Fascination

Geneva-on-the-Lake’s Fascination parlor is one of roughly a dozen left in the world.

This popular game, loosely based on tick-tack-toe and bingo, dates back to the 1930s. It relies upon a complex system of playing stations that are connected to a master router. Relays that were once used in analog telephone switching equipment and hand-wired circuits are part of this maze of electronics that require frequent repair.

As a result, some of the tables in the GOTL parlor are not in play; they either have broken glass or have been cannibalized for parts to repair other machines.

There were at least two parlors at the resort. The Pera family operated a “budget” version of the game in their arcade, which burned in 1979. The extant parlor was installed in the 1940s by Herb Thomas and uses a more advanced version of the game equipment.

Fascination requires at least one operator, who has collects the players’ money, starts the game and usually barks at the players from a public address system. When times are slow, he may stand in the parlor doorway and bark at passersby.

A coupon system is used. Winners accumulate the coupons to cash them in for prizes, usually at the end of the season. But some players have been known to save their coupons over multiple seasons in hopes of cashing them in for a cruise or big-screen television.