Al Capone Fishing on Shyphilis

Al Capone Fishing on Syhphilis - Story context -July/August 2012...Montreal,Qc

I make it a point not to answer the phone at work. Apparently, we have a receptionist for that, and regardless of how uninterested she is in performing her tasks, I still refuse to do her job and mine as well. My co-worker however answers the damn thing whenever she doesn`t. He strongly believes that we would be losing out on opportunities if we let her not answer the damn thing. Today I have to agree.

So when it rang again late this morning and Mike was dealing on an other line while our receptionist was exchanging lasagna recipes with her sister on yet another, I get this crazy instinct to answer the device before the general voice mail kicked in. Even angry, frustrated and tired I always believed that existence and laziness should not mix, but I digress. Everybody is fighting some sort of battle, it is just that some struggles seem more worthy than others.

“SCM bonjour”, I uttered sharply.

“Yes, hello. I was wondering if you buy pinball machines ?” came a concise and pleasant voice on the other end.

“Yes, we sometimes do depending on the condition and model.(pause) Our general manager handles that, would you like me to transfer you to his voice mail.”

“No wait, maybe you can help me.”

“I’I`ll try," I offered as a response "What is the name and make of your machine sir ? “

“It’s a Bally Bumper from the 1930’s I believe.”

“ I’m sorry, we aren`t interested in that vintage, there is no resale market for those.”

“Well, a little while back I had an offer from a guy in the U.S. for 4000 dollars.”

Here we go, another dubious exclamation.

”If I were you sir I would jump on that offer, you most likely won’t get close to that kind of money for it in Canada.”

“Well, I hate the idea of shipping this thing, and besides that I wouldn’t really know how to go about it.”

 Ok, the gig was up I thought, that is enough.

“ Sir, I personally have a Bally 1936 Bumper pinball machine in my personal collection which I picked up a couple of months ago from a guy right here in Montreal who was asking 300 dollars for it at first, and then dropped the price off to a hundred & fifty when I picked it up. The best I can tell you is that if your machine has the coin door, cashbox, pushchute and original cabinet paint & design I would personally be willing to pay up to $250, but only if those things are more or less intact.”

“Well, OK that sounds fair, but I can’t recall if it has all those things. However I do remember an eagle on the sides of the box and using a US nickel to play it.”

“Well, that means that it has the original design and a pushchute - how do the legs look ?”

“They have an art deco design & look to them, I do remember that.”

After a calculated pause I replied,

“So the machine is not in your home right now is it ?"

"No I haven`t seen it in years, it is in storage."

"Well then, I think this may be worth a look ." I said somewhat hesitantly.

“It is in a storage locker in Ville St.Laurent I believe. I don’t drive so you will have to pick me up and drive me to the facility in order to see it.”

“OK, but let’s be clear about this," I said, "if it doesn`t’t have the things I mentioned in order for me to do a restoration, I will have to turn it down. I don’t want to waste your time or mine.”

“I understand.”, came the reply.

The goose chase was on, and what a human journey it turned out to be.


Episode 2 - Attempting to reunite the Bumper Twins

I had purchased a Bally 1936 "Bumper" a year prior to this phone call from an acquaintance who had found one in a home on the West Island of Montreal which was somewhat working since the 1970`s when the owners had bought it from a church who apparently had it hidden in their basement since the 1940`s after it was in a police raid and was then donated to that church by the cops who didn`t have the time or the energy to smash up yet another machine. And that, in a nutshell is a quickly written long run on sentence with the purpose of giving us a sense of how time can fly when one focuses all the attention on just one subject/thing voluntarily ignoring everything else like the colourful details that make up a single day in our self centered lives.

In a nut shell, the above is the story of my Bally Bumper which came from an elderly couple from whom it was purchased, and the above story makes sense chronologically and historically.

The cabinet had been painted beige and some parts were missing, but apart from that it is a very cool looking lady - slim, sleek and stylish. So when the buyer dropped his price to what I thought would make sense to me, - I called him. The deal was down, and again, this was a historical piece in my mindset. The first machine to sport electric scoring bumpers which logically paved the way for the static (dead) bumper, then to the pop bumper and finally to the thumper bumper. (Bally was always the risk taker and innovator, especially back then). The cashdoor, coin slide, back door and cashbox were all long gone on this example of the game. All "tell the tale" signs that it had been seized by "the authorities" at one point in time.

