Another trip, primarily to Sandy Hook, was fruitless for the most part, with the exception of the ubiquitous gulls and
When the frustration on birding got to the quit point, we agreed it might be best to head over to
Snow covered the boardwalk on the days we visited, with paths shoveled to each of the pavilion store doorways, as well as a strip running the length from Convention Hall to the hulk of the decaying Casino. The hot spot, so to speak, was the Silver Ball Museum Arcade, Asbury’s salute to the great American pastime of pinball.
No legitimate seaside boardwalk is complete without an arcade, after all, and it’s been quite a while since
Astoundingly, both of us found machines we’d wasted many a college-era hour on, and we set off on a bit of friendly competition. Myself, it had been a good 20 years since I’d played pinball, so it took a little time to get reoriented, but my traveling companion quickly slipped into competitive mode. I suspect one of us may have spent a bit more time in the student center game room than he might have wanted to admit. Especially when he started commenting on the capriciousness of the pinball god Tilt-os and the similarity between a machine’s upper flippers and a T-rex’s relatively useless arms.
All of the equipment is well maintained, though some machines have springier flippers than others. It’s fun to see the evolution of the technology, from simple mechanical devices with 10 point bumpers and four digit scoring displays to the electronic marvels that score in the six digit range. Somewhere around the late 60’s, the artwork got a lot racier, or perhaps bustier, if you get my drift, and more commercial, as well. I guess that’s the point when the manufacturers started giving endorsement deals to celebrities and movies.
The place itself probably gets mobbed on a rainy afternoon in July, but on both January visits it was doing a respectable level of business, too. We pretty much had our choice of the games, but there were enough people there to feel we had good company. The only possible complaint might have been with the snack bar, which took way longer than necessary to supply us with a couple of hot dogs. But overall, there are a lot worse ways to wile away a winter afternoon than to hang out playing pinball.