By Lloyd Graff
Back in the heyday of Brown and Sharpe screw machines in the 1970s, many of the screw shops in Chicago ran parts for the pinball machine guys. The flippers and bumpers were exquisite mechanical devices full of precision components. Most of those parts are gone today as video games have come into vogue, but one manufacturer remains, Stern Pinball of Suburban Melrose Park, Illinois. There was an excellent article in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune about the company and the owner Gary Stern. An accompanying piece on 98-year-old Steve Kordek, a hall of fame pinball designer is also well worth reading.
My best pinball experiences were as a kid on family vacations to Miami Beach. While my parents baked by the pool, I lived at the hotel pinball machines, mesmerized by the thump of the bumpers and the unpredictable roll of the steel balls. One of my childhood regrets was flipper anxiety—always a little early or a little late on the buttons.
Question: What is one of your most vivid memories of playing pinball?