I spent most of my time growing up in Marlborough, Connecticut. In the center of town, there was an ice cream shop. It’s gone now, but while it thrived, and while my sister and I were young, it was a frequent destination for our family. I remember only two things about it, aside from its prominent location on Route 66, adjacent to the town’s only bank, one half of its pizza restaurants, the lone pharmacy, and a florist.
Firstly, it served a flavor called Rainbow Sherbet. I don’t remember what this flavor tasted like, but evidently tasty enough for it to remain in my memory to this day. It was colorful, presumably delicious, and a personal favorite of my sister and mine.
Secondly, and primarily, there was an arcade machine in the shop. Imagine a pinball table with only one flipper. There are no bumpers, and the ball drops in from the top. The surface of the table is a baseball diamond, and the single flipper is the swinger, up to bat. The ball drops in, you hit it with the flipper, and depending on where you hit the ball into the “outfield”, you win cards.
Today, the “cards” you win would likely be virtual, or equate to a lame digital prize on a website. But this was the mid-1990s, and you won thick-stock, laminated baseball cards, with up-to-date players and recent stats. While I was never a serious sports fan—I played many as a kid, and followed hockey for a while, but nothing more—I loved collecting these cards, and winning them from the machine was so easy.
Years later, helping clean out my childhood bedroom for my parent’s move to Vermont, I would end up discarding all of them.