So the question beckons, - why the hell did I need another one of these ? That is the essential question I asked myself after hanging up the phone on a man I just stupidly offered 250$ for a machine I already had. Oh well, sometimes when I do something impulsively, I get this eerie feeling after the fact that there is someone other than me making the moves at certain points in my life, - sort of speak ofcourse.

Don Shepherd, the owner of this second 1936 Bally "Bumper" turned out to be quite the character. We first met on a hot and muggy July afternoon via an appointment to go to some obscure storage locker so he could show me what he affectionately called - Lady Bumper. And this was going to take place during rush hour, but it was also the construction holiday in Quebec so traffic was going to be light, at least that was the plan. Montreal is like the throw of the dice when it comes to traffic.

I got Don`s address and left work at 4:30 to pick him up. He lived in an ordinary looking apartment block on Sources Blvd minutes down the highway, and the storage place was supposedly at 5505 Cote de Liesse which was not so far away. Everything was lining up nicely. Again, the added bonus was that there would be no traffic, most people leave Montreal for the beaches, the countryside and campgrounds during the last two weeks of July. Earlier on the phone Don asked me what kind of car I was driving, and told me that he would watch from his second floor balcony and come down as quickly as he could when he saw me pull into the front visitors parking area. OK.

Driving down, I again began to question myself about this being a weird way to make a purchase, which would probably turn up nothing in the end. Here I was picking up a complete stranger who didn`t drive, hated the city and who could possibly be a disillusion madman. And here I was agreeing to drive him to some storage locker that could be full of bird cages and wheelchairs for all I knew. But again, something inside me kept pushing me through this quest. As I drove by the front entrance of his building and parked, I saw a short stocky man with a thick mustache waving at me from a second story balcony, and then saw him swiftly vanish through a patio door. I got out of the car and waited as he came out through the front door. He walked with a slight limp and looked like a shady character from a Steve Mcqueen film. Indeed, looking back, Don looked like a latter years leathery tough guy who had been in several car chases, fights and more than his share of car accidents in his younger days. He said hello and shook my hand saying that it was nice to meet me. Well, that was normal enough I thought. OK let`s move on. Don got in the car which had the windows up since I was running the air conditioner on my way down. I started the car and the air conditioner kicked in and he snapped sharply asking me in a strong, nasal and irritated voice, - "Can we turn that thing off and get some real air !!"

"OK Don, but it`s darn hot out there.", I replied cautiously.

"I hate those things," he continued, "and I can`t for the life of me understand why people refuse to feel what is really around them. It`s summer for crying out loud, and yes it is hot, but that is the way it should be ! Why do we always try to neutralize the conditions around us so that they have no effect on us ? It is almost like we want to feel nothing. Like staying numb no matter what`s happening around you,- shit !"

OK, I thought to myself, where did I put that tire iron ? Is it on the left side of my seat or the right ? But then, when the wind began blowing into the car as we headed east, he began telling me the story of Bumper. This calmed me down and I listened attentively as I looked and looked for 5505 Cote des Liesse but to no avail. Don hadn`t been there in years, but said that he remembered the building having some red on it. (oh shit that helps) But then driving west in another search attempt and having the civic numbers move closer to 5505 and then suddenly jump to 5575 from 5495, that gap made me think that there may be a similar one between Don`s ears. Regardless, the business card he clutched in his hand looked real enough. Maybe I was on the wrong side of Cote de Liesse this time, nothing was clear at that moment for some reason. But to me, on that day, in that heat, there was no 5505 Cote de Liesse to be found and Don was just another loony tune for the archives. There was no reasoning with myself, even though Don had the business card on him with that exact info which certainly looked official. I asked to see it and discreetly jotted all the info down in my minds` agenda.

