This article originally appeared on The Ashtabula Wave.
For a few hours Thursday, traffic on The Strip at Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio, resembled that of August rather than late October.
Cars, trucks and trailers lined were parked all along The Strip near the old Woody’s World Arcade as buyers turned out to purchase a piece of nostalgia for their man cave, living room or business.
Woody’s World, which has been cl0sed for several years, was liquidated by owner Don Woodward using the auction services of Norton of Michigan, a national auction firm specializing in the liquidation of amusement parks, arcades, restaurants and similar venues.
In the featured photo, auctioneer Darin Spieth sells an arcade game at Woody’s World Arcade at Geneva-0n-the-Lake, Oct. 27, 2016.
“We go all over the country,” says Amy Nowicki, clerk for the company. They arrived at GOTL on Tuesday and spent the last two days preparing for the auction. Arcade games and premiums were sold out of the old arcade building. A tent pitched near the lakefront housed pieces from the Route 66 Black Light Miniature Golf course that never got installed at GOTL. Nostalgic signs from businesses owned by the Woodwards over the years were sold from the tent, and the tent itself was sold.
Commercial Christmas decorations, ranging from toy soldiers to a train, were auctioned off outdoors. The auction had 250 lots and was completed in about three hours. Buyers had to brave a cold rain, strong gusts off Lake Erie, mud and 40-degree temperatures in order to take home a piece of nostalgia, or at least get a final look at it.
Among the remnants of the former Erieview amusement part was a single Tilt-A-Wheel car, Dodgem car, Fright Zone car and the railroad crossing signal for the train that once ran on this lakefront.
“I rode all this stuff from when I was a kid,” said Todd Korver, a GOTL resident who attended so he could learn more arcade and amusement park memorabilia. He didn’t plan to go home any of the pieces, however.
The Fright Zone ride car had a top bid of $800. The Dodgem car went for $700, but the illuminated sign for the ride drew $900. A Tilt-A-Whirl metal sign brought $550.
Other signage sold at the auction included Erieview Park and Woody’s World signs, the latter fetching $375. A different buyer paid the same amount each for the GOTL Cruise-In and Swiss Chalet signs.
Some of the buyers purchased items for resale or to decorate a business, others were there to add to a personal collection.
Steve Kurminski of Youngstown paid $500 for the blue, early-1960s Ford T-Bird amusement ride car. He owns the Time Warp Arcade in Youngstown.
“It’s just for show,” he says. “I don’t plan to restore. I’m going to put it up in there as is.”
Dorset Township toy collector Joe Campbell purchased the car’s red sister for the same amount.
“I collect old toys, this is for my own collection,” he said.
The cars never operated at Erieview Park, says Woodward. They were park a turnpike amusement that the family purchased but never installed.
Campbell also purchased the inner tubes from the Wild Water Works waterslides. But auctioneer Darin Spieth was unable to generate any interest in the waterslides themselves. The opening bid request of $1,000 went unanswered, and even when Spieth dropped it to $500, there were no takers.
Interest in the arcade games was much stronger, with Skee-Ball games drawing a price of up to $900 each. Youngstown attorney Mike Rafidi bought two of the games, one for his basement and one for his brother-in-law, Ron Patrick, of Pittsburgh. While Rafidi had been to GOTL on the lake before, he said Patrick has been a more frequent patron and the game will hold special memories for him.
“Everyone loves Skee Ball,” says Rafidi, who plans to have his game fully operational.
Built of metal and wood, the Skee Ball alleys are about 12 feet long. “It’s going to be a pain in the a– to move,” says Rafidi, who planned to bring in a crew of four hefty guys to assist with the task.
Jim Becker drove from Monroe, Wisc., to purchase rides for his circa-1961 Roller Den. He purchased the trailer once he got here and then filled it with seven arcade games.
He said the games, which pay out in premiums, will be used to add profit to the skating rink’s operation. This is his first venture into arcade games, and he purchased an assortment that included Rock N Bowl and Home Run Hitter.
GOTL businessman P.J. Macchia knows all about arcade games. Holding up his cell phone, Macchia says the games on a mobile device are more advanced than offered at the auction. That’s why he closed his theater arcade eight years ago and now leases the space.
“I saw the decline happen year after year,” he says.
Macchia says most of the game buyers who came to the auction were looking for a nostalgic piece that fits in with their decor or collecting interests. Pieces that have income-producing potential, such as the toy soldier crane that fetched $1,000, were snapped up by restaurant and shop owners looking to add a few extra quarters to their daily sales.
A Flintstones “Dino” coin operated ride was purchased for $320 by David McGrath, who owns a retail shop in Ashtabula Township. He says he felt the price he paid was fair.
Buyers were required to pay a 10 percent premium, plus sales tax on every purchase. Macchia says that the prices being realized for the games appeared to be average. Woodward seemed nonchalant about how the bidding was going and kept busy sloshing through the mud and rain as he answered questions and kept an eye on the sale.
He has not announced plans for the arcade building, but hinted that a new business will be opened in 2017.
Photos from the auction: