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Classic Arcade Sign From Diversions In Chicago

I don't think that this stuff surprises my neighbors anymore...

When you write a site called Retro Thing, the question that comes up the most often is "where do you find all this stuff"? Sometimes it's just right there in the street. That's more or less how I got this sign that used to spin around in front of the Chicago video arcade "Diversions".

It's sad that there aren't any more arcades where I live on Chicago's north side. Certainly I can take a drive to some great ones, but there's noplace nearby for a spur of the moment game of Ms. Pac-Man or X-men. There used to be two of them. A scary one about two blocks away called Dennis' Place for Games (an infamous local gang hangout since the 80's), and also Diversions about 10 minutes away. Both were arcades back in the heyday of such things, and both somehow hung on into the 2000's. I figured that if they lasted that long, they were going to be around forever, but both are gone now.

When they closed in the early 2000's, Diversions was a fine arcade with plenty of modern arcade cabinets as well as a room for the classics. They had prize games, a room for parties, and even competitions. They were well known as a place that Dance Dance Revolution luminaries came to hone their craft (a fascinating experience that I believe in way more than Guitar Hero). There was no warning of their closing. We just went there one day and they were gone.

The large Coke bottle shaped sign proclaiming "games, parties, prizes" remained for years, making me think that they might be coming back. I was eventually resigned that it was "game over" for Diversions, but I liked still being able to see that sign for some reason.

Not the oddest thing I've taped to my car.About two months ago I drove past and noticed that the sign was gone. As I drove on, I kept wondering what might have happened to it. I had this gnawing feeling that I should at least drive past that block of businesses and check out the dumpsters for any indications of the large sign. It took me about 30 seconds to find it there. I'd lucked out and found the sign before the trash collectors did. How to get it home in my little old Corolla? A nearby shipping store provided the answer; packing tape. That's one of the many benefits of driving a beater retro car. You can indulge stupidity like taping a giant plexiglass arcade sign right to the top of the car.

I drove home slowly hoping that the edges of the plexi wouldn't shear through the tape. I got home without incident, and am now the proud owner of this gigantic sign (you can see its large size compared to my car). One day I hope to have a big enough place where I can have a game room with this big piece of authentic arcadiana (is that a real word?). It's a great score, especially for free, but it's not nearly as odd as the notorious sign from Dennis' Place for Games. Just wait until you hear that story...

related:

Peter Hirschberg's private arcade
Retro Arcade Museum in upstate New York
Top 10 Most collected arcade games

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