This Page Last Updated 5-25-2010
~ As you know, my plan has always been to capture as much Bingo Pinball history as possible! ~
~ But one of the cool things about
these older memories, is that some of these are just plan ole enjoyable
~ Notice that’s a 1951 Bally Spot Lite next to the HiFi – Those were great looking Bingos if you never seen one ~
Phil remembers Reno:
I don't know
of any bingo machines left in Nevada these days, but if you have been in Reno
for any length of time, you will remember
on Virginia Street, I think, and it was downstairs out of the way of the "mainstream" action. So you could pound away to your heart's delight!
Ron Storm Remembers:
I'd of liked to see that. I've never seen a quarter bingo but
used to watch the
"older" kids play a nickel one back when I got my start on it in
nickel after another into that thing, all the time poundin' on the four metal buttons in/on the lockdown bar. Then the whooping and hollerin' would start when
one would get
certain lineups and credits
countin' up and rotating the lit numbers on the glass for other lineups and
more credits. I didn't "get it" when ol' Clyde would come
Back in 1957-58 when I was 10-12, if you could win 800 nickels you were rich :-)
memories. When growing up, I too put all of my allowance into these
things. When the service guy would come to the cafe to fix it (Sea Island
Steve Lane Remembers:
Saw a Miss
America (MA-1050, 2-9-77) in my hometown over Spring Break. It's one of
those bingo-types where you launch several balls, slide the bars on the
for won credits. Is this considered a "real" pinball? I was surprised to not see it in the database, as I remember seeing at least 4 in my lifetime across the country
(they seemed to be very popular at Myrtle Beach in '77).
Tom Franceschi Remembers
I’m sorry to bother you with this question but I cannot find any info on the net. I’m 49 years old and when I was a teenage, let's say about 1969 or so, some
local bars (northern California) had these pinball machines without flippers that were great to play. The machine had holes for the ball and went from 1-25. Number
16 was in the middle and was the hardest to get but also the best one to get as it connected with many number. The object was to get 3,4, or 5 balls in a row and you won
games. The amount of games you won was determined by on how many games you pushed off trying to jump up the odds. You could even push a button that would
give you certain games and let you move the numbers around, making it easier to get 3 in a row. Now the best part was that the bartender would pay you off .05 a game.
We played for hours. Would you have any idea about what I’m talking about or know where I could find any link to these types of games. Thanks so much.
~ I guess he came to the right place – laugh ~
This puppy will play and pay just like you remember from the truck stops; lunch counters and bowling alleys of that era!!! I remember playing this exact game at the
"Towsen Ave Cafe" during my lunch hour in Ft Smith, Arkansas when I was a young man. Also played the Key West & Sea Island until all hours at "Floyd's Sinclair Station" at
the corner of "10th & A" in that same city. Man...how I love these games...maybe that's the reason I started refurbishing and selling them to those of us that wouldn't be
able to get one of these if someone didn't take to time to find and refurbish them! They bring back many, many fond memories!
~ I wish I knew which bingo he was referring to ~
They were great! My state used to allow 5 cent machines called "Leaders" . They had 3 bingo type card with 30 numbers each. 3 nickels lit up
all 3 cards. Line up 5 in a row (vertical,horizontal, diagonal) and you win. The pool hall had trays of nickels - a buck for a stack. Then there
were dime machines - "Golden Gate" - "Purple Sail" , etc. where you attempted to poke the pinball into certain numbers. Players would cuss,
"lipped out" - "missed a poke" - "tight SOB", etc. Someone, that hit a "smoker" had time to have a cigaret while the machine racked up 500 credits +.
~ “Purple Sail??” ~
New Castle Remembers:
Croton Cafe had gambling with the ancient pinball type machine, that had bingo type cards and if you got the pinballs in the right holes you’d
Win replays and were eligible for payout. These things were great and addicting, you couldn’t stop playing them……..