But that would be the end of that particular day trip right there. Bad luck would have it that there was an accident on the 40 which made driving around the area and looking for this storage locker place pretty painful to say the least, especially with the heat which intensified when we were forced to slow down due to the traffic, and besides that, Don had a prostate condition and occasionally thought he needed to take a leak, but couldn`t be sure that it was the "real McCoy" calling him to pee. So we decided to turn back away from the traffic. This was not to be that day to meet Lady Bumper, I think that she really wanted me to meet Don Shepherd first, a real character and an exceptional human being I would find out in the weeks to come.

 Episode 3 - The man behind the machine - a second attempt to get to Lady Bumper

After that first flawed attempt at finding "Bumper", I dropped Don off at his place. We decided to try to get to the "Bumper" again once I got the straight "dope" on the public storage units exact location which Don continued saying was in Ville St.Laurent. Turns out it is actually on the edge of the Town of Mont-Royal, an upper middle class neighborhood where I later found out Don had grown up.

In the cool of that evening when the sun was sinking low, I sat on the balcony at home and thought about why I was feeling at odds with this attempt to purchase a single pinball machine. I had bought lots and lots of these things in my life, and in weirder locations - why did this one seem so elusive and hard to get to, like some kind of grail. My thoughts then turned to the man behind the machine. Was he making up this elaborate story about this old pinball machine from another time & place ? Was it really in a locker somewhere waiting to be found ? Did he really grow up in TMR playing it at beer parties with his friends when his parents were on vacation? Did he really acquire it from an old widows attic ? Maybe there was no Bumper at all. And maybe he had just read my website, saw that I enjoyed stories about pinball machines and looked me up so he could tell me one. Enough of that, I was getting paranoid, must of been the heat of the day. So I focused on locating the actual storage building which was on the NW side of the Decarie circle, and not at all where we were looking earlier that day.

Don Shepherd seemed like a man who was out of time. I learned that he had spent his life working as a sales rep and living between Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and never married or had kids. Now at 60 plus and with failing health, he repeatedly expressed his uneasiness vis à vis city life to me. He never again wanted to move boxes that would sit unopened in his apartment until the next time he would move. But Don was in the process of planning to move one last time, and as far away from the rude & crazed people around him which he watched from afar. I think he knew that Bumper belonged in Montreal and that it should see play here again after being in storage for so long, and he couldn`t bring himself to throw it in the trash like so much of his other belongings. That`s when he called the fish store and I happened to answer the phone by chance or instinct. It all made sense.

"You know Robert, in this system we are coaxed into accumulating so much stuff in our lives, it runs our economy. Books, records, cassettes, piles of papers and magazines, clothes, furniture. appliances and various junk which serves no real purpose in the end except to make it harder to move. Anytime we want to make a change in our lives, we have to think about all this stuff, its crazy. But now I am finally done with this non-sense. I have thrown so much stuff out in the past couple of days and there is still more. But during my whole previous life I felt like Sisyphus who pushed a rock up a hill for all of his existence, just to have it roll back down, it`s plain stupid." He told me this over the phone when I called him to set up another appointment to try and see the elusive Bally Bumper. He had been packing and preparing his next & last move, his mind was elsewhere. He was looking east towards the Ocean a place he had never lived before.

All the meantime, I was getting syked and anxious to see what condition this old machine would be in. I asked again if he was available to go seek out the sacred locker on Thursday afternoon. He told me that Thursday was no good because he had to stay home in case the postman would deliver the registered letter having to do with his lease renewal. I found this strange, but didn`t question.

I just said, "You know Don, that if you aren`t home they leave a note that there is something for you to pick up at the closest post office."

"I know, but I can`t walk that far. The post office is at the shopping mall."

"I`ll drive you there if you get a notice Don. Let`s go find the machine tomorrow.", I said.

"That`s good of you Robert to offer a lift, but we`ll go get her next Tuesday if you don`t mind, I really want to make sure I get this letter."


