I started playing when I was about 11 years old. My mom and dad bought a bar/restaruant and soon after contacted a vendor who supplied some games - a pool table, foosball table, jukebox, and usually one or two pinballs. This is mid to late 70's, so they were all EM's. I wish I could remember some of the names, but even looking at the list of games nothing looks familiar. I would play and play until I would eventually be able to get specials and scores to keep from putting so many quarters in. The good thing was it was a 50/50 split of earnings, so I was playing for half price. It was always exciting when the vendor would swap games and the playing continued. I would also go with my older brother to an arcade which had more games that kept my interest up. Another opportunity was with my mom and dad at the bowling alley. They were on a league, so I would tag along and have a few hours to play even more.
My parents sold the business in the early 80's and we moved to a different state, so my pinball playing went on pause until I got into college. I lived in the dorm and there was always one game in a small room next to the lobby. There were a few of us who always had a running competition of who could get high score in which I held my own. I didn't always have high score, but usually. We also would go to a putt-putt course with pins and that's where I found Star Trek Next Generation. That was the one game that I never got tired of playing. I spent many weekends there trying to master it. I look back now and realize how little I knew about it.
After college my pinball playing once again went on hiatus as having to provide a living for myself and develop a career took precedence. I would go to arcades now and then with friends, but it wasn't very often. My younger brother came across a Jungle Lord from a friend that worked somewhat. It finally quit working and we tried fixing it ourselves without knowing anything about how to. The internet was up, but it was hard to find anything about how to work on them. It sat in a storage trailer for many years after that. We also came across a Phoenix that wasn't working, so it joined JL in the trailer.
In 2004 I was on ebay and noticed a STNG that was close to where I was living. I don't remember there being a "buy now" feature, so I had to wait until the very end and make sure I had the high bid. Once I had it, I played for a while and decided to give it a cleaning and fix everything not working. I found Clay's guide to fixing pins on line which is how I began to learn how to work on pins. That helped me so much I don't know what I would've done. I have always been good with tools and have the knack for working on just about anything. I improved my skills having a game of my own that I could play anytime - and for free.
Life continued to march on and I would play now and then, but not regularly. I later moved back to Michigan to be with family and helped take care of my mom. The fall of 2021 was a challenge as my mom and older brother passed. My younger brother and I adjusted to life without them and happened to come across a local auction with a Gottlieb King Pin pinball. We were the high bid and brought it home. It needed the steppers cleaned and we got it going and played quite a few games on it. That sparked the idea of trying to get Jungle Lord going. It took longer than I would have thoght, but I did get it working. Phoenix is still waiting.
The fire was lit and I started looking for more games. I had a few on my favorite list (TZ, TAF, other Star Treks) and started to look. I am fortunate that I have the ability to afford some games. My younger brother became interested and we started finding more and more games we were interested in. We found a few machines that were within driving range and the price would be right, so why not! I have continued to search for the games on my wishlist and also find games that might need some work, but the price would reflect that. I have bought some nicer games which required little work, but I still like paying less to do the work myself. We have a pretty good collection of parts as well, so that makes it all the better.
I have pretty much all of my wishlist games and a few others that still need extensive work. My brother and I have used up most of the extra space we had, so the hunt is slowing down. I usually play at least once a week, but usually more. With the different game choice, it never gets old. I might play a paticular game for a few weeks and then switch to another when I've had enough. I don't exactly know where this is heading, but it's still fun. I hope that never changes.
We've talked about going to a convention or competition, but we live in northern Michigan, so they're all a long drive. That could in the future but for now we're happy just playing at home.