by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Okay, I admit it. I am a senior citizen. One of the benefits of my seniority is the memories etched in my brain. Of course, it is not so easy as sometimes I do not remember what I had for breakfast. However I do remember the hours of fun I had with friends Howie Herstein and Bob Harvey back in the 1970’s at Aqua Bowl in Deephaven. Howie, Bob and I participated in the Tonka Pinbusters League. Of course I cannot remember what night that was. However, after the bowling, the three of us would compete in one of the pinball machines positioned against the north wall, while proprietor Bob Hageman prepared the lanes for the next day with a spray bottle of lane conditioner. We would play for several hours (3 pinball games for $.25). Both Mr. Hageman as well as Howie and Bob Harvey have passed away. They were great assets to the game of bowling and I miss them dearly.
Time has passed and I now find myself participating in a travelling league as well as a regular Thursday nighter. Consequently I visit 9 bowling centers during the season and follow the high schoolers to several others. Pinball prospects are not the best. Blainbrook has several dozen machines in their game room – Hooray for them. Mermaid also has a few on the other side of the bar. Texa Tonka has only one. Next to the golf machine by the pro shop. Sorry, I cannot name another pinball machine living in a bowling center. What I can report is extravagant games around the city. Our High School League has two matches a year in the Eden Prairie Bowlero. There are huge games that cost a lot of money to play. I can’t figure them out, plus I think you have to purchase a card (like a credit card) and slide it somewhere before you can play. Same story at the WOW Zone in Mankato. I remember years ago when video games started replacing pinball. The one that got me hooked was Pac-Man but I am too old to play the video games in the bowling centers today. I guess I just have to bowl and go home. Sigh !