Like many, my pinball experiences began in my friends' basements. When I was about 12 years old, one of my neighborhood friend's dad got a pinball machine and we would play it in their basement. I can't remember enough about that one to know what machine it was, but I remember that his dad had a rule that if you ever tilted the machine you could never play it again. I think that's why I'm always too conservative in my nudging to this day! Not to be outdone, not long after, yet another friend down the road got a machine for their basement as well. That one I know was an Eight Ball. I'll never forget one day that his dad let us take the glass off and hit the targets. I pulled out the manual, checked out the insides, read the whole thing and showed them how everything worked.
Many years later, I got the bug to buy a machine of my own. It was 2002 and I found a local operator who also sold machines for home use. He had a few machines in the shop - I only remember two (a Rescue 911 and a Jurasic Park) but he also told me he had some on location in his arcade at the local mall. I wasn't crazy about the ones in the shop so I went to check it out. It was a Bally World Cup Soccer. I liked it the best and talked him into pulling it out of his arcade to sell it to me. I have it to this day. Its not rated in the top ten - but its a great family machine because anyone can bang away at the goalie and feel like a pinball wizard...
Not long after I got a call from a friend to tell me that there was an old pinball machine for sale in the Salvation Army thrift shop. I went to check it out and they were asking $100.00 for a Gottlieb King Rock. When I went to buy it, the cashier cautioned me and said "You do know it doesn't work right?" I told her "Oh, but it will...." I worked on the machine for hours and got it mostly working but not quite playable. Then came work and babies and my machines spent many years downstairs without much use.
But, I just got bitten by the bug again because an uncle of mine called me and told me he was getting rid of his Eight Ball that he's had for years. He wanted to offer it to me before anyone else because he knows I love pinball, and I'm getting it for free! So I'm going to end up having one of the first pins I ever saw the inside of.
So, with this new addition about to arrive, I dove back into my old King Rock. Being a bit older (and braver) I really dug into it. I took everything apart and cleaned it out (even stuff I was afraid to take apart last time). Well, I'm happy to say I now have that old EM machine running at 99.9% perfection! Gave my WCS a good once over and its in tip top shape too.
But the best part is my kids. Those machines have been downstairs for years and they never played them. Mostly because they never worked quite right. Now that they are in tip top shape my kids play them almost every day. I call that parenting success!