It All Started with Comet

By joshualandry

January 22, 2024

This story got featured & frontpaged on January 22, 2024


38 days ago

Growing up in the 1980's I would go to a local pizza joint called Pop's Pizza that had a jukebox and a few pinball machines. At first, I was leery of putting my hard-earned quarters into a machine I didn't understand how to play, and would instead feed my quarters into the jukebox to serve up an endless supply of Gun's & Roses and Def Leppard. Then one day I walked into Pop's and saw a new machine with a rollercoaster surrounded by fireworks named Comet. At the time, I had assumed it was named after the old wooden roller coaster at the local theme park that shared the same name. What did I know? I was just a kid, and it was the only rollercoaster I had ever known. How I dreamed of being tall enough to ride that roller coaster like my teenage uncles, who at the time would get enjoyment out of reminding me of my height, or lack thereof. So while waiting for my glorious cheese pizza to be ready that day, I put my quarter into the machine and played my first game of pinball ever. It was cool to watch the ball ricochet around, while the lights flashed and the machine buzzed and beeped. The best part was going after the one-million point bonus while launching the ball off a ramp into a skee-ball-like set of targets (skee ball was my goto arcade game as a kid).

Fast forward 30 something years later and I am still playing pinball, and Pop's Pizza is only a memory (a cannabis store now resides where Pop's once stood). However, now when I play memories of all the pizza joints and arcades I spent countless quarters and endless hours in while growing up come to the forefront of my mind. I have also discovered that I really enjoy working on these old machines and restoring them to like new again. Perhaps it is to relive my youth, or just the perfect intersection of art and technology that resonates with me. Now, I watch my kids experiencing pinball for their first times, and wonder to myself if they will have similar fond memories of a game like Comet when they reach my age.

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Comments

37 days ago

I became friends with Barry Ousler the designer of Comet and his wife a few years back before he passed away.

I have a comet signed by Barry at my house and brother-in-law adopted his cats after be passed away. I was happy to heard your memories of Comet. I have forwarded this to his wife.

33 days ago

Very cool story. Thanks for sharing

32 days ago

Great and identifiable story. Thanks for sharing.

10 days ago

My story is very Similar. Pizza place near me had a Comet. Always like pinball, but Comet took it to a new level for similar reasons you described. College dorm basement then had a Comet also. Played a few games every day. One year I got to help pick which games would be in our dorm. Got us the Cyclone. Again, a few games every day.

Today, I own my own Hurricane.

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