by Jennie McKeon
The times may be changing, but it’s comforting to knowthere are still some signs of the past lingering in Northwest Florida. Who knew that pay phone booths would one day become old relics? Or that pinball machines would become a kitschy decoration?
Maybe it’s nostalgia or tradition that some choose to hold on to those items. Some are just abandoned and forgotten as new technology pushes them aside. Next time you drive around the area, notice to how it has changed and how, in some ways, it has stayed pleasantly the same.
Here’s a list of relics you can still spot.
With the invention of cellphones, those blue pay phone booths have become obsolete. You’ll notice a few are still around, even if the receiver and phone book, which used to be attached to the booths with a cable, are missing.
Jason Autrey, director of public works in Okaloosa County, said remaining phone booths are a property of the phone company and a “non-threatening item.” However, the county does have one pay phone of its own.
“Just before we tore down the courthouse in Crestview, we discovered a phone booth in the wall,” he said. “It’s never been operational since I’ve been here in 2004. Right now, it’s in our warehouse. The IT guys said they may try and re-purpose it, or we’ll give it to the Baker Block Museum.”
Pay phones have an underground following. The website payphone-project.com will help you locate one and shares submitted photos of pay phones around the world.
“I don’t think I’ve ever received a message with the words phone booth in it,” Autrey said. “I can’t even think of the last time I’ve seen one.”
Internet radio may be easier to navigate on your phone, but an old jukebox doesn’t have commercials.
At The Crest, an establishment under the Cash’s Liquors brand, you can pick three songs to play for $1 from its 1969 jukebox.
“It only plays country and rock ‘n’ roll,” supervisor Liz Mason said. “In the north side of town, they play more assorted music. I like the older kind.”
A lot of establishments are heading toward internet jukeboxes, which allow customers to purchase songs from an app. Papa Joe’s Hideaway owner Pat Dougherty said she prefers the older models, but gave in and bought an internet jukebox at the behest of the patrons of her Fort Walton Beach establishment.
“It’s very important,” Dougherty said. “People want music.”
The Crest, 1601 State Road 85, Crestview.
Papa Joe’s Hideaway, 104 Perry Ave S.E. Fort Walton Beach.
You don’t have to be a pinball wizard to appreciate the lights and sounds of the machines. Across the street from Papa Joe’s, Robinson’s Cruse Thru is one of the local haunts you can find them. Manager Syreeta Miles said a lot of families come to the place, and you’ll likely see parents and kids taking turns on the pinball machines.
“This place was here in the 1980s, so it’s kind of neat because parents who were here as kids are now sharing the memories with their kids,” Miller said.
Pinball machines date as far back as the late 1700s when the spring launcher was invented. As video game systems become more advanced and pocket-sized, it’s a wonder pinball machines spark so much interest.
At least one of the games has an added incentive for adults.
“The buccaneers pinball machine is harder, some of the guys get really competitive,” Miles said. “Whoever wins gets a free beer.”
Robinson’s Cruse Thru, 104 Ferry Road S.E., Fort Walton Beach.