As a small child I can still remember our brief family trips across the desert that ended in Old Vegas. It was far from the giant light shows, dancing fountains, and Disney-esque Pirate Ballets. No painted faux-blue skies indoors. Cigarette smoke in the grocery stores (yes–even in the produce section). It was gritty–it was real.
For those too young to remember–Vegas was a city for adults ONLY–a playground for cardsharks, dames, outlaws–any colorful character out living for the moment.
When I made FULTON’S CLIP JOINT I relied heavily on memories of my Grandfather, Sam Fulton. A tough man–tough–but fair. Gruff–but with a grin. He’d twist your arm til’ it about snapped, then tell you a joke. Many of our family Vegas Trips were made due to Sam making rare visits to see his estranged brother Jimmy.
Sam’s Brother Jimmy “Ace” Fulton was very much the “black sheep” of the Fulton Clan. Not too much is known about him, but he flew the coop as a teen and went his own way. Years later while visiting our family, Grandpa Sam had tracked down his brother in Vegas. Our family was always in and out of the business of owning bars, hotels, and restaurants. Jimmy was no different. He had a little gambling hall in Downtown Vegas. It was by no means the “be all end all” , but to Jimmy it was the world.
In many ways, Jimmy was the typical “Fulton.” Eccentric. Confident. Strong. Stubborn. His little Casino was evidence of this. He was proud of his name–so much so he erected a giant black spade outside his casino, staking his claim loud and clear “Ace Fulton’s Casino.” Damn–it was a hell of a sign now that I think about it. Never changed.
As years went by I remember conversations between Ace and my Grandfather. Ace was always bragging how he told off this consultant and that real estate developer–who were all warning him that the end of “Old Vegas” was coming and he best update or shut down. He refused. He loved his famous Orange Playing Card Decks, dated decor that somehow meshed the Old West and the Rat Pack, and masculine swagger that immediately turns off half the clientele. Ace just did it his way. The Fulton Way.