"By the way," he continued, " Would you drive me to the shopping mall when you get a chance next week, maybe Monday so I can buy a small traveling bag and a cheap watch, it won`t take long, I am a quick shopper. I am flying out to Nova Scotia the week after to look for a place to go live." This made me a little mad, and I think it was because I got the sense that he was delaying picking up the now more than ever elusive machine and just wanted to extend our hanging out together. We had a few phone conversations after the first attempt, and I occasionally got him to tell me a little more about how this pinball made it into his life when he was 17. But I think Don was on a different schedual than me, and the rest of the restless world for that matter, so I bided my time until Tuesday and listened patiently.

During the summer of 1971, Don and his best friend Tommy decided to not get jobs and instead ran small classified ads in local newspapers in TMR, Cote-St.Luc and Hampstead advertising household chores for hire like painting, cleaning pools, cutting grass etc. One day a call came in from an older lady in TMR with an attic to clean out. That is where they found Bumper, under a sheet in the attic of an 80 year old widow from Chicago. Tommy and Don both bolted down the stairs after uncovering it and figuring out what it was in order to ask the lady what she wanted to do with it. Don made it down the stairs first and she simply said, "Take it." When the job was done, they sat down with her for coffee and Don wanted to know where this "cool" thing came from. She grew up and got married in Chicago in the late 20`s, and for a living this couple ran a soda fountain/candy shop type place. One day in the mid 30`s these guys came in off the street and said that they were putting a pinball machine in their store. She didn`t want it, but her husband said that it was better for their business if they had it there. When the second world war broke out they moved to Montreal and took the machine with them. The lady justified this bold action to Tommy and Don by stressing that nobody ever came back for it so it was considered abandoned. And since their children liked it, they brought it up to Canada with their belongings. When the kids grew up and left, old Bumper ended up in the attic until a young Don Shepherd spotted her and gave it a new life.

So once again this Bumper pinball machine would see play action, but in another TMR home.

Everything about Don was different than the times we are living in. He was intelligent, wise, polite, calm in his exclamations and animated in conversation, and all in an ethereal no nonsense type of way. He loved hot rods, but no longer wanted to drive because of city traffic and the way it made some people behave behind the wheel of their cars which seemed borderline insane to him. He owned a computer, but had no e-mail account and still writes real letters to his real friends. I also learned that he had a brother named Robbie who lived in a great big house in Pierrefonds and occasionally drives Don to the shopping mall when he needs clothes or something more complex than a can of food, smokes, coffee or beer. All the latter things he gets daily from the gas station depanneur across the street from his apartment. I gradually got to know Don better before and after the Bumper quest ended and I got to appreciate his thinking about things, especially about why he couldn`t just throw old Bumper out before leaving Montreal. I also knew that he was keeping the bare strict minimum before leaving for good. He just couldn`t bring himself to throw old Bumper in the dumpster with the rest of his stuff. His brother Robbie didn`t want it in his house even though they both grew up playing it. Don told me that this old Bally Bumper was the only thing him & his mother ever fought about, and the memories were too strong to throw in the trash. The old lady called it, "that stupid marble machine."

Episode 4 - Accessing the castle and crossing the moat towards Lady Bumper

I had spent the week-end trying to think about other things than that old pinball machine sitting idle in a dark locker for a quarter of a century. Could this be long enough to consider this game HUO, I pissed myself laughing at such an idea. No coin op jobber in the 1930`s would buy something like this for their home, not back then. But today, Don was right when he said that we can be coaxed into buying all sorts of useless junk, like brand new pinball machines made so cheaply that they break within a month of home use only, imagine them on the road. Maybe they should put a label on nowadays "WARNING - not meant for commercial use".

When Monday finally rolled around, I got a call at the fish store from Don asking if I could take him to the shopping mall after work. Preferably he wanted to go to Value Village or the Salvation Army Store to get what he needed for his reconnaissance trip out to Nova Scotia.

"No use buying something new and then throwing it out now is there ?", he said. I agreed of course, and asked where exactly he was thinking of looking for his next place to live.

"Yarmouth." came the answer.

"Don, no, no, no!! Why Yarmouth out of all freakin` places," I exclaimed, "please tell me there is a good reason for Yarmouth."

