Every once in a while I start thinking of my early association

with pinball and remember little things, such as games I used

to play and the environments in which they were located. I have

decided to share some of these "remembrances" with you to give

you some insight into "where I came from" when it comes to pin

games, at least as far as my childhood was concerned.


FIRST PINBALL - As far as I can remember, the first pinball

machine I ever played was located in the Eagles Lodge hall on

Broadway in Glendale, California.  I was about 8 years old and

once a week my mother took me for violin lessons in Glendale.  At

some point in time the location of these lessons was moved from a

downtown building to the Eagles Lodge hall.  The lessons were

given in one hour classes, and if you arrived early you had to

wait in the "lobby" until the previous class was finished.


While waiting in the lobby I noticed two interesting machines there.

One was a large console slot machine, and the other a pinball game

which had a picture of a street intersection on the backglass.  I

remember on several occasions asking my mother for a nickel and

playing this machine. 


     It fascinated me; especially the little cars which

mysteriously appeared in the picture and advanced as the bumpers

were hit; a form of "light animation" with which I was to become

quite familiar in the future.  I also remember the manufacturer's

name of this game as being Genco.


     Several years ago, when answering an ad in the newspaper, I

found, and subsequently purchased, the game I had played at the

Eagles Lodge.  It turned out to be Genco's STOP AND GO from 1938;

not to be confused with the game of the same name they put out in

1951.  As soon as I saw the backglass of this game I knew it was

the game I had played as a kid.  The machine, however, had a

repainted cabinet and I eventually traded it off after trying to

restore the cabinet art myself.  In a way, I wish I had kept this

game as it was in very good shape, except for the cabinet art,

and was an excellent example of early backglass "light



ROCKET - When I was about 11 years old, some friends and I were

"exploring" an abandoned building in the small town of La Canada

where we lived.  The place had once apparently been an automobile

repair shop of some kind and had not been used for anything for

many years.  Out back of this place we found what looked like an

interesting item, so we went and got a "coaster wagon" and hauled

it to my house.


     Well, it turned out to be a pingame with the name ROCKET on

the playfield, which of course, was Bally's first electric payout

pinball machine from 1933.  We could not at that time make it

work because we were unaware that it required battery power to

operate.  So after playing with it for awhile, I guess we

probably dumped it, although I can't remember for sure what

happened to it.  This game, however, was the first pingame that I

actually had in my possession.


MR. CATLIN - As a child I always had an interest in electrical

things.  My father, an electrical engineer in the telephone and

later the aircraft industry, had taught me about electrical

circuits from the time I was about 5 or 6.  And when we moved to

La Canada (when I was in the fourth grade) I had my own workbench

in the back of the garage.


     At that time my mother would many times take my sister and I

to downtown Los Angeles on the bus, which required us to change

busses in the neighboring town of Montrose.  It just so happened

that the corner where we waited for the bus was also the location

of the shop of a local coin machine operator, a Mr. Glenn Catlin

by name.


     The area where Mr. Catlin put out his trash for collection

was right behind the bus bench and I soon discovered that he

threw out various electrical items which I often recovered and

brought home to experiment with in the garage.  On several

occasions I even got bold enough to knock on his door and ask him

if he had anything that I could have.  He was always very

friendly to me.


     Once I remember being invited into his shop and seeing many

slot machine mechanisms (without cases) setting on a long bench.

When I asked about them he told me that they were there awaiting

pickup by the Sheriff's Office to be destroyed as they were

illegal.  The one thing I remember clearly about them was that

many, if not all, of them had pictures of various animals (lions,

monkeys, elephants, etc) on their reels.


     Another thing I remember about Mr. Catlin's shop is going by

there several times at night and noticing a lighted sign in the

window reading "All Electric Pingames, $10 and Up".  Once, when

waiting for the bus, I saw an entire pingame out in the trash.  I

remember it had a short backboard with pictures of horses on it.

I knew it was too big to carry home on the bus, so I waited until

that evening and asked my dad if he would go get it for me.

Well, we drove to Montrose but, as luck would have it, it was



     Shortly after that, Mr. Catlin moved his shop out of that

building and into a "quonset hut" building on the same lot as his

home, about a mile away.  One day I went to his new location and

knocked on the door.  He answered and invited me in.  When I

asked if he had any electrical parts he wanted to get rid of he

surprised me by offering me an entire pingame if I could haul it

away.  Well, I went home and again asked my dad for help and we

went back to Mr.  Catlin's.  He then gave me two pingames,

Bally's VARIETY and VOGUE, both from 1939.  Pinball machines had

been outlawed in most of Los Angeles County years earlier and he

could no longer legally operate these games.


