Created on 11-08-2010 _ Last updated 02-02-2012
Ooooops, I forgot the rest of the text and the bingo picture _ Sorry Tommy!!
~ Lee High School Memories – Huntsville Alabama – Tommy visits Guam ~
………Those of you classmates who were ever in the military and stationed at some little remote island in the Pacific can better relate to this story than those who were never privileged to serve their country in that manner. First a little background on how I found it. In February of 1972, there was an operation called Bullet Shot that sent 8,000 United States Air Force personnel to Guam in about a two-week period. There were so many of us that hit the island at the same time that there was no where to put us all. They cleaned out World War II Quonset huts, brought in trailers, set up tent cities, and rented as many hotel rooms as they could to house the onslaught of officers and enlisted men. I know because I lived in all of those places at one time or another during my deployment there.
The majority of time I was on Guam during that first visit, I was housed in a contract hotel room with three other officers. It was at a place called Tumon Bay and miles away from the base and the activities there like movies and the clubs that kept us occupied. I had to ride the USAF bus for thirty minutes to and from the base every day.
Right across the street from the hotel was the little dive pictured above. It was named the "Happy Landing Store", and was run by a Guamanian and his family - wife, sons, and daughters all worked there. It primarily sold beer and had a juke box in one room that had about a half-dozen small tables with chairs. Even the youngest would work the counters and sell beers. The cliental of the place was migrant Philippine workers, and Japanese tourists. There were only three or four of us Americans that hung out there. There was no air conditioning and no screens on the doors. A single 100-watt light bulb hanging from the ceiling was the normal lighting. I think the floor was tiled, but it was never light enough to really tell. One of the features of the jukebox was that it had 8mm movies on it, and for a quarter you could listen to songs and watch xxx rated porno movies that may or may not kept time with the beat of the song. I remember especially one raunchy movie that accompanied "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family, and the people in the movie tried as many ways as they could to show their love in the two plus minutes the song lasted. I always thought it was strange that the owner never seemed to mind that his four and five and ten year old sons were exposed to the movies.
However, my key draw to the Happy Landing Store was that it had the kind of pinball machines that I grew up playing in the VFW club in Huntsville. I know Bob Walker knows the kind I am talking about. They were the ones with 25 holes on the playing field and you shot five balls and tried to get the ball to land in the right holes so that you would get three, four, or five to line up and light up the lights on the back lighted screen. (See photo below!) It cost a nickel to play a basic game, but the more nickels you put in, the better the odds became and the more games you could win for lining up the balls. They call these pinball machines "bingo machines" normally. Also you could get extra features like moving the balls around and for enough money you could get up to three extra balls. Your number of games was kept on an odometer like counter on the backboard. Now once you got a real high score, you could cash them in for money, so it was really a gambling device in all-practical terms.
I used to go over there and buy Cokes and play the machines for hours. I rarely won enough to cash in, but I could usually keep myself in the game for many hours on a couple of dollars, and that was great entertainment for the money and helped a non-drinker pass the time. However, if it had not been for the Happy Landing Store, the six months that I spent alone in Guam would have driven me crazy. Whenever I got sad or lonely, I would head there and get a couple of dollars worth of nickels and kill hours of loneliness playing pinball and listening to "I Think I Love You" in the background………
~ Bingo Pinballs – “Excellent History ~