"The ocean Rob, and the Hot Rods, real hot rods like the ones in American Graffiti.`

I give up, I thought. This was getting too weird. I better help this guy out so we can get things rolling.

"OK, I will drive you to the mall," I said, "as long as you promise to answer a few specific questions about Bumper at a later date."

"Sure Robert, whatever I can remember about her is yours to write about."

I wasn`t sure if this was a good thing at the time.

So after work I picked Don up at his place and we drove down to the Value Village store where he quickly began stress testing the zippers and clips on all the small travel bags that were branded with a recognizable label.

"See this Robert, 4 bucks and the quality I want in carry on luggage. We are done here, let`s go.", he exclaimed.

That took all of eight minutes including the flirting he did with the cute cashier on the way out. And all the while remaining comical and polite, and weirdly charming.

Off to the drugstore for a cheap Chinese watch and some milk of magnesium for the two hour flight. He looked around the store and got the attention of another cute little clerk when he became overwhelmed by the choice of watches near the cash. He politely explained to the young girl why he wanted a cheap watch that worked well. She gave him all sorts of attention that I hope to get when I am Don`s age and looking to buy a 10 dollar watch. He was just a likeable guy, no matter how nutty he was.

The next day couldn`t come fast enough for me. So that Tuesday, again after work, on another extremely muggy afternoon, I would have to drive with Don, and the windows rolled down, to go on the quest for Lady Bumper. Luckily we had next to no traffic that afternoon. So I picked him up and made sure to ask him if he had the keys to the locker on His person.

"Yup, and I have a piece of paper with the code we need to get past the big security gate." he replied.

Don was organized, but I still had the impression that this was not going to go off without at least a hitch or two. The access to this storage facility was tricky at best and had to be approached from the north side heading south from Marcel-Laurin even though you could clearly see it from the 40, yet there were no off ramps to get to it driving east or west from the metropolitan. Fawk, the heat was becoming a factor, but Don`s memory coming back to him as we circled and approached the structure looking for the entrance. He clearly pointed to the main gate of the facility past the guards` station. We rolled up slowly past the sterile looking offices and up to the little electronic keypad before the gate. I carefully punched in the 10 digit code Don read to me off an old scrap of paper he pulled from his jeans` front pocket. The paper looked twenty years old from the folds in it. Then, suddenly before finishing the code, he said that he may have to go pee. I told him to sit still and not think about peeing until we got past this gate. Silence. The rest of the code was uttered and punched in.

I pressed the pound key after the code and the gate remained closed, - nothing. Remaining civil, I asked Don for the paper and tried again, on my own this time. Fuck all, no movement at all. I turned to him sweating and sharply said, "Don, this isn`t working, as you can tell." I was somewhat pissed, but held my nerve, and waited for his explanation.

"Uh Robert, maybe we should try that other keyboard a little further down, this one seems to be for the ground units with garage doors. The locker if I remember correctly was upstairs, and I think that is what that other keyboard over there is for. It monitors another section of the facility."

I quietly put the car in gear and eased it forward about 10 feet, punched in the code and the pound key and watched the gate open like a drawbridge to some weird fucking castle that I now prayed was harbouring so called Lady Bumper. I let out a sigh of relief and mental exhaustion.

I asked him for the locker number so I could get a fix as to which of the many outside doors we could access it from. We drove to where Don remembered was the best way to the storage locker. This unfortunately lead us on a goose chase through several corridors and stairwells that seemed to lead everywhere but locker 1990. I was hauling a four wheel dollie like a shoulder bag and Don was starting to have difficulty walking. I would turn around to see how far he had fallen back as I saw numbers start to get consequential in my delirium. It was more than freakin` hot in there. What the hell was happening to me, I was losing orientation and then I heard Don cry out from down a hall, "Robert, I think we should go to the front office and ask, and besides that I think I really have to go pee now, I mean it." Ofcourse he was right, there was no other sensible thing to do.

We got back in the car, I put the 4 wheel dollie back in the trunk and turned the boat around. We were about to punch in the code to get past the gate, but luckily someone was coming in so we got to the front office a little faster and Don walked briskly towards the washrooms as I went up to the front desk sweating. I must have looked half crazed as I wiped my brow, `cause the lackey behind the desk pulled back a few steps as I leaned over the counter and said, "Where the heck is locker 1990 ?" and stared at him straight between the eyes.

