June 20

News : Phil Bowhay: When pinball was king : Monterey Herald

The Monterey Herald and Phil Bowhay posted a story about the author’s fondness to pinball in the 60’s and 70’s.  Phil also touches on the subject of how times have changed with arcades and bowling alleys disappearing from American culture.


I am possibly the only person you know who has never played a video game. Well, maybe Pong a long time ago, and then there was that bout with Tetris, but those date back with Canasta. My grandkids wonder what we did for fun back in the good old days and how did we fill those idle hours when we weren’t delivering papers or fiddling with stamp albums.

Sad to say, but they will never really appreciate or understand our fine addiction to pinball machines. I watch the kids today fiddle their fingers with little black boxes and wonder if they would be attracted to real pinball if they were reintroduced. Would their souls tingle with the ka-ching, ka-ching and thrill flipping the steel balls back to the top for another run through the flashing lights! Or would they prefer that insane roar that comes from the arcade room at Century Theatre.

Well, in the good old days, in good old Pacific Grove, we had pinball machines that sharpened our senses, improved our hand/eye coordination and kept us off the streets. I think it was a nickel a game, which computes to a penny a ball, but even with that modest cost there was smug satisfaction running up free games. If you didn’t play pinball, you might not remember Lola — Lola with the long black hair. There wasn’t a pinball in the county that Lola couldn’t beat, and was rumored to make decent spending money taking bets. She had a fine touch with the plunger and could place the balls within a quarter-inch of the bumpers and very rarely caused a tilt! Standing behind her we noticed a certain pelvic twist or thrust that doubtless thwarted any errant roll of the ball. I understood she could shoot pretty good pool, too. Yep, we had a real pool hall in Pacific Grove, up on Forest below Laurel.

Read the full article by clicking below :

Thanks to the Monterey Herald and Phil Bowhay for the story and pictures.