Dave from Seattle Remembers:
When a lad of thirteen or fourteen I used to hang around guys who played the bingo pinball machines at the ice creamery and the bowling alleys in
my neighborhood. You know, I never saw a female play one. Hmm. Who's the smart one of the species? :) The smell of a bingo pinball is unique to
anything -- a combination of oil and ozone and stale cigarette smoke. The images of the brown strips burned wood where players left their cigarettes
burning, or the water stains where occasional drinks would get spilled. The sounds of the stepping switches rattling off ABCD E F G, the pops of
the trip bank switches when a super section would light up, or the punk punk punk when 1st Extra Ball would light on a single nickel are all sounds
that make them a league of their own. My granddad was janitoring one of these bowling alleys and they had a ShowTime and a County Fair. I would
do anything I could to scrounge up nickels to play these on the weekends while he vacuumed and mopped. I learned how to jack up the machine using
matchbooks under the right rear leg so the balls would roll down the 1-8-(14)-19-23-24 side to make it easier to get a five-in-line. Occasionally it worked!
In those days, the maximum payout in our city was 160 replays. So if the odds jumped to 160 96 32, that was tiggest game with a five in line. Anyway,
I'd play these at 5 in the morning so no one would watch. My granddad would wait until the owner came in and collect the winnings. The owner put a stop
to that after about six consecutive weeks of $8 winners. Cheapskate! I remember playing the County Fair one time and a police officer started poking around
the front window. I was a teenager at the time so it was obviously illegal for me to be playing the machine. I had won a number of games but when I saw him
pull up I turned the machine off and hid underneath it while my grandfather ran the buffer. Of course I had forgotten that all the games go away when turning
on the power again, so I lost all my winnings for that day. My nickels were gone, too! There are other stories involving Laguna Beach, Roller Derby, and a
number of others whose names have faded into the past, watching the repairmen come out when a problem existed and open up the back and by reading the
schematic be able to make it work again. Only once do I recall watching them take an old broken machine out and replace it with a different one. And once in
a while they would loosen up the reflex unit to increase the chances of winning big. It was absolutely fascinating to me as a teenager to look inside the back,
and now that I
am in my fifties, they are no less magical even though I own three and am
seriously considering purchasing two more. (A Lido and a Bounty)
~ When Dave wrote to me, he thanked me for the bandwidth – lol – Setting things straight, I thanked him – Great story! ~
Doug Seed Remembers:
Like I've stated before, I played my
first "pinball", a bingo, 49 years ago when I was ten years old and
the die was cast. I obviously now own
My grandmother started a tea room in 1927, but by the time I came along and was in grade school in the late 1950s, it had become a legendary diner named "Gussie's Lunch".
Gussie had a vending operator/friend named Jimmy Diamond (yuh, I'm sure
that was his real name!) who owned all of the pinballs and juke boxes in the
bingo cards and I remember one in which the cards actually changed behind the backglass. I always thought it was strange that a short-order cook would have so many rolls of
nickels behind the counter for customers to buy. And if that wasn't strange enough, every once-in-a-while, the counter guy would give a bunch of money to the
players when they "achieved their goal" at the machine (whatever that goal was!) :-) I saw a lot of cash change hands with those bingo pinballs. Apparently the local cops
looked the other way, since they were regular patrons of the diner.
Many a man has lost many a nickel in the pinball for money game. Some of the more famous tables were "Miss America" and "Nashville." No flippers were involved.
There were usually 25 holes on the table. You used the plunger to launch your ball, and this was often the most important move you would make in your attempt to
get the ball into a certain numbered hole. There were cards on the screen, akin to Bingo cards. Should you get 3 numbers in a row, you could basically get your
money back. If you could line up 4, you could usually double your money. However, should you get 5 numbers lighted up in a row, you might stand to win a
50 dollars. You improved your odds by putting in more money each time you played a game. This was the insidious element of the machine. There was no limit to the number of
nickels (or dimes) you could put in for each game, in order to improve your odds. I was living in Memphis at this time, and I have never had a gambling addiction before or since. But I put
many a roll of nickels in these machines. They would be in the bars where you were drinking with your friends, and at some point during the night, you would gravitate to the
"Miss America" glimmering in the dark, beckoning you to insert coins in her, with promises of big wampum. The other insidious thing was that the bars, if they knew you pretty well,
would put rolls of nickels on your bar tab. You can guess how that worked out. The best time of the experience was when you would get hot and hit the features you were
striving for. When you had had enough and decided to call it a night, the bartender would come over and flip the switch to set the counter back to zero and pay you a nickel a game.
