Where in the Hell Did I Get These Matches?
I’ll tell you. At Diamond Billiards & Arcade. But don’t try finding it. It doesn’t exist anymore. My earliest memories of this place are from my tween years. I had yet to smoke my first cigarette, and I still rode around on my Schwinn paper delivery bike, or “Bee Bike” as we called them–those of us who threw the Fresno Bee.
There were three pool tables and a couple dozen pinball machines. I remember there were even some machines that were off limits to us kids. They were over against the east wall, and there was simple plywood barrier blocking their view from the street. They were, shhhh (whispers) gambling machines. As I remember, where other pinball machines were framed in metal, these were framed in wood. They were mysterious. And they paid. I think I played one once, but I don’t remember what it was like. Then one day, them gambin’ machines was gone.
Anyway, I went away for a year or two. And Diamond Billiards went away. When I came back, the place had become Geno’s Pinball Palace. And that was the start of a whole new thing. Hanging out. Cigarettes. Gateway drugs. Stoner girls. Teenage angst. Pimping beer. Foosball. Ridiculous amounts of pinball. This isn’t the time or the place to go into the particulars. Let’s just say that still, whenever I think back on this time of teenage psychosis, I feel a twinge of shame and think I’m lucky to be alive. But fear not, my virtual friend, for in the fullness of time the stories will be told, the confessions made, and we’ll all shake our heads and laugh.