Joust

Lon McDonald of Kansas City stopped in Ottumwa Saturday to “turn over” another “Joust” machine. At mid-morning, he was already at 50,000 points and planned to have one million points before he left Ottumwa. Mark Hoff of Ottumwa helped McDonald set up the machine in the building formerly occupied by Twin Galaxies.

You never know when your past is going to stand up and greet you.

The Twin Galaxies’ 30th anniversary sparked my latest experience Saturday morning. I got a call from a co-worker about the anniversary and Lon McDonald, the gamer extraordinaire, who has turned over his 50th “Joust” machine during a nationwide arcade quest.

I know about Twin Galaxies, but I didn’t know about “Joust” or McDonald. My caller said to go downtown to Dr. Mark Altfillisch’s office in the 200 block of East Main Street.

When I arrived, I was greeted by Ottumwan Mark Hoff, who arranged for McDonald and his machine to be in the office’s front window in the building where Twin Galaxies used to be.

“I worked at Twin Galaxies, and it’s fun to reconnect,” Hoff said.

At about 10 a.m. Saturday, McDonald said he would get to one million points, and he was already at 50,000.

That boggles my mind. When I started going to Twin Galaxies, I don’t think the machines’ counters could go that high.

I remember filling my pockets with Man,” “Donkey Kong” and other machines at Twin Galaxies or wherever I could find one.

Walter Day started Twin Galaxies in the 1980s and kept track of the scores as the “video game capitol of the world.” I’m glad he did because his efforts brought Ottumwa some recognition in the U.S., and now the Internet spreads the news even farther.

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