By Jay Parks (GrimlockTheDino)
Marvin Yagoda is gone, but his legacy lives on through both his family and the memories that we all have thanks to Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum.
Marvin Yagoda, the founder of Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum passed away on the evening of Sunday, January 8th. Marvin started collecting coin-operated machines and other odd objects over 50 years ago. He is recognized as an expert in the field of mechanical and electrical game apparatuses. Marvin has even been involved in appraisals of such items on American Pickers.
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum opened in 1990; Marvin started collecting long before that, in 1960. When asked why he decided to open up the museum Marvin said there were two reasons:
“I decided to open the museum because I had so much stuff in my house,” Yagoda told The Oakland Press in a 2010 interview. “That, and my wife told me I had to do something with it.”
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum is located at Orchard Lake and 14 Mile in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and houses everything from historical games to the newest arcade machines, with all sorts of odd things in between. Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum is listed in the World Almanac's 100 Most Unusual Museums In the U.S.
I have a lot memories of Marvin and his marvelous museum; I have taken family and friends there many times.
But one memory is both my first and my favorite: I was just a kid and my dad and I would go on weekend adventures exploring all sorts of cool locations. One day, my dad drove me to a small strip mall with not much else around. He pulled through the split in the middle of the mall and as we drove though, a large lit-up sign dancing with lights said, "Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum." When I walked through the door my jaw hit the ground. IT WAS AN ARCADE!!!! But it was unlike any arcade I had ever seen. We spent hours playing some of my favorite newer games, as well as games my dad loved when he was a kid.
During our visit my dad called me over to meet someone. It was Marvin. My dad told me, "This is Marvin and this is his museum." I stood there speechless, then asked him, "Where did you find all this stuff???" Marvin laughed and grabbed me a small popcorn then said he had been collecting for a very long time and opened this place to share his collection with everyone. My dad reminded me to thank him for the popcorn and we went on with our amazing day at Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. My day was coming to a close and I was so happy that my dad took me to this amazing place so I decided I had to do something for my dad. I had just enough change left to make a custom coin for my dad to have as a memory of our trip. I put my money in and started turning the large arm full of letters and numbers, stopping at each letter and then pulling another lever to stamp the coin. I was so excited and could not wait to give my dad this gift! I finished the coin and had it in my hand; it was still warm from the machine stamping the message that I knew my dad would love. I ran up to him and said, "Here, Dad, this is for bringing me to Marvin's!" He looked at the coin, then back at me, and started laughing. I said, "What's funny? It says 'My dad's a winner,'" or so I thought. My dad responded with, "No, it's better than that." I looked at him with confusion then he read my coin out loud; "My dad's a wiener." We both laughed some more and then he put the coin in his pocket. My dad still has that coin on his desk and every time I see it I smile and think about how that day is and always will be very special to us both.
Thank you, Marvin, for that memory. I am sure many people out there have stories just like mine thanks to you.
Marvin has always been someone that inspired me to be myself and enjoy whatever I want. He lived his dream and shared it with everyone. Every time I was in his museum I would see him hanging out playing his games and sharing his stories with anyone who wanted to listen. Marvin was an amazing person and he built an amazing museum. I will miss seeing him when I go visit the museum but the memories I have are priceless and I would never trade those for anything.
Thanks, Marvin, for everything. Your museum was marvelous but I think what really made it so special was you.