City of Long Beach CA - Loof's Lite-A-Line, featured a rare form of gambling that combines pinball and bingo. Built over 80 years ago, this
was the last of the historic Pike Amusement Park locations. On the spot and adjoining property on which the Historic Looff's Lite-A-Line building once stood,
Condominiums, a parking garage and a mall will be built – Erasing some pretty fond memories of mind – Hanging with friends, enjoying the carnavil atmosphere.
Ernest from Idaho Remembers:
I have always had a fascination with pinball machines. It started when I was about 4 years old when my father would give me a roll of nickels and let me play
the machines in his tavern while he cleaned up on Saturday mornings.
~ Dad clearly started his career for him – lol – He now owns and operators MSI Pinball Repair out in Idaho ~
John Henry Remembers:
Pinball machines were a regular habit with me when growing up, I remember a type of pinball machine that had no flippers and worked like a bingo game where
by getting five in row you'd win free games. These free games could be used to increase the odds or cashed in for money. If memory serves it cost
5 cents per play. These were illegal in Oklahoma but like liquor by the drink (also illegal in Okla. at the time) people ignored the law and played them anyway.
You had to chase them around (bar-to-bar) to find ones to play, but that was part of the fun. Somewhere along the way the usual crowd of "do-gooders"
managed to get rid of them. Sad news then, believe me – I hope to find one now and relive some wonderful fun times we enjoyed………..
I bet I was eight or nine when I first played one of these. My grandfather ran a taxi cab in Columbiana Ohio. He would take me along on his "fares" whenever I went
to visit. We would go into a few places that had them. We'd go in a truck stop where he knew the owner. I still remember his name was Jack. He'd drop in a dime
and let me play. I remember I didn't really know what I was doing. The ball would fall in say the four and I wouldn't realize it was a winner. I'd say,
"No not the four!" He'd tell me it was a winner and I'd hit the button to rack 'em up then tell him how I did it. When I got a little older my dad would take me
to play them. He liked to play 'em dime at a time for the entertainment value. When I was a teenager and could drive, I'd go and play them myself occasionally.
I usually got two dollars in dimes and just played 'em dime at a time too. Five in a line paid off seven dollars and fifty cents. Sometimes you'd win but it was usually
just two dollars worth of fun. Boy if you needed say an eight for five in a line and that ball was bouncing around on the pegs just below the one...Oh
man...The heart rate would go up. The adrenaline would pump. It was the thrill of the gamble I guess. I don't know but it was great.
You don't really get the suspense like that from a slot.
~ Yes that was Keith Nickalo remembering – He’s got quite a history with these pins ~
Larry from Montreal Remembers:
For me there was a certain 4 in line combination on Beach Club (9-10-2-1) that he enjoyed "hitting" when I played it back in the 50`s at a restaurant
called Chez Henri situated literally on the corner of Beaubien and Chabot. (Yes, and that`s why they were called corner cafés and corner groceries as well)
I can always remember that four-in-line combination no matter how long ago - It was a pretty strong feeling being able to hit that combo.
