On the rare occasions Marshfield receives national news attention, storms are usually battering the town"s shores & flooding coastal streets. For a brief time in the early 1980s, however, the national spotlight was on Marshfield - this time for a storm entirely of its own making.

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Like something out of the movie "Footloose," (which told the tale of a town that banned dancing) voters at a June 1982 town meeting approved measures that both banned coin-operated arcade games in Marshfield và criminalized their possession, seeing them as a sinister way to corrupt the children and charm of the town - the first town in the country to vày so. 

Rick Pelland, who in 1982 was an owner of Marshfield Family Skateland, said the move seemed "ridiculous" at the time. 

"The people that were pro-the bylaw were trying to relate it to drug use among kids và gambling issues among kids," he said. "What a stretch that was, I thought that was outrageous."

Proponents of the ban alleged games were responsible for numerous social and moral ills, from violence & drug use to check forging và prostitution. Owners of businesses that hosted these arcade games, with skepticism of these accusations born of first-hand experience, disagreed, and fought back in court.

"I can"t explain what people were thinking," Pelland said. "I think they were driven by opinions of a few, và when people started throwing out how that related to drug use, it just sparked something in people"s mind. They had no facts to lớn back it up." 

Legal challenges, including those from clip game leasing companies, went on for a year & a half until it reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which voted in late 1983 not to hear the challengers" appeal. 

By the time the precedent-setting law was overturned by town meeting in 2014, the arcade craze of the 1980s had long passed, with at-home gaming systems taking over.

Not allowed, but "here anyway"

Coin-operated games had been prohibited in town since 1975 after voters approved a measure preventing arcades from setting up shop. As video arcade games began to take the nation by storm, though, places lượt thích Marshfield Family Skateland and the town"s bowling alley installed machines. 

Recognizing their presence, town officials in 1982 put two articles forward at town meeting, one seeking to lớn legalize "coin operated amusement devices" and a second to amend zoning by-laws to allow for their possession. 

"They are not allowed, but they are here anyway," then-Planning Board Chairman William Finn said. "Let"s get a vote and if the people don"t want them then let the Selectmen enforce the present by-laws."

Perhaps predicting the debate that would follow, Advisory Board thành viên William Zirpolo told the Mariner at the time, he felt parents were were responsible for their children. 

"Controlling machines does not control kids," he said. "Legalize the machines and let the parents use their judgment."

An informal poll conducted by Mariner Staff ahead of the Town Meeting vote showed support for the ban, with 14 of the trăng tròn residents questioned against clip games, four in favor of them with restrictions & two unaware they were already illegal. 

Voters go above and beyond

After lively debate from both sides at town meeting, though, the majority of voters did not agree with the planning & advisory boards. The article to lớn legalize the machines was first lớn be defeated.

Thomas Jackson, then-head of the town"s Vandalism Committee, who would become an outspoken defender of the ban, introduced an amendment adding a by-law prohibiting & criminalizing possession or use of the games, instituting a $200 fine per machine. 

"Jackson defended his proposal by saying that it will prevent Marshfield from developing a "honky-tonk" atmosphere," the Mariner wrote. "It will also keep down the temptations of drugs & stealing." 

Just 210 voters were present for the final vote. The amended article passed, setting Marshfield on a path that would lead khổng lồ the U.S. Supreme Court và attention from the likes of "People" magazine and nightly news anchor Dan Rather. 

More:1982-1983: Mariner readers voice opinions on video clip game ban

More:What vì chưng you miss most about Marshfield of old? We asked our readers and here"s what they said

Vote a "wrongdoing"

Tom Vetra, owner of Seaside Grocery, had installed three đoạn phim games in his store after the town meeting vote, having contracted with the video game company earlier in the year.

Vetra called the vote a "wrongdoing" và said he didn"t think it was right for the small number of people at town meeting to lớn to dictate what others can do.

"When a business has had tough sledding & they try khổng lồ put in something that isn"t causing a police problem or a bad image, I don"t think the town should say he can"t have it," Vetra said. 

Vetra said he"d spoken with then-Police Chief Charles Chaplin, who"d told him "no police cars had been sent to a business because of misuses or misbehavior where the machines were installed." 

Violence, drugs, forged checks, prostitution? 

Jackson, described in a Mariner interview as "Marshfield"s most assertive opponent of đoạn clip games," made statements about the purported moral ills of video games, from promotion of violence to an alleged "direct link" lớn drug use và abuse.

He suggested kids would turn to theft, forging checks and prostitution to get money khổng lồ beat the games. He told the Mariner "sex offenders loiter in the arcades, offering more salaciousness to video clip violence." 

"Some people said it"s up to parents to lớn police their kids," he told the Mariner. "I believe that, but in Marshfield about 50% of the kids in school are from one-parent homes or from homes where both parents work. They aren"t able to police their children."

Marshfield MA case goes khổng lồ the Supreme Court

In late July 1982, Marshfield vendors joined with the Coin Machine Industries Association to lớn formally challenge the town"s new bylaw, và by October, few businesses had removed the games, anticipating the eventual litigation over the issue. 

In February 1983, the issue reached the State Supreme Court, with Justice Paul Liacos trying out the games, brought in as exhibits.

According to lớn reporting, Liacos asked "if people actually paid for them" and Marshfield Town Counsel Robert Marzelli "categorized the games as being among sources of social ills, lượt thích massage parlors và bowling alleys". 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. Said the town could not enforce the ban until the lower court decided whether or not khổng lồ hear the case. 

The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the bylaw, with June 27 phối as the day machines would need to be removed before fines began khổng lồ be imposed.

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In late November, the justices voted 7-2 not khổng lồ hear the arguments of appeal & one week into December, the games were gone from Marshfield.

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