"We have been looking for a good 15 minutes in this heat, and every time we get close to that number, they jump by another 100,- can you please help me."

"Sir, is this your locker that you are looking for ?"

"No, it`s not. It`s the guy who bolted for your washrooms locker, and I am his driver, so please, would you tell me how to get to locker 1990."

He looked at me, paused and decided that I was telling the truth. or maybe he just thought it would be better to deal with me quickly.

"Well, the easiest way is to go to the first large garage door that way, but it can only be opened from the inside, so you will have to go two doors down the other way and walk through the smaller access door inside in order to open the large garage door with the buttons that control it. From there you take the freight elevator and make sure to keep your finger on the button and close both gates behind you or the alarm will sound. Get out on the third floor of this here corner building behind me, and locker #1990 should be just to your right facing the back of the facility." He said all this while pointing to a diagram on the wall behind him that was starting to look more and more like a map from the middle ages as the air conditioning dried the sweat over my brows which had made its way into my eyes. I stepped back and looked at the actual building from the front office and sort of understood approximately where we would have to point ourselves if we wanted a chance to look at this pin.

Meanwhile, as I was debating my next move, Don came out of the can and came up behind me and said, "So Robert, did this gentleman help you locate the locker with his directions." I felt like I was in a Kafka novel, and just said, "Let`s go Don."

Back in the car, punch the code on the second keypad and I think Don felt that I was on edge and disoriented from the heat and the various info. He lifted his arm and pointed forward like some twisted general to a man walking inside the facility grounds drinking from a can of beer.

"Maybe we should ask this fellow." Great I thought, all we need now is a drunken sherpa. But at this point, I was willing to try anything.

"Excuse me sir, do you work here ?"

"Bein oui."

"Peux tu nous aider a trouver un locker, on cherche le numero 1990."

"Pas de probleme suit moi" as he took another swig of his beer.

I turned to Don and said, "I think we have a live one here." Don chuckled and said, "It looks like this guy knows what he is doing, or at least let`s hope so." We got out of the car, I grabbed the buggy, and asked Don if he was good to walk up the flights of stairs to the third floor where our sherpa seemed to be heading. and calling out for us to follow.

"I am right behind you Robert." came Don`s reply. I was getting a good vibe from this wild eyed sherpa who moved quite swiftly ahead of us. There was a certain drunken authority to his stride. I kept up with him as we got to the third floor and Don started falling behind. I almost lost sight of our sherpa as he turned down rows of corridors with lockers on both sides until he just seemed to suddenly vanish. We were definitely on the third floor by then and closer to the front of the building just like the geek at the front office had told me that we would find the locker. I stopped, looked around, and then heard Don shuffling behind me and shouting, "Hey Robert, this looks familiar." The numbers were in the mid 1800`s and there seemed to be enough doors in front of us to get us past the 1900`s. I waited for Don and my heartbeat accelerated as the numbers climbed to 1890, then 1930,1950,1960,1970 and so on and when we turned the corner, there it was - 1990. And just like the guy at the front office had said, there was indeed a freight elevator a few steps away.

Don finally caught up and exclaimed, "There`s the locker Robert, just like I remember it." I was quiet and calmer for the first time that afternoon as Don pulled the padlock keys from his jean pocket. I stood back as he popped the locks open and swung the big metal locker door out as the hinges screeched.

Yabo !!, lo and behold, right there on the floor was Lady Bumper laid out next to her four legs which were tied together in a bundle. The cabinet was in beautiful shape and the backbox and backglass were intact. We carried her out carefully and I marveled when I saw her in the light.

There was a picture of Uncle Sam in the scorecard holder to remind us that the second world war was looming.

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"Isn`t she something." Don said, "That`s Lady Bumper".

"Yeah, I am glad we got to her, I was starting to think this quest was turning into a nightmare.", I said in relief as I reached for my wallet and the 250 bones I had folded into the business card section of my wallet for safe-keeping.

