Arcade Memories: The Rebel Arcade

My dad had his 70th Birthday this past week it got me thinking about our times bonding as father and son.

The Rebel Arcade opened in 1972 in the City of Lake Ozark.

It is funny that the name of the place is Rebel Arcade yet it was here I got closer to my dad. My family would go to Lake of the Ozarks every summer.

This arcade is the high water mark for me when it comes to arcades.
I remember just how huge it was. You had arcade cabinets, pinball, air hockey, skee-ball, pool tables, and bumper cars in the back and even a small pool where you could race remote controlled boats. Going to the arcade was my favorite part of the trip. I would beg my mom and dad to go as soon as we got close enough to see some familiar landmarks.

As soon as we checked in to the motel room I would be jumping up and down tugging on my dad’s shirt excited to go. I really wanted to be old enough to walk to the arcade by myself since Mom and Dad always had to rest before we could go since they had to take turns driving the way down.

My dad loves to fish so some years we would take a boat and other times we would just fish by the shore and off the docks. I did not like fishing. I found it boring and taking a fish off the hook was gross. Dad would bribe me with more quarters if I went fishing with him. Mom did the same when she wanted to spend the day shopping in the tacky tourist shops that were all over the area.

On the days my dad would take me to the arcade it made all the shopping and fishing trips worth it. As soon as I walked in I hit a sound wall of beeps blips and chirps. The arcade was split pretty evenly with pinball taking up one wall and video games taking up the other with a mixture of carney games bridging the gap between the two.

I would make a beeline to the videogames to check out what new cabinets they had acquired. Dad would find a pinball table that was not busy and pull up a stool in front of it. Back then you could smoke inside the arcade so he was set for however long I could make my quarters last. Moon patrol, Joust, and Burger Time were a few of my favorites. I would go back to Dad when I had run out or was getting low to find him playing pinball. He would tell me I could take one from his stack he had sitting on the glass. I would rush off again hoping to get a high score to immortalize myself in a top ten list. Dad and I would play some skee-ball and air hockey together but for the most part, I spent my time in the future of arcades while he stayed with the machines that put arcades on the map in the first place. It was not until I looked back on the trips as an adult that I started putting the pieces together.

I never questioned how my dad always had quarters. My kid thinking was that Dads always have money. Really it was because he could play on one quarter for a long time winning free play after free play. I remember sometimes coming back to see my dad and finding crowds gathered around him watching him play. I would stop and watch along with them but as soon as I saw a guy leave the machine I wanted to play I would go running back.  I never achieved immortality at the games but I bet people remember my dad.

Midway through writing this article I called my dad up to tell him how bad I felt that we did not get to do more of the things he wanted to do on vacation. He told me spending time with his family was what he wanted to do whether it was at the arcade or at the lake-shore.

Cheers to you, Rebel Arcade. May you live up to your namesake and rebel against the trends of arcades closing. Fight as long as you can so others can build memories like mine of a dad wanting to spend time with his son and in the process becoming an arcade hero.

All photos in this post are from Neato Coolville rights reserved by Neato Coolville.

drquest

Who knew living in the 80's would lead to writing about them 30 years later.
Find me on twitter twitter.com/drquest or the my podcast

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11 thoughts on “Arcade Memories: The Rebel Arcade

  1. I expected this article to end with you telling us what year the arcade closed. Excellent that it’s still open. Visit it as often as you can.

    ” I called my dad up to tell him how bad I felt that we did not get to do more of the things he wanted to do on vacation” – I do this same thing with my parents.

  2. My parents live at the Lake of the Ozarks (which isn’t very far from me), so I get to visit 4 or 5 times a year. The “Rebel” is still very much in operation, and I played a few games there a couple of weeks ago. Regrettably, the neon Confederate soldier is no longer on the sign. The Dogpatch arcade across the street is also worth a stop, as is the $.10 Skee Ball place down the road. Come to think of it, the entire Bagnell Dam strip is a nostalgia buff’s dream. The place seems to have been trapped in amber around 1978 and hasn’t changed since.

  3. My memories of 1980s arcades and game rooms, playing Pac-Man, Space Invaders and other games, always involve my dad enjoying the games with me. I was never into sports so this was something we truly bonded on. I especially remember a trip our family of four took to California. My little brother was sick and my mom stayed with him in the hotel room. Dad and I hit the streets of LA and played video games. A memory I will never forget. Thanks for this beautiful post. For reals.

  4. Thanks for all the kind words. It is always fun for me to write about good memories of my childhood. My dad did have a good 70th birthday.

  5. @drquest I’m a little late to the party on this one but thank you very much for sharing not only the information about the Rebel Arcade but for sharing the heartwarming tale of you and your Father. :)

  6. Michael Thomas says:

    Great Memories.I used to get out of school and hang around and wait for my parents to get off work at the Lodge.Would always stop by the Rebel Arcade and play skeet ball and save the tickets to buy something. Thanks for the site…..Michael

  7. I’m very sad to report that the Rebel Arcade has closed. So many great memories associated with this arcade for so many people. For me, it was one of my childhood arcades growing up at the Lake of the Ozarks. From birthday parties in the 70s to hanging out with my friends in the 80s and finally a place to visit for a dose of nostalgia. I’m not sure what happened to the games, most were in bad shape. The skeeball machines were bought by the Dogpatch Arcade across the street.

  8. What a sad day. The 10 cent ski ball arcade down the street closed too. I too have great memories past and current of both those places.

  9. I never knew this place… mainly because I never visited the Ozarks, but it’s still sad that places like this have closed down. I help run a website that contains a database of public places with arcades in them. To anybody reading this article, I encourage you to report any arcades you find in businesses so that they can be entered into this big database. The point behind it is if we can get arcades like this one in the database, then more and more people might know of its existence and be more likely to patronize it.

  10. Steve says:

    Man, Great article. I spent my summer vacations at Lake of the Ozarks as well. A blur of arcades, Putt-putt, Fishing, Swimming, Restaurants and Family. Thanks for putting a name to the place I very vaguely remember. Sad to hear it is gone, but happy it was once there.

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