PITTSTON — John Chedrick has a one-of-a-kind collection — not baseball cards or vintage coins, but pinball machines.
Chedrick, 61, has a dozen pinball machines set up in the basement of his Pittston home and another eight in the process of being refurbished.
Having once owned over 32 machines, Chedrick has sold machines at various trade shows.
His fascination with the timeless arcade game began when he was young.
“I was always fascinated by what was going on inside of them,” Chedrick said of the pinball machines. “I got my first game, my father bought it for me, when I was 13. He got me an old 1950s vintage pinball machine and that was my guinea pig. I dissected it and learned about it.”
When it came to purchasing machines, Chedrick said it was all about the people he knew and where to find them.
“I’ve known most of the pinball machine operators in the area through these years,” he said. “People have had these in their homes through the years, got tired of them and I’ve done repairs for people in their homes, too.”
Chedrick does not purchase pinball machines to keep them in his basement to collect dust. He plays them every night and has refurbished them with new paint, glass and new parts the machines may have needed.
To keep the machines fun, he still puts a nickel in them machine to play, which he said is how much it cost for one game back in the 1960s.
Despite his knowledge of the machine, Chedrick is not interested in designing his own model.
“I’m not that creative,” he said. “Although I used to, when I was a little kid before I got my first game, I’d make them out of cardboard boxes and bang a little ball or marbles around on them in anticipation of someday having my own. Now, I’ve got more than what I know to do with.”
While pinball machines have evolved over time, the latest model can be found in Chedrick’s collection as he prefers sticking to the 1960s era.
“Those are the games I grew up playing, so that was always my goal to get every game that I ever played growing up,” he said. “I had some experience working with new models, but they don’t do it for me. It’s my era that I came from since I grew up in the 1960s that I get the most joy out of.”
Chedrick said his father was a TV repairman and he put some of the knowledge his dad taught him about circuits into understanding pinball machines.
At the age of 16, Chedrick put his pinball knowledge to use by working at the now-closed Rocky Glen Amusement Park in Moosic repairing vending machines, juke boxes and pinball machines.
It was his passion for pinball machines that lead Chedrick to his line of work with Frontier as a telecommunications assistant technician.
With the telephones evolving, Chedrick has had to keep up to date with the latest technology, but prefers to keep it simple when it comes to pinball machines.
While he does not buy or sell pinball machines at a rapid rate like he used to, Chedrick will always consider himself an enthusiast of his collection.
“It’s just been my crazy hobby through these years and it’s kept me very happy,” he said. “The hobby now has evolved into more people collecting them so there is more comaraderie out there and more connections to be made. It makes it more enjoyable in these latter years than it was when I first started because I was all alone with it.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher