In this interview, Mike and Susan Baller reflect upon their lives in Las Vegas, from growing up as teenagers amongst the tight-knit Jewish community, to mob influence on the city, and the impact of the city's growth. Mike shares stories about first arriving in Las Vegas to live, being a teenaged busboy at Binions Horseshoe to being related to Moe Dalitz -- in Michigan Mike drove a truck for the Dalitz dry cleaning business.
Michael and Susan Baller oral history interview, 2016 March 16. OH-02634. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1f769878
Standardized Rights Statement
AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN AND MIKE BALLER An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ?Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV ? University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White Editors and Project Assistants: Maggie Lopes, Stefani Evans iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader?s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE In 1939, Mike Baller was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1954 as a teenager, he moved to Las Vegas and grew up in the Crestwood area. He attended Las Vegas High School, where he met his wife, Susan Lockitch. The two were married in 1960 at Temple Beth Sholom, once he returned from his service in the Marine Corps. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Mike Baller pursued a career in the gaming industry, starting as a slot attendant at the Stardust Hotel and Casino, and then as a valet parking attendant at the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino. After four years at the Desert Inn, Baller joined his father?s dry cleaning business. The business closed in 1986, but he reopened it with his son-in-law in the early 1990s. In 2002, the business closed for a final time, and Baller returned to work in the gaming industry. He worked in the slot department in what was then the Aladdin Hotel and Casino, and soon moved to the poker room when it opened. Baller still deals poker at what is now Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. In this interview, Mike and Susan Baller reflect upon their lives in Las Vegas, from growing up as teenagers amongst the tight-knit Jewish community, to mob influence on the city, and the impact of the city?s growth. Mike shares stories about first arriving in Las Vegas to live, being a teenaged busboy at Binion?s Horseshoe to being related to Moe Dalitz?in Michigan Mike drove a truck for the Dalitz dry cleaning business. He talks about his military service in the US Marine Corps and subsequent careers in gaming and the dry cleaning businesses. His father Frank Baller was the owner of Deluxe Hand Laundry and Cleaners on Main Street. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Susan and Mike Baller on March 16, 2016 by Barbara Tabach in Las Vegas, Nevada Preface?????????????????????????????????..?..iv Mike reflects on family history; settling in Detroit, Michigan; having a traditional Jewish upbringing, until family moved to Las Vegas in 1954. Compares childhood experiences witnessing segregation in Detroit and Las Vegas. Discusses move to Las Vegas; meeting wife in high school; father?s Deluxe Hand Laundry and Cleaners business. Talks about first job after military service as valet; working through Teamsters Union; then going into family business with father??????????????????????????????????....1-5 Mike continues talking about dry cleaning business; its growth over the years. Mentions father?s familial and personal relationship with Moe Dalitz. Reminisces about teenage years, hanging out with other Jewish kids. Talks more about Moe Dalitz; working at Stardust and mob influence; Temple Beth Sholom; their wedding and wedding party??????????????...6-13 Mike shares more about dry cleaning business; having mobster Tony Spilotro as customer; how city?s growth changed the business, increased competition; closing business in 1980s and then opening a few years later with son-in-law. Returns to gaming industry, at the Aladdin, after dry cleaning business closes in 2002; shares stories in experience as poker dealer. Shares opinion on changes to free parking norm on Strip. Discusses his experience with Marine Corps??....14-22 Final stories about living in Las Vegas during mafia-dominance in gaming; Willie ?Ice Pick Willie? Alderman; Mark Swain. Both remember going to lots of shows in town, including Milton Berle, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bobby Darwin, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Dean Martin; how nice most celebrities were except a named few????????????...23-28 Appendix of wedding photos??????????????????.....?????29 ? 31 Index........................................................................................................................................32-33 vi vii 1 Today is March 16, 2016. I am sitting with Susan and Mike Baller. Let's start with your Jewish ancestry for this project. Tell me what you know about your family roots. My grandfather came from Russia and my grandmother came from Austria. And where did they settle in the United States? Detroit, Michigan. My dad was born in the United States in 1917 or 1918. They lived in Detroit their entire life; that's where I grew up. I had my bar mitzvah in Detroit. So you had a traditional Jewish upbringing? Yes, I really did until we came here although I did continue it a little bit with AZA. Out of forty?five hundred men, I was the only Jew in my outfit in the Marine Corps?they asked the people to stand up so they could see where to send them for religious training or services. First they asked for the Catholics and [that was] about half of everybody; then all the Protestant religions; then LDS?one guy stood up; then Jewish, and I'm the only guy that stood up. