Pinballs and the Lifecycle

By wayner

December 25, 2013

7 years ago

As a teenager attending school I vividly recall so many afternoons going down to what was then called in Australia 'milk bars' (now McDonalds and Hungry Jacks) to play the pin or pins. They were mainly Gottlieb EMs but Williams were also around.

For whatever the reason I favoured Gottliebs. Being a bit of a car fanatic I liken it to what in Australia we refer to as the Holden (GMH) versus Ford disciples-that is Gottlieb versus Williams and perhaps even Bally might be thrown in representing Chrysler.

Anyhow in retrospect although playing pinball was a great activity-mind off the slog of school, practically challenging & not overly deleterious on the brain matter (as chess might be) it, to me, was a lot more than that. It was a time to congregate with other teenagers, to engage in banter about anything and everything and to marvel in that great 'mechanical era' of engineering excellence. And it was all great fun reinforced by the fact that in Australia we had little of the 'gambling connotation'.

But beyond school work then took priority and interests such as motor racing, competition squash and beyond that marriage & children then assumed centre stage. However, in a funny sort of way, in my subsequent life pinballs and their role in my youth were always there even though I had no exposure to their play.

That is not quite true because a few years ago, at one of our Agricultural annual shows, I played a modern era pinball and it was just not for me. I thought it had no presence, no character, no mechanisation and was representative of an era where so much is so impersonal. So, as I recall, I think I left the machine without finishing the game. That is not to be critical of those who like the technology based modern machines but they were simply not for me.

Now 50 years on from my teenage years, beyond work as a fulltime career and now a grandparent of two lovely little boys I have revisited my teenage era, and that reserved delight by acquiring two Gottlieb EMs-yes it just never leaves you. But it is a bit different now. I am different, I have different perspectives and to work on the machines, not just play them, and to bring them back to life as in their glory days is the dimension that gives me so much construction, enjoyment and satisfaction.

Interestingly and wonderfully though the congregation that I referred to earlier now occurs in a different way. And it is beyond the 'milk bar'. It is global and it is a fraternity that rekindles my boyhood terrific memories of those that played pinball and now those that own pinballs. Pinside is focal to that recognition and I applaud all of those who have contributed to and continue to contribute to this wonderful fraternity particularly those at the forefront who so often make their presence felt within Pinside Forums.

I guess in a small way I am also anxious to keep the dream alive. And so a couple of weeks ago when my two year old grandson Halen visited I got him up on a chair and he played Super Spin. When a week later he further revisited for Xmas 2013 the first thing he did when he arrived was to point to my machines and say 'Pinballs'. That's when I realised that our dream can also be his dream!!

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7 years ago

Nice story. That's what it's all about. Today's kids don't know pinball because they were not exposed to it as we were when growing up. For whatever reason, pinballs on location are far less common than they were in our day, and with the prevalence of computer games and the like, kids today are all but totally isolated from playing a real pinball machine. Not that the potential attraction is no longer possible; because just about anyone introduced to the silver ball for the first time will no doubt be entranced and excited by the many charms a pingame offers. It is our duty then, to the hobby we love, to pass it on and keep it alive! Long Live Pinball!!!

7 years ago

Enjoyed your story Wayne! Introducting youngsters (no matter how old they are)is
important to keep the interest in the hobby going for future
generations. Good work.

7 years ago

Nice story. I feel the same way with cars and pins. IMO I feel like Williams are GMs, Gottliebs are like Fords, and Sterns are like Mopars. Anyway, glad to here your getting kids involved in pins. With today's interactive handheld technology, kids really don't want to know or pay any attention to pinball machines.

7 years ago

That's a great story, man. I agree that Gottlieb made the best EMs, they just did it right.

7 years ago

great story. thanks for sharing...

6 years ago

Great story, Wayne. I grew up in the 80s, so my exposure to pinball were mostly early SS and a few EMs. I never really took to the video game culture, so I always gravitated toward the silverball. Now that I started collecting... My love for Gottlieb EMs and System 1 games are at an all time high. In a year, my house is busting at the seams with 23 games and I don't think it will stop until they reach the foot of my bed.

6 years ago

Wonderful story Wayne. As a child of the 80's, I saw the decline of the "dark" arcade. Unfortunately I rarely touched the pinball machines. I was into the video games because I thought the pinballs were too hard. Little did I know that with some practice you can keep a pin game going much longer than a video. Funny though. I have a good friend in his 60's who grew up in a city and told me how he used to see pin games in corner soda shops. A different time indeed.

5 years ago

How true.... the only way to keep the EM's in the "dim" limelight , imo, is through introducing the young offspring - grandkids -
and making their memories of playing these something that they will cherish and wish to search for in their later years.
great story! thanks, Mike

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