How it all started

By undrdog

November 24, 2019

14 days ago

When I was seven or eight, my mom took me to visit her friend.  Naturally, I was bored.  One of them had the idea that I could go to the bar down the block and play pinball.  They scrounged some dimes and off I went. I don't recall the game, of course, but it was a mid or late 1960s EM.  The local teens let me have my turn.  The ball drained just about constantly.  "You have to shake it." one of them advised.  So, I did.  Tilting disqualified the player back then and it was my last dime.  The teens got a laugh out of it.

Growing up in those days, there was pinball everywhere.  Even Target had an arcade area.  Mostly from those days I remember the precurser of video games.  Reverse screen projection of little models moving around the screen.  Maybe you remember the one where you had to fly an airplane or a helicopter around in a circle, flying thru and over a barn and other obstacles.  If you remember an early vid game Sea Wolf, well that was a remake of an older mechanical machine where the boats were little models attached to belts and scrolled quickly from one side of the unit to the other.  Funny how you don't see any restorations of those, although the EM pinballs are still around.

Able to drive at 15 (in Texas you could get a motorcycle license at 15), I was able to get to the bowling alley and arcades whenever I wanted.  The 7-11 by my school devoted almost half of its space to a pinball corral.  Fake corral fence posts and everything.  I remember playing Twin Win, Captain Fantastic with a mirrored backglass, and Pinball Wizard that always had problems.  Gave up on it because they could never get the pieces that flip over to work correctly.

The local bowling alley had SS machines and some EM classics like Drop A Card.

The games I remember from college are Paragon and the arcade game Qix, which I loved.  I'd always told myself that if I ever had the room and the money I'd get a Paragon.  I thought it was because I liked Paragon, but now having played it at my local place, BoS (Balls of Steel) Pinball, I remember that I wanted it because I could never do well on it and wanted to master it.  (No luck on mastering it, so far.  I'm giving up.)

In the late 1980s, in Houston, my wife at the time got me a Mystic for a present.  She knew I liked pinball and I guess Mystic was affordable.  We were pretty broke those days.  It came with a 90 day warranty.  The seller gave us our money back in the second month because he was tired of coming out to work on it.  Kudos to this unknown service guy for being so nice about it and for coming out when we called, and for honoring his warranty like that.

Fast forward to this July 2019.  Pinball is on the rise again and Balls of Steel opens up nearby.  Low and Behold, they have a Mystic!  Sometime in the next couple of weeks I scored around 1.65M.  I set a goal of 2M before my summer pass at BOS ran out.  Never got close again. 

We're moving our business. The new place has enough room for a pinball in my office!  BoS was not interested in selling their Mystic.  I couldn't find one for sale until a week ago someone on Craigslist responded that they had one in a laundrymat about 3 hours drive from me.  Said it worked well, but the cabinet wasn't in good shape.  I should have known better.  I was so excited that I didn't even notice on the picture that the scores were not lit.  Still, he said it played well.

We got there and it had problems.  Two of the score sets look like spagettie. The right flipper shuddered horribly.  The left bank of drop targets wouldn't reset.  A few other issues.  Oh, I should have known better, but I had fallen in love with Mystic.  The playfield was in good condition and my friend at BoS said the other issues were fixable.  We settled on $1,200, which is high for a project machine, but I wanted it and had driven 3 hours. 

With the help of neighbors, we moved it to the new office.  The folks who had the place had said I could move some stuff there early.  The plan was to tinker with it this weekend, but the folks had the electricity turned off on Thursday.  The city won't turn the utilities back on until I get a certificate of occupancy.  So, I'm content this weekend to go to the movies and get my pinball fix here.  Also, I have the Farsight games on my iPad to console me.

The plan was to get a playable game, not a new hobby, but so it goes.  Power should be on Monday or Tuesday.   A tech is coming out in a few weeks.  In the meantime, I'll try not to make it any worse as I tinker with it.

On the bright side, my machine does have the "3D" backglass and the serial number is (slightly) lower than the one at BoS (but, who's counting ?  :)  )

I apologize in advance for asking in the forums what must be some very noob questions here in the various forums, and thank you for your patience with me.


PS  this story may appear twice.  Sorry about that. I'm having a little trouble with the website.

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14 days ago
This was written a few weeks earlier than when it was published. I’d thought it was set to publish, but it wasn’t.
11 days ago
great story, thanks for posting!
7 days ago
@stephanie thanks!

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