(A “Dog/Wolf Day Afternoon”)
By Russ Jensen
Ever since we found out when the 2001 edition of PIN-A-GO-GO was scheduled to be held, my good friend Ron Tyler and I planned on attending like we have for the past several years. Going to the show this year also had special significance for me as it would be the first time I would be able to really see what was going on in the hall.
This was because last November I had cataract surgery (with an ocular implant) which resulted in me going from “legally blind” to the best vision I have had for at least 20 years, if not the best in my life! Also I was able to reinstate my driver’s license which I had voluntarily given up about five years earlier when I felt that I could no longer see well enough to drive safely.
On Friday morning (May 18) my friend Ron picked me up around 6:30 AM. The previous day we had decided to take the more scenic Pacific Coast route in lieu of the boring Interstate-5 up the central valley like we had done in the past. It was a very pleasant drive for the most part, with the exception of turning off in one town part way up to find a rest room, having a lot of trouble finding a place which had such facilities, it taking over 20 minutes!
We finally arrived at our motel at about 2:30 PM, but after checking in we were informed that our room was not ready, then being told it would be in about half an hour. So we decided to go to the nearby restaurant for lunch, figuring that when we got back to the motel our room would be ready. When we returned we were told that it was, but when we opened the door we saw that it was a total mess! After informing the front desk of the situation we decided to just go on to the show and not come back to the motel until later that afternoon.
We then proceeded to the show site (a local fairgrounds in the town of Dixon) and went to the check-in table to receive our badges as we had paid our admission by mail several weeks earlier. The weather, by the way, was extremely HOT, in the upper 90’s most of the time – I HATE heat! After we got our badges I began looking around the hall to see who/what was there.
I looked to see if any of my old friends had arrived, but none of them had shown up as yet. While looking at the machines in the hall I noticed there were not too many electro-mechanicals, except for one near mint 1947 Exhibit game, TALLY HO, (which had a “flipper kit” added to it sometime back), and a row of eight or ten “project games” (games needing repair and/or restoration) which were not set up, their cabinets standing on end and the heads setting on the floor in front of them.
Long time pinball parts dealers Jim and Judy Tolbert (who are in the process of “retiring” in Mexico) had a booth where they were selling some of their parts which had been in storage, sharing their boot with Dave Mercer from Colorado to whom they recently sold their For Amusement Only pinball parts business. The Tolberts also had their latest canine friend Momo (which they said they rescued from a Mexican animal shelter), and they had a picture on the wall of their original dog Toby who had been with them at many past coin-op shows, which they were quick to point out was still alive and well living with Jim’s father. By the way, I will be saying more about this show’s “canine attendees” a little later.
One of my personal projects at all coin-op shows I attend is to take photographs of all pingames (primarily electro-mechanicals, but a few solid-state games which I consider to have some special significance) which I don’t already have photos of (as of this writing, by the way, I have photos of some 1247 different pinball machines – including a few “pitch & bat” baseball machines). In order to know which games I have photos of, I always carry a computer listing of my current pinball photo collection. At this show I took photos of eight games for which I either had no photos, or only a picture of either the playfield or backglass.
One of the games I photographed was a professionally restored Gottlieb MAJORETTES from 1964. This excellent restoration was performed by Tim Meighan. In addition to this game he also had on display a 1965 Gottlieb BANK-A-BALL and a 1939 Chicago Coin SPORTS which looked like the day if came out of the factory! Good work Tim!
After roaming about the hall most of the afternoon Ron and I decided to go to our motel and rest for a little while before going to dinner. After relaxing for about an hour we made the short trip to the local Mexican restaurant where we have eaten in past years. As usual, we enjoyed our dinner very much including the “cervesa” (beer).
After dinner Ron and I returned to the show for several hours more of roving and visiting with the few old friends who had arrived later in the day. When we decided to leave for the evening we attempted to drive back to our motel. We, however, got terribly lost trying to find the correct freeway exit and route to the motel, it taking about one hour; the trip should have taken about 15 minutes maximum! Later we realized that at one point early in our drive we had been about two blocks from our destination!
