This family is really game

Adams & Adams, Inc.

Four generations of Adamses have helped keep folks entertained

By Marc Folco, New Bedford Standard-Times outdoors writer (6/30/03)

A big, 10-point buck steps from behind a tree. Young Phil Adams of Acushnet takes aim and squeezes the trigger. The deer is down.

In an instant, another buck jumps into the scene. For a hunting enthusiast, it's too good to be true. Phil cocks the gun and fires again, but at that very moment, a doe bounds in front of the buck and he shoots her by mistake. And he didn't have a doe tag.

Phil doesn't have to worry about game wardens, however. He's not really hunting, but playing a popular video game called Big Buck Hunter II: Sportsman's Paradise.

It's a state-of-the-art game with photo-realistic backgrounds, moving targets, and even elements such as rain, snow and fog that the player must shoot through. It offers the players several choices of regions to hunt -- west, midwest, south, northeast and Canada -- with terrain appropriate to each. In the Pennsylvania deer woods, there are woodlands, bordered with farmfields and fencerows. In the west, where you also can choose elk hunting, it's mostly long shots across open plains.

A hunting trip on the machine costs $1 and includes five tours (five different scenes). Four trips (20 scenes) cost $3, and there can be up to four players per round.

"It's a lot of fun," said young Phil, who got to test and review the new machine, which is distributed by his father, also Phil Adams, and owner of Adams and Adams Inc., in New Bedford's North End.

Adams and Adams supplies video game machines, pool tables, pinball machines, CD juke boxes, foosball tables and dart machines to bowling alleys, bars and movie theater lobbies throughout the area. The company buys the machines and then places them in establishments, with a 50-50 split of revenue.

"It's come a long way from pinball machines," said the senior Phil of the Big Buck Hunter game, which recently was installed at the Blue Lantern on Main Street in Acushnet.

"Frequent players can even buy a card -- like a debit card -- to punch in, instead of putting cash in the machine, and the game is plugged into a phone line so players can compete in online tournaments, where they're playing against other people from across the country."

Phil also explained that during the online tournaments, the game course is brand new, so players haven't had a chance to practice. That means everyone's on a level playing field. It costs $2 extra to register for the tourney.

The manufacturer legally can pay cash prizes because it's a legitimate game of skill. It's not like betting on a game of chance, which is prohibited in many states. At the end of each tournament, winners call a toll-free number and get a check in the mail from the game manufacturer. Payoffs are based on the number of players registered. An LED display at top of the game displays tournament dates and up-to-date stats. They are also available on the Internet.

"It's similar to the online golf tournaments on the Golden Tee video game machine, where players play a round of golf and compete against other players nationwide," said Phil. "In the golf tournaments, the manufacturer hands out $100,000 a month in payoffs. Payoffs in the Buck Hunter aren't that high yet, because it's only been around for about a year and hasn't yet gained as widespread popularity as the golf game, which has been around for about seven years."

Part of Phil's job is rotating machines from place to place, so players don't get bored testing their skills on the same ones over and over again. "Every day is different," said the senior Phil. "I love the work and you meet a lot of interesting people along the way."

To keep Buck Hunter interesting and popular, so it can stay in one place longer than say, a pinball machine, the manufacturer periodically updates the game with new scenarios.

Young Phil, almost 16, is aspiring to be a pilot, but also helps his father in the family business of fun and games.

"I enjoy it," he said. "You get to play games for fun and test out the new games that come in. It's not hard work."

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Adams and Adams, which was started in 1933 by senior Phil's grandfather, the late Phil Adams.

"My grandfather bought a restaurant at Baylies Square and named it Adam's Restaurant," said Phil. "And our name actually changed from Adam to Adams. People dropped the apostrophe, so we just continued with Adams."

Mr. Adams bought a juke box for the restaurant and it generated a lot of money. Nobody else had juke boxes in the area, so he bought another one, then another, and began putting them out on a 50/50 basis.

"It was better than the restaurant business, so he sold the restaurant, continued with the machines, and never looked back," said Phil. "Back then, dealers specialized in one type of machine, and my grandfather's specialty was the juke box. He also had wall juke boxes like you see in the booths of some restaurants.

"Then he bought out one of his brothers, who had his own specialty, and started supplying ... pool tables, cigarette machines and scale machines -- the ones you put a penny in for your weight and out comes your fortune. He was the first business in the area that you could get anything from, and he incorporated in 1942."

Mr. Adams' first warehouse was at the old Knotty Pine, at Acushnet Avenue and Tarkiln Hill Road, where a Brooks Pharmacy now stands. They later moved to a location nearby on Wood Street, and then bought the old post office at 2125 Acushnet Ave. 10 years ago.

"My father, who's retired now, worked for his father, then I worked for my father, and now Phil works with me," said Phil. "The rest is history."

Some of that history includes an antique dice wheel that the late Phil Adams bought in 1933. The large wheel is the type with shiny, nickel-plated pins and a clicker, commonly seen at carnivals. When it's spun, the barker yells, "Around and around she goes -- where she stops, nobody knows." Mr. Adams would loan it to the Panthers Club for fund-raising events at the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament and he also loaned it to Little League teams to help raise their funds.

"It cost $1,500 back in '33 when my grandfather bought it," said Phil. "It was getting pretty beat up, so I bought another one to replace it and retired the original about five years ago."

Phil had the old wheel re-painted, the pins replated and the center redone in silver leaf by a company in New York. The restored antique now is displayed as an heirloom in the entrance at Adams and Adams.

To compliment the wheel, a Wurlitzer replica juke box with bright fluorescent lights and oil that bubbles up through the glass tubes as it heats up, stands in the office. It's truly a work of art, "But they were considered ugly in their day and cost $250 to $500 back in the 1950s," said Phil. "And you couldn't get rid of them. You had to take them to the dump. Today, an original Wurlitzer in really good condition can fetch $10,000."

At Adams and Adams, there aren't only games that employ the latest technology, but there's also some history, memorabilia and nostalgia that span four generations.

"And do you know what?" said Phil, who sat in the office, which once was the main lobby of the Lund's Corner Post Office, "I still have people come every day, without fail, to buy stamps."

For more information on the Buck Hunter, visit the website at, or stop in at the Blue Lantern and play a round. No hunting license is required.

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2125 Acushnet Avenue
New Bedford, MA 02745
Phone: 508.995.0116

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