austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

The joy of living is in the giving

So that's all enough current-pinball stuff. Let me jump back to stuff not yet filled in, which puts me right after Thanksgiving. Uhm. It's pinball stuff.

I've mentioned sometimes the VFW Pinball Hall of Fame, sometimes called the Ann Arbor Pinball Museum. It's really a guy's private collection, housed in a former VFW hall, and sprawling out. He opens it one weekend a year --- his zoning won't allow it to be open more than four --- and otherwise runs it as a private club. He opened it Black Friday for a special event. Bring your canned food donation and get in for a night's pinball. How could we resist?

A point of confusion: how much of a donation should we bring? There's no guidance we can find anywhere, anywhere about this. I have an idea. If this were a tournament we'd probably pay about ten dollars or so each. So, ten dollars of canned goods. Ten dollars can get a lot of canned goods, if you go for the boring vegetables that make for ingredients. We hand over paper bags that threaten to rip open and spill green beans over the floor.

One of the guys staffing the event mentions, showing off the T-shirt and its cans-being-roped-up design that the guy running the VFW hates canned vegetables. First, whoops. Second, so what, we should've just given evaporated milk? The guy who runs the VFW has a reputation for difficult behavior. And he's for some reason deeply suspicious of our friend MWS. I've had no unpleasant interactions with him, but I'm also not on Facebook and have no reason for him to be aware of my existence. Well, we donated in good faith.

Curious little side note: I stop to take a picture of Quicksilver, an early-80s game with really blobby liquidy character action. Some staffer notices and offers to take the glass off the table so I can get better pictures. And talks to me about the game and how great games of this era are. For twenty minutes, which is a lot to discuss something when we're basically in agreement on an uncontroversial point. Especially when there's only four hours at the place.

We have an encore. Two weeks later the VFW hosts another charity drive, ``Tilts For Tots''. Bring a Toys for Tots donation and get in for another four hours. There's again no guidance for what to spend, so we fall back on the $10-to-$20 range. I get some artist kits from Michael's, which had some awesome deals. It's probably not very good, but it's a lot of pencils and crayons and colored markers and paper and even a miniature artist's mannequin. bunny_hugger and I like getting this stuff for Toys for Tots, since it's suitable for older kids who want to make their own stuff. It makes a scary big donation and I don't hear anything against art supplies through the grapevine.

It's another four hours or so in a place with two, maybe three hundred pinball machines from every era. How to pick what to do? I have an idea. There's a whole row of nothing but 60s electromechanical games. Every one is in good shape. I play them each, going down the line. I only have to go around someone the one time, amazingly. I have a bunch of good games, and even roll maybe two of them. One, on the first ball, and put up garbage for the other four balls. Natural enough.

So we got two unusual, unexpected chances to visit an incredible pinball venue, one we expected to be open only once a year. Grand little treat for the start of the Christmas season.

Trivia: Michigan had 31 four-year colleges in 1960. Source: Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Bruce A Rubenstein, Lawrence E Ziewacz.

Currently Reading: In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early American Life, James Deetz.

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