Wonderland Arcade Kansas City, MO
Your photos brought back found memories of a mis-spent [no, well-spent] youth.

Expansion on history of Wonderland Arcade:

  1. I don't remember the floor EVER being that clean. In fact I don't remember ever being able to see the floor. I remember it as covered with a mixture of saw-dust & cigarette butts. It might have just been dirt & cigarette butts.

  2. Wonderland Arcade was busted by Federal Authorities for paying off on the penny bingo machines. I have no idea why the Feds stepped in, but they busted the "WAGON WHEEL" bar 503 [504?] East 14th Street in Lawrence, Kansas for paying off on it's 2 penny machines at the same time. So it was a Multi-State federal task force cracking down on penny gambling.

    The sign says, "You must be at least 16 years of age", and Wonderland strictly enforced that. I looked older than I was, but they chased out anyone who didn't look 16. There always was a big public concern [with some people] that school children would spend their lunch money and go hungry.

    The other part of the sign, "Positively No Redemption of Free Plays", was merely window dressing. They paid cash prizes [only on the PENNY bingo machines] every since the Pendergast era. [corrupt Mayor & relatives 1900's thru 1940's] Everybody in town knew it and had no concerns about penny bingo...

Interesting notes about Kansas City:
When I was a kid, there were tiny little one & two table pool halls all over downtown. Usually shoehorned into a space which used to be a shoeshine / shoe repair stand. The city had an ordinance that you couldn't put up a sign which said "POOL HALL". [Go figure.] So the establishments would have a crude metal sign or painted on the blackened window: "RECREATION". These one & two table pool halls were strictly for gambling. You could go in and place a bet on the numbers or sports, on anything except pool. They didn't like people betting on pool - afraid of knife fights and shootings.

There used to be a notorious casino located on SouthWest Blvd. The building straddled the state line between Kansas and Missouri with entrances from each side. A painted white stripe on the floor indicated the state boundary. When raided by the Missouri Law enforcement, they would push all the crap tables, roulette wheels etc to the Kansas side of the room. All the patrons would file out thru the Kansas side door. When raided by the Kansas Cops, everything was pushed into Missouri and people would "escape" via the Missouri door. That joint operated for SEVENTEEN YEARS! The Kansas & Mo. police never were able to co-ordinate simultaneous raids. It finally went out of business in the early 1950's when Federal Gambling laws were enacted.

Hope you found this interesting. I enjoyed your site greatly.

Alan B. Barley