Barry & I loved pinball machines and even today with all our electronic wizardry, I still prefer playing an old style (analogue) pinball machine. King Pin is my all time favourite machine and I would like to have one more good game on one before I die.
Barry & I were introduced to pinball when briefly, an unlicensed amusement parlour opened up right next to our primary school in 1971. As we grew older and were allowed to range wider, we discovered hundreds of machines in dozens of locations, one we went to a lot although a fair ride on the pushbike, was near the corner of Malvern Rd & Burke Rd in Glen Iris.
Actually there were two near each other, one a fish & chip shop with a few machines, the other a ‘wog shop’ as everyone called them back then. Most greeks don’t even know any other name for them but they were once everywhere – barely decorated shops with a basic counter, sometimes basic food, lino floors, steel framed tables and chairs plus pinball machines with the odd Bingo pinball if you were lucky.
Older men sat around drinking strong coffee and playing Manilla, a card game. Often Barry & I would be among the few Aussie’s that went there. Any way I digress…as I usually do.
So we’re in one of the two ‘pinny shops’ one day and a local tells us about a really strange house in the next street, Scott Grove. Of course we had to explore, after all we had been told there was a body in there!
Well this place was strange from the first look. I’m not exaggerating when I say the grass was close to three feet high and the house was slanted, as if a demon had tried to drag it down to hell (imaginative weren’t we).
After creeping carefully around the front yard and crawling under windows so as not to be seen, we got a little bolder. The front door had been partially boarded up so we thought that maybe it was empty and carefully went around the back. Here at least, we couldn’t be seen from the street.
Barry, being the bolder one, found that the back door was unlocked. He looked at me with a scared look on his face, questioning with his eyes, ‘did I think we should go in’? He opened the door as quietly as he could and propped it open in case we needed to escape fast. We walked through an area with old unpainted shelves like you might find in a shed.
It turns out that the first door had been added later and we now faced a real back door with a lead-light window in it. No light or movement could be seen through the mottled glass so in we crept. Now we were terrified.
In front of us was the kitchen and to us, a scene from Friday Night ‘Deadly Ernest’ horror shows. In the centre of the kitchen, it looked like something had punched up through the earth, a demon trying to get through.
This mound if you like was at least 1 metre tall and had dragged most of the floor up with it but somehow not breaking the lino floor. There was barely enough space between the cupboards and this ‘thing’ to edge around.
Remember that door propped open? Now you know why.
We ran, terrified if we’re being honest, back to the shop to get our bikes and headed full speed for home. I don’t recall much more of that day but I know we didn’t go near those pinny shops for weeks.
Eventually we got our courage up and enlisted the help of a couple of friends and headed back. This time we explored the kitchen briefly but our new recruits were spooked too and were itching to get out of there, although not admitting it. We explored the house some more and it appeared to be lived in. We carefully opened another door and we were pretty sure we saw a candle light approaching so we all took off.
Of all the places we ever explored this was the spookiest.
We never did go back to those pinball places.