Like many young teens in the 70s, pinball seemed to be the only thing I spent my little amount of money available on. A newspaper route being my financial plan.
The bowling alley 2 miles away usually had 4 machines and they never seemed to break. The ones which seemed to always be there: Atlantis, SpinOut, and High Hand but there were occasional rotations.
In college, my 2 best friends (to this day 35 years later) and I *definitely* spent more time and money on pinball than anything else (except maybe beer.)
This is when El Dorado made its way as a sentimental favorite - and my buddy got one a couple months ago.
We once played Buccaneer, one on a side manning a flipper, and could do no wrong that day, winning every time. So we move to playing with our elbows, one person on each side/flipper. A win. Then our knees ... yes, maybe back then there was not so much to be concerned about and we played it - and won - using our tongues. I wonder who played that game - and when the last time they washed their hands - before us - in Hoagie Heaven in Indiana PA?
We rented a house (nicknamed "the Asylum") at IUP one year, somehow got a distributor to put in Bon Voyage and split the proceeds with us. We had loads of big parties and our share of the quarters paid the electric bill for the entire (10 person) house every month.
Living in downtown Harrisburg PA in a pretty dodgy neighborhood, I had enough room in the foyer to line up 3 machines so I did, in 1986. They cost $300-$500 then. Jacks Open is the only title I recall.
I moved "overseas" and had to give away the machines. I lived almost 20 years in Africa/Near East and although I found pinball on vacations to places like Cyprus and Australia - almost all my playing was on vacations back to the USA.
Finding and using Visual Pinball was fun, and being able to design and build tables was a blast and served when visiting my friends who could not find pinball in their town.
Returning to the US in 2004 and finally settling in Toronto in 2006, I was back where I could find pinball regularly and played at movie theaters more than anywhere else. My wife ("scylla") sometimes played, usually hitting both flippers at once - sort of like a 4 year old, but she liked the machines that wisecracked.
In our condo in Toronto there was no room for any machines.
A dedicated pinball cafe opened in Toronto (only lasting a year when they had business license issues) where we played on many weekends. No more double flipping, my wife started to play like an adult. And sometimes beat a machine, and me.
We visited Vegas and found the pinball Hall of Fame in 2006, and have been there at least once a year since (3 times a year for me usually) and get to Silver ball Museum in New Jersey every May.
My wife - did I mention she is the greatest (pinball) wife in the world? - after 5 years made a push to get a house. Part of the reason was so I could again own a machine. In April 2012, we found a house in downtown Toronto, 125 years old with - unfortunately - a basement ceiling under 6 feet high
We immediately hired people to lower the basement floor, went online and picked a machine available from a local dealer for the dining room. Sopranos was a favorite show when it ran so that became the one - and it sat in the dining room, like everything else destined for the basement while the basement was reno'd.
We had a new electrical panel put in, ran 4 new lines dedicated to a wall ready to line up machines. And started dreaming of what would live there. At the pinball cafe, when we both whooped on Party Zone (PZ), we called another dealer who listed it for sale and grabbed that and NBA (not Fast Break)
Now with 6 in the basement and room for 5 we finally joined pinside, pinballrevolution and a couple other forums and communities.
On Kajiji.ca ad site a TZ appeared around mid December, My wife said "Don't waste any time!" and we had it delivered from a private seller on Christmas eve.
Now the wall was full.
And then Jamie in NY decide to sell MM ... so now we will sold Sopranos to a friend who loves pinball and the series, selling NBA casually - will probably just see if any friends who come play want to get into owning first before listing. Then get El Dorado, TOTAN, Congo - oh I forgot, I pre-ordered the Hobbit ... and on hte list for Alice
to be continued ...