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Call of Duty: 1941

May 1941. "Soldiers from Fort Benning in a country store near Phenix City, Alabama." Medium format negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

May 1941. "Soldiers from Fort Benning in a country store near Phenix City, Alabama." Medium format negative by Jack Delano. View full size.


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I spent a goodly part of my teen years playing pinball games in St. Louis. The machines were a nickel a game, and if you scored high enough you got a free game. If you got really good, you could run up a number of free games on the board and play quite a while on your nickel. Some of the guys would turn their backs to the machine, and put their wallets in the palm of their hand and give a good hard rap on the coin slide, forcing it in, saving their nickel. I remember very well when flippers came in, I was 15. Those were fun times.

The Phenix City Story

Dad trained at Benning before shipping out to ETO, and he said that the Alabama town was as bad as was portrayed in the mid-1950s flick "The Phenix City Story." That movie shocked my innocent soul.

Without flippers

The game plays just like Pachinko. You have to try and make the highest score as the ball falls by carefully adjusting how hard you pull the plunger. It's pretty much a gambling device. The bumpers are very floppy springs that'll hit the center post and complete a circuit if the ball hits them with much force.
Later machines serving the same gambling function were called 'bingo' pinballs.

Deja vu

The huge gulf between the illustration on the glass and the actual game is reminiscent of the illustrated box of an old DOS computer game and the actual on-screen reality of the game. Some things just don't change.

Same group as we saw previously

This is the same group of soldiers we saw playing pinball in the Nov 7 posting "Store Wars" (good title by the way). In this shot the guy playing has switched places from the last shot with his buddy on the right. The poor guy on the left side of the machine is still waiting his turn.

No Flippers til 1947

The lack of flippers was not rare in 1941! The first pinball with flippers was Humpty Dumpty in 1947.

See what's missing?

Released in 1939, Exhibit Contact pinball was a rare flipperless machine. Extremely rare.

No Flippers!

OK, I've always wondered about this. How did they play pinball without the flippers at the end of the table? Did they just hit and bang on the machine to make the ball go a different direction or was it all just chance?

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