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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The End of an Era

The End of an Era
No, this is not a political post, this is a different era.
 
Bowling as we or at least I know it is over. 
Years ago, bowling was little 5-10 lane establishments where cigar smoking, heavy drinking men bowled for fun and money.  It was a hustler’s game much like the old smoke filled pool halls.  At least that is how was told it used to be.  There were no pin machines, pin boys cleared the lane, set the pins and returned the balls.
When automatic pin setters were invented the makers opened new large well-lit bowling facilities.   You either bowled at a Brunswick or AMF facility.  The new lanes attracted young bowlers, families, date nighters and leagues.
Leagues were the life blood of the new bowling establishments.  They guaranteed customers at all hours and on all days.  Leagues were the bread and butter while open bowling paid the bills on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Bowling boomed in popularity in the sixties.  Sometime in the nineties, lanes added bumpers.  Bumpers kept the ball from slipping into the gutter and guaranteed hitting some pins.  When I first saw bumpers, I thought they would ruin the game.  Sure, the bumpers were just for the kids and they made every throw fun for four and five year old’s who otherwise would seldom hit anything but the gutter.
Bumpers saved the little children’s self-esteem, but they also stopped them from learning to bowl.  Less and less young people continued bowling.  Many Establishments went out of business.  Birthday parties helped bring in revenue, but I think that fad got tiring.  Leagues remained the life blood of bowling, but with less young people taking up the sport, and old people doing what old people eventually do, filling the leagues became more and more difficult.
I had been in a league for about fifteen years.  Once a week from September to May I bowled, with a few other trips to the alleys to practice.  Last year I was told the league may close.  What!  How were they going to make money without leagues, open bowling was not flourishing?  Surely our establishment was not going out of business, it has 80 some alleys and has the best maintained lanes in the state.  Every year they held a big professional tournament, often the PBA Open Championship.
Today I saw this:
Welcome to Bowlero — the bowling/dining/nightlife lovechild that’s bringing old school swagger and a new kind of cool to everyone in Middlesex County.
“What’s Bowlero?” (We’re so glad you asked.)
It’s electro-cool bowling with a funky, hipster ethos — a retro-vintage laneside hangout where you can roll like a rebel, party like a rock star, and feast on the wildly inventive American eats of our mouth-rageous menu.
Brace yourselves, everybody, for Bowlero: hittin’ North Brunswick and makin’ a scene this fall.
                                                             Yuuck!!                                                                  
Bowling as I know it is gone.  These lanes are aiming for non-serious bowlers who will primarily party, eat fancy food, and drink expensive drinks.  There will be loud music and music videos at the end of each lane.  Real bowlers, leagues bowlers are not wanted or welcome.  It is a new game, it is not even a game, it is now a distraction and an excuse to eat drink and be merry.
Personally, I don’t think the new format will last very long and will not be successful.  I do not wish them ill will, they are not killing the bowling I knew, the bowling I knew simply got old and died, they are trying to resuscitate and reinvent it.
Times change, shit happens.  I will miss my league bowling.  It is the end of an era.
And I was finally learning how to make the ten-pin spare.

20 comments:

  1. My parents were on bowling leagues too. One of the few things they were able to enjoy without their 7 kids in tow I imagine but every now and again my dad would let ONE of us go and watch and I always felt so grown up when I got picked. Staying up late, eating at the snack bar.. Watching my parents be just people.. No rules, no school notes, no checking for monsters under the bed. Just a couple having fun and smiling a lot. :) - Great memories. Sry your alley is taking a turn. Still, could be fun. Ya' never know...

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  2. Sad what has become of bowling. I remember the "good old days" when you had to do the score on a piece of paper and try to figure out spares and strikes. We did a bowling league one time through my work; it was fun. Bowling was something that was fun to do for an afternoon or evening. You did the best you could, you had a few laughs, and you certainly didn't use the bumpers unless there was a young child around. It can also be expensive as a past time with parents with young children.

    betty

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  3. You could come to Australia, we have AMF bowling right here in Adelaide, and other cities too of course, pin setters, ball return, no bumpers. For those who can't bowl for any reason there is a ramp type affair where you place the ball on top then push it down as hard as you can and it rolls down the lane. I got a strike once like that. It was the first time I'd ever bowled and I haven't been since.

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  4. I know you aren't kidding, but I wish you were. I haven't bowled for about 10 years, but I like to watch. Bumpers sound ridiculous. I used to bowl on two leagues and I loved it. Such a shame, such a shame. Sigh ...

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  5. Bowling is fun, but i was never good enough to be in a league. Maybe you and Mrs. Cranky could go for date night. We'd probably all love to listen in on that conversation.

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  6. Well, I grew up in Akron, Ohio, Home of the PBA, so bowling was a big part of my life. One of my earliest memories is sitting at the lanes while my parents bowled in their league.

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  7. I grew up in Akron, Ohio, too. There still is a large bowling alley near me and they run old school buses to the senior citizen centers to take people to bowl.

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  8. My parents were big on bowling and I got to bowl when they still had pin boys and you had to keep score yourself. Lots of fun. A few years back I thought maybe we could all go five pin bowling only to find our local alley had closed and all that was left was ten pin, There is a bar in the establishment and I didn't think that was the best place to take kids for a night out so ... we lose I guess. The fun part of bowling is over.

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  9. It might be necessary, though. I've never been bowling, but there used to be two bowling alleys near my house. Both have closed in the past year.

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  10. I remember bowling parties with cousins, aunts and uncles when I was growing up, but I haven't bowled in tears, not that I was anything other than king of the gutter balls.

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  11. When I was young I bowled all the time. I was on several leagues. It was fun although I was never really very good. Average at best.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  12. Maybe it will get more people interested in bowling.

    I haven't got bowling in years. I was terrible at it, but I always enjoyed it. Hubby and I keep saying we're going to go, but we never seem to get around to it. Maybe we need to hurry up and go before all of the places close down.

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  13. It's about the same here in Dallas. I don't even know where a real bowling alley is anymore. These days they're just for kiddie birthday parties. It's sad. :(

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  14. This post made me think of the movie "The Big Lebowski". I learned to bowl as a teenager in one of those small 3 or 4 lane alleys in my home town. Great fun as was the pool hall.

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  15. Goodness, you made me go back in time there. When I worked, just about every employer response a league and they were fun. I think here, the closest alley is a good 2 hour drive. What a shame.

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  16. My Dad used to own the bowling alley in our hometown. 8 lanes and it was a wonderful world for me to hang around. When the alley finally got automatic pin setters, Dad had to go to class to learn how to repair them. The class was in California and Dad took Mom and me and my little brother. He went to class and we had fun. I bowled all the time. But Dad saw the future and sold the alley (many years ago now) and it never really recovered. Not even sure it's still there.

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  17. We bowled when we were kids at one of the old alleys nearby but I don't think there is a bowling alley in the county I live in now.
    R

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  18. yeah, another 'old style' thing goes away.

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  19. My boys both bowled in a youth league from ages 7-17. I went to watch in the old bowling alley that smelled like mildewed carpet. They had the best fries ever!

    That one turned into a thrift store when the owners built a new one about 7 minutes from our house. It also has indoor mini golf and go-karts. Outside is bumper boats and more racing. Lots of kid parties. Leagues dissolved for adults. Hick quit after 25 years or more, because he did not want to drive 20 miles to bowl in a league every week.

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  20. I was never very good, but I used to have my own shoes & ball!!

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