Bumper-to-bumper fun: Couple's arcade-museum puts pinball history on display in Manchester

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MANCHESTER — Beth and Marty Friedman began buying secondhand American-made pinball machines in 2017. All 59 machines now sit alongside a couple of brand-new ones in their pinball arcade-museum, which opened to the public on Friday.

Playing pinball is one of the couple's shared interests, so they gravitated toward that concept when they decided to open a business.

"We wanted to do something together that was fun," Marty Friedman said on a recent morning, in between their taking supply deliveries and interviewing a potential employee.

The husband and wife, formerly from New Jersey, had wanted to move to Vermont for decades. Marty ran a building maintenance service in New York City, and Beth stayed home to raise their now three grown children. The couple chose to relocate to Manchester, seeing that the town attracts both domestic and international visitors who support local businesses year-round.

The Friedmans are hoping Pastime Pinball, located on 4802 Main St., will become a travel destination.

"For pinball enthusiasts, this is huge," Beth said while a couple of workers checked on some of the machines' internal circuitry; outside, three men were putting up the business sign. The couple want to distinguish their place from similar establishments by creating a family-friendly and upscale atmosphere.

Their pinball machines, grouped by decade going back to the 1950s, are all situated on the first floor of their two-story location. Each machine comes with a written description, including the year it was released, the game's mechanics and who designed the game.

Beth and Marty had traveled around the Northeast to check out and acquire pre-owned machines. Others were shipped from around the country, including Florida, Georgia, Michigan, California and Texas.

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The oldest machine is Paratroopers, a Korean War-themed game that was manufactured in 1952. The most recent, released this year, is The Munsters, inspired by its namesake 1960s television sitcom about a family of friendly monsters.

Among the most popular games in the house are The Getaway: High Speed II (1992), The Addams Family (1992) and Twilight Zone (1993).

The most valuable of the lot is Medieval Madness (1997), which Marty said cost over $9,000. He plans to buy more machines and regularly change the games on the floor "to keep the collection fresh."

For $25, customers can play whatever games they want for up to four hours. Ages 12 and below pay only $18, and on Mondays, Vermont residents get $5 off with a valid ID. A 30-minute "sampler pass" costs $15 or $10.

On the building's second level, Pastime Pinball has a snack bar whose offerings include Belgian waffle on a stick, nachos paired with Vermont cheese, and locally made wood-fired pizza. The business is waiting to receive its liquor license, after which it plans to serve craft beer, wine and hard cider.

The Friedmans said they want Pastime Pinball to not only entertain but to educate people.

"For kids, they can play pinball, and it's science in motion, and it's fun," Beth Friedman said "They're seeing magnetism and physics and design."

Facing the main entrance is a 1976 game called Royal Flush, which has been taken out of its original housing and moved to a plexiglass case. It's meant to showcase the inner workings of an electro-mechanical pinball machine, which came before today's fully computerized ones.

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan on Twitter or 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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