I think my first experience with pinball was at a “Space Available” waiting lounge at Travis Air Force Base California when I was 12 years old back in the summer of 1968. My family was awaiting a military hop to Japan to visit my mom’s relatives. Probably watched some others play before inserting a much coveted quarter into the machine. I was immediately hooked by the ball, sounds, and skill required, which I lacked. I think I remember walking away and heading to the ping pong table, which was free.
Advance into the mid 70s and before I left to join the USAF, I showed off my meager pinball skills to my best friend Neal Roddy. We even found a favorite game to play, Flash, which we played anytime we found it.
Advance another 10 years and I found myself in Germany, living off base, in a little village with two Gasthauses and one of them had a pinball machine. This allowed me to hone some very rusty skills, and renew my love for the game. I also ran into my first home owned game at a Major’s house I visited to get to know his daughter better. Nothing came of that relationship but I do remember playing that machine.
Advance to present day, about 9 months ago. I started looking to purchase that Flash pin and then I began thinking perhaps, since I’m not an electrician I should find something newer. After all, even a renovated 45 year old machine is going to have some parts that will require replacement soon.
So I found myself on Stern’s webpage and lo and behold they were announcing a rollout of The Beatles machine. Neal, who was still my best friend and had moved to Montgomery, Alabama, from San Diego (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and I had always been Beatles fans, having lived through the British Invasion and actually witnessed the Ed Sullivan telecast. I was only 8, but I’ll never forget it. “And here they are, the Beatles!”
So, of course, I had to have it, and lucky for me I had some funds in my portfolio for it. So Neal and I drove up to Bumpernets, about 1.5 hours away and played the game for the first time during their Beatles pinball rollout party. There was a bunch of “regular” pinballers crowded around the machines playing the two they had set up. When I asked my contact how many of them were here to pick up a machine he said I was the only one who had fully paid for one. So I’m thinking I took possession of the very first privately owned Beatles pin in Alabama.
I love my The Beatles pin, and am kind of addicted to playing it. If I don’t play it at least once a day, I miss it. I’ve even repaired a non-functioning set of pop-up targets!
I’m now getting to know some of the pinball aficionados in my area, thanks to pinside! Who knows I may ev start participating in some pinball competitions or even open up an arcade. We could really use one.