The next morning we returned to Dixon and had breakfast at our favorite breakfast dining place, an old restaurant/bar called Dawson’s. We were joined for breakfast by my long-time pinball buddy Sam Harvey, and a mutual friend John Cassidy, both of those fellows having at various times been my roommates at the annual Pinball Expo in Chicago. After breakfast we went to the show and spent the morning roaming the aisles and checking out the games, parts, and literature there.
Around noon we went to lunch and then returned to the hall noticing how many people had shown up for the show during the late morning and early afternoon. The room became increasingly crowded making it much more difficult to move around.
I noticed two interesting things while walking around in the crowd. First I saw several young children there with their parents (even a few babes in arms), and especially one young girl (about 3 years old) who was being pushed in a small carrier by her father, who I noticed was carrying a small stool on her lap – obviously to stand on while playing pinball! I also noticed that several people had brought their dogs, in addition to the Tolbert’s dog I previously mentioned.
Those dogs, however, were not the only canines attending the show. Booth operator Gilbert Sanchez and his lady Pat brought along one of their pet white wolves Nakita (affectionately known as Nikki). This, by the way, was not my first meeting with this beautiful animal; a couple years ago this same couple brought both of their wolves to Chicago while attending Pinball Expo. I had the privilege of petting one of them at that time who was in their van in front of a restaurant next door to the Expo site. This time I again had the pleasure of petting a wolf for the second time in my life. And now you know why I refer to Saturday afternoon at this show as “A Dog/Wolf Day Afternoon”!
The following is a chronological listing of the pingames at the show (courtesy of Sam Harvey):
GAME MFG. YEAR PRICE OWNER SPORTS Chicago Coin 1939 MEIGHAN CONTACT Exhibit 1948 300/OBO FIGHTING IRISH Chicago Coin 1950 300 HI-FI (BINGO) Bally 1954 600 CARNIVAL QUEEN (BINGO) Bally 1955 350 GUSHER Williams 1959 1200 KING PINS Williams 1962 350 TROPIC ISLE Gottlieb 1962 SWEET HEARTS Gottlieb 1963 BOWLING QUEEN Gottlieb 1964 550 HAPPY CLOWN Gottlieb 1964 700 MAJORETTES Gottlieb 1964 MEIGHAN SOCCER Williams 1964 400 SPACE SHIP Williams 1964 BANK-A-BALL Gottlieb 1965 MEIGHAN MELODY Gottlieb 1967 500 DING DONG Williams 1968 400 EL TORO Bally 1970 300 2001 Bally 1971 DOODLE BUG Williams 1971 300 FIREBALL Bally 1971 2200/OBO PRO FOOTBALL Gottlieb 1971 450/OBO KING KOOL Gottlieb 1972 GULFSTREAM Williams 1973 SKYLAB Williams 1974 375 TRIPLE ACTION Williams 1974 400 TWIN WIN Bally 1974 FAST DRAW Gottlieb 1975 NFS SUPER FLIPPER (PIN/VID) Chicago Coin 1975 TRIPLE STRIKE Williams 1975 GRAND PRIX Williams 1976 MATI HARI Bally 1976 PINBALL (EM) Stern Electronics 1977 500 STRIKES & SPARES Bally 1977 STAR TREK Bally 1978 FLASH Williams 1979 INCREDABLE HULK Gottlieb 1979 750 LASERBALL Williams 1979 ROLLING STONES Bally 1979 500 TRI ZONE Williams 1979 250 BLACK KNIGHT Williams 1980 COUNTERFORCE Gottlieb 1980 NFS CHARLAND EIGHT BALL DELUXE Bally 1980 FATHOM Bally 1980 FIREPOWER Williams 1980 600 FLASH GORDON Bally 1980 SPIDERMAN Gottlieb 1980 NFS CHARLAND LIGHTNING Stern Electronics 1981 MEDUSA Bally 1981 PINK PANTHER Gottlieb 1981 NFS CHARLAND SPECTRUM Bally 