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, were you accustomed to being in a minority situation? No. Well, here Jews were a minority then. In Las Vegas it was all LDS. But in Detroit, it wasn't that way? No, Detroit was totally mixed. The high school I went to in Detroit was probably 50 percent black and 50 percent white, and the whites were either Italian or Jewish. There was no segregation or anything. When we came here, it was segregated. In the early fifties, it was totally segregated. One of my friends was black and we went to the movie theater and I said, "Hey, there's a good spot." He said, "No, I have to sit over there." I didn't know anything about that. Do you remember what movie theater that was? El Portal. 2 It's amazing, isn't it? Yes. They had to ride in back of the bus and they had separate drinking fountains and all that. I was a busboy at the Binion's Horseshoe hotel. When Benny was in prison, it was called Joe W. Brown's Horseshoe. These two decorated marines came in and sat at the counter. One was white; one was black. Both of them had ribbons from the Korean War. The waitress said, "I'm sorry," to the black guy, "We can't serve you." He says, "Oh, I can give me life for my country, but I can't sit here." It wasn't her; that was the way it was. Blacks could not stay on the Strip at all. The entertainers all stayed on the Westside. They couldn't go through the front door; they had to go through the back door. So when you arrived here in '54, how old were you? Fifteen. What brought your family here? My dad had a few medical problems and he owned a drugstore back in Detroit. He came out here to recuperate and he fell in love with it. So he sent for the rest of us to come out here. He sold his business, his house, and everything over the phone. Case closed. So his doctor sent him to Las Vegas? The first day we came?July 3, 1954?it was like a hundred and seven, a hundred and eight degrees. Back then the planes landed right on?you got right off on the tarmac. They didn't have the fancy things like now. I said to my mother, "What the hell did you do, bring me to hell?" Because it was hot. You probably said the same thing. School was rough at first because you know how they treat new guys. This black guy was the only guy that came to my defense when like six or seven white LDS were going to do a number on me. I could take care of one and maybe two, but not seven. This black guy pitched in. Donnell Hooker. He became a police officer after 3 that. He was the biggest guy in the whole high school. When he started walking towards them, they all took off. So he was a good friend. Yes, he was cool. I didn't know anything about segregation then. That's why we went to the movies and I found out. What high school did you attend? Las Vegas. Rancho was still there, wasn't it? Gorman opened up in '55. How many were in your class? I don't remember. But it will be the sixtieth reunion next year. Wow. Amazing how time flies, isn't it? And she [Susan] was the same high school. She was a freshman and I was a senior. She walked into the class that I was in and that was our?did I ever see you before? No. She had hair down to her bootie back then. I said to one of my best friends, "I'm going to marry that girl someday." That's the truth, too. So were you high school sweethearts? Eh. The expressions are good. We only went together probably less than a year and then I went in the service, but we corresponded a lot. When I came home, the first thing my father said, "Did you call Susan?" Before I barely had one foot in the door, "Did you call Susan?" He wanted it more than I did, I think. So your father [Frank Baller] moves the family here. How many siblings did you have? How big was your family? 4 My father was an only child. Were you an only child? I had one brother. He's passed. My mother had two brothers and a sister, and they're all gone. What kind of work was your father in here? He owned a dry cleaner. Back in Detroit he owned a drugstore. How did he get into the dry cleaning business [Deluxe Hand Laundry and Cleaners on Main Street]? His brother?in?law was a partner in one, and he bought his partner out and they went in together. In 1972, I went in and bought his partner out and did it until we went out of business. Now I'm dealing poker at Planet Hollywood. It's always a good job, right? Yes. It used to be. My first job when I got out of the Marine Corps was valet parking, which was a pretty good job at that time. I was at the Desert Inn, which was probably number one in town until Caesars opened. We always hear that valet jobs were hard to get. How did you get your valet job? I just kept bothering him. I remember I used to call Lynn Leavitt every day. He worked for the Teamsters Union. He didn't work for the hotel. There was no