I’ve been a pinball junkie since I walked into the back room of our local hoagie shop and put a quarter into the slot of Gottlieb’s Wizard. My habit quickly developed and I spent years hanging out in smoky game rooms and working arcades down the shore perfecting my playing skills. Those skills have waned over the years and I haven’t seen, much less played pinball in a long time. That’s why when I had to deliver a load of furniture to Indiana this past weekend I decided to detour to Lafayette and drop some quarters in the machines at Main Street Amusements …
Main Street Amusements bills itself as Indiana’s largest pinball arcade and it did not disappoint. The arcade is located in a small storefront on – you guessed it – Main Street. Inside, 26 pinballs line the walls and 13 arcade classics like Galaga, Ms. PacMan, and Space Invaders stand guard in the center, all waiting to be played.
The arcade features meticulously maintained games from every decade, including some of my all time favorites like King of Diamonds, Captain Fantastic, and Bobby Orr’s Power Play. Seeing the pinball machines I learned to play on, and dropped so many quarters into, made me unexpectedly happy (and nostalgic for those long-ago weekends spent at the lanes with my girlfriends, drinking Miller tall boys and flirting with the bad boys in between games).
As if the thrill of playing – and maybe winning a free game – weren’t enough of a reason to play I find myself increasingly captivated by pinball art. The playing fields and back glass designs have evolved from the boldly colored 40’s line drawings to today’s games which feature photographic images, multiple levels of play, and even 3-d figurines like a ringwraith, tiki god and an overflowing beer stein (I am looking at you Big Lebowski).
I have been dreaming of painting a series of large canvases that pay homage to back glass art and am working on identifying which art I like best. I’m already making plans to visit Main Street Amusements for design research (and a game or two). If you find yourself in the Purdue area and consider yourself a pinhead maybe you will do the same.
*Pinball Wizard – The Who