Over the weekend I began reviewing boxes of photos, all in an effort to get some visual grasp of my family’s less-than-stable past–an effort, even, to understand my own story. In the process, I discovered a fascinating and unexpected photographic record of my parents’ travel history.
Almost immediately certain patterns began to emerge. First, the same cast of characters repeats itself from trip to trip, and second, every person I’m able to identify by name has some mafia affiliation, making my partner Sara wonder whether my father conducted “business” on these vacations to Las Vegas, Miami, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Frankly, this question never occurred to me. Yes, there’s the Hollywood stereotype of the mafia laundering money in the Bahamas, but I have no reason to believe that happened on my parents’ trips or to what degree my dad did or didn’t work while on holiday. I know he had calls forwarded to our condo on Miami Beach, but apart from that, I remained a clueless kid, sometimes included in these elaborate get-aways, sometimes not.
Today I’ll share photos taken during my parents, vacation to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, soon after the casino opened in 1966.
I find this a fascinating visual record of mafia bosses vacationing in Sin City during the sixties, but even if organized crime fails to interest you, it seems, at least, an intriguing look at what a moneyed Vegas looked like during that era.
In this first photo the group is gathered for dinner in one of the main dining rooms:
(In case you’ve forgotten, Bobby, currently the underboss of the Pittsburgh crime family, is the gambling king pin Dick Thornburgh brags about bringing down in his autobiography and the one my dad was locked in a room with when 100 federal agents raided 22 Pittsburgh locations in November 1970.)
Back in Las Vegas, however, the men of Bobby’s entourage reconvened around the same Caesars Palace table on another evening:
Below, the entire group is set to see a dinner show. Notice the narrow ties, the big hair, the general air of Jackie Kennedy chic:
The final photo is of the same group, taken from the opposite end of the table. Pay attention to the extreme hair sported by the ladies on the right, especially Bobby’s wife in what I think of as bulging-brain bouffant:
Soon I’ll do a post about my parents’ cruises to the Caribbean, including photos of my mother in a feather boa, and at least one other about trips that included us kids, even photos of my brother behind a bar at age five in a white tux and black bow tie. Here is a preview:
In the meantime, what interests you most about the photos I shared today?