payroll until 1968. They assign you to a hotel. You stayed at the same hotel, but you weren't actually employed by the hotel. You were employed by the Teamsters Union and you had to go give this Lynn Leavitt X amount of dollars every night to go to work. You had to? Everybody had to. You paid him to go to work? 5 Right. How much did you have to pay him? I think it was three or four dollars a night, times all the hotels. How much tips would you earn in an average night? I don't remember. You? SUSAN: No. But it was worth it, obviously. It was worth it, especially with no payroll. The IRS couldn't track you if you're not on the payroll. You put down five thousand for the year and that was it. Whether you made twenty or thirty or forty, everybody just put down five thousand. Got you. So how long did you do that? Until '72 when I went into business with my dad. I read your father's obituary. I was able to find that. His business was called the Deluxe Hand Laundry and Cleaners. Correct. On Main Street. It was one of like three dry cleaners in town at that time. Who were the others at that time? Las Vegas Dry Cleaners and... Al Phillips. No, Al Phillips wasn't around then when we started. They didn't come until the late sixties. Steiner was. No, it wasn't either. In fact, Steiner's used to lease a part of my dad's place. 6 Hudson was in, too. Cogan, Cogan the cleaning king, remember? By where the Stratosphere is now. What distinguished his cleaning operation from others? People they knew. Hand laundry, what does that mean? Back in the old days they did everything by hand. They did all the ironing by hand before all the big presses, just like a Chinese hand laundry. So it was called hand laundry. When did you first work in the business? While I was going to high school. What did you do? Not much. Mostly clean up after everybody was gone because it got pretty messy. I think at one time there were like thirty women working there. When I was there we had about sixteen or seventeen working there. We did the work for fourteen hotels, the guest work and a lot of the uniforms, too, which you couldn't do now because traffic?wise you couldn't get around to all the places. Back then I used to make fourteen deliveries at once, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom. So you would do like the guests? personal laundry, if they had it? The bellman would pick it up, or they'd take it to the bell desk, and we'd pick it up from the bell desk and that was it. We?d then deliver it [back to] the bell desk and they'd deliver it to the rooms. The uniforms, I used to pick up from the uniform rooms and deliver them back to the uniform rooms. It was a lot simpler time then than today. Did you provide the cleaning of linens and things? No. They had two linen supply places. So that was a whole separate kind of cleaning. 7 Correct. It said in your dad's obituary that your father, Frank, got his start in the cleaning business in Michigan where as a young man he drove a truck for Varsity Cleaners in the Ann Arbor business run by? Right. It was right across from the university. ?Barney Dalitz, who was Moe Dalitz' father. Right. Are you related to the Dalitz family or just friends? My dad was. I guess I'm distant. He was a second cousin to Moe?or first cousin; I don't even know which one. So was he some sort of inspiration for your dad to get into the dry cleaning business? No. Just a coincidence? Yes. He was inspiration to come to Las Vegas, though. He helped him a lot getting accounts. Back then it was all a handshake. Now you have to pay this person to pay that person to pay this person and do all this stuff. For instance, at the Hilton, it was owned by Barron Hilton at the time, he and Henry Lewin, who was the president, were the only two that we did for free. Now there's like thirty people that I have to do for free in hotels?this manager, that manager. It's totally different now. In fact, Henry Lewin's business card said, "Henry Lewin, millionaire." That's what it said on it. We never saw him at all. One year Susie and I went to San Francisco. Henry always wanted his collars extra, extra, extra heavy starch. How he wore them, I don't know. But we saw a gentleman sitting up on the left up near the front of the plane and we said, "I bet you that's Henry 8 Lewin," and it was. Never saw him before, but just by his shirt. That's good. He had a great story himself. He started working at the San Francisco Hilton as a busboy and rose up through the ranks to president of the Las Vegas Hilton. I'm sure he's probably gone now, too. But it was a totally different time then. What was it like to grow up here? Go ahead. I'm sorry. People you probably talked to said the same thing. Almost everybody we know that's been around here any amount of time don't like it now compared to the old days. In fact, where I work now there's these junior executives with the suits walking around with their legal pads. What was it like as a teenager? You said it was a little rough at first because you're fifteen. Yes, but it turned cool. Once you got friends and all of that, what did you do for fun? All Jewish big kids got together and we used to have parties every week. Every single week. It was fun. Where were those parties at? Her house one week, my house the next week. There wasn't that much