NOTE:  Since pingames were illegal in much of Los Angeles County,

other types of amusement machines were operated in their place.

These included various "gun games" made during World War II

(which had just ended a few years earlier) and "roll down" games

put out by Genco after the war.  These games somewhat resembled

pingames, having a lighted score-indicating backboard, but they

delivered to the player five wooden balls (about the size of

tennis balls) which he would roll down the playfield to drop into

scoring holes at it's back.  These holes were covered by a glass

to keep the player from touching the scoring contacts.


     After setting up these games in my garage, and using my

electrical knowledge to get them going, other kids in the

neighborhood played them and asked where I had gotten them.  Two

of the boys who lived near me soon went to Mr. Catlin's and got

their own games.  One got Chicago Coin's MAJORS OF '41 and the

other Genco's VICTORY.  Since these fellows had no knowledge of

electrical things I was called upon to get their games going, and

keep them that way.


     Well, as you can imagine, word of these games spread quickly

throughout our small town, and before long there were quite a few

pingames in the hands of young boys.  News of my repair knowledge

also spread, and I ended up working on most of them at one time

or another.  Other games I specifically remember working on

during that period were Bally's CROSSLINE, Chicago Coin's ROXY,

and Genco's METRO (a game which I now own).  I eventually traded

my VARIETY for Genco's SEVEN UP (another game I currently own).


     After a while I got tired of VOGUE and SEVEN UP and sold

them to an ex-neighbor who had moved.  A while after that I went

back to Mr. Catlin's and he gave me a "console style" game by

Stoner, called ZETA.  This game, made in 1938, had a circular

playfield with a crude "pop bumper" in the center of it.  A very

novel pingame indeed.  I eventually traded ZETA for Exhibit's

LANDSLIDE which I took with me when my family moved from La

Canada to Inglewood in 1951.  That game a friend and I eventually

dismantled when we were in high school.


MEMPHIS - My mother's family lived in Memphis and our family

often took summer vacations there.  Once or twice I spent the

entire summer with my relatives, returning home to California on

the Greyhound bus.  My uncle worked as a door-to-door salesman

and I often accompanied him on his daily rounds.  He liked to

have a beer two or three times a day at local bars.  At that

time, the late Forties and early Fifties, almost all of the beer

bars in Memphis had "one-ball" horserace pingames.


     Even though it was technically illegal for kids to play

these machines, my uncle was friends with the bar owners and they

would generally let me play them with nickels he supplied.  One

game which was found in many of these Memphis bars at that time

was a Bally game called EUREKA.  Other Bally one-balls I remember

playing were CHAMPION and TURF KING (a game I currently own).


     One-balls weren't the only pingames operated in Memphis

either.  The local "country store", up the road from where my

relatives lived, also had an amusement type pingame.  The one

game I specifically remember playing there was United's pre-

flipper game SINGAPORE.  I used to like to play this game at the

store.  My grandmother, however, was somewhat "old fashioned" and

didn't believe that young boys should play pinball.


     She eventually let the store owner, Mr. Terry, know that she

didn't want me playing the game and threatened to stop trading

with him if he continued letting me play.  This angered me and I

wrote a letter to my father complaining about my grandmother's

unreasonableness in this matter.  A few years ago my aunt found a

copy of this letter which she gave to me, which I now have as a

souvenir of that incident.


    A "famous" game I remember playing in Memphis was the first

flipper pinball, Gottlieb's HUMPTY DUMPTY.  I first played this

game in the Raleigh drug store in Raleigh, Tennessee, a Memphis

suburb.  I also played other flipper games in various

restaurants, drugstores, etc in Memphis.  Two games I

specifically remember playing there were Genco's PUDDIN' HEAD

(1948) and United's BLUE SKIES (1948).  I also remember playing

Gottlieb's HAPPY DAYS (1952), but didn't remember the name, only

it's tic-tac-toe format.  In those days almost every cafe, and

many drugstores, in Memphis had pins, as well as the beer bars

with their ever-present "one-ball".


     Also, during one summer-long visit to Memphis, my cousins

and I paid a visit to the back alley behind one of Memphis' well-

known coin machine companies, Southern Amusement Co., which was

located a few blocks from my great aunt's home in the city.  We

found in their trash a small baseball machine, Bally's HEAVY

HITTER, and the backbox of a Chicago Coin's KILROY, both of which

we brought home to my grandmother's house in the country.  I got

the baseball game to partially work, however I believe some parts

were missing. The KILROY head was just a souvenir, however.


