My Dad, Ken, worked for decades selling hardware at ‘Simpson’ Sears in Hillside. Many, many people bought tools from him and Sears was a like an extended family to all of us. Later, he sold real estate and had many loyal clients over the years. It seemed we could not go anywhere without someone stopping to say hi.
I have memories of being in the Ingy pub – and others, including the Red Lion – from when I was a child. My Dad worked very hard to support the family in the late 70′s and early 80′s and onward, holding a variety of part time jobs in addition to his full time job! He owned a janitorial firm for a while, cleaning offices in the evening to make ends meet, and for years he owned a vending company that leased things like pool tables, cigarette machines, pinball tables, etc, and one of the things this company provided were large, wall mounted electronic games, like baseball, golf or trapshoot. Of course, this was before most anyone had heard of a computer.
The way these games worked was very, very basic. The player would stand at a podium about 10 feet away from the game, and press the single button on the podium at the right time to, say, hit the ball, shoot the gun, swing the club, etc and you would see an object sail across the large screen – there might have been sound effects like a cheering fan, or the crack of the bat. Really rudimentary stuff. The box on the wall was maybe 10 feet by 7 feet and would hang from the ceiling. There were light bulbs (just regular old bulbs) behind a thick black sheet of plastic. The sheet had patterns and even art that would relate to the game (bases, etc) and the bulbs would turn on and off according to what was happening in the game. Some of these memories are early, pre-school age, and maybe in to kindergarten, so I would hang out with my Dad and go to these pubs while he maintained the machines, took out the coins, etc.
Of course, we always seemed to have one or two of these games in ‘storage’ at the house in the family room or garage and our friends always liked coming over to play. Quite a novelty!! They stuck around the house for a few years, into elementary school. Perhaps they went out of style and were removed from the pubs, or perhaps I just stopped going to these places with my old man, but I do well remember the strange feeling of being someplace where I knew I wasn’t normally allowed, and often there was nobody else there, or maybe a manager sitting down counting money or cleaning… and the sticky floors. I really remember the sticky floors.