Date: Sunday 20th September, 2009.
Location: SS Billiards, 732 11th Avenue South, Hopkins, Minnesota 55343, USA.

On October 2nd 2002, SS Billiards in Hopkins, MN, USA had its 30th anniversary party, Bolshoi Goose. On September 20th 2009, there was yet another great party, a free customer appreciation party. The party lasted from about 4pm until almost 12am.

The front of the world famous SS Billiards
The front of the world famous SS Billiards


As is always true, Lloyd was solely responsible for: funding, hosting, organizing and setting up the pinball party.


The week before Lloyd's 37th Anniversary, he sent out individual and cordial emails to those whom he hoped could attend.

Steak sandwiches starting at 5pm. There will be a cooler of pop available.

At 5pm I'll put four games on free play for the tournament.

There will be a Joe Esposito pinball tournament starting at 5pm for $100.00

Starting at 5pm there will be a one ball TOPS tournament on Wheel Of Fortune, winner gets $50. Ends at 10pm, each person gets one free entry. Players can enter more times if they wish, the TOPS tournament will be set at $1 a play.

This is going to be a blast. I hope you can make it.  LTG :)


The night before the party, Lloyd's made a nostalgic post on the pinball newsgroup.
I share this post with you.

OT kind of. Though my life is interwoven in coin op and pinball. Please don't read, if you aren't interested.

I'll be heading home shortly, to get some sleep before my work day starts on Sunday September 20th. My 37th Anniversary with SS Billiards.

I was debating making an anniversary post on RGP this year. Not that big a deal to most, just milestones in my life. I snuck out earlier to go get dinner. Put my "back in ten minutes" sign in the door and off I went.

Heard a polka on the radio as I was switching channels. Got me to thinking. I was about four years old, sitting by the band stand in the city park in Chaska, Minnesota ( my Mother's home town ) listening to a polka band and eating a bag of cherries, I remember thinking "it doesn't get any better than this".

About this same time I built my first EM pinball. I had a big piece of wood. Screwed down every stepper unit, score motor, relay, anything I could find to it. I wasn't allowed to solder yet. So every once in awhile my Dad would come over and solder wires where ever I wanted them. After a long time, every thing that could have a wire to it, did. When we couldn't squeeze anymore wire onto it, I said to my Dad "lets plug it in". He got real bug eyed and shocked ( a look I saw many times in the following years ) and tried to explain that we couldn't and some crap about it being dangerous. Got me thinking, "man, it doesn't get any better than this".

Working at the shooting gallery he ran at the Minnesota State Fair. One very hot August evening, I took a five second break. I was covered with sweat, dust, graphite, gun oil. Juke box in the back cranking out music out front. The front of the building was facing West. I saw the sun in all it's splendor starting to think about setting. Got me thinking "it doesn't get any better than this.

My Dad's arcade was the Rifle Sport, located at 812 Hennepin Avenue when I started working there for him. The smell of Luminal paint was quite evident there. I used it to paint the 22 caliber shooting gallery. This gallery wasn't even one fourth the size of the one at the state fair. I always looked at that gallery as work. The one at the Rifle Sport, always made me feel good when I worked on it. Clean out the graphite, grease it. Paint it, step back and admire how great it looked before anyone shot at it. Made you think it didn't get any better than this.

When the Rifle Sport Arcade moved to 604 Hennepin Avenue, upstairs. A B-B gun range was added. That thing always leaked air, and the air compressor was always running. I came up with the idea to put a bigger pulley on the pump so it would fill up quicker. Worked great. Well almost. Later that evening my Dad went into the kitchen area ( used to be a nightclub up there ) to heat some water for his instant Folgers coffee. He walked in and the pump was glowing cherry red, he ran back out just as it blew up. Later we found out that the faster it ran, the hotter it got, and put less air into the tank, each cycle running longer and longer as less and less air was going through the pump until it blew up. When I came in the next morning, my Dad was on about something. His usual screaming and yelling. He told me to go look in the kitchen. There was a fair amount of shrapnel imbedded into the walls and stuff around the air compressor tank. Looked like a small grenade went off. Got me to thinking this was cool, I wish I'd seen it. Doesn't get much better than this.

The one year I worked for about the largest op in the Midwest. I got to be in on delivering the juke box to the high school cheerleader party for the state basketball and hockey playoffs. When I was done I got a pop and was sitting watching all the cheerleader warm ups, stretching, practicing their routines. I knew it didn't get any better than this.

In October 1987. Just got done with getting the new rug in. And right after disassembled a Sega sit down Afterburner and reassembled it inside. Got it up and running. got a Pepsi, watching customers playing it, got me to thinking, "it doesn't get any better than this".

The first Goose pinball party was on March 2nd, 2001. All by accident. I'd been trying to do leagues or tournaments and there wasn't enough interest to make them happen. There was a pinball tournament in town on March 3rd, and they only had access to the area they were using on that day. So about a week and a half before Paul Madison stopped by and told me that the guys coming up from Chicago for the tournament would probably stop by here and practice on Friday. I thought we should have a small party. Order some pizza, let the out of town guys meet and play the locals. Just got in High Roller Casino and borrowed Greg Kemnitz's Big Bang Bar, got some mugs printed up for the event, and had the Launch Those Geese party.Watching my business packed with people, I couldn't help but think that man, it doesn't get much better than this.

