Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Old Penny Arcade...Not The Same As It Once Was

"You know," I said to a couple of people the last couple of days. "I used to go in that building every day growing up."

And it was true.

Growing up in Farmington on the edge of the Lagoon Amusement Park, the place was like an endless adventure for me and my friends. Sure, we had our usual summer routines. We got up, probably watched The Price is Right (Good ol' Bob Barker...), then we'd don our swimming suits, roll up a towel, throw it under our arm and hop on our bikes to the, now-extinct, East Gate. From there we'd park the bikes and head straight to the pool.

I'm sure I've written about the pool before. I can't tell you just how fantastic that huge body of water was for us kids. I've never seen anything like it and I feel that even though replacing the forever-old pool with a shiny new water park was a good financial decision, the place has never been the same since.

And what to a gaggle of pre-teens (and teens...) do after a fun morning and afternoon at the pool?

We headed down tho the Penny Arcade. 

The building's famous. It was once a dance floor where some of the biggest names in all of entertainment played. I suppose the proliferation of TV and concert halls--not to mention, Rock & Roll--people just stopped dancing the way they once did.

By the time me and my friends arrived on the scene, the dance hall was now an arcade. If I showed a kid today a picture of the way it looked decades ago, they wouldn't believe it was an arcade. Heck--I wonder if kids nowadays even know what an arcade is or was. Back then the place was lined on all three walls with pinball machines. I suppose they're still around, but I haven't seen one in a long time. Once video games became the thing, the arcade was one of the only places you could actually play quality games. We used to go around checking for free pinball games, or games where novice video game players did not realize they had an extra credit on the game. That was payday for us.

Now, the building houses different attractions. There's games where you can earn tickets. Those tickets can get you prizes. Though there's bells and whistles, lights and inviting sounds, just like the million-gallon swimming pool, it's just not the same.

I know things change, but looking inside the cavernous space, I remember the way it once was and in an instant, decades are erased. Those were good days.

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