VFW shout out to Clay

By douggalecawitz

September 22, 2019

30 days ago

File this one under accidental find. 
A friend and I were going to take a road trip. He's a big car guy and enjoys pinball pretty well. I'm a big pinball guy who enjoys a car museum pretty well. He'd talked about doing the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. When I saw on pinside that there was a place nearby in Brighton called (terribly named) The Arcade and that it had about 60 pinball machines I started to hatch a plan. Stay near Brighton and play two days of pinball and one day of car museum. Good trade off and I'd be able to get some Molson beer on top of it. As an added bonus the weekend we were there happened to be the Ann Arbor pinball show right near by. I wasn't to knowledgeable about the show. The information seemed muddled. Was it a show or a location? Was it vintage flipper world or ann arbor pinball show? The website not very felpful and finding pictures to get a better idea proved to be a difficult task. To add to the darkness it seemed it was presale only, no walk-ins welcomed. I figured, we were leaving town on Sunday, we'd role by, check it out, if they told us to scram, we'd go home, if they let us in we spend a few extra hours playing pinball. In the darkness of my knowledge it looked like they might have close to 100 machines there to play..... bonus.

So we road tripped out from the suburbs of Chicago. Enjoyed The Arcade (god, that's a terribly unimaginitive name) and the museum. The Arcade was better than expected clocking in at about 73 pinball machines, although it's games list hadn't been updated and three or four i was looking forward to playing were no longer there. Furthermore almost every machine had at least one minor flaw in function. Nevertheless it was a good time and the really great liquor store and deli next door provided for all my obscure and local beer hunting needs.

Sunday rolls around. We pack up, head over to VFW about 11 AM. Joy of joys they let us in and........ HOLY SHIT!!!!!!! Couldn't even play a game for the first 20 minutes there. Just walking around in awe of a collection that even then already ran over 330 machines all in absolutely flawless working order and pristine looking to boot. Just a 20 minute daze of row upon row of obscure games i'd never seen before (and I was no newbie at this point). Unfortunately I think it closed at 4 or 6 PM somewhat early, otherwise my friend would not have been able to tear me away. I was definitely going back. 

The following year I did...... and it was even bigger!!!!!

Back home a fellow pinball enthusiast would gap in awe of the pictures I showed him. Though the pictures can't quite do it justice. I missed a year at VFW for job related reasons but enough of trying to convince my pinball compatriot to venture out of state to see the grand halls of pinball paid off. He reserved our tickets and off we went. His response was the same as mine on the first day. 30 minutes of breathless awe wandering around slack jawed at the magnitude of it all. By this point VFW was just under 400 machines. He had a great time and since then I've been better able to convince him to visit the expos and shows I've come to love in this pinball life. 

A big thanks to Clay for allowing me the privilege of seeing let alone playing on such a collection. Good times and good memories are owed to you. Nazdarovye!!!!!

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