1981 VOLCANO Gottlieb 1981 NFS CHARLAND COSMIC GUNFIGHT Williams 1982 NFS DEVIL'S DARE Gottlieb 1982 NFS CHARLAND GOIN' NUTS Gottlieb 1982 NFS CHARLAND PUNK Gottlieb 1982 NFS CHARLAND SPEAKEASY Bally 1982 1250 SPIRIT Gottlieb 1982 NFS CHARLAND STRIKER Gottlieb 1982 NFS CHARLAND CENTAUR II Bally 1983 NFS JOUST Williams 1983 BLACK PYRAMID Bally 1984 LASER CUE Williams 1984 750 SPY HUNTER Bally 1984 650 BEAT THE CLOCK Bally 1985 NFS COMET Williams 1985 400 TAG TEAM Gottlieb 1985 100 GENISIS Gottlieb 1986 399 HIGH SPEED Williams 1986 400 PINBOT Williams 1986 400 F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1987 SPRING BREAK Gottlieb 1987 SPACE STATION Williams 1988 SOLD TAXI Williams 1988 750 ELVIRA & THE PARTY MONSTERS Bally 1989 JOKERZ Williams 1989 895 POLICE FORCE Williams 1989 1500 ROCKY Gottlieb 1989 NFS CHARLAND BUGS BUNNY'S BIRTHDAY BALL Bally 1990 DR DUDE Williams 1990 1450 FUN HOUSE Williams 1990 RIVERBOAT GAMBLER Williams 1990 SIMPSONS, THE Data East 1990 1400 GILLIGAN'S ISLAND Bally 1991 1675 HARLEY DAVIDSON Bally 1991 2975 HURRICANE Williams 1991 PARTY ZONE Bally 1991 BLACK ROSE Bally 1992 1175 FISH TALES Williams 1992 1100, 1950 ROCKY & BULLWINKLE Data East 1992 1375 STAR WARS Data East 1992 1395,1600 SUPER MARIO BROTHERS Gottlieb 1992 CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON Bally 1993 1875 JUDGE DREAD Bally 1993 1450 JURASSIC PARK Data East 1993 LETHAL WEAPON III Bally 1993 TALES FROM THE CRYPT Data East 1993 1650 DEMOLITION MAN Williams 1994 1450 FLINTSTONES, THE Williams 1994 GUNS N' ROSES Data East 1994 RESCUE 911 Gottlieb 1994 1395 SHADOW, THE Bally 1994 WORLD CUP SOCCER Bally 1994 1450 BREAK SHOT Capcom 1996 JOHNNY MNEMONIC Williams 1996 2500 WHO DUNNIT Bally 1996 2850 MEDEVIL MADNESS Williams 1997 NO GOOD GOPHERS Williams 1997 2750 REVENGE FROM MARS Bally 1999 4850 STAR WARS - EPISODE 1 Williams 1999 NFL RAIDERS Stern Pinball 2000 5500 STRIKER XTREME Stern Pinball 2000 3780 HI-ROLLER CASINO Stern Pinball 2001 4000
When it was time for dinner Saturday night Ron and I again dined at our favorite dinner site, the Mexican restaurant in Vacaville. This time, however, we had no trouble finding it! After dinner we returned to the show for a short time and then returned to the motel for the night.
The next morning (Sunday) Ron and I went back to Dixon for a final breakfast at Dawson’s. The day before we had asked my friend (and fellow pinball author) Bear Kamaroff to meet us for breakfast at 9 AM and he said he would try to make it. When he had not shown up by a few minutes after nine we went on inside and joined Sam Harvey, John Cassidy, and another friend of theirs, Pete Cooley, who had flown in from the L.A. area on Saturday. After 20 or 30 minutes Bear entered the restaurant and joined our party. We all enjoyed our breakfast and pinball conversations. At around 10 AM Ron and I excused ourselves from this good company as we wanted to start on our drive home.
This time we drove home using Interstate-5 (the route we used for our past trips to the show). This route was not nearly as scenic as the coastal route, in fact a good portion of it could be described as “miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles”. We arrived back in our home town of Camarillo around 4 PM, ending another great trip and visit to Pin-A-Go-Go! We hope to return next year if the show is again held.
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