To oversimplify, to be said to have “game” is to possess easily recognizable skills or appeal above the average. The context of this informal use of the word is rooted in sports. I am terrible at sports. I played tennis in high school for about five minutes, and even then, my older brother had set precedent with Coach Menzie years before that no Dennis will likely ever be the star of the tennis team. I could run well enough, but I wasn’t committed to being the best at anything that required physical skill. When it came to speed, coordination, or strength, I didn’t have game… and didn’t care.
I did, however, learn to play the piano reasonably well, as well as continuing to take pictures and write creatively into my high school years and beyond. I knew that even if I was never going to be Ansel Adams or Langston Hughes, I had been given the skill of mastery. Give me something to try, and if it interests me enough, and even if I’m not the most intuitively gifted in that area, I am going to work at it until I’m satisfied with what I’m putting out. I’m nothing if not consistent, and I consider my relative predictability to be an asset.
Another area in which I don’t have game is in my gambling skills. This should come as no shock to anyone who is familiar with my risk-averse and somewhat thrifty nature. When my friends and I go to Las Vegas on one of our annual trips during an extended weekend, and as I’ve probably mentioned here before, once my very modest gambling allowance has been spent, that’s it, and I’m done. After I have spent some time hanging out with my friends at the craps table and watching them in action, I’m then off to find what I consider to be the most traditional symbol of Las Vegas gaming that comes to my mind: the slot machines.
I had enjoyed sitting at the bar in many a casino playing video poker, which is where I had won my first-ever Vegas “jackpot” of fifty dollars (at the off-the-Strip Stage Door Casino), but there’s something about the simplicity and ritual of playing a slot machine that makes it so iconic. You feed it a five, pull the lever or hit the buttons, and watch as your residual credits go up or down, as lights flash and synthesized bells jingle before you in a celebratory way. I can do this. I enjoy games of skill, but much of the Las Vegas experience in general, to me, is represented by chance.
This 1960 Ford F-100 definitely had game. Not only was it still running and looking decent fifty years after its manufacture date at the time I photographed it, but it was actually doing work on what was a regular Monday for most people. Not only that, but it was being used for what looked like a business. It’s one thing to use an old vehicle for your own personal use. It’s something else entirely for a business owner’s profitability to hinge in part on said old truck’s reliability.
Hauling old slot machines for repair or repurpose isn’t the same thing as saving lives, but there are a ton of slot machines in that part of Nevada, many of which bring revenue to the businesses at which they are installed. Chances are that if one repairman can’t get to an issue, there are at least three or four other such establishments in Las Vegas that would appreciate the business. This is important work in a city like this.
Ford trucks, in general, have had game for something like four decades, being both the best-selling pickup for forty-four years straight, as well as the best selling vehicle in the United States for thirty-nine years. Recent news stories (and I’ll cite the one from the Wall Street Journal) indicated that GM’s overall truck sales recently passed those of Ford this year. It has previously been discussed and debated here at Curbside about the substantial differences between Chevrolet and GMC trucks. I look at it this way: there may be a set of twins that can do the job as well as one same-aged peer, but I’d rather be the lone individual that does it all by himself. I realize this metaphor doesn’t fit exactly, but this perspective is coming from a writer who grew up in a family in which things and attention often had to be shared with other siblings.
These pictures are now almost exactly five years old, but I would be willing to place a wager that this 1960 F-100 is still on the road doing what it did back on this particular workday. The 1960 model year was the last for the third-generation Ford F-Series pickup, which had been introduced in this iteration for 1956. Over 226,000 F-Series pickups were produced for 1960, of which about half (118,000) were Styleside models like our featured Custom Cab. While there were no external clues that indicated to me that this Ford pickup has been doing this same kind of work since new, it appears to have been utilized as a work truck and not a pampered prize for enough of its life that it shows. In its apparent day-to-day use of hauling gambling games that were past their prime, this old Ford truck demonstrated that it still had game… in spades.
Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
Monday, February 8, 2016.