for kids to do here. There was an amusement park out in Boulder Highway at the time, in the early fifties. There was a nudist colony on Sandhill Road that we used to go try to peak through. Really? Yes. I don't think she ever did. Some guy with a shotgun would come, "Get the hell out of here, kids." Okay. It was totally different. There was a bordello on Fremont Street owned by the sheriff and another lady. Locals like Harry used to go not even for the women, but just to socialize, play cards. They had like forty girls working there. I never went because you had to be 9 eighteen, and before I was eighteen it closed. The sheriff and the owner of the place were run out of town. It was altogether a different world. So it was a different teenage life than might have been back in Detroit area? Yes, a lot different. But I'm glad I got away from it because most of the kids I knew back then got into gangs and stuff. There were a lot of gangs back there. But there was also baseball, which I adored and I played every day, and I came here and nobody played baseball. They didn't have Little League. They didn't have anything. I cried when my mother told me that because back in Detroit I played baseball every day except all winter we played hockey. It was baseball or hockey, one or the other, and here they didn't do that because it was too hot. My mother made me leave all my hockey stuff back in Detroit, along with my baseball cards. Your baseball cards? Oh, God, I had the whole entire set of the 1948 Leafs, which are worth probably thirty, forty thousand dollars now. I didn't take them. She had me leave them. My big potato chip cans full of marbles, I had to leave those there. They're worth a fortune now, too. But that's the way it was. It's interesting what we remember even after all these years, those little sad spots. So the parties that you had as young people, with other Jewish people, who were some of the others that were there? Most of them in that picture. That picture that you showed me included Ron Lurie? And I had a cousin that lived next door to us. Weren?t you [Susan] best friends during that time? There were other guys out there. Herbie Villa, whose father owned a place called Percy's Villa, a bar down on Fremont Street. He was an ex?prize fighter from Minneapolis. In fact, Herbie moved back. I don't even know if he's alive now. He went to law school and became a 10 lawyer, and moved back to Cleveland. Another one was Elliot Hollob, who became a stockbroker and moved to Kansas City. The last time I saw him was about our twentieth high school reunion. That's a long time ago. There were some other guys. I don't remember most of the names. Jerry Engel was your senior adviser. Sam Marber was president. We're looking at the AZA photograph that you handed me. There were other girls that used to come, but I just cared about her. I'm serious. What would you do when you were at these parties? Just dance. Just visit. Put on records? Yes. Just visit. It's nice, isn't it? It was. We don't see kids always doing that anymore. No more. What was it like to raise your own children here? How did the city differ? How did the Jewish community change for you as a parent? We didn't participate. Getting back to the Desert Inn, I never once threw Moe Dalitz' name around to get a job or anything. People would try to park their own cars in the valet area. We'd have to tell them to move; the free parking is on the side. This one guy says, "I'm a good friend of Moe Dallas." I said, "Who is Moe Dallas?" "He owns this place." I said, "No, there's no Moe Dallas working here." "I could have your job." I said, "You want it? Take it." That happened a lot. People would throw his name around. But he would never approve of 11 that at all. He wasn't that kind of guy. In fact, one time my dad, Moe and I were sitting in the country club and the waitress was falling all over him. He told the waitress, "You take care of those other people. They pay your salary, not me." That's the kind of guy he was. He was a good guy, like most of the bosses were then. There were a lot of Jewish bosses at the time. The first job I got when I got out of the Marine Corps was a slot attendant at the Stardust. One of the shift bosses was an ex?gangster from Chicago. He says, "You don't know what a pleasure it is to walk around without a jacket. Back in Chicago I had to wear a jacket to hide my gun." Remember Mike Sachs? I worked with some guys. I worked with one guy who worked at the Flamingo when Bugsy Siegel first opened it. He said some guy, his wife and his daughter got out of a car and Siegel was standing there. The guy goes up to him and says, "Bugsy, how are you?" And Bugsy grabbed him by the collar and said, "You call me Ben Siegel. If you ever say Bugsy again, you're dead." I guess the guy shook pretty good. That was Jonesy. I love these stories. These are great. Did you see that or you just heard about that? One of the guys I worked with was the guy that did it. I didn't see it. We weren't here when the Flamingo opened up. It opened in the forties. That's right. You had not visited Las Vegas prior to moving here? No. Los Angeles, but not Las Vegas. We took the train to Los Angeles a couple of times in the forties and I think 1950, too. Why did you stay here? Why did you continue to live in