You had to be 16 to play in line bingo machines and I was 12 or 13 when I cashed in my first credits. Other places we played were near Rachel and Clark,
when the Plateau was a place where people brought up their families and not just their self-importance
Another story had to do with a Bally SURF CLUB machine which would end up following me around for a few years. My brothers and I were playing this particular
1954 machine in Ste.Anne de Bellevue one bright morning in the early 60`s, when they were suddenly told to stop and get away from the machine because the
police were coming to raid every pinball spot they could find. My youngest brother asked the panic stricken operator how much he wanted for
this old machine and we bended up buying the thing off him for $110. We picked it up and took it away as fast as they could before the cops had a
chance to come down the line. We schlepped the 350 pound bingo up four flights of stairs of what my tricky landlord at the time called "the third floor"
(to avoid installing an elevator). We actually lived on the fourth floor that we shared and our first bedroom together was a mattress on the
floor and a Bally Surf Club bingo in the corner. A simple and clear memory from the early `60`s in Montreal when everything was possible…………
Bob Brague Remembers
In my hometown of WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Time should have stopped in the 1950s. I had the perfect place to hang out: "Bobby's Diner." – Which
I am now working hard at turning my basement into an authentic replica of, complete with black-and-white tile floor, the Coca-Cola soda machine, the
pinball machines, the jukebox, and all of the candy machines. One day while repairing and restoring a couple of old pinball machines (my hobby) I got the
idea. "I played these machines as a kid," and since then "I am a coin-op addict.” "Back then, when the machines 'knocked,' people knew you were a pro
and called you a pinball wizard." We’d play games at Knoebels Grove Amusement Park in Elysburg, Pa too and one of his favorite machines is the Bally
"Beauty Contest," once dubbed as the "fastest moneymaker ever built." – I loved those old games – You can still find me every year in Allentown.
D. Grant Remembers:
That evening I went out with the Guys, Thursday being always “boys night out” in those days. Usually we cruised for Townie Babes but tonight was
different and somehow we all wound up at Jimmy Little’s on Cook Street. Now you must understand that Jimmy sold everything in the whole wide world,
and what he didn’t have in the store he got for you - no questions asked nor answered. His place featured the largest bank of Bingo and Horse Racing pinballs
in the world, and they were not there just for fun, if you get my drift, “Wink, wink...nudge, nudge.” We played a little but really got goofy over the Christmas toys.
Friends & Fables Remembers:
Random Cocktail bar, Chinatown, San Francisco; this features in my song "wrong turn". i stumbled upon this place on my first trip overseas when i was 22.
I dreamed about it for ages thinking maybe I'd just dreamed it up. when i went back years later i spent a whole day trying to find it. the only clue I had to go
on was that it had a sign written on the awning that read "where good friends and girls meet" which is funny cause I've never seen a girl in thee and I
can't image you going there especially if they wanted to meet someone. it's basically this tiny room filled with old chinese guys playing these 'bingo-pinball'
machines. unlike conventional pinball machines they have holes in the playing field and you can win money or credits. i really did sit in there for ages...
As youths (16) we played with the 5 cent 25 hole pinball machines in the pool room. These paid off 5 cents per game that you won. When
you decided to "cash in" your games which of course was a rare event, we called the clerk "Gillie", who had bad eyesight, to come over and
verify the counter, flip the reset switch and pay us the money which of course went right back into the machine. When we won, Gillie
would come over, squint, and look at the counter. Then he would tell us to flip the switch. In doing so we noticed that the switch could
be toggled back and forth quickly thus stopping the won game count down. So if we had 100 games, we could quickly flip the switch on
and off to stop the counter at 99. Then 98 etc………..
~ When I get my new Surf Club up-and-running today, I’ll have to try that – That’s a “new cheat” for these ears ~
The bingo machine isn't a pinball machine, but it's close enough. A lot of these shots were taken at Lucky Juju, Alameda. $5 all-you-can-play.
Plus they had free homemade chocolate-chip cookies, free little chocolaty coins, free sugar cookies, and other stuff. Very swell.
~ Bingo Pinball & Cookies – Just Yummy1 ~
Victoria College Remembers:
That evening I went out with the Guys, Thursday being always “boys night out” in those days. Usually we cruised for Townie Babes but tonight was
different and somehow we all wound up at Jimmy Little’s on Cook Street. Now you must understand that Jimmy sold everything in the whole wide
world, and what he didn’t have in the store he got for you - no questions asked nor answered. His place featured the largest bank of Bingo and
Horse Racing pinballs in the world, and they were not there just for fun, if you get my drift, “Wink, wink...nudge, nudge.”
