Bowling Party

Mark and Peggy hosted a bowling party at Colonial Lanes, which is on Industrial Road in A2. Peggy won this party during her golf season. Bowling as a reward for golf is so very appropriate. But you must have to do something extraordinary, like two holes in one during the same season, to earn bowling credits. Because of post-surgical restrictions I didn’t bowl but hated to pass it up because I’ve always loved it. I used to watch weekend shows like “Strike It Lucky at the Rose Bowl,” which aired Saturday at 5.00 p.m. (The Rose Bowl claimed to be Home of the Reuben. Actually, this sandwich was invented elsewhere in Omaha, at the Blackstone Hotel.) Sunday at noon, an hour-long program called “Bowling at Leisure” originated from the Leisure Lanes, at 48th and L Streets. The Leisure Lanes didn’t boast of their restaurant, and because the stockyards were so near, I figured the food must have been scummy. But in other ways their show was the more interesting. I think it was hosted by a sportscaster named Joe Patrick, and he and his sidekick shot the breeze while bowlers who had performed well during regular league play would get up before the camera and do their thing. Snow tires were sometimes offered as a prize. It’s too bad local bowling shows fell out of fashion. Their companionable aspect is missed, along with the tires as prizes.

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Budd: “I haven’t bowled for 50 years. Keeping score is the fun part.”
Me: “The last twenty years or so, there are automatic scorekeeping devices.”
Budd: “Oh, really?”

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Kerry: “I haven’t bowled in quite a long time, a b’day party for one of the girls, I think. I used to bowl on my high school team every week during whatever the season was for a couple for years, I think. My average escapes me, nothing spectacular, but I had the occasional strike and made most spares when it mattered. It’s a coincidence that you mention bowling alleys and food. One of my fondest memories of our bowling alley is the fried mushrooms. It sounds ghastly now but I remember what a treat they were when I was 16.”

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Colonial Lanes was hopping. Our party had lanes 39 and 40, right against the wall. When I was a kid and used to ask my dad what the bowling pins were made of—”Wood,” he said, which seemed hard to believe, they must have been made of a more advanced material—it confounded me how people could press against the wall of the building and still be able to bowl. How did right-handers who started their big sweeping strokes at the very edge of the lane ever balance against the imminent collision? Wouldn’t that wall’s proximity throw you off rhythm? Mark, who tested us by asking which fingers go into the ball—”Them ya picks yer nose wid!”—also asked if Colonial was comparatively big. I’ve seen 48- and even 56-lane establishments but most loved bowling in the tiniest places. Omaha used to have the Music Box, maybe 24 lanes. And there was the student union at University of Alaska-Fairbanks, when I was a graduate student: maybe four lanes. I’d go over and roll two or three lines, then come back to our apartment with a fresh copy of Car and Driver from the union’s magazine stand and snicker at the sarcastic remarks. Bowling, cars, hunting, and pool were the culture of my childhood. Returning to bowling always appeals.

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