Table top air hockey is something I remember from my childhood. My friend had an air hockey table that made me jealous, until Santa finally came through for me one year and I got my own. Until then I would go over to my friend’s house to play. I never wanted to stop. The swoosh of the puck, and the thrill I felt when I scored, made the game fun and exciting. There was just something amazing to me about the way the puck would float across the surface with the slightest tap from the mallet. And that sound it would make against the sides of the table and handles is indelibly impressed in my memory. Clickity, clack, clack, clack, followed by an explosion of victory and defeat at both ends of the table.
Since those early years I’ve seen a variety of styles of table top air hockey. Some hockey tables do not have forced air, but then they are usually referred to as slide tables. An air hockey table has air that is blown out onto the surface with a small motorized fan. This makes the puck float and move much quicker. It is a game of reflexes and anticipation. I remember feeling like the king of the world when I could get one past my Dad. He seemed undefeatable. I always wondered if he was just letting me win, but I didn’t care.
Speaking of memories: my third grade teacher had a type of hockey game that the janitor made for us to use. We played it on the ground outside at recess. It was the kind of game that in which two people could really compete. Can’t you just picture it: two third graders – kid to kid, facing off to determine who would have bragging rights until the next day. To the victor went all the glory. Serious stuff, funny stuff. This hockey game wasn’t a table top air hockey game, but was really fun to play anyway. Sort of a variation on a theme. It was made out of 2×4 lumber with a plywood bottom. It was a rectangle about four feet long and about two feet wide, maybe a bit more. It had a divider across the middle with a cutout in it so the puck (also made out of wood) could fit through it onto your opponent’s side. At each end of the box there was a cutout that allowed the puck to escape, thus resulting in a one point score. Both players had a three foot stick to use to frantically chase the puck around with. You would start the game by placing the puck up on the center divider and hit your sticks together to the count of three, then go at it until someone scored.