Then - "Robert, hold on. Since this machine was given to me back in 1971 by an old lady from Chicago, I want you to have it for free, but you have to promise me you will never sell it. I would be very happy to know that it has only been sold once, from the factory to Al Capone`s boys or whomever."

"Don, I can`t accept this machine for free. Please take at least 100 bucks for Christ sake."

"No,- let`s get her in your car and take her where there are other pinball machines."


"No,- let`s get her in your car and take her where there are other pinball machines."

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In Episode 5 on Tuesday night, the bumper twins unite, and Don wants me to drive him to Yarmouth with the remainder of his stuff.

Episode 5 -Lining up the Bumper Twins and Don`s Maratime Proposition-The Tale winds Down

That evening I brought Lady Bumper back to my shop and considered myself pretty lucky, but also honored in a way as I inspected her from top to bottom. I was now the third custodian in its` 76 year lifespan. It had probably worked commercially from day one to about the 1940`s, and then traveled to Montreal, played and was then gradually put away in a TMR attic for at least a decade. To then later be woken up for another "run" comprised mainly of beer parties from 1971 to the 80`s hosted by Don, his brother Robbie, and their friends. Only to sleep again until 2012. And now in 2013, it stands proudly here waiting, tucked away in an upstairs loft alcove on the thyroid floor of a 1920`s American company`s` foundry awaiting its first facelift, clean up and nip tuck.


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and then later this year it will again become playable for at least another 20 years until I decide it is time to find her another keeper when we have to part. It is all very romantic, don`t you think ? (cough-cough/bullshit-bullshit)
Through all of this particular Bumper`s journey, it had only been sold once apparently, from the factory to a now long gone jobber. Don was especially proud of this, and wanted to make sure that no money would be involved so as to tarnish the passing of his Lady Bumper to another custodian which turned out to be a coin operated amusement machine whore named Baraké.

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I made it back to the shop and unloaded the Bumper and hauled her to the upstairs loft piece by piece and set her up next to her brother. Bumper is a large game by the 1930`s standards, and one of the first pins to start sporting a small backbox, accommodating a projection type digital score counter, pretty high tech for the times I reckon. What do you think Delmar ?


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In the following picture Uncle Sam is all turned around at the payout schedule card I found in the bottom of Lady Bumper.


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Ofcourse, I was going to respect Don`s request to not resell it, it made perfect sense, although her brother was definitely going to have to go.

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Don was flying out to Nova Scotia on Thursday and he called me to make sure Lady Bumper was secure again and with her family before leaving for his reconnaissance trip. I filled him in on the way she looked next to the other Bumper, and he said, "Ah, the bumper twins. Probably came out of the same mother Bally factory in Chicago hey Robert." Yup.

When Don returned from Nova Scotia via what he called the flight from hell which brought him back into Montreal, and once he finished telling me about the airplane washroom, he informed me that he had found the perfect place to live in Yarmouth. How could that be, and so quickly ? Yarmouth from memory was filled with rotting wooden houses that smelled of mold and sea water and the place looks like a tough, beat up little town for the most part. Don`s lodgings must be pretty sad at best I thought, but this was Don, I was never really sure about anything with him. He then went on to tell me about how nice people are in Yarmouth, and added lots of details about the Hot Rods and the motorcycles he saw, but I will let him tell you about that directly in the final Episode of this tale. Yes he has written Episode 6 himself which will be posted here on MAACA late Thursday night.

Now it was time to pay the piper sort of speak. Me being the silly piper in a puffy costume in this tale trying to lead the rats out of town sort of speak. I had serious questions about Lady Bumper that I wanted answered. So I invited Don for an A&W burger on Wednesday afternoon since I remember him telling me that he had smashed one of their large pane glass windows back in the 70`s when A&W was a real drive in restaurant chain, where you actually were served at your car window. He had backed into a large angled restaurant facade window with a big 1960`s "boat" of a car like a Pontiac Bonneville ballbuster of sorts and hadn`t estimated how long the back ass end of the vehicle was. He told me that when the cops called his father, he sat there paralyzed in the Pontiac with the trunk covered in chars of glass, the windows rolled up and refusing to move. When his dad arrived and saw this, he immediately made his was to the back seat of the cruiser car and talked to the cops for fifteen minutes straight on this hot summer night. (His dad was an executive big wig at Sunoco oil). He then got out and took Don home with the Pontiac- no charges were laid and nothing came of it. Maybe that is why Don wants the windows rolled down in the summer now.

