a place that still exists

a place that still exists

By Phat_Jay

November 26, 2017


7 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....

Story photos

No photos are attached to this story.



Comments

7 months ago
great piece!
7 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 :)
7 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.
7 months ago
Blacktop rather.
7 months ago
Nice store with a touch of Magic
7 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.
6 months ago
Man, that's fantastic... my sentiments exactly about a forgotten time and place, but so powerful in our memories. Sweet piece of writing!
6 months 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. :)
6 months ago
Great piece!
6 months 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
Amigo
1776.1976
Flip flop
Skylab
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
6 months 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.
6 months ago
You've made me misty. Well written!

Add a comment

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