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Pinball is alive and well in Seattle

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Within this digital city we call Seattle, more and more people are turning to analog entertainment, at least when it comes to pinball. Pinball, however, hasn't always been as accessible as it is today.

Pinball was banned in New York City beginning in the early 1940's because it was seen as a game of chance. The machines were destroyed and dumped into the city's rivers. The ban ended however, when Roger Sharpe, a star witness for the Amusement and Music Operators Association testified in April, 1976, that pinball games had become games of skill and were not games of chance.

"Part of my testimony was also to demonstrate that the games were based on skill and wound up playing before the city council members. Without any vanity at all then Mayor Abraham Beame signed a legislation on my birthday of that year, August 1st, to legalize pinball," says Sharpe.

Which brings us to today and the Seattle Pinball Museum.

"One of the things we'd like to do with the Seattle Pinball Museum is promote it to families and let them know that this is part of American culture and it's not as it's always been perceived: something relegated to backrooms of speakeasy's, bars and pool halls," says Charlie Martin, one of the co-owner's of the museum.

Over the last three years, Charlie and his wife Cindy have made it their passion to provide the public with pinball.

"I first started playing a lot of pinball back in the late 70's when I was living on Capitol Hill and on Saturday nights we'd go down to the corner tavern and play pinball and whoever lost a game got to pay for the next pitcher. We figured out early on that we had to be a good pinball player or have a lot of money to buy pitchers of beer all night," says Charlie.

Charlie and Cindy Martin opened the Seattle Pinball Museum as part of something called Storefront Seattle, a neighborhood support program designed to fight the urban blight that had attacked Seattle's historic retail core.

But, what was Charlie and Cindy's initial inspiration to start a pinball museum?

"First we got one machine and we played it for a couple of weeks and then it broke and the logical thing was to get another one to play until I figured out how to fix the first one. Next thing you know we're driving all over to get machines. When we ran out of room at our house it was either sell some machines, get a bigger house or start sleeping in bunk beds and none of those really seemed like a great option," says Charlie.

Even though, over the years, pinball has been shunned and given the cold shoulder because it was a game misunderstood by many, it is in fact here to stay. So, get out this weekend and pull up to a pinball machine, try not to tilt and maybe you'll become the next pinball wizard.

Here's the breakdown:

$10.00 Adults $7.00 Children 12 and under (1 entry) $15.00 Adults & $12.00 Children, All Day Pass. 50 plus vintage pinball machines, set to free play! Beer, soft drinks snacks & swag.

Sean DeTore,
Sean DeTore is the Associate Producer of KIRO Radio's The Ron and Don Show (weekdays 3-7). He's been with the guys for over 7 years.
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