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Old 03-28-2020, 08:49 PM   #74
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Exclamation Re: WOWW Radio!

"Playing all this pinball here in the WOWW staff room during this time of social distancing reminds me of the story The MAN always drags out when he's feeling particularly maudlin:"

"I don't remember precisely where and when I encountered my first pinball machine but it must have been over sixty years ago and I've loved them ever since.

As a youngster in the early sixties I was usually required to attend supplemental Lithuanian language classes Saturdays between 4:00 and 5:30 PM during the school year. These classes were in the basement of St. Peter's elementary school just north of downtown London, Ontario on Richmond Street by the cathedral. Dreadfully inconvenient to be sure.

There was a silver lining though. I'd be given $0.50 or so to go see a movie downtown prior to classes plus bus fare there and back. But St. Peter's was only about a mile and a half away from where we lived in Old South London. So I could walk there anyway. The bus fare I could then spend otherwise!

Sometimes I would indeed take in a movie. But often I'd elect to deploy my cash in other ways.

One temptation was a pinball machine at a diner that was right across from the Wishing Well Beverages bottling plant on Richmond Street which was on the southern edge of the downtown area about halfway to St. Peter's. I believe that it was this Gottlieb Sweet Hearts machine released in 1963:












But pinball machines were then banned in Canada as 'illegal gambling devices' until January 1976. But when the new student recreation center at the University of Western Ontario was completed in 1971, it had five pinball machines! One of them was the Gottlieb 2001 released in 1971 which ended up becoming my own gateway machine to a lifetime of sordid pinball degeneracy.









Now I was never short of cash as a student and so I fed many a quarter into that machine. But it couldn't last. You see under the law it was an "illegal gaming device". Accordingly a City of London police officer appeared at the rec center after about three months, played the machines for two or three hours to satisfy himself that they were indeed illegal gaming devices which could very well corrupt students, policemen and whoever else for life, and the machines were gone for good the next day. Yes, seized they were by the fascist State!

While the draconian law was repealed a few years later, I've never forgiven the bastiches. Smash the State I say!

When pinball machines were legalized in my environs in 1976, two specific machines acted to set me on the path to permanent pinball degeneracy. These were both to be found at the York Hotel in downtown London directly across the street from the CNR passenger train station. The first was the Wizard released by Bally in 1975:








A very well designed game, it sold over 10,000 units which smashed Bally's previous production record of 5254 for a pinball machine. I had the game completely mastered and built up a total of nineteen free games on a single quarter one afternoon before I succumbed to fatigue.

The other game was in the other room by the old fashioned greasy spoon lunch counter attached to the York Hotel. (How I miss those greasy spoons now!) It was the Royal Flush machine which Gottlieb released in 1976:












I had my best run ever on this machine one afternoon. I'd hit everything and I had the machine lit up like a Xmas tree. I was already up to five or so free games but I wasn't even targeting the free game hole. My timing was so good that I was hitting the silver ball hard enough to propel/bounce it right off the glass and I just wanted to keep hitting. And then believe it or not but a hippie watching me with astonishment leaned on the machine so hard that he tilted it thus ending my best run of all time. I wanted to belt him!

So no, I've never needed drugs or alcohol. Pinball, model kits, comic mags, gum cards and other baby boomer kids' stuff, muscle cars, and rock music and stereo equipment were all it took to set me on the path to ruin. I don't know whether I should laugh or cry."


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