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The Trip To Atlantic City!

Updated on March 25, 2019

Atlantic city boardwalk view

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The Chevy Nova steering column shaft

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Gambling adventures

Ahhh, the lure of the casinos in Atlantic City! The fresh air, the Boardwalk, good food, nightlife, and of course gambling. The draw was enticing, and we only lived a short thirty minute drive away. Why not go, and spend the day?

On this particular day, we started on the other side of town, which at the time, only had one casino, and it was Harrah's. Harrahs is located just before the bridge to Brigantine. It was easier to get to, with much less traffic, then downtown. My husband loved craps, and actually did well. We took our winnings, and headed toward the boardwalk.

Now, I need to backup my story a little bit. About three months prior, I had bought a 1970 Chevy Nova from a cousin. It was only $300.00. A steal, right? There was a catch. He had the title, but no key, but that was okay, because all you had to do was turn the ignition. Well that sounds easy enough, right? wrong, there is another catch. You could not back the car up in reverse, and put it in park because it would lock the steering. If you lock the steering, you need a key. Simple enough, we can handle that.

Back to Atlantic City. At that time, you could look all over for an empty spot on the side of the road, which was impossible, to find a parking spot. Or you could pay to park in some pretty "shady" lots. The casinos were really fighting for their share of the gamblers. They offered free "valet parking" if you got your ticket validated inside. We liked free, so we went to the Sands Casino, which was right next to Bally's the Claridge, and Caesars casinos. It was a good location, to hit all of them. We instructed the valet driver, about our car telling him not to park in reverse, and went to seek some fun, and winnings.

We were hungry, and decided to splurge, and eat at a fancy deli, on the boardwalk, at Resorts. I kept it simple, and ordered a salad. My husband, loving seafood, ordered some kind of "smoked fish". He was being adventurous, and trying something new. Well, this smoked fish, came out just like that. A whole smoked fish, head and all, on a bed of lettuce, looking at him. They had scaled away the body, so he could eat it, but the eye, and appearance was just too much. We had to leave. Mind you, we were only in our early twenties, and were not used to that type of presentation. Needless to say, we hightailed it out of there and got boardwalk food, which was safe, and good!

We spent the day walking in and out of casinos, up and down the boardwalk, which at that time, consisted of Resorts, Bally's, the Sands, Caesars, the Claridge, the Playboy, Tropicana, and the Golden Nugget. The Golden Nugget was our favorite, It had beautiful mosaic walls on the outside, depicting early patrons of Atlantic city infancy dresses, hats, and umbrellas. The biggest draw to us, wa seeing the biggest golden nugget ever found, at the time. It was in a huge glass vault for everyone to see. It was very exciting for us.

It was fun to walk through the casinos. Back then, you could save up all your change and become a one armed bandit, dancing from one machine to the next. The sounds of the slot machines chirping, and whooping for big wins, and the the coins spilling out for you to reinsert, or fill up a cup. The roar of crowds gathered around a winner at the craps table, or the wheel. The excitement built up when you watched the wheel click, click, close to your number dollar choice. It was great, and times have changed. Now everything is digital, and actually quite boring.

Anyway, it was time to go, so we got our ticket validated, and headed to the valet desk. We handed them our ticket, and waited. We waited, and waited, thinking they can't find our car. Finally about thirty minutes later, a valet walks up, and says, "Do you have a spare key? Apparently we have lost yours. There had been a shift change, so the original valet was not around to explain. Unfortunately he had backed the car into a spot, which we told him not to do.

The valet captain then escorted us through the garage, and to our car, and said, we had to get it out, or have it towed. We had gambled all our winnings, and had no choice but to figure out how to get it out. Fortunately, my husband can do just that, even if it is a rather unusual way.

The only way for us at the time, was to take apart the steering wheel, which enabled him to turn the ignition, so it could start, however I don't know the particulars of how and why, but that is what he did. Somehow, this also rendered the steering wheel useless, as I think he broke it. So we have a running car, but how to drive it.

My husband dug around in the trunk, till he found some vise grips, or locking pliers. The steering shaft has a somewhat bolt, that he locked the pliers onto, so he could steer. Sounds easy enough. Wrong! The parking garages have circular ramps that you must use to exit. We crawled out of the parking garage, with many valet drivers very angry behind us. Next we had to drive the thirty minutes home, which was not as bad, but still scary. We made it, and sent that poor old Nova to the junk yard the next day. Need less to say, we never went back to valet parking again.

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