One of the Pennsylvania industry’s true patriarchs has died at the remarkable age of 104. Al Rodstein, who retired decades ago to Delray Beach, Florida, was the founder/owner of the Banner Specialties distributorship (and Variety Vending route) on Philly’s Broad Street, known back in the day as their “coin machine row.” He also maintained an office in Pittsburgh where his manager Herb Rosenthal was central figure in that part of the state.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Al originally went into business when he was only 17 years old. Throughout his lengthy time in amusements and vending, he was a visionary on all things coin-op. For example, he began his vending route selling slices of pie which his late wife Miriam personally baked at home.
Besides selling, servicing and operating vending machines, jukeboxes (Wurlitzer) and games, he was a pioneer in setting up shuffle alley, big ball bowler and air hockey tournaments. He was also the founder of the Century Club for veterans of the business.
On another side, the paper wrote that he had once served on the boards of two New York Stock Exchange companies, was a big supporter of Israel charities and a huge booster of such sports teams as the Phillies, the Warriors and 76ers. He was also an avid golfer at several courses in the Keystone State.
Al Rodstein is survived by daughter Arlene whose husband Jimmy Ginsburg and Al’s son Marc Rodstein had once worked at Banner, by his other son Howard, four grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
A graveside service was held on March 8 at the Roosevelt Memorial Park in Trevose, Penn. Contributions can be made to the Albert M. Rodstein Centennial Scholarship Fund and mailed to the Jefferson Office at 125 S. 9th St., Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19107. May he rest in peace.