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WW2 Pinball Stories - General Interest

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The stories on this page are of general interest. Most are pinball related of course but others show life in general during the war period.

Pinball Trains Hero?

March 22d issue of Life magazine carried the story of Al Schmid, the marine who killed 200 japs on Guadalcanal before they put him out of action with a hand grenade. One of the pictures accompanying the long story shows Corporal Schmid at a bar during one of his week-end leaves from the hospital where he is currently being treated. The caption says "He had 50 beers coming from playing pinball machines before he joined marine corps."

Pinball Wind Vane

Thanks to pin games and a boy's ingenuity, Technical High School in Springfield, Mass., has a anemometer wind vane that tells not only the direction of the wind but its velocity as well. According to a feature story in The Springfield (Mass.) Daily News, the meteorology classes are enjoying their complicated gadget now and not after the war because one student who does electrical work after school did an emergency job on some pinball machines for the Becker Novelty Company.

He knew his classes needed relays to connect the vane on the roof with an indicator in their classroom and with another one in the main hall of the school. Working on the pinball machines, he thought the relays in them took an awful lot of punishment from the public, so why couldn't they be hooked up with the wind vane. Becker Novelty Company heard of his idea and forthwith donated four machines to the high school so the student, Albert Gauthier, could put the relays into a remote-control panel. When a city electrician hooks up the rest of the job, all the students can watch eight electric lights change as the wind changes and note the speed of the wind on another instrument. The Daily News story mentioned that Gauthier works regularly for the Melody Phonograph Company after school and on Saturdays, servicing radios and repairing juke boxes.

What with dehydrators from slots, reported here some time ago, and now wind vanes from pinballs, looks as if the products of American coin machine manufacturers are becoming to the industrial field what soybeans are to nutrition.

Pinball Dance

Inspiration for one of dancer Eleanor Powell's numbers in her new movie, Sensations of 1944 was a pinball machine. One Hollywood columnist we caught in Chicago Daily News said she and electrician Phil Braun dreamed up the novel idea and worked on the setting for six weeks. Every time Eleanor (she's the ball) gracefully hits one of the "pins," it lights up. Yeah, but who tilts the table?

More Women Seen in Arcades; Most of Them Prefer Pinball

I found this to be a very interesting story. Too bad the trend discussed did not carry through for another 50 years or so.

BALTIMORE, March 18. - There has been a noticeable gain in women arcade patronage here. This is another indication of how women are steadily "usurping" the place of men in many activities. This is felt to be but a logical trend in view of the war conditions.

It is pointed out by operators that woman patronage for a long time had been a rarity at local arcades. The number of such patrons is still nothing to write home about, but the fact that it is beginning to make itself more felt is indicative of a trend in that direction. Of course there is some skepticism as to how this patronage may shape up.

For the most part, women patrons accompany male companions, although unattached women patronize these establishments. Local arcades which present an inviting outward appearance supplemented by an attractive interior attract the feminine contingent. With some renovating and improvements other arcades, it is pointed out, could attract more women patrons than they have.

While some women try their hand at the pistol ranges, in the establishments which operate them, the majority of women show a partiality to pinballs.

Arcade operators here hope that the feminine trend will continue, as they believe this will help to invite additional male patronage.

Pin Game To Be Featured in Pic On War Hero's Life

Here's another story on war hero Al Schmid. Anyone ever seen this movie? What game was featured?

PHILADELPHIA, April 8. - A pinball machine will be highlighted in the forthcoming movie, This Love of Ours, starring Johnny Garfield. The picture is based on the life of Sgt. Al Schmid, local marine hero, who lost his eyesight and won a Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism during the early fighting days on Guadalcanal.

Vincent Sherman, movie director for Warner Bros., arrived here last week to gather background material for the movie. In company with the marine hero, he visited all the places in the city where Sergeant Schmid spent his time before going in uniform and getting credit for bagging 200 Japs on Guadalcanal in August, 1942.

