Ask a Native

Over the course of 60 columns, I’ve received many questions, a few kind words and some welcome bits of insider information. As you’ll see below, your notes help fill in the memory map of our town. So, here’s my note to you: Keep up the good work!

Los Rancheros, Revisited

When I asked for details about a long-gone northwest steakhouse, several folks obliged. Gyro Johnny, a resident since 1961 who still calls “Rancho Road [the] Tonopah Highway,” says he vaguely remembers the “restaurant with the horse corral in the middle of it.” He writes that he “went to dinner there once in the late 1980s, and it seemed to be off of Ann Road. I heard mention at the time that it was owned by one of the Lamb brothers.” The Lambs, as you should recall, were a prominent political family ‘round these parts. Meanwhile, Greg S., a 41-year native who attended a Christmas party at Los Rancheros around 1987, concurs with Gyro Johnny on Los Rancheros’ general location, as well as the Lamb connection. So does reader Kipp A. So, here’s the question: Do three memories make it a fact? In Vegas they do! (And yes, old timers, myself included, occasionally succumb to the alliteration of “Rancho” and “Road,” although Rancho is a Drive.)

The Sign Remains the Same

Some time ago, I suggested the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign (erected 1959) was relocated south as the Strip expanded. A recent exchange with local historian Brian Alvarez indicates that may not be true. Alvarez forwarded to me an Las Vegas News Bureau photo, dated 1960, clearly placing the Hacienda Casino (where Mandalay Bay now stands) a few blocks north of the Betty Willis icon. That suggests it has always stood exactly where it stands today.

Fronton Center

Niel M., who says he’s a “real Vegas native” of 53 years and a former jai alai player at the MGM, took issue with my use of the word “Latin” to describe the sport’s mostly Spanish Basque (and occasionally French) players. He also insists the MGM’s fronton remained active until July 1983, well after the hotel’s devastating fire, and wanted to make very clear—although I did not address this in the column—that those exciting matches “WERE NOT FIXED.” Yes, sir!

Remember, our history is often just that: stories told from memory by our city’s fast-disappearing longtime residents. If you have information and perspectives, send ’em along. Together, we’ll figure this place out.


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