Dr. Walters' garage was hot. It was July, or maybe August, and it was South Texas Summertime Hot in there. At some point earlier that year, the good doctor -- a neighbor of ours -- had purchased a bowling-themed EM pinball machine. It was the late 1970s or early 1980s (I honestly don't recall how old I was), but I know I was old enough to be fascinated that here was a REAL pinball machine, like the ones I played up the road at Castle Golf & Games, sitting in his garage, just a short bike ride from my house. And best of all perhaps was that he had it set so I could play it for free. No quarters! And he said I could come play it whenever I wanted.
And so I did. Often, I'd ride down the street, knock on the door, and usually Mrs. Walters (Dr. Walters was at work), would open the garage for me and I'd pass an hour or two playing that game. I loved the smell of the old game -- the faint odor of cigarettes and the scent of metal polish and wax mingling in the humid air. To this day, amazingly, I am not sure which game it was. I've looked at lots of Gottlieb and Williams games and can't seem to find the one that matches my memories of that game.
That summer, in Dr. Walters' garage, playing hours of sweaty pinball, I fell in love with the old games. They weren't as old then (although I feel certain his game must have been from the 1960s), but I knew I was hooked.
Fast-forward more than 35 years later and I find myself addicted to Gottlieb EM machines. I love their themes, the artwork, the mechanical brilliance and the sound of those chimes. I started my collection in 2015 with the purchase of a nice western-themed 1977 Gottlieb Bronco (which I've now sold) and a 1968 Gottlieb Fun Land. I added a 1976 Gottlieb Target Alpha, followed by a 1965 Bank-A-Ball and a 1974 Top Card. I'm on the hunt for several more.
Long live pinball!