Back in those 1940 days at Montgomery, I used to have friends and classmates in for some recreation in the large basement of our house. You might expect me to use the worn-out phrase, "Those were the good old days."
My father at that time purchased an inexpensive juke box, pinball machine and table tennis setup. I guess the table tennis provided the practice that helped me to win two intramural championships at Tech and Marshall. We even had school teams in those days, and the opposition teams at the colleges played before small crowds.
It certainly was not the Chinese team that came to America to attempt to break the thaw in relations. Believe it or not, for my political science studies at Marshall, I went to the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. and asked that a Soviet representative be assigned to visit the Alloy plant and engage in a table tennis challenge. With quite a few students looking on, I happened to win 21 to 19. In addition, the Alloy excursion came off as well.
Of course, at my house, no one had to pay for the activities. I can even remember some of the students who were at the party: Louis Tabit, Brown Riley, Jane Rutherford, Betty Fitzwater, Margaret Lononsy, Eugene Divita, Tyler Elgin. Mom and Dad did not know that we played post office and spin-the-bottle as well.
Hamburger restaurants all had jukeboxes and pinball machines. I think of a stop, with my brother, Larry, and many others, when Heater's was a popular place to eat, as we came from a West Virginia athletic game at Morgantown. Honestly, I tried not to be smart-alecky but I was this time. Tech professor L. T Crocker's daughter asked me what I was playing as I put my coin in, and I told her the song title, "It Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own."
Few pinball machines are found around for customers today. Back then, a nickel manually inserted into the machine by a push-pull device gave five chances with a steel ball to get through a maze of bumpers, obstacles and rollover switches to the return slot. When a particular bumper or switch is hit, you observe a bell flashing lights and a score. If you have enough in total points, you win a free game.
Unlike today's video games, there are no moving pictures or animations. The sport is simple and mechanical. With the manipulation of flippers and the shaking of the machine, you try to control the ball for an appealing score. You feel in control because you become a part of the machine. The skill is to shake the machine enough to continue scoring, but not too much for the tilt light to come on.
Holliday is a former state senator from Fayette County, and says he once was a teenager.