The venerable, circa 1923 “Grandma’s Predictions” has been telling fortunes under Coney Island’s 1920 Wonder Wheel all her life. A couple of seasons ago a brand-new Zoltar was brought in to keep her company and proved very popular with visitors to the arcade. Hurricane Sandy soaked both of them, and decapitated poor Zoltar. A new Zoltar Speaks machine was promptly ordered and is already here, but Grandma, an irreplaceable antique as well as a good luck charm for the three generations of the Vourderis family who have owned the park, was sent off to be restored.
Last night these riveting videos of Grandma’s wax head getting “eye surgery” at National Jukebox Exchange appeared on YouTube. The octogenarian tarot card reader is also getting new wax hands cast from the original mold, according to arcade restorer John Papa. He appears in the video along with fellow arcade restorer Bob Yorburg, who told ATZ that Grandma will get a new wig, dress and cabinet, too. The rare arcade piece is known as the “Cleveland Grandma” by collectors since she was built by the William Gent Manufacturing Company in Cleveland, “Grandma’s Predictions” is expected to come home to Coney Island on Mother’s Day, where a welcome home party will be held at Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
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