Friday Flashback #135

Hey, kids: Your parents are not that old.

Still, they grew up in a different world than yours.

Their video games did not come on a phone.

They were big. Really big. Like, not-even-fit-in-your-room big.

Check this out:

That was the scene at Arnie’s Place. It was a “video arcade” — have your parents used that term? — located where Ulta Beauty (formerly Anthropologie) is now, next to Balducci’s.

Maybe your mom or dad is in the photo above. He or she might even be that kid in the stroller. (Love that low-tech stroller. Yet the tot survived!)

As you can see, back in the day people played video games in groups. They also had to pay every single time! Here’s how:

That’s called an Arnie’s Place token. You bought them, then put them in the machines. Crazy, huh?

Just like today, some adults didn’t like video games. They tried to shut Arnie’s Place down. But the kids fought back:

Here’s the really funny part: Some of those kids from the 1970s and ’80s are your parents today.

Don’t let them tell you not to spend so much time on your games.

PS: In 2050, you’ll be telling your kids to stop playing games on their stupid microchipettes!

12 responses to “Friday Flashback #135

  1. I’ve still got a couple of those tokens lying around – seems like only yesterday!

  2. Janette Kinnally

    I still remember it well! We had so much fun hanging out there! Great memories. Shhhh don’t tell my kids. 😜😂

  3. Wow, I remember going to Arnie’s place as a kid with my friends, then to the pink parlour….I also remember Arnie Kaye chaining himself to the column at town hall before P & Z MTG to protest against closing him down !!!!

  4. Here’s an excerpt from a NYTimes article that provides some background on the T-shirt shown above: “We were initially concerned about traffic, and parking in particular,” said Constance Greenfield, who was a member of the Zoning Commission when it rejected Mr. Kaye’s original request for a zoning permit and who later, as chairwoman of the commission, battled with Mr. Kaye over other zoning issues. “We had never had anything like what he was proposing.

    “We wanted to keep this a beautiful, quiet New England suburban town. We didn’t want it to become a city.”

    Mr. Kaye, calling town officials snobs, did not give up. To draw attention to his plight, he chained himself to Town Hall, hired someone to dress as Pac-Man and hand out $50 bills to anyone wearing an “I Support Arnie’s Place” T-shirt and appeared on national talk shows.

    • I also recall that Arnie had all the beautiful marigolds he’d planted along the Post Road shoveled over until all that was left was a long sad expanse of tangled flowers and dirt.

  5. Lordie, lordie, I remember that controversy. I even wrote a column about it in Inklings!

  6. Jack Whittle

    All true, but I think Westport’s first video parlor / arcade was in the basement of Bill’s Smoke Shop in Brooks Corner. Arnie’s Place wasn’t around in the 70’s, it only first appeared in 1982 I believe. Bill’s was where I first played Pong, and then Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac Man, etc. in the late 70’s . . .

  7. Sandra Lefkowitz

    and to the generation before Rock and Roll was going to bring down the true demise of civility.

  8. Joshua Stein

    I have one of the pinball machines from Arnie’s place

  9. Dorrie Barlow Thomas

    Regarding Jack Whittle’s comment above, Bill’s definitely was the (dark & dingy) precursor to Arnie’s vast glitz & flash (& cheesiness). But my first introduction (through my brother, who was entranced by it all) was the 3 or 4 Pinball machines crammed into the back of Carmen’s newsstand near Max’s and Fine Arts I & II.

  10. Sandy — maybe it has!