I grew up in a small, mill town just west of Charlotte, NC from the late 70's to the early 90's. In the 80's, there was an arcade in town, and a few service stations/grills which had a few pinball and arcade machines. Being an only child for almost 13 years of my life, I spent a great of time with my uncle and a cousin, who were both at least 10 years my senior. Both of them were really into video games and my uncle was especially good at pinball, foosball, ping pong, and other such early novelty games. Growing up in a poorer community came with its advantages, many of which I did not appreciate at the time. One of these advantages was that many of the older machines tended to linger around, almost until the 90's.
I played quite a bit of pinball at the time and became quite skilled at classics such as Ms. Pacman and Galaga (to name a few). I can vividly remember pumping quarters into several pins such as Cyclone, Taxi, and Whirlwind, etc., and my comfort with these machines is probably why I prefer the Williams brand to this day. I've always loved pinball and played machines whenever I found them, but it seemed that pins became very scarce in the 90's. It wasn't until a few months ago, when a new arcade opened up in my area, that I was once again able to take up the hobby.
Now that I'm older, and in a better financial position, I've decided that I would like to purchase a few machines of my own. I've always been the nostalgic type and a collector of various things from my childhood, many of which have been pushed to the wayside. For me, pinball is a way of recapturing the good times and memories I had while growing up, and also, being able to share this enjoyment with my wife and kids. I think it helps to bring about an understanding of who I am and where I'm from, and even when I'm having a lousy "adult" day, I can come home and pull that plunger/push that button and be sent back to a time when I was more carefree.
Still currently looking for that first pin to "get the ball rolling."