October 21st, 2002, I was celebrating my 30th Anniversary with the Bolshoi Goose party. ( back some years before on the 20th or 21st anniversary I started celebrating my anniversary on the wrong date for about ten years ). With the help of many. Greg Algaard, Jim Hallock, Greg Kemnitz, Todd Andersen, Dave Slabiak. I was sitting talking with Dave and marveled at the sound of 40 pinball machines all being played at the same time. Man, it doesn't get any better than this.

2007, the last chance I had to get up to Grand Marais, MN on my 4th of July day off. To rest, unwind. Have a good dinner, watch the fireworks. Then the long drive home. I ate dinner at Naniboujou lodge. Sat outside on one of their Adirondack chairs by Lake Superior. Just enjoying life. Couldn't help but think not too many years before I was sitting there with my wife and how happy I was. All of a sudden I got very lonely, I got up and left. I was thinking this is a pretty poor time to feel lonely or breakdown, over five
hours from home. Unbeknownst to everybody, I skipped the fireworks. I drove about an hour up the Gunflint Trail. I found a lake I discovered and fished, too many years ago. I looked at the beauty of that spot. Thought of happier times. Heard a moose calling from across the lake. Got me to thinking if I hadn't been feeling sorry for my self, I would have never returned to that lake. Man, it doesn't get any better than this.

September 20th, after my day's work. After the 37th anniversary party. The last people will leave. I'll be all alone. Feeling pretty pathetic. The parties are pretty tough on me. Check my email and the newsgroup in case I can try and help anybody that needs it with their games. And head out. Wondering why I do it. And I'll think about the last episode on Cheers, when Norm was sitting having a beer, and talking to Sam. Norm tells Sam he knew Sam would return, because he wouldn't be unfaithful to his one true love, the bar.

I want to thank each and every person I've met along the way. I am truly blessed. I am the most fortunate person alive. I am living my dream.

It doesn't get any better than this. LTG :) “


Lloyd's arcade was left as mostly as normal, save the announcements around the room.

Anniversary announcement
Anniversary announcement

Planed events announcement
Planed events announcement

Announcement for walk-in customers
Announcement for walk-in customers

Announcement for other customers
Announcement for other customers

It was a party. And what is a party without balloons?

Peter was the first person to wish Lloyd a happy anniversary

From front to back, the list of Lloyd's pinball machines included:

Addams Family Gold, Attack from Mars, Batman, Corvette, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man, Medieval Madness, NASCAR, Wheel of Fortune, and Twilight Zone.

The day of the party Lloyd helped sell a game: Star Trek.

Also at the Anniversary, but not a part of the tournaments, was an original Capcom, Big Bang Bar.


Lloyd order tasty steak sandwiches from Red’s Savoy, for those in attendance. Lloyd also provided a cooler with several different pop varieties. Diane brought in an assortment of freshly made, home-baked, cookies.


Because this was a free party, there were no tickets.


There were no door prizes this year.


Ryan was gracious enough to host his FnA pinball tournament. Unlike last year, there was also a one day ToPS tournament.

The one day ToPS pinball tournament was held on Pirates of the Caribbean.

Dave was the big winner of the ToPS tournament.

Dave won $50.00 cash
Dave won $50 cash

It seemed that everyone, including Lloyd, had a great time!

A few of the people enjoying pinball
A few of the people enjoying pinball

Jackson enjoying the competition
Jackson enjoying the competition

At 5pm Lloyd put the five tournament games on free play. Because of Stern’s crappy wiring (Yea, I wrote it), there was an intermittent problem with one of the switches on Wheel of Fortune. So, Lloyd moved the ToPS tournament to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Lloyd changing over the ToPS tournament game

Five fun-to-play pinball machines in total were put on free play. There was the one listed above. The other four included:

Medieval Madness
Medieval Madness





The single elimination pinball tournament was best-two-of-three. The competition started at 5pm. Each set of players and their games were chosen at random.

Mike took second place; winning $25.00
Mike took second place; winning $25

John was the winner; earning $75
John was the winner; earning $75

As you could probably tell from the beginning of this article; concerning this 37th Anniversary celebration, even though the event was held in a professional arcade, it was a bit of a personally emotional event for Lloyd. I again share his words with you.

“Well the anniversary party is history. Pinted will have an article about it on Pinball News soon. Savoy's Philly cheese steak sandwiches were awesome. Diane Lundahl brought in a couple big trays of homemade cookies. Ryan ran the Joe Esposito Tournament, I'm not sure who won that. Somebody did. Dave Gorka won the Tops tournament on POTC.

I want to thank each and everyone who came and helped make the celebration and awesome event. It was great.

Man, it doesn't get any better than this.  LTG :)”


All pictures are property of SS Billiards and are used with permission courtesy of LTG.