     Once, for my return bus trip to Los Angeles, my uncle gave

me a five dollar bill with instructions to use it only for

playing pinball, a gesture I greatly appreciated.  Almost every

(if not all) Greyhound stop had pingames so I really "had a

ball", excuse the expression, playing pinball during this trip.

I can recall that many of the games I played at those bus stops

had names of cities and states, a popular theme for pingames of

the late Forties and early Fifties, which seemed quite

appropriate to me for these bus station locations.


BANJO - When I was in the ninth grade my family moved from La

Canada to Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles.  At that time there

was only one high school, Inglewood High, in the city with a

second one, Morningside High, under construction, which was to

serve the area of town where we lived starting the next school



     In order to get to and from Inglewood High I had to ride a

public bus for about three miles.  Directly across the street

from the school, where I waited for the bus to go home, there was

a malt shop where many of the high school kids hung out.  One day

I noticed a pinball machine in this place with kids crowded

around it.  I went in to see what it was and found out that it

was Exhibit's BANJO, one of that company's early flipper games

from 1948.


     After that, I started going in there each day for ten or

fifteen minutes, before taking the bus home, and watching the

kids playing the game.  There was, of course, also a jukebox in

that shop and I remember hearing one song played over and over

again.  It was "Rose, Rose, I Love You", which was either by Guy

Mitchell or Frankie Laine, I believe.  The next time I heard that

song, by the way, was in the late Sixties in the movie "The Last

Picture Show".


     One day about that time I remember going to the shop of the

coin machine operator who operated that game.  I talked to a man

there who was working on a pingame.  I asked him if there was any

chance of my getting a part-time job working on games, and told

him of my past experience working on the pinballs owned by us

kids in La Canada.  He told me that they couldn't hire me if I

wasn't in the Electrician's Union, which I believe was just an



      At that time, around 1951, Inglewood was one of the few

cities in Los Angeles County which allowed pinball machines.  I

also remember several machines at a local miniature golf course

there.  Well, about a year later, the city of Inglewood also

outlcwed pingames!  After that, the only nearby city where pins

were still legal was Long Beach.


THE "PIKE"  -  Up until just a few years ago, there was an

amusement area on the waterfront at Long Beach known as "the

Pike".  When I was a teenager, in the late Forties and early

Fifties, I would often travel to Long Beach, either by streetcar

or hitchhiking, and visit the Pike.


     I remember that they had two fairly large amusement machine

arcades.  One of these arcades had all pre-war, non-flipper,

pingames (probably 30 or 40 of them) all equipped for 2 cent

play. These games had a wide push-in type coin slide in which two

pennies were placed side-by-side.


     I enjoyed playing these machines because they reminded me of

the games I had owned and worked on when I was younger.  I even

recognized some of them as being the same as those machines.  One

game I specifically remember being at that arcade was Gottlieb's

PARADISE, which had a large picture of a peacock with his plumage

spread all over the backglass.  I just found out recently, by the

way, that my friend Richard Conger now owns one of these



     The other arcade, I remember, had the more modern games set

up for nickel play.  I do remember, however, that they had a one-

ball horserace machine equipped for penny operation which I

played on several occasions.  I have heard stories in the last

several years that there were also bingo pinballs operated at the

Pike in later years which were also set up for one-cent

operation.  The only time I visited the pike since the Fifties,

however, I remember that the arcades were closed.


PICO ST. -  Ever since the 1930's, Pico Street in Los Angeles has

been the location of that city's "coin machine row".  I remember

as a young teenager taking many walks down Pico and exploring the

coin machine distributorships there.  Places with names such as

Siking, Luenhagens, and C. A. Robinson, to name a few.  Little

did I know at that time that the great Harry Williams once had a

shop there, the location of which I probably walked by many times

without knowing it.


     I can remember entering some of those distributorships with

their showrooms displaying lines of brand-new wood-rail pinballs.

I would, when I was brave enough, (and nobody seemed to be

looking) sneak a game or two on one of these shining new

beauties. I remember Pico being a very fascinating street for a

young pinball fan in those days.


     It is interesting to note that at that time those pinballs

could not be legally operated in the city of Los Angeles, or many

of the surrounding communities.  These machines were there,

however, for purchase by operators in other parts of Southern

California without such restrictive laws.


     Well, there you have it, a "trip down memory lane" with

yours truly; recalling the many incidents, places, and games

associated with my early interest in pinball.  An interest which

lay dormant for almost twenty years after I took apart Exhibit's

LANDSLIDE in the early Fifties, only to resurface again in the

early 1970's when I bought another pingame, and which has

continued for the past 15 or so years.  And it is still going