"It's a dirty lie," expostulated Alvin Ruml '45, when he was accused of being the second-best pin-ball shot in College, although he admits John L. Ryan '43 and Armistead C. Leigh '46 to be pretty good.
This trio has been involved in death gripping competition lately to attain topman recognition in an unorganized society of pin-ballers which gathers almost daily in Harry's Arcade.
Win High Scores
On the new Arcade machine, the Monicker, one of the most temperamental mechanisms in Cambridge, Ruml has come through with a neat 58,000 point score, although an outsider, Charlie Marvin, is temporary high-man there with 65,000. Leigh and Ryan are close behind Ruml.
However, the trio's greatest triumph came when Ruml deposited a coin in the other Arcade machine, the Champ, depressed the nickel slot, and pulled it out again with unaccustomed vehemence. All the little lights suddenly lit up, giving Ruml the regular five balls and a 50,000 point handicap. He won 77 free games.
Colonel Smith Also Pin-Ballist
Though in pin-ball circles the great names are unquestionably Leigh, Ruml and Ryan, Colonel Morton Smith, Adjutant of the military R.O.T.C., was recently seen in Dirty Mary's beating the socks off Captain Andrew Marshall in a pin-ball game that enthused onlooking Colonel Francis A. Doniat, professor of Military Science and Tactics, to such an extent that he nearly jarred the machine into a tilt.
Moreover, Dean Rodman W. Paul '36 was caught in Harry's Arcade the other day bent over the Champ, which was registering a score which an observer described as "close to pay dirt."
Pin-Balling Good for War Nerves
While the triumvirate members do take a few subjects this year, they spend most of their time in a special course which they call Pin-Ball 101, which relieves them of war-hysteria.
Furthermore, Ryan maintains, a pinballer can develop a lot of coordination, unless he ruins his efficiency by the old stable vice of weaving, where he tries to guide the rolling pin-ball with his hips.
Many subtle and effective types of ballpinners have been developed around the Square, a great many of whom, according to Ryan, get their abilities from old Harvard pin-ball immortals, Irving Soden '39 and Richard Harris '42. Ryan describes them in classes of "pushers," "thumpers," and "smashers," who play pin-ball in the manner which their name suggests.
Ryan admits that last fall he used to be a smasher. Once, for example, when he had coached the ball too much from the sidelines and got a tilt, he became uncontrollably angry and smashed the glass covering.
Though in the past two years the pinball machines about the Square have increased from six to 13, the future in wartime looks black to Ryan and Ruml, who claim that pin-ball repairers haven't the spare parts to keep the machines in serviceable condition for long.