NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MS. BRENNER: My name is Devon Brenner. I work for -- Bally Park Place.I came to Atlantic City in the summer of 1972, for what was to be a long vacation. Within two months I met my husband to be and my temporary visit turned into 25 years.
I worked as a food server in various restaurants around town, mostly in the spring and summer, since during the winter the city was virtually deserted and employment in the restaurant business was not available.
My husband has been a union painter, a member of Local 277, for 26 years. I became a member of Local 54 in 1977. Our first Christmas together, my husband gave me a pair of bedroom slippers and I reciprocated with a Barbara Streisand album. It was all we could afford.
My husband was very lucky if he was able to find work in his trade for three months out of the year, not enough to collect unemployment. My own unemployment compensation was $23.00 to $28.00 a week. The unemployment office, by virtue of the endless lines during those years, offered ample proof of the continuing decay of a dying city. Even during the hot summer months the current number of visitors was hardly what one could call spectacular.
After the start of the building of the casinos in 1978, things mercifully began to change. I started work at Park Place in November of 1979. The next year we were able to put a down payment on the home that we still live in. In the fall of 1981, while crossing Pacific Avenue on my way to work, I was run down by an ambulance. I was on foot.
The driver and his assistant graciously took me to Atlantic City Medical Center, where I spent the next 5-1/2 weeks undergoing two surgeries, which resulted in a plate and ten screws in my right leg. That plate will go with me to my grave.
Had it not been for my union health insurance, which covered all my hospital expenses and my doctor bills, which needless to say were astronomical, we surely would have been bankrupt.
Through employment offered by the casinos, we now own outright our own home, plus a second rental property, and there are two cars and a truck in our garage, also free and clear.
None of these amenities, indeed, a secure and comfortable life style, would have been possible if casino gambling had not come to Atlantic City.