Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Pinball Memories... and ice cream

Up the stairs above D. G. Leslie (Don Leslie's) newsagents and grocers in Lerwick, there was a cafe that was also at some point a bakery.

My blurry memories of this wonderful place was the ice cream and the pinball machine.

The counter of colourful yummy ice cream that everyone remembers
I remember the smooth, varnished wooden frame & ball shooter lane. The plastic flippers and bumpers. And of course the silver ball bouncing around the playfield.

It was some time between 1992 and 1994, I would have been 5-7 years old.

I really have very little other memories about it

Once I was there with my brother when he played the machine. I had to stand on my tip toes to see the ball and playfield, I wouldn't have been very good at it then. We were likely told not to waste our money as the machine would have been likened to gambling machines.

Unfortunately the machine is no longer there. The cafe was converted into a pub named Captain Flints some time in the mid 90s.


"I think that one of the reasons we get nostalgic about things, is it's not necessarily the thing we were doing, its not that song, that game, that movie or that book. It's what was happening in your life at that time. "
Will Wheaton in Video Games: The Movie

The above quote helps me understand why this vague memory could be an important one. It was at a time in my life when I was influenced and learning from anything around me.

As a starting point to a project I am proposing around games as art, and in an attempt to piece together some of my own history with arcades (specifically pinball here), I have tried to dig up some more information and ideally pictures of this particular pinball machine, which sat in this cafe that is so blurry in my memory.

I feel a bit obsessed with finding out what type of machine it was, for what reason I'm not entirely sure. Maybe it mirrors my frustration and current techniques when researching a topic - trying to find something that is not there an obsessing about it until I eventually find something - if it is what I set out to find in the first place or not - I have taken that process and journey which directly feeds into the development and final outcome of a project.

I feel it will help me form an understanding where the idea has originated. Perhaps part of me would like to track down a similar machine and restore it - Otherwise it is just curiosity.

Facebook research

Many, many searches online have led me nowhere, so as an experiment I have turned to Facebook to see if it can be used as an effective research tool.

Very quickly my post had received some positive responses and shares:
  • Ice Cream - Of the initial replies it was clear mostly people remember the ice cream - it was that good! The other memories are good to help spark other memories.
  • Groups - Some suggested I asked in Facebook groups such as "Shetland Memories" in this one members share photos & stories of Shetland history, which is perfect although not been much more success here. This is like an advanced search - more specific - talking to a wider group of people.
  • Pinball - other people do remember the machine but nothing specific and no photos
  • Helpful Generally everyone is really helpful and will go out of their way to find out more - it would have been a good memory for them too
  • No photos It was noted that this was a day to day place to visit so nobody would have taken photos
  • Contacts I received a few contacts including previous owners - unfortunately there seems to be no photos.
  • Archives looking through newspaper archives could bring up something

Overall the Facebook research process is a bit like an unrefined Google search. I'm no further forward finding out what I set out for, but it has helped me remember slightly more about it with the help of others filling in some extra details. I'm interested in finding alternative ways to research a topic - I'm not convinced that Facebook is the place for it - I wonder if other have been successful with this?

I think my blurry memory of this particular pinball machine may have to remain blurry.

More to come about pinball and background to my projects.
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.

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