You can now call me an old alley cat again

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MIKE RAINONE

Hammertime

After some rather friendly persuasion from the gang at our condo building, I finally decided to take the plunge and get back to bowling again. It has been over 30 years since I last laced up my beat up old multi-colored bowling shoes and spent many of my leisure hours in the noisy but always friendly confines of the local bowling alley.

I first got hooked on the exciting five-pin game back in the 1960s when Doreen and Jack Twa transformed their plumbing shop at 4812-50th Street into a fancy bowling centre, and that same location has continued to host thousands of local keglers in the popular national sport.

Ed and Marg Boruk came to town a few years later and took over the lanes and would operate their successful Ponoka Interbowl for many years. It was here that yours truly learned to set pins for five cents a game in the pits at the tough end of the shiny alleys, but after finally graduating to throwing the balls, I always had a deep respect for those brave pinsetters.

Over the years as a bowlers we all got some good scores, some duds, and a few great ones. But along the way we met a whole lot of great people relaxing and having fun, took part in leagues and competitions at home or on the road, coached some YBC youngsters, and did a whole lot of socializing before, after and during the game.

Our Ponoka bowling establishments have enjoyed many congenial proprietors and promoters over the years, including Mr. Prefontaine in his Quonset (1934), Jack and Doreen Twa, Ed and Marg Boruk, Ray and Lynn Miller, Lou and Charlotte Wolowich, Darcy Mass, and present owners, the Taylors.

So last week, just before I got set to join the Aspen Ridge old crocks in the Monday afternoon Golden Age League, I checked out my ancient bowling shoes and was shocked that they were battle scarred and didn’t fit anymore. After meeting my teammates I put on some regular shoes, then bravely stepped up on the approach to toss a few practice balls at the pins on the Heritage Lanes. After attempting my usual five-step dash and toss of long ago, I quickly discovered that my legs and everything else connected was not going to, or refused to, perform like it used to.

Following a not too bad, but painful first game (197), yours truly decided to resort to a much slower two-step approach and throw, which felt strange and will keep my average nice and low for the first while, and will have to do for the duration. All in all, it was a great afternoon with super-friendly people, lots of high fives, 25-cent coffee, birthday cakes and cards, games of poker, and a chance to win a little cash or some homemade cookies.

I was really mesmerized by those flashing scoreboards, that let everyone else know how you are bowling, whether you like it or not. Bowling alleys are now licensed, so you can always relax behind the scenes and have a ‘shot between shots,’ and just like before there are all kinds of sponsored perks and prizes for great scores, or goofy results such as most head-pins, gutter balls, oldest or youngest bowler 55 and beyond.

When the three games were over at 3 p.m. my team paid me the ultimate compliment and welcome, by stating that I will certainly help our team handicap. After limping out the door and heading home for tea after that first week, it was great to see the next generation of YBC bowlers coming through the door with their snazzy bowling bags and loads of enthusiasm.

By the way, the keen spirit of that long-standing nationwide Golden Age Bowling circuit is really catching. They were telling us that a regular member in her 90s had already rolled her first 200 game this season.

It has already brought back some great old bowling memories, and I will certainly be back there again next week to give it another casual but slightly slower try. In the meantime I encourage everyone to get down to the Leisure Lanes Bowling Centre and find out what they have to offer you this fall/winter season, as a team, a couple, or a family from ages five to 95. Bowling is a relaxing fun game for all ages, and you even have the opportunity to host a party and glow in the dark.

Have a great week, all of you!

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