Among the places Sergeant Schmid took Sherman for the background material was a taproom in the Tacony section of the city. Here, the marine hero revealed his popular pastime was in playing the pinball machine. And so the pinball skill of the marine hero will be incorporated in the movie.

Update: The actual movie name ended up being called The Pride of the Marines. Thanks to Dennis Dodel for pointing this out. Information on the movie can be found here.

Distributor Comes To Aid Of Sailor by Offer Of Three Pin Games

CHICAGO, July 29.- Thru The Billboard, the appeal of a sailor for amusement machines to be used by his shipmates aboard the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga, received prompt action from Ben Axelrod, Olive Novelty Company, St. Louis.

Axelrod reports his company has already written Yeoman John Helquist, c/o United States Fleet Post Office, offering three pin games.

In the July 29 issue of The Billboard, Helquist's letter asking for contributions of amusement equipment, was published. Axelrod says all that is necessary now is for the seaman to indicate the place he wants the games shipped and that Olive will send them immediately.

Yeoman Helquist had been appointed by his commanding officer to take charge of equipping a recreation room for enlisted men aboard the warship, and any other coinmen interested in supplying amusement equipment can address: John Helquist, Y2/c USNR, c/o Fleet Post Office, New York, N.Y.

War Revenue Shown State by State in Federal Tax Report

The following list of coin-op tax revenue tends to show the distribution of equipment in service by state. As you can see for 1944, revenues were up, with the following states paying over $1 million in taxes (in order):

  1. Pennsylvania ($1,435,476)
  2. Illinois ($1,429,713)
  3. California ($1,382,188)
  4. Wisconsin ($1,288,962)
  5. Ohio ($1,219,467)
  6. Washington ($1,086,529)

For comparison, following are the bottom 6 in taxes collected:

  1. Delaware ($20,861)
  2. Vermont ($23,099)
  3. New Mexico ($35,860)
  4. Maine ($35,928)
  5. New Hampshire ($38,391)
  6. Hawaii ($41,649)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9. - Federal tax collections on coin-operated machines for fiscal years ending June 30, 1943, and June 30, 1944, by states, as follows:

                  1943          1944SSR
Alabama          $83,514       $57,599
Arizona           69,035       124,989
Arkansas          75,986        89,966
California       857,819     1,382,188
Colorado          72,065       106,646
Connecticut      108,133       145,278
Delaware          18,930        20,861
Florida          172,694       312,585
Georgia          169,410       382,674
Hawaii            27,352        41,649
Idaho            175,576       303,422
Illinois         676,194     1,429,713
Indiana          275,883       516,697
Iowa             218,369       373,217
Kansas           135,410       244,724
Kentucky         201,895       372,944
Louisiana        441,203       946,643
Maine             24,066        35,928
Maryland         288,572       466,996
Massachusetts    138,704       179,850
Michigan         310,819       374,884
Minnesota        489,830       793,677
Mississippi      174,627       346,877
Missouri         170,356       200,526
Montana           73,969       199,651
Nebraska          71,043       141,166
Nevada           173,070       352,478
New Hampshire     35,601        38,391
New Jersey       149,162       214,522
New Mexico        40,774        35,860
New York         426,059       700,933
North Carolina    43,052        94,686
North Dakota      21,964        47,503
Ohio             690,958     1,219,467
Oklahoma          23,972        48,024
Oregon           233,018       422,313
Pennsylvania     633,184     1,435,476
Rhode Island      29,509        43,020
South Carolina    41,225        87,112
South Dakota      23,253        60,227
Tennessee         84,825       124,420
Texas            360,366       726,404
Utah              86,721       168,089
Vermont           13,759        23,099
Virginia          96,557       194,505
Washington       648,306     1,086,529
West Virginia    163,273       291,957
Wisconsin        847,160     1,288,962
Wyoming           99,829       171,132
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