Silas and I bought a pinball machine!!!

pinball install

Installation. Photo credit to Josh who also helped load this thing in and out of Bunter.

Coming of age in the late 80s / early 90s video games were both exciting and (for me) hard to come by. I’d never seen or heard of a Nintendo until one day when my family went and visited my mom’s college roommate’s family. Their son had a tv in his room and attached to this tv was a grey box thing that allowed you to play a game called Super Mario Brothers. My mind was blown.

I quickly learned that while this afternoon was rad I was not going to be enjoying my own Nintendo let alone getting a TV in my room. Prior to this particular trip to Los Altos a TV in a bedroom was something that I’d maybe only seen in a movie. And even if I had been able to cobble together the Nintendo’s $100 price tag (a king's ransom!) my mom was a hard no on having Mario in our living room. A story for another time is how years later I eventually got a Nintendo Gameboy and then my mom would constantly take it and play Tetris. Well actually maybe that is the whole story.

I know I am supposed to be talking about pinball but for some reason it is important to me to build up to it in this convoluted way.

After learning about Nintendo I became more aware of video games as a thing. I would buy video game magazines and read about all the fun I wasn’t having. I’d see arcade machines (as well as their strange cousin the pinball machine) at places like 7-11 and Straw Hat Pizza and stare at them longingly. However, the small arcade at the pizza place was kinda dark and the kids hanging out in the mini mart seemed older and scary.

In 1991 a movie adaptation of The Addams Family was released. I was 12 and therefore completely in the crosshairs of this cultural phenomenon. In 1992 an Addams Family pinball machine was released and one was installed in the former 7-11 and newly christened DJ’s Mini Mart up the hill from my childhood home. There were references to the movie, musical soundbites and “Thing” would grab come out and grab the ball if you did something special.

Now I’m not saying that Addams Family is completely responsible for my love of pinball. However, that machine was a bit of a revelation for me. Also... apparently it is the best selling pinball machine of all time.

Long story long, I found this machine too intriguing to ignore. Therefore, it would seem that my love of pinball started somewhere around 1992. I’ve never been particularly good but from 1992 on I could rarely resist when I encountered a pinball machine in a donut shop, mini mart or bar (ah… The Asti in the early 2000s. Simpler times).

Fast forwarding to modern day, it would seem that between trips to Neptunes Kingdom combined with his reading (+ re-reading) of Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball Silas also became deeply stoked on pinball.

Silas playing pinball in September of 2019

Silas playing pinball. September 2019.

As you will have no trouble believing I regularly enjoy trolling Craigslist to see what random stuff I can find. Pinball machines have long been a regular search. I’ve been lurking for years but have never come close to pulling the trigger.

One night I was doing my regular look around at random shit on Craigslist and I expand my search for the fun of it. It was on this night that I found a listing for a 1973 pinball machine for sale in Montara. I leave the tab open alongside the billion other tabs and there it sits for some days. At one point I check out if it is still listed and when I see it is I yell to Silas to “come check this out”.

I am now going to introduce a sub plot.

The First Bank Of Dad

I used to do a google spreadsheet called “The First Bank Of Dad” to track the boys allowance and birthday money etc… It was going great. They’d get birthday money, I’d pocket it and then most of the time remember to add it to the spreadsheet. The thing is, it really started to pile up. Back when I was dreaming of buying a Nintendo the $100 price tag seemed like it was a million miles away. These dudes were at that point in less than a year! Additionally, the cash that had originated from their birthday cards had long since disappeared. I realized I'd gotten myself into a “a too big to fail" scenario.

In days since this realization the boys have been employed by their aunt which encouraged mom/dad to start them legit bank accounts in order to facilitate direct deposit. Boys are hyped and the FDIC is more involved.

However, there was some discussion about the funds that were still left in The First Bank Of Dad. When this pinball machine came onto our radar I threw out a hail mary. If we buy this The First Bank Of Dad is dissolved. Everyone agreed it was a good deal.

...yet I still lingered.

See I hate dealing with Craigslist transactions. Perhaps I hate dealing with all transactions. Also, it was the holidays and lots of stuff was going on. Finally Silas starting bugging me wondering what was going on with the pinball proposition. Assuming the machine was gone and the ad simply hadn't been removed I finally sent an email and 48 hours later we were driving to Montara.

Silas and I bought a pinball machine

Installed and lit up. Again, Photo credit to Josh.

"Keep your dreams, don't sell your soul" - Primal Scream

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