Las Vegas? I don't know. I went in the Marine Corps, got out and that was it. Married this thing here, my little baby girl, and we had a couple of kids. Our son lives in Portland, Oregon, and I would love to live there, too, but our daughter lives here and I don't think we'd ever leave our daughter. Would we? 12 No. So that's it. In your family traditions when you were young and living here, did your parents belong to Temple Beth Sholom? Yes, my mom and dad did for a while, early on, but I don't think they continued. I don't think they did?for her they didn't. No. And you were married where? You started to tell me it earlier. Where was your wedding ceremony? Temple Beth Sholom. Who was the rabbi at that time? Shair. I don't remember his first name. Before that the only other rabbi that was Rabbi Lebowitz. Remember him? Yes. He had a daughter that went to high school with us. She was kind of sheltered?I won't say sheltered. Me? You weren't out amongst them like I was. I don't know. Were you? Yes. Well, why aren't you raising your hand, then? She used to drive down Fremont Street and squirt people with squirt guns. Didn't you? 13 They didn't like it because they were frightened, you see a gun out of a car. I shouldn't have done that. We had a wedding reception at the Desert Inn Country Club. It was probably the biggest wedding up till that time, wasn't it? Yes. Everybody in the world was there. Who was in your wedding party? It was small. Yes. Our best man, Mel Meyers, still lives in town and I haven't seen him in forever. I think he works for Fletcher Jones Mercedes. He is from England. Most of the guys I grew up with, I don't see them. The only one I know is alive is a guy by the name of Paul Blatt whose uncle owned New York Meats at the time, the biggest meat purveyor in town. Did they have kosher meats there? I don't know. She used to go there all the time. I think they could provide it for you, but not that I remember. Paul's dad owned a parking lot downtown where the Fremont Hotel is now. Then after that he owned a motel right off Fremont on Las Vegas Boulevard. We'd stay there. His mother was something else. She was like a little truck driver. She got all the business done and the father didn't do much. Did your mother work in the dry cleaning business with your father? She did on and off, nothing ever steady. She'd help out when needed. That's hot business, dry cleaning. Very warm. 14 How did they keep the employees cool? Air?conditioning. Swamp coolers. Yes, [swamp coolers]. Because if you tried air?conditioning, all the stream would just heat it up. It wasn't usable. We were, I think, the first in town that offered pickup and delivery at homes. We had probably about seventy?five to eighty homes that we used to go to pick up personal stuff. I've forgotten about that. That was a nice service. Yes, it was. In fact, my son used to go with me a lot when he was a kid. One of our customers was Tony Spilotro. You'd go into his place and there were all these guys sitting around with shoulder holsters playing cards. This one day we go there and Tony himself came up to me and said, "Your services are no longer needed." So I said, "Did we do something wrong?" "Not at all," he said. "I won't mention a name, but there's another cleaner in town who owes us, so he's going to do our stuff." You remember that? I sure do. Tony lived on?it was like two cul?de?sacs. He lived on one end and his brother John lived on the other and they were both customers, really great, great guys. All these guy that is you read about always used to hang around his house. Little did I know at the time what dangerous men they were. If you met them, you'd think they were perfect gentlemen. Yes, you lived here and you grew up here during a time when there was an unusual cast of characters. But they didn't bother anybody. They weren't the kind that went into liquor stores and held them up or anything like that. If they wanted any real crime done, they went over the state line. Nothing was ever done here. Ralph Lamb was the sheriff then and he kept things cool. Our crime 15 was very, very low in this town. My mom and dad never used to lock the house doors when I was a kid. They didn't have to. Isn't that right? That's right. What neighborhood did you grow up in? Crestwood. Eastern and Bonita, Eastern and St. Louis. Crestwood, between Crestwood and Eastern. She grew up on Canosa, down by Seventh Street. At what time or how did you decide to go into the family business? I don't even know how. After Tommy died Uncle Pat wanted out. It just happened. I should have stayed parking cars. Right? Yes. It was a hard lonesome life, very lonesome. We had a lot of family problems like every family does. Competition must have changed. As the city grew, did you feel competition in the dry cleaning, laundry business? Oh, yes. The places that offer one dollar an item, they totally ruined the business. It used to be good. At one time it was an excellent business especially with us doing all the hotels. God, we'd work twenty?four?hour shifts sometimes, go home and take a shower and go right back. Remember when big conventions were in town? You remember those days. Vividly. Only too well, huh? Yes, I do. Did you work in the business, Susan? 