement years in Atlantic City; he and his wife. They both had gambling fever and would lose their shirt every time and yet every month, they’d be back in Atlantic City to do it all over again. One time, my ex-husband and I went with them and I was in the casino watching my ex-husband lose his money when I heard my name over the casino loudspeaker and I was wanted at the cashier station. I found the cashier station and there stood my uncle. He had requested that I be paged because he wanted to ‘borrow’ some money from me because his money had all been gambled away and so had his wife’s. He got no money from me! I’ll never forget, on the bus ride back home, when the bus driver pulled into a restaurant so that we could get some food, I was the only one who got off the bus and got back on with food and everyone groaned when the smell wafted through the bus because they were all broke. My ex-husband looked at me when I sat down beside him and he asked me wasn’t I going to give him some of my food. HA! I laughed in his face! I tortured those broke gamblers all the way back to our hometown. It was so much fun!
But as usual, I digress. Atlantic City is just sad, like so many other American cities that have had their heyday and no one invested in the city or its people. From what I understand, crime is off the charts thanks to a lack of jobs, poverty, homelessness, prostitution, drug abuse and the list is endless. Why is this endemic to almost every major American city? What is wrong with the politicians when they can see this as problematic and would still rather have big developers come in and further add insult to injury to the already poverty stricken by building upscale dwellings and opening upscale fancy named stores that people who are jobless cannot shop at? And then proceed to go on and on about the high crime rates as if they don’t know that poverty and high crime rates go hand in hand? Back in the day, Atlantic City catered to people like my uncle who would go to Atlantic City, religiously and not only gamble, but would go to the restaurants and spend money in the little shops that were lined up and down the boardwalk, taking back home with them, cheap souvenirs and $1 boxes of salt water taffy. Now, you’ll find only high end stores in the mall on the boardwalk. Pier shops is what its called and there you’ll find Wolf Fine Jewelry, Tiffany & Co., bebe, Louie Vuitton, Michael Kors, Marshall Rousso, Glow Gold, Burberry and other stores of the like, but you’ll not find what used to be there; Dollar Tree, McDonalds, Burger King, Payless Shoe Source, The 99 cent Taffy Store, The Everything’s A Dollar Gift Shop and more of the like. And back then, Atlantic City was thriving, but there still was a problem of no investment in Atlantic City beyond the boardwalk and the casinos. I noticed this decades ago and I thought, “If this continues, this city is going to go into a decline.” And it has, big time!
Casinos are now vying for customers to the point where I was able to receive $25 in the form of a voucher after having paid $30 for the bus ticket to Atlantic City. So, it only cost me $5.00 to go to Atlantic City and back. Of course, I had to use the voucher in the casino, the $25.00 wasn’t given to me in cash, but what was even better, I discovered while sitting at the slot machine that I could order any drink I wanted. They even had champagne! I could not believe it! I sat at that slot machine and pressed the button to order champagne for hours. They even gave it to me in a champagne flute. The music was playing overhead and I was just a giggling and enjoying my ‘free’ champagne in my gifted new flute and was winning too! Now how great was that? I finally staggered on out of the casino and to the elevator to go up to my room, only to fall into bed and get up a few hours later and start all over again. Good heavens! Did I enjoy Thanksgiving or did I enjoy Thanksgiving? I enjoyed Thanksgiving.
But then, I thought of all the people who were just a mere couple hundred feet beyond the casino doors, hulking in the shadows, shivering and hungry while I was being courted as a desirable customer at the casino. I thought, “Oh, what a hypocrite, am I!” I write about all the injustices that are going on today and then someone only has to hand me a champagne flute and continuously fill the flute for as long as I can sit without falling down drunk. Right then and there, I pledged to do better. I pledged to try and do what I can to find solutions and to stop forgetting even for a few hours that there are people beyond the doors, homeless and shivering; that there are people, who once worked in that casino but because so few come there anymore, their jobs were terminated and that I am being courted not because I am valued, but because I am one of the few who will still come back to a city that is virtually, a ghost town; a city that needs its politicians to revitalize and give hope to a population of citizens who have been neglected thanks to indifferent politicians, broken promises and vulture capitalists.
Atlantic City will soon have much company.