I have always loved to bowl.
Munising, the little town of about 4,000 where I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, had a little bit of everything ... a movie theater, a department store, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a supermarket, a couple of elementary schools, a high school, several churches, a bunch* of bars, and yes, a bowling alley!
[*I often heard people say back then - this would have been in the 40's and 50's, in an effort to try and encapsulate the inordinate ratio of bars to adult population in some of the smaller communities in the region, "Well, the worst are Hayward, Hurley, and 'Hell', and 'Hell' is Munising." Rather an ignominious distinction, wouldn't you agree?]
The bowling alley, as I recall, was located in the K of C hall ... four lanes at most, I would say. Every once in a while, Dad and I would go bowling there when they had open lanes. It was fun!
I don't think more than one or two people had their own ball and shoes. We rented the shoes (10 cents) and selected a ball from the rack that we could both grip and heft.
I continued my enjoyment of bowling sporadically over the years until, in the mid-60's, my husband and I moved to Ohio with our daughter.
I joined a ladies handicap league. We bowled once a week, and I really liked it. I bought my own ball (16#) and shoes. (Still have them, by the way!) I was encouraged to buy that heavy a ball by my mother-in-law, Mary, who was an avid bowler. Whenever she came for a visit, the two of us would go bowling at least once.
One summer I persuaded my husband to enroll us in a couples bowling league. That was fun! We both loved being with each other in different surroundings and circumstances, and enjoyed the camaraderie and friendly competition.
This one night was just magical. I started off with a strike. Then another strike. The third frame saw nine pins go down in a big clean swoosh with the 10-pin left teetering. Everyone was stomping up and down in a collective effort to try and get it to fall over, but it managed to maintain its equilibrium - all the while wobbling, even when reset.
I am right-handed. The 10-pin can be a right-hander's nemesis. I stood my normal distance behind the foul line, focused, concentrated, took my three steps forward and released the ball between the second and third step, which ends in a sliding crouch position just before the line.
I nailed that sucker! The 4th frame was a strike, as well as the 5th. By the time the tenth frame came along, my score sheet showed all strikes except for that spare in the 3rd.
No one was talking to me about my game. No one was wanting to disturb my concentration. I mean, there were the normal high-fives of congratulation when someone made a strike or a spare and groans of understanding commiseration when attempts failed, but no one was speaking out loud about the extraordinary game I was having. (My husband told me later that it was like I was in another world the whole time.)
All right. It's the tenth frame. I'm up. I deliver what I'm pretty sure is a solid strike ball. I feel good about it. There's this very satisfying swooshing sound at the other end of all the pins simultaneously going about their separate ways except - somehow or another, the 10-pin is still left standing ... teetering and wobbling like crazy, but standing!
I couldn't believe it! Sweat broke out all over my body. I kept wiping my hands on my shirt, my pants, my towel, whatever I could find to wipe my hands on!! The whole alley (all 16 lanes) was silent. I was all by myself here. No one could help me.
I tried to focus. Tried to concentrate. Told myself, "You've done this before. It's only the 10-pin. You can do it!" (The very last thing I wanted to do in a game like this was to have an open frame.)
Finally, after what seemed to me like an eternity, I delivered the ball. Hit that lingerer dead on and struck out! And so you now have the story of my best game ever, a 257!!
Some time later, after all the screams and shouting from the alley had died down, my husband went to the men's room. While he was in there 'doing his thing', the only other person in there (who happened to be one of the pin-setters) said to him, "Can you believe it? Some broad just bowled a 257!"
Hubby responded, "Yeah! That broad was my wife!!"