I’m up for pizza pretty much whenever, but what pulled me into Olde Line in Lincoln City, Oregon, wasn’t just that it seemed like a good idea for lunch.
It was the sign that said “vintage bowling.”
As a child of the upstate New York bowling culture of the 1980s, I had to see what that meant. Were there manual scorecards, or if they wanted to go really old-school, human pinsetters?
Suzi just wondered if the vintage bowling also made me vintage, and joked that if I was, maybe it would make me popular with the hipsters.
I must confess that my natural inclination is to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, perhaps even a bit of a fuddy-duddy.
But I’m working hard on it, mostly because I’m trying the near-impossible feat of getting more open-minded as I get older, and because in the words of the great man himself, Billy Joel, “the good ole days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”
There’s a block in Bend, Oregon — we only noticed because we parked near there — that pretty well sums up how I feel about nostalgia.
It also had what looked like and old-fashioned apothecary and barbershop, so it had to be planned that way, but I first want to focus on the arcade.
I played video games as a kid, but mostly on whatever version of the Atari was hooked up to a TV, until I got to college, when it was the Sega Genesis.
I didn’t go to the arcade much, just because there wasn’t an arcade anywhere near where I lived. But when I saw the sign for Vector Volcano, I thought that was pretty cool.
It’s a place where people my age can drop some quarters as they reminisce about their younger days, and where kids can sample exactly what it is their parents are talking about.
It was a little like hearing “Tuff Enuff” by The Fabulous Thunderbirds while walking back from the pool at our resort in Lincoln City. I remembered the words well enough to follow along, and though it wouldn’t be the first thing I thought of musically anymore, it was a nice memory and brought a smile to my face.
Or the ‘70s-themed Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, where we stayed the night we went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was a really nice hotel, and had just enough kitsch factor to be amusing, but not overbearing (my face in this picture by Suzi notwithstanding).
That being said, I see a place like Ranch Records, which was next to the arcade, and think that nostalgia sometimes goes too far.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the store, although I didn’t go in. I’m sure they have a fine collection and that the staff is exceedingly friendly. After all, I’m still not unconvinced that Bend isn’t a real town, but someone’s creation of a beautiful setting and uncommonly nice people as a conspiracy to … well, I haven’t figured that part out yet.
No, what gets me is the attachment people have to vinyl.
I listened to records as a kid. It involved trying to get the needle right in the groove, hoping it would stay in place (I’m assuming everyone else has taped a penny to the arm hoping to add some weight) and that the record wasn’t scratched or would skip.
All of this, of course, assumes the record wasn’t hopelessly warped or broken.
And this is what people prefer? And I refuse to believe records “sound better.”
Meanwhile, there are hundreds of songs sitting as far away as my phone.
Including “Tuff Enuff,” which I just downloaded. Took all of about … 30 seconds.
When did it come out? 1986?
Meanwhile, back at Olde Line, they definitely leaned into the “vintage” theme. They even had a rotary telephone, and they used it.
But while the motif was probably a good 10 to 20 years before my time, it was a lot closer to what I grew up with than today’s entertainment venues where you can also bowl if you like, although I’ll bowl anywhere there are lanes.
And the pizza was good.
But even though the alleys weren’t too far from Saturday mornings in a bowling alley underneath the Parrott House in Schoharie, New York, I still don’t want to be “vintage,” and not just because I’m immensely skeptical of hipsters.
I’ll never be completely “modern.” I’ve made my peace with that. But when I think “vintage,” I think “trying to sell you something old, except we can’t say ‘old.’”
And I don’t want to be old.