Story dated: 9th June 2007
Additional photography by: Ross Simpson, John Harr and Vince Birdsley

What is a "hero"? Many think of a hero as someone who continues the fight; against all odds and adversity.

Under the previous definition, many on RGP consider that Lloyd Olson of SS Billiards has been a real life hero for over thirty-five years. LTG, as he is affectionately known, has continued to run his arcade through the end of the coin-op entertainment industry of the 1990s. At present, LTG keeps his arcade running while fighting for every quarter from the local gambling houses; both casinos that house a myriad of coin-op gambling devices and bars that host card tournaments.

LTG continues the struggle, while at the same time selflessly helping people with questions and problems concerning their own pinball machines; thus keeping them playing their own games and out of his arcade. And "Ph.D. LTG" provides this encyclopedic knowledge freely and usually thanklessly. Yet, this larger-than-life man continues on heroically, morally and physically exhausted, but ever-ready with the correct answers, and always with head held high and a seemingly magical sparkle in his eyes.

Many pin-heads wanted to show LTG what they considered as much deserved appreciation, for fighting the good fight, all in the name of pinball. "But, how could they show their appreciation to someone who has labored fourteen hour days almost every single day", you may ask?

You could never turn back time; to give back the countless hours of work. And, you could never give him a vacation away from the very cause he is perpetually championing. And, no other single person could provide all of the information that super-human LTG could. The answer is simple. The best that you could do would be to give a meaningful token of your appreciation. That token would, of course, be a pinball machine.

But, it would not be just any pinball machine. The motif would have to be representative of the heroic man himself. So, when Stern decided to make a Spider-Man pinball machine, a group of RGPers decided the "Spidey" machine would be a perfect token; one which represents Lloyd's supernatural resolve and steadfastness to stay committed to pinball.

Vince Birdsley and Jason Rufer did much to spearheaded and oversee the event. In total, about forty people got a chance to show their appreciation.

Not everyone involved with this event wanted to be listed. Those wishing to stay off of the list were respectfully omitted. Others involved wanted to be listed under a pseudonym. The alphabetical list of contributors includes but is not limited to:

  • Antony Holdgate
  • Beriah Osorio
  • Bryan Kelly
  • Chris Axel
  • Cliff Rinear
  • Dave Lehmann
  • Derrill Amick
  • Douglas Grant
  • Eric Johnson
  • Erik Doree
  • Jack Guarnieri
  • Jason Rufer
  • Jesse & Tamra Bohnsack
  • Jesse Kujawa
  • john harrrrrrr 
  • John Ross
  • Kim Mitchell
  • Mark McIntyre
  • Mark Teskey
  • Martin Ayub
  • Matt McKee
  • Mike & Heather Nichols
  • Randy Peck
  • Robert Winter
  • Ron Strom
  • Ross Simpson
  • Steve Charland
  • Steve Ritchie
  • Steve Tsubota
  • Terry from Pinball Life
  • Timathie Eisenga
  • Timbre Bjornson
  • Todd Tuckey
  • Vegemite Nick
  • Vince Birdsley

The group at Lloyd's.

About twenty people and even Lloyd's goose were part of the event showing their appreciation to Lloyd. The game's designers, Steve Ritchie and Lyman Sheets also called Lloyd and offered their thanks and appreciation.

Because the group had assembled to celebrate the dauntless efforts of one single man, Lloyd Olson, this is what the crowd was lucky enough to share in:

Group Meeting.
Starting at 5:00 in the afternoon, the group assembled down the road from Lloyd's at " Big 10". At almost 7:00pm we all disbanded and thunderbolted to Lloyd's; descending and reassembling in unison.

At 7:00pm, Jack Guarnieri of Pinball Sales weaseled his way into SS billiards to "surprise" Lloyd with a new hat. This subterfuge was merely part of the plan to get the show of appreciation into the building.

The NIB pinball machine, Spider-Man.
Vince Birdsley arranged collecting payment and getting the machine from Jack of Pinball Sales. Though they communicated via daily e-mails, the entire group kept the thank you a secret from Lloyd for an entire month.

Setting up game-play.
By 7:05pm, the game was expertly set-up in just a few minutes. There were just a few additional things that had to be done: the latest version of the game's software had to be installed, the missing 44 lamp for the right kicker had to be installed, a color-changing LED kit had to be installed, and a loose cable tie had to be removed from the playfield. Jack immediately called Steve Ritchie to report the two small problems and the success of the new software.

The fun part, playing!
From 7:08:30pm to 7:08:50pm, Lloyd had "honors". He was the first to play his new game. Bryan remarked, "I've never seen Lloyd play a pinball machine." Lloyd barely got his hands off of the game before everyone swarmed around it.

Dinner was delivered at 7:10pm. Steve Tsubota had paid for Lloyd's favorite dinner, Famous Dave's. Jason and Sara Rufer arranged the catering, delivered the food, and also provided pop.

Cake and Coffee.
At 8:00, a theme cake and coffee were brought in. The cake was from the bakery department of Byerly's. The coffee was from Caribou. When Lloyd saw the Spidey figure topper on his cake he joked, "Look, a topper for the game." Someone stole the Spidey figure before the cake was even finished. So, Lloyd was given another Spidey wall climber.

Chris kindly put up two videos, taken during the event, on YouTube. They can be found here and here.
1st Link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR77FViFIpA
2nd Link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT6RWIEAqG8

The party couldn't last forever.


The Next Day.
On Sunday morning - the day after - Lloyd put the new game properly in the front line-up. While doing so, Lloyd was quoted as saying, "Unbelievable, I woke up this morning and it (brand new Spider-Man pinball machine) was still there." Then Lloyd likened the event to the end of the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (a.k.a. "The Greatest Gift"). Lloyd recalled that at the end of the movie Clarence (the Angel) left a gift for George Bailey (the main character). Clarence gave George a copy of the book "Tom Sawyer"; a quote from the inscription inside, "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends".

Lloyd's thoughts explain exactly what this show of appreciation was all about - a few friends coming together to give back to the life of an appreciated and deserving hero; who continues to struggle through, no matter what the odds, thus making better lives for all those his life touches.


The final part of the Spider-Man plan was to present Lloyd with a translite signed by the various contributors. Because they are spread, not only around the US, but also around the world, this took somewhat longer to organise and complete.

But on Friday 30th June, the signed translite was duly presented to Lloyd .

It was mounted in an illuminated frame made by Jason Rufer and Lloyd could choose to either keep it there or swap it with the one in the game.

He chose to leave it in the frame, which Bryan Kelly then installed on the wall of SS Billiards.

And more recently, Spder-Man designer Steve Ritchie stopped by Lloyd's and added his signature to the translite which you can see in the centre of the picture below.


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