16 No. I was not allowed down there. Oh, you weren't? Did you work outside of the home? No. I was lucky I didn't have to. He took care of you. No, I took care of everybody. Maybe not financially. Emotionally. Very good. But thanks to her, and only thanks to her, our kids turned out fantastic. Never had this much trouble with either one of them, did we? Never. It must have been a good place to raise family, a lot better than what people have this stereotype image of what the city is like. But raising family here, I always hear good stories. Good stuff. Good kids. Good families. Not Sin City. No. I hate that. That's a horrible expression. It's very hurtful. I agree with you. Thank you. It was altogether different, the whole town, in every aspect. When did it really change for you? There were different population explosions, but when did you really finally say, wow, this city is not the same? In the nineties. Yes. Maybe earlier. When we had our business, we had a lot of Hispanics working for us?a new generation of Hispanics are here. It was totally different. She had the same hairdresser for like thirty years 17 before she lost her hair thanks to chemo. He didn't associate with the new breed. No. They are totally different. They don't know our history. They don't understand the past. They don't? It's just wild. One of the guys I work with has a brother?I don't know if he's still with him or not?he was in the motorcycle business for Metro. This is a while ago. But he said almost 90 to 95 percent of the accidents are either caused by Hispanic or involve a Hispanic, and that's a lot. I didn't know that. We see it every day. You probably see it, too, people that just pull out for no reason. It wasn't like that. She says that they're too used to walking their burro. I'm not prejudice, believe me. I work with a couple of Hispanic people that are fantastic. One's from Cuba and the first thing he did was teach his children English. He said, "I want you to learn Cuban, but this is America and I want you to learn English first. When you're in the house, you can talk Cuban. When you're out in school and with people, you talk American." He didn't even call it English; he called it American. So when did the business close up? The first time in 1986. So then you opened it again? I started dealing back at the old Maxim Hotel, which is no longer here. When did we go back in, about '90, '91? Yes, about that. Our son?in?law was working at Caesars Palace and he quit there and wanted to go into business, and we opened up another dry cleaners. 18 Was it in the same location? No, it was near the Las Vegas Country Club. Was it called the same name? Yes. Then we had a substation in Henderson where Susie and my daughter worked, a drop station by K?Mart on Sunset. That's how she qualified for Social Security. And then you closed the business? Yes, in 2002. Then I looked for a job because I had to work, number one, for insurance. I put like thirty?five applications in. I was sixty-something then. They don't hire people that age. They all said, "Oh, we're looking for a man of your age." Blah, blah, blah. You never hear from them. So I told my wife, "Whoever calls first, I'm going." The Aladdin Hotel called one morning. It was the Aladdin before Planet Hollywood. They said they had a job in the slot department. I said, "I'm gone." Later on, two other places called for dealing jobs, but I went to [the Aladdin]. They didn't have a poker room at the time. About a year and a half, two years later, they opened one and I've been there thirteen years now. When you are in the dealing business and then you're out of it, do you have to go back to school or do you already have the talent and you just audition again? How does that work to be a dealer, get out of it and back into it? I went to dealer school first in '86 and got a job; and then got back out of it and just applied. When I was working in the slot department at the Aladdin, they were talking about opening up a poker room and they said, "Anybody with experience apply," which I did. It was a female running the room at the time. She said I was too old and couldn't hear well enough to be a dealer, which I could probably own half the hotel if I would have pressed it because there were witnesses. Then she changed her mind and put me on the graveyard shift, which I was seven years on graveyard. 19 She did later apologize when she knew I could work as well as the twenty? or thirty?year?olds. I've been there ever since. I'm not proud of it, but I've been there ever since. At least I'm working. I'm seventy?six years old. Wow. That's good. I'm working a full shift. That keeps you young. It does. There's a lot to be said for keeping busy that way. Absolutely. It keeps your mind. We get probably 90 percent tourists that come there. At least every day I hear at least three or four, "I wish I could get a job like that," guys my age or a little younger. What are some of the most unusual things that happen to you as a dealer? Being called every name in the book. Oh, really? Back in the eighties more than now. The old?timers were pretty tough. Now the young guys are a little better. But there was one time shortly after my mother passed away?I don't think I ever told you; it didn't really matter?but some guy said about you, "You're an MF." I reached over the table and grabbed him and lifted him up