Pinball has always been a series of surprise discoveries for me. Born in the early 70's I was an arcade junkie in the 80's along with every other kid I knew. There was a KOA in PA where we would camp several times a year over the summer every year. This place had everything, but most of my time was spent in the arcade! Huge arcade with lots of vids and a row on EM's about 50 pins long. After hitting up everyone we knew for quarters we would always end up broke and wishing for more. This led to my brother and I prospecting for quarters. Little nuggets of gold to us. Yep, there was not a pay phone, pop machine, cigarett machine, video game... that we did not pass without pushing the coin reject and digging into that return slot.
One day, broke after a playing session I decided to dig for quarters down this line of machines I see the older folks playing behind me. As I go down pushing returns and digging in, I was introduced to pinball. That little red return button didn't kick out a quarted but made this machine jump to life. I quickly looked around thinking I did something I should not be doing as it was banging and clicking. About to make an exit, it finally quit making noise as it popped and out came a ball. Phew! I didn't break it! Well i figured out quickly that if I walked down that line looking at the credit window there were always credits to be had.
The next surprise came when I was doing good on a game and POP! That replay knocker kicked and uh oh!, I surely broke something this time....well whatever it was, at least the game kept playing. At the end of that game I went back to looking at credit windows and ....wow! This machine is broken and the credit is still on there! After this happened on another machine it finally clicked what had happened. Now I had an audio clue as to credits being left on a machine. Most people didn't know what that knocker was either, so while I am fully immersed in Pole Position, I hear a pop behind me. Haha! Credits to be had after my game!
At some point I found a baseball machine that I loved. So much, I would spend actual quarters on it. Vids were still our go-to, but this machine was special. I played baseball, so that was a factor, but the fact that I could get so much fun from one quarter was amazing. I learned the rules as I started getting multiple free games per game. That's when I saw the apron card and put it together. I could get credits for runs and for points! Now I had targets to aim for!
This introduction to pinball led to many great experiences going forward. My brother never really took to pinball, but I would always save a few quarters for one of the pinball machines that looked good to me when we would hit an arcade. I'll also never forget my first ball lock either. I don't remember which machine, but I was trying to hit the scoop that I had never seen the likes of before, with no luck. Finally I get it and it keeps my ball! Yeah took a few seconds of anger before I figured it out.
I guess pinball has always been about surprise for me. I was always one to just play without reading rules unless necessary. When callouts came about, it was another fun surprise. Oh that guy yelling at me is actually telling me what to aim for! Even to this day, I like to play a bunch of games to see how much I can discover through flashing lights, callouts and playfield clues before reading any rules.