Visceral Intention: Full tilt boogie with Akron’s largest pinball machine collection

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by Susan Covey

Stonehenge Covey Pinball with peopleA great way to spend some time, whether it’s a first date or a family day, is to be on your feet, interacting with a piece of history like a pinball machine. Personally, I credit the “Haunted House” machine for my ability to tolerate back-up cameras in cars. Do I tilt? Yeah, sometimes. But there is nothing like the sound and lights from a machine playing at your hands to make you feel like you own the night (or day).

Marvin Ortscheid has taken his joy of pinball to a new height with his collection of machines that clang, flicker, and go bump in the night (and day), awaiting a weekly slate of players at the Stonehenge Family Entertainment Center in Akron. Marvin said the league is seeing new players who come in to play the “real thing” after years of playing computer games like “Virtual Pins” on Xbox. Marvin credits Fred Borden, owner of the Stonehenge location, for encouraging this venue within the busy family center, as well as his partners in the league, Tommy PinWizard and Jessie Carduner, for keeping the process running smoothly.

Marvin owns and cares for the largest collection of public pinball machines in the area and hosts a league playing four games each Monday night at 7:15 pm, with the Summer League, which started July 27. There are over 60 pinball players this summer. The informal mixed league swells to over 100 players in the winter. Participants, ages 8 to 70, range in skill level from novice to wizard, and come from all different lines of work. No matter what your skill level, new players are always welcome. The games are affordable, between 50 cents and 75 cents per play, and an evening’s league play lasts about an hour and a half.

With lights, mechanics, and computers—how do these machines keep going and going with different hands and action all around them? Marvin says he is self-taught, and from some quick calls around the area, that seems to be the rule. Take a little bit of computer electronic training, coupled with machining and electrical skills and fearless tinkering under the hood with steel ball bearings flying at you, and you have the working technician.

Stonehedge was selected to be one of the national launch locations for the latest and long awaited KISS pinball machine, featuring the singers’ voices and 3-D attachments. The launch happens Monday, July 20, giving you a great introduction to this old sport—or a new one, depending on your perspective.

Stonehedge Center
580 E Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, Akron
Open daily this summer from 9 am to 1 am
Akron Metro Bus Line # 7: Lexington Avenue stop
For more information, email Marvin at mjpinballs@aol.com
stonehedgeakron.com

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