I volunteer as a docent at Seymour Community Museum during the summer. This July, the museum has a great display of vintage video arcade games owned by Bradley and Jessica Czech. Of course, Bob and I had to investigate the collection and made a special trip into town.
It's amazing the memories those video games brought back. Oh, I didn't play many back in the day, maybe Pacman once in a while — the ghosts always zapped me.
What I really remember is taking our teenagers to the Goldmine in the downtown Green Bay mall and setting them free with quarters. That way, they were less likely to moan because they had to shop with me. The same took place at Fun N' Games at Bay Park Square and Time Out Arcade in the Fox River Mall. Video games would be played, but only if there wasn't any moaning and groaning while shopping.
At home, we had video games, too, such as Mario Brothers in other incarnations. Before Nintendo, we had Atari. There were cars to drive and crash. Also, there were tanks to drive, fire and crash. The boys liked boxing and wrestling games.
Before writing this column, I asked our sons what they remembered about our home games. Both Rob and Russ remembered one called Excitebike where players not only rolled their motorcycles through a race track, they had to jump their bikes, too. I went to the Internet to watch a video of this game. The sound brought back more memories.
Many of the video games had hand-held controls. Some didn't. One set of games ran off a floor mat. The players didn't just sit there; they actually ran in place and jumped, too. This meant when they were playing World Class Track Meet with the power pad, a lot of thumping and laughing was coming from our living room — a good way to exercise on a rainy day and keep them out of my hair.
Going farther back in time to my childhood, my family played pinball games. There weren't arcades back in the caveman days. We used our quarters at the bowling alley; at least I understood pinball games. If I hit the ball with the finger activated flipper, it would bang the ball back into play. Bells would sound, and I'd get points.
Bob and I bought our first home video game when we were newlyweds, in the early 1970s. It was called Pong. I think it cost around $70, but I have a feeling we got ours on sale.
Pong was in black and white. Players would twist a knob and watch a white rectangle go up and down, hitting the ball back and forth. To us it was like a miracle. Up until then, we only used our television to watch local channels. Of course, even that seemed miraculous.
If we had Pong today, it would still amaze me. That game station was all we had for a long time, and it was enough — until our children became game addicts.
I know very little about modern games. I play Solitaire, Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Mostly they are a distraction when I'm trying to write but can't think of what to type. Bob only plays Solitaire.
Until the end of July, a vintage arcade game junkie can get a fix by visiting the Seymour Historic Museum on Depot Street (www.seymourhistory.org). There are four games that can be played for free; remember to take turns. Even after the display moves out, there's always Burgertime to play. That game is owned by the museum.
I think the next time I have a break while working at the museum, I'll practice building burgers. Burgertime is more my speed.
See you at the museum.