On Friday nights growing up, I would often be out with my friends, taking in a movie*, going to the diner** afterward for a late bite, and sometimes we would head out to the beach or to one of two local arcades. One of the arcades was at the beach (the beach was across the street) in Bayville. It is now a whole lot more than it used to be, as it is now a small theme/water park. In my day it was just some mini-golf, batting cages and a whole lot of video games and pinball machines (which you could play for a quarter). (Yes, I know, and I hiked in the snow, uphill both ways to get there - I'm old.) Out other arcade destination was Nathan's in Westbury. In addition to the great hot dogs and fries, you had access to many more video games and pinball machines.
This memory is brought to you by a post from kottke.org (again) discussing the old television show, Starcade. If you grew up in the eighties (and you were a bit of a nerd) you likely saw this show on television. Each week it featured kids facing off on a variety of video games for prizes. No worries if you missed it, the site has fifteen episodes online for you to watch. Maybe you will catch a tip or two for the next time you find yourself with a pocket full of quarters and the door to a game room in front of you.
* The movies were almost always at the Loews theaters in Levittown (which is now an AMC theater) or one of the two theaters in Syosset, the Syosset triplex or the Cinema 150, which sadly, are both gone now.
** The diner was always Syosset House. We had the same waitress who would flirt with us (she was younger than your average diner waitress), we often sat with "Bob," a senior citizen who was hanging out in the diner, and the hosts (Greek, of course) knew us and always greeted us, "Hi guys, your table's over here, c'mon back." Syosset House Diner, unfortunately, also gone. (i know some of my Syosset brethren may be saying, what? no On Parade? Sorry, my diner was Syosset House.