How Pinball made me who I am today. Williams HOLLYWOOD Pinball, 1961 & MY LIFE:
The story of my Williams ‘HOLLYWOOD’ pinball machine goes WAY BACK and here is a short version of the story, of how it changed my whole life.
I was about eight or nine years old, back around the time of Woodstock (the late 60's) and the neighbor across the street was a friend of my older brother. His father worked for a ‘music company’ (jukeboxes?) and they had this machine in their basement that they received after it was removed from it’s original ‘doing business, on location placement’ through his fathers’ business. The sticker is still on the machine: “Newport Music Co.” That would make me (my family) only the 3rd owner after all these years (the business, the employee family & my family.)
Here’s how the story goes. Every once in a while it would malfunction (as these old EM pinball machines are prone to do) and my teenage brother would go over and help the neighbor fix it - as long as he could go over and play it too!
Time passed (three or four years) and the family across the street moved out of state due to their dads job relocating him. They couldn’t (or didn’t want to) take the machine with them and offered it to us for FREE! It was a ‘thank you’ for all the times we helped fix it and kept it working for them at no charge. My parents said ‘yes’ to us & ‘thank you’ to them and now we just had to figure out how to get it up out of their basement, across the steep hill of a street we lived on and down into our basement. So apart it came - you all know that story. Nothing catastrophic, so I won’t repeat it here.
Once it was in our home and back together, I played it all the time with my friends and it wasn’t long before it would malfunction and I would have to learn how to fix it if I wanted to continue playing. A ball would hit under a white rubber ring and get stuck - down I slid the glass to get the ball loose. A sticky, slow flipper - off came the glass, I lifted the board and a little oil or Vaseline and ~ good as new, game continued. A bumper not responding - open it up and adjust the switch terminals . . . And I just loved how it started with a coin! A nickel for one player ~ a quarter gave five credits. (Adjustable to three credits ~ but I always wondered, who would pay for three credits with a quarter, when a nickel gave you one game? ) Anyway . . .
I said at the top of my story how this Pinball machine changed my life and you may think I was just exaggerating, but you see, because of my constant upkeep of this coin-operated Pinball machine, I ended up in the coin-operated Laundromat business for almost 35 years as my career! Because of the Laundromat I met my wife of now more than 30 years! And now when my grandchildren come over to visit they want to go in my basement game room and play Pinball on this antique machine! Yes, it CHANGED MY LIFE. I’m sure if I didn’t have the practice of fixing and maintaining this coin-operated machine throughout my childhood, I would never have ended up buying a Laundromat (eventually three different laundries) and would never have met my lovely wife. I wouldn’t now have the two grandchildren ~ who once in a blue moon, now can beat me at “Hollywood Pinball.”