The Living Years


October 21, 2012

7 years ago

When I was a wee lad my father would take my sister and I to pizza arcades and the like. One of them I fondly remember was Pizza and Pipes near or in Pontiac, MI. I am pretty sure this is where I played Mata Hari because I remember the center saucer, a lot of red, and that back glass! Through the years whenever my dad and I went to arcades we would play pinball together rather then video games. I remember my dad saying, "I prefer pinball because I know what to do right away." I'm sure that was not the only reason, but to me it made sense. It was like the other games would be a waste of money just trying to learn them. It did not matter to me what we played, I just enjoyed doing things with him. Most of our time was spent at shooting ranges on the weekends (target shooting was my father's hobby). I liked this a lot also, but going to the arcade was more like something he was doing for and with me instead of me tagging along with his hobbie.

Fastfoward 25 years... I built a Mame cocktail because I wanted to play Galaga like I did in the pizza parlors as a kid. Then I started searching the internet and found people with amazing full arcades in their basements (the obsession begins!). At this time my house did not have a basement, but my next house did! I started buying broken 80's arcade games and fixing them until I had about 15 in my basement. Then I thought - it's time for a pinball machine! I did not know anything about fixing them, so I tried to find a game that at least partially worked. I did not just by one though, I bought two; a Jungle Queen and a Mata Hari SS (oohh that back glass). I had an issue with the JQ, so I searched the net again and found Clay Harell. He came over and fixed issues I had with several games (I had about 4 pins at this point), and I sold him the Jungle Queen. Clay introduced me to other pinheads in the Detroit area, and it was off to the races.

I believe it takes a unique personality to become driven to learn about and collect things of value. I learned and inherited this trait from my father. He was into target shooting / gun collecting, along with countless other hobbies through the years. I lost him to cancer last year, to the day I write this. One of the most validating things in my life was my father recognizing and complementing me on all I had done with pinball and how amazing my arcade was to him. He thought it was awesome that I had found this hobby on my own and turned it into part of my idenitity, just as he had with his hobbies. I will never forget him laying on my couch with his eyes closed while his cousin and I played all of my games loudly. I said, "I can turn the volume down if you need to take a nap, dad," he replied with, "No, I'm listening to all of the diffrent sounds! Keep playing, I like it." A few months later my Dad passed away, and a few weeks after I found out my wife was pregnant. I now have a 3 month old boy to spend time with and pass on my love of pinball, or a hobbie he might choose. In the meantime I will "keep playing."

Story photos

old arcade 4.JPG
old arcade 3.JPG
old arcade2.JPG
old arcade.JPG


7 years ago
Welcome to pinside. Sounds like you and your dad shared alot of special moments, hopefully you'll be able to pass those special times on through your own boy and he'll talk about his Dad as you have yours.
7 years ago
cool story man
7 years ago
Great story. I must endeavour to include my Dad in my life more.
7 years ago
I lost my dad about (3) years ago and miss him everyday. Great story and it sounds like you have your dad in a lot of ways.
6 years ago
Great and well written story. Thanks for sharing!
4 years ago
It's been a few years since I read this last. I most have needed a tear. Looking back I must say, that the people I have met through Pinball are more important to me then the pins themselves.

Thanks for the kind words Pinheads.

Add a comment

Wanna make a comment? Click here to sign in or register.