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Asbury Park, NJ: Pinball wizards wanted

Silver Ball Museum

Funny how a little silver ball, some bumpers, lights, and bells could develop such a bad rep.

Some of the early pinball games gave out winnings, which made it a form of gambling and was therefore said to be unhealthy for kids. In New York City, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was so anti-pinball that he liked to take a sledgehammer to the machines for the cameras and send others into the East River. In all, La Guardia's campaign destroyed 11,000 machines. He even had the game banned in the city in 1941, law which stayed in effect until 1976.

Well, yesterday's bogeyman is today's beloved cultural artifact. That's the loose premise of the Silver Ball Museum in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It's old-school all the way: 200 mechanical (not digital!) machines dating from 1931 to 1999.

You don't need to load up with quarters to play: a tenner gets you an hour of gaming with free plays. When you're done, head up a block up the boardwalk to the iconic Stone Pony for a rock 'n' roll chaser.

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