More Debauchery – The Addams Family in our Basement

pinball machine

Two weeks ago in Andy’s Corner I confessed that we run a lurid pool hall in our basement. So I may as well come clean and admit that our pool table is not the only vice device down there: we have a pinball machine. 

And if you think pinball machines are innocent play things, take a look at their history.  These machines were banned in the 1940’s until the 50’s and even later in many parts of the country because, among other things, they were thought to corrupt the morals of young folks.  According to  Smithsonian Magazine:

Parents’ fears ran wild. “They’re in public spaces meeting with other people, but it’s not really social in a productive way because it’s congregating around degenerate activity,” says Daniel Reynolds, an assistant professor of film and media studies at Emory University. Better Homes and Gardens in 1957 warned parents to “act now to keep your child from being victimized” by the debased pastime.

And from another site:

New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia argued that pinball machines were “from the devil” and brought moral corruption to young people. He famously used a sledgehammer to destroy pinball machines confiscated during the city’s ban, which lasted from 1942 to 1976.


Our refurbished Addams Family pinball machine.

I suppose you’re wondering how an upstanding and morally responsible couple like us could end up owning a pinball machine, especially when neither of us had ever played the game before and, heaven forbid, our young grandchildren could find their way down our stairs to that sinister basement.  Was the pool table a gateway that lured us deeper into the mirky world of underground vices?

The real reason we got the pinball machine is much more mundane.  Shortly after we had purchased the infamous pool table Ann suggested that we should find another form of entertainment for the basement. I lobbied for a ping pong table (how cool would that be!).  But our college-graduate-son, Travis, suggested we get a pinball machine, and not just any pinball machine, but the Addams Family machine. He seemed surprisingly knowledgable about it all.

It just so happens that the Addams Family Pinball Machine is a classic and one of the most popular machines ever.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Addams Family, released in March 1992, is the best selling pinball machine of all time … it is a solid state electronic pinball arcade game. It was based on the 1991 film of the same name, and features custom speech (mostly derived from the motion picture) by the stars of the film, Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. More than 20,000 units have been sold thus far.

Although they are no longer being manufactured, Ann found a refurbished one offered on line from a collector who had imported it from a bar in Germany.

On Travis’s first visit he gave it a whirl.  We were astonished at his skill.  He managed to score 625,662,310 points.  As a point of comparison, my highest score ever is 100,200,210.


No one else has come even close to Travis’s score on our machine.

Travis finally admitted that he may have played a “game or two” on an Addams Family machine at a local bar where he and his buddies hung out when he was at Cornell College.  We sprung for his college education for him to learn that?


Will our grandkids suffer from “congregating around degenerate activity?”

All in all, I would have to say that the Addams Family Pinball machine has provided much pleasure for family and friends in its twenty years in our basement.  Time will tell if it has had an adverse impact on our grandkids, who at a very young age managed to find their way down our stairs to our basement to experience that “debased pastime.”



  1. Agatha Hoff says:

    My first husband was an addict – among other things, addicted to pinball machines. He was fired from two jobs, for going out at lunchtime, playing on them and never coming back to work…. Aggie


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