While at lunch at one of our favourite restaurants the other day, I went on a little walk around the premises and came across this beautiful, old pinball machine. This is something I don’t come across very often anymore and the sight of it put a big smile on my face and sent me off down memory lane.
I spent my teenage years in the Eighties, the decade of bad hair, the Rubik’s Cube and Pac Man.
Growing up in Germany to a French father, our family would travel to the South of France to spend our summer holidays camping along the Atlantic Coast. These campsites were as big as villages with restaurants, supermarkets and, most importantly, an entertainment centre.
In between our visits to the beach and dinner time we were allowed to go and spend some of our holiday pocket money on the arcade machines in the entertainment centre. I remember that a round of three games cost five French Francs which was a big silver coin with an image of a lady in a dress on the back. I remember watching many a “ladies” disappear in my favourite pinball machine.
In those days, apart from Pac Man and the Rubik’s Cube, pinball machines were the best thing since sliced bread.
I can still remember the sound the plunger made after it launched the silver ball into its orbit around the playing field and the buttons on the sides of the machine which operated the flippers at the bottom of the table. I spent what now feels like hours behind these machines, perfecting the art of preventing the ball from falling into the gobble hole by gently nudging the table, without making it tilt.
What magical times those were! I remember them fondly, not because of the games I played, but because of the times we spent together as a family. I don’t think it really mattered to us where we were and what we did.
The fact that our family – my parents, my sister and I – were able to spend those weeks together, year-in-year-out, is something that, to this day, makes me happy.
I am grateful that the sight of an old pinball machine makes me remember those times and has the power to make me feel all fuzzy inside.