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    by Randy Ooney     

My Nickel’s Worth                      by Randy Ooney


Games People Play


Not that long ago, young boys spent leisure time playing sports related games.  We had Foto-Electric Football, complete with a light bulb that illuminated action on offense and defense cards inserted into the game by the players.  All Star Baseball had player discs and a spinner that dictated game results.  Bas-Ket, a unique game where players took turns pulling a spring loaded lever and tried to project a ping pong ball through a wire hoop mounted on a cardboard backboard.  But my favorite pastime was a bowling set.  It had ten polyethylene pins and I replaced the two light plastic balls with a couple of rubber balls purchased at the local Ben Franklin for fifteen cents each.  We played for hours in the basement, where I constructed a “lane” complete with a foul line and ten spots drawn on the concrete floor with a crayon.


Growing older, we discovered the Will Hop Inn, a 3.2 beer joint in the western suburbs.  There they had a bowling game for a dime.  You didn’t use a traditional ball, but rather a heavy metal disc propelled on a surface sprinkled with sawdust.  The disc would hit various metal wires, and if you hit the right ones the pins would disappear and the machine would record your score.  If you scored over 250 in a game you got a free drink.  It didn’t happen very often.  Hopkins Lanes had a more realistic bowling game in the bar, but it cost 25 cents.


Along came Nintendo. I found a PBA bowling cartridge for my Super Nintendo game box.  It was not that realistic though.  After a few tries I found myself getting around 8 - 300 games for every 10

I played.  If I could produce that in real bowling, it would be fun winning all that money, but it becomes boring.  I wouldn’t be able to complain about lane conditions, oil patterns, bad racks, or generally rotten luck.  Time and technology marches on.  I’ve tried the bowling game on Pogo.com.  It’s not too realistic, you will never see some of the spare leaves in real bowling unless you are rolling a six pound house ball with two hands.  Some players have figured it out, but I have trouble breaking 200.  I have never had the pleasure of trying Wii bowling, but I have heard good things about it.


But somehow I feel sorry for the kids today, never having the pleasure of rolling two rubber balls down a basement runway at 10 plastic pins.  Then getting down on hands and knees to set them up and do it again.  And if any of you from my generation still have your All Star Baseball spinner game complete with player discs, I think you can get a couple hundred bucks for it on eBay.   


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