We played a little but really got goofy over the Christmas toys…………………….
.Donald L. Nevels Remembers:
Our pay was five cents a week. During this time, I once asked my father for a nickel to play a pinball machine; I will never forget his answer,
"Son, if you have enough money to play a pinball machine, then I am paying you too much money!"
when i was 12 our neighborhood burger stand had a 5c machine where you'd get paid out like that, nickle credits. the machine had four cards on the facade that you could
rotate to line up your balls you'd hit so far, kinda like a bingo card. the older men would come in there in the a/m before work and feed the machine until they got all the fields
lit they needed to get higher scores before they actually played a ball. sometimes they'd be feeding a few rolls of nickles just to get the bonus lights they wanted ...
i liked those machines, they were a real challenge………….
Man!---That Silver Sails game is essentially the same game I played. But that wasn't the name. The number sequence is identical though, and I see that Bally made it too.
The ones I played had 4 squares of 4 numbers and 1 vertical line of 5. All rotated or moved up and down provided one put extra nickels in it and were lucky enough
to light up the letters. A and B were fairly easy and could be had for 10 cents to 50 cents, other features and higher odds were more expensive. The 9-1-2-11 sequence was the key.
I could get the 1 and 2 - 95% of the time on the first two balls. The 11 was easy to get after the 1 and 2 were full. Sometimes I would jack up the rightside legs with a
couple of matchbooks, this kind of took the skill out of it. The old Nevada Club in Reno had 3 Bally pins on the second floor, next to the Keno counter and the bar.
A 5 dollar tip to the bartender kept him quiet, and I financed my Keno play from the Bally's for hours on end. My dad was almost as good as me, and
we had a fukkin blast there. Then a quick dash down the alley to the Reno Turf Club for a game play. Or down the two alleys, around the Palace Hotel, to
Leroy's for some action too. The Overland Hotel had 2 pin games, but they were stuck downstairs next to the shoeshine stand, and they weren't much fun.
That was so much fun back then. I miss those days, and I miss my dad more. I felt fully, 100% alive, during that period in my life. Makes me think…………..
As a teenager,
I played a lot of pinball. But it wasn't necessarily the type of game that
probably comes to mind when you hear the word 'pinball'.
no buttons on the sides of the cabinet to push to activate the flippers. The machine didn't rack up your score every time it hit a bumper or target or slot or whatever. T
hese machines were much simpler. And much, much more complicated. Most everyone I hung out with as a "kid" . . . and by "kid" I mean 16 or 17 yr old and by that I mean, yes,
I was hanging out in places I shouldn't have been but I've never looked my age; I was buying liquor for 20 yr olds when I was 17; didn't get carded until I was 27 -- coulda
kissed that woman . . . anyway, we loved these games and played them semi-religiously. So pervasive in my world were these machines that I had no idea that
there were other types of pinball games with flippers and advancing scores until I went to college and stepped up to a pinball machine at a bar in the Sunnyside
section of Morgantown, WV and was amazed to find that there were no round holes in the playing surface of the machine. What the hell was this? Flippers? I mean,
if I'd seen one of these machines before, I'd paid it no heed; where was the payoff, eh?
Roger White Remembers:
I got into the city of Biloxi a few times, and down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras while I was training at Keesler Both were eye-openers.
Biloxi was my first experience with the Deep South, and I found it fascinatingly different from Ohio and the Cleveland area, or any other
of the many places I'd visited by then in the North and West. The geography and the vegetation were different, and the social styles of
the people were different. I ran into pinball machines in Biloxi, honest-to-god pinball machines. They had no flippers on them; you
played them to win real money; and they were much like playing Bingo -- there was a square of holes and you won by getting long lines of
balls in the holes.
~ Please email me if you have a memory you would like to share – This really is wonderful history to capture and record! ~
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