a place that still exists

a place that still exists

By Phat_Jay

November 26, 2017

3 months ago

I was one of the arcade kids when I was young. My parents had divorced and my mom worked full time to support us at a Montgomery Wards in a small mall in Michigan. In that mall was an Aladdin’s Castle, I can still see the arcade in my mind 30 yrs later. Dimly lit, red carpet, a row of pins in the back to the left. In the middle are a sit down pole position and a missile command. On the right all the newest arcade machines. In reality it was a small arcade, maybe 30 machines. But, in my mind, it was my world. If I was lucky I’d get a ten spot from my mom for dinner and games. If it was between checks I’d be picking up cans and bottles for change. Michigan, you see, had a ten cent deposit on each returnable. So I could easily scrounge $3 a afternoon after school and before dark. So I’d spend a dollar at mcdonalds on a hamburger and fries, and the rest went into the machines. I remember watching the older guys, they must have been a ripe old age of seventeen, and wonder how they could play forever on a quarter. I’d put my quarter up on the glass and wait. And wait. Finally it would be my turn, my chance to prove myself. But alas I wasn’t very good, and soon enough I’d be relegated to watching again. But it didn’t matter, at least I was THERE. I was AT the place to be. A place where problems disappeared. A place where any kid could become a game god.  A place that still exists, only in my mind. I’ve often wondered if it was the place, or was it the time? I don’t know. The mall is gone now. The 20x50 space just a piece of blacktop now. I returned as an adult many years later and placed my hand on the sun baked piece of blacktop and for an instant, and just an instant, I could swear I could hear the sounds of a black knight calling me out....

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3 months ago
great piece!
3 months ago
Ah Aladdin's Castle. We had one in Kenosha WI(in 1983) next to a movie theater. I can actually still see in my mind the old guy that use to work there. I spent many days there and probably lots of $$ too. That's were I got hooked on pinball machines. Black Knight was my favorite at the time. I actually bought a Addams family pinball in 1996 for $2300 and sold it back to the same company 2 years later for $1500. I should have never let it go, dummy me!! I was addicted to arcades. My mom would bring me to church for catechism. I would walk in the front door and then out the back and across the street to the arcade LOL. One Tuesday night I won a T shirt and $25 in quarters playing a Galaga tournament. Had a hard time hiding the shirt from my mom in the car when she picked me up. Oh the good times growing up :)
3 months ago
Really well written! I am sure there is a lot of us that have similar stories and feelings of laying your hand on that backstop.
3 months ago
Blacktop rather.
3 months ago
Nice store with a touch of Magic
3 months ago
Thanks for the pat on the back guys! It really was a special time to grow up. I took my youngest son (11) to an arcade/pin show last year. He had looked forward to it literally 6 months. We finally get there and and I see a tear run down his face, thinking he was disappointed I asked him what’s wrong. He answered “I wish I had been alive during the Golden Age”. man, gets ya right in the heart.
88 days ago
Man, that's fantastic... my sentiments exactly about a forgotten time and place, but so powerful in our memories. Sweet piece of writing!
88 days ago
Beautiful piece that truly touches me. As a fellow Castle-ite, I can say that it truly was a magical time. More importantly, this serves as a beautiful testament to your mother who probably worked incredibly hard and did the best she could to raise the kids. I truly believe there's a special place for any single parent in heaven. :)
82 days ago
Great piece!
81 days ago
In the 70’s we had an arcade called “Tommy’s” of course it was named after the movie which started the pinball craze! At the time when I became addicted to pinball there was EM machines,Our games at the time was
Flip flop
Just to name a few,For 25cents we got 2 plays 5 balls per game,And I would spend at least $2 dollars a day
79 days ago
Back in the late 1970’s at The Westminster Mall (mall is still there) was “The Kingdom of Oz” Pinball arcade. Spent many a quarter there back in the day. Now it’s a buffet restaurant. Bally Pinball Heaven. Then they opened another arcade in Huntington Beach by Goldenwest college where I polished my skills on the data east games Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Unfortunately it’s condos now. The arcades are vanishing.
73 days ago
You've made me misty. Well written!

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