Every day, I drink my coffee at work out of the same mug. It's not fancy; just a plain white mug with teal writing that says, "COIN CASTLE – SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ" and a line-art drawing of some kids playing skee ball.
The reason this is significant is because I recently realized that this mug has just turned 20 years old. I keep it as a daily reminder that there are, in fact, no shortcuts in life.
At the end of the summer of 1992, my future college roommate and high school partner in crime and I took a trip to the Jersey Shore, one final hurrah before entering our freshman year. Bryan and I did the stuff that 18-year-olds do at the beach; gawk at girls, wander around the boardwalk ... and gamble.
Of course, we didn't have the opportunity to gamble at a real casino, but we did stumble across an arcade called Coin Castle somewhere on the boardwalk. They had video poker, slot machines and skee balls games that dispensed tickets one could redeem for fabulous prizes.
Behind the counter, we saw TVs, VCRs, lava lamps and other luxury items that we immediately imagined winning and stocking our dorm with. We would have the most pimpin' early '90s dorm room at Thurston Hall at George Washington University. We set down our French fries and got to work.
Bryan and I won all weekend. Hitting jackpots left and right, high fiving with every full house in video poker, we probably spent $200 of money that we had saved up from our menial summer job, literally digging ditches at Bryan's parents' house. At the end of the weekend, we brought an overflowing bucket full of tickets to the counter.
"We'll take the TV, VCR and pool table," we probably said in unison, while a bemused employee pulled out a calculator.
"You can have two mugs, some spider rings and a super ball," he replied.
We were crestfallen, swept up in the excitement of a get-rich quick scheme. Our thousands of tickets were worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.
But I took my mug to college, and when I learned how to drink coffee, it became my go-to receptacle. It went with me to my first and second jobs, then followed me to OnMilwaukee.com, where it sits at my desk today.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published July 15, 2015
Though Liz Lincoln, who writes under the nom de plume of Eliza Madison, just published her first erotic novella, the Milwaukee writer isn't new to penning books about romance. "I've been writing romance forever, really," says Lincoln, who debuted "Fast, Fresh & Hot" this summer on Amazon. " I wrote romance stories when I was in middle school."
Published July 12, 2015
A decade ago, I took a spin around the Milwaukee Mile in a special two-seat IndyCar. I did it again this morning, and it was even better.
Published July 8, 2015
While I only passively care about what happens on the court, I nonetheless passionately, urgently and desperately request Milwaukee and Wisconsin to get its act together and build the Bucks a new arena before it's too late. Just like I preached in the mid '90s when the Brewers were semi-genuinely eying Charlotte as their new home, I'll say it again: Build it now.
Published July 3, 2015
It's a long-standing tradition at Summerfest - and at plenty of other festivals - to use radio station DJs to introduce a headlining band. It may seem like a five-minute formality, but as usual, there's a back story to most of what the public sees while standing on the Summerfest bleachers.
Published June 29, 2015
It hasn't been a good month for the Stars and Bars. Only 150 years after it should've disappeared for good, national online and brick and mortar retailers have yanked the Confederate battle flag from their shelves and their sites. In other words, you will no longer find Confederate beach towels, belt buckles or even the General Lee (I'm bummed about that, actually) at Wal-Mart, Amazon, Etsy, eBay or many other stores around America. Fortunately, you won't find them at Summerfest, either, in the state that lost 12,216 men to the Civil War.
Published June 25, 2015
To me, the Kings Of Leon were supposed to save rock music. When I saw them for a second time at Summerfest in 2006, this time at the Miller Lite Oasis, something felt wrong. KOL seemed slow. Plaintive. Quiet? Turns out that was the direction this band would head in, and it's what made them extremely popular. But I came into tonight's show with an open mind and was rewarded with old Kings, and even lulled a little with new Leon.
Published June 22, 2015
"Summertime" is a great song - so great that it's been covered 25,000 times since George Gershwin wrote it in 1934. One of the more enchanting - and special - versions of the jazz standard has just dropped from Nineteen Thirteen, an enigma of a Milwaukee band. Featuring Victor DeLorenzo on percussion and Janet Schiff on cello as its two permanent members, you almost have to see this group to believe it.
Published June 18, 2015
Even though Summerfest gets passed over by lots of national media - at some point, let's put the onus on getting the word out better, OK? - there's no doubt that this gigantic musical festival is Milwaukee's crowning annual achievement. Here are the annual picks from OnMilwaukee.com Publisher Andy Tarnoff.
Published June 11, 2015
Have you ever caught a Major League foul ball? Or more than one? And do you still have them? It's a pretty special moment, I must say. I'm not sure I'll ever do it again.
Published June 4, 2015
As first reported by OnMilwaukee.com, Dogg Haus owner will open Plum, a cocktail lounge at 780 N. Jefferson St., Thursday. We got inside for a first look.