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After our burgers, and lots of talk about Bumper, Don and I went out for a smoke, and then he simply asked in a serious and non-chalant tone,

"Robert, now that I have gotten rid of most of my stuff, and that the locker is empty largely thanks to you, I will need to rent one of those smaller sized econoline type box vans to move what I have left to Yarmouth. You know the type, the ones we would deck out with a couch, make out with our girlfriends and then travel in."

OK I thought.

He continued, "I would like you to drive me home to Yarmouth. I will pay your expenses and give you a thousand dollars a day for your trouble." Pause, WTF, this guy is nuts.


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He continued, "How much do they pay you at that place you call the fishstore ? Maybe about 1000 beans in a week I figure, so what about it? It should take a maximum of five days back and forth. However, you will have to drive the van back alone and empty, what do you say Robert ?"

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It is rare that I have nothing to say, but it took me a while to answer, "Let me check my schedaul with my wife and at work Don."

Wait I thought, I`d better ask, - "When would this be happening Don, do you have a date in mind ?"

"As soon as possible, I am almost ready to go now." he said.

Fawk !! Then Thelma and Louise came to mind, but this being a Rob & Don scenario, it certainly wasn`t as sexy and fatale. I really did try to fandangle some time to take this on, but it turned out to be impossible with such short notice, and trying to get around my tightly calculated schedual from which I can only pathetically attempt to make time for spontaneous joy. It made me seriously sad to acknowledge that I and many of my friends are chained to scheduals that keep us so busy that we hardly have the time to stop and smell the proverbial fucking roses which continue to grow around us regardless of any of us.


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I let Don know as soon as I knew that this would be near impossible to pull off for me, so he made other arrangements. His old friend Joe from "the Vancouver days" (now in Montreal) agreed to help Don pack all his stuff into a van and off they went towards the ocean.

Later that August, I got a call from Don who had now all but settled into his new pad on Main street Yarmouth in a beautifully renovated apartment in the back of a professional couples` century home. Don told me that he can see the ocean from his back porch and walk to the store for food. He sounded great and thanked me again for taking care of Lady Bumper. Then before saying goodbye, he said that God had put me on his path. I almost told him that he was nuts right there and then, but my last name does mean blessed in some ancient language so I best be quiet I thought. I am not sure what God may have to do with this, but Don may know more than I about this sort of thing,- he has certainly surprised me a few times that summer.

"Thanks Don, I am glad that you are finally home." I replied.

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Episode 6 - Don`s own words resume this tale for those who care to read one more freaking long winded post.

P.S. Well at least this time I have better pics. After the final Episode on Thursday night, I will ask WARLOCK to remove the talking stick from my grasp, because it is getting too heavy to carry even for a brute like me.

First off, I want to say thank you once again to Scott for letting me post a tale that has been itching to get on to my website for a while now. This forum has been a great "work in progress" space for this one and others. I really appreciate the comments from the contributing members in the form of posts, PMs and especially the face to face ones occasionally seasoned with belly laughter.

Secondly, the experience that this writing format & schedual provided was one of anticipation on my part as well, remembering certain details by reliving the last two weeks of July in my head and by reading notes from that time, along with the help of The MAACA Daily News which I use often in order to situate me a context, which I think is essential to good writing.

Well, enough of that non-sense. Here is the reason for this out of episode post.

Before posting the story of Lady Bumper in Don`s own words tonight, I want to say that I hope to be as lucky, and as smart as Don in finding home before its too late. Like a god-dam salmon swimming up river, - crazy shit - and always hoping to make it to the goal and not get eaten by a bear trying. :?












Scotty, beam me out of here so I can get home.

Robert A.Baraké.