North American Bowling News

The Lighter Side


Back in the early 1990s, Walkersville Bowling Lanes hosted a 2-day bowling tournament. One of the superb local bowlers in the game at the time, Bobby Stockman, bowled his Saturday shift while a substantial snowstorm hit the town. Stockman's transportation wasn't the best, and instead of braving the hazardous road conditions later that night, he decided to stay overnight, actually sleeping in the bowling alley, and eating breakfast there the next morning when the bowling center's employees showed up for business. This simplified matters for Stockman, who resumed the 2nd half of his tournament later that morning. Fortunately for him, the tournament didn't get canceled.


While this story doesn't necessarily involve bowling, it does involve one of the bowlers I had the privilege of knowing back in the 1980s. One of the most like-able guys you'd ever want to meet, Chris Tomes, related an amusing occurrence that happened to him in a supermarket. Just to lay a little foundation, Chris was a young guy, and a big guy, sort of like Jethro Bodine on the Beverly Hillbillies--always upbeat and friendly. However, one day he got in line at the supermarket at the "10 items or less" checkout register. Chris didn't have his mind totally on shopping at the time, as he had about 18 or 19 items. The cashier didn't reject him, and as he was waiting to be checked out, he looked around, and he noticed an old lady behind him was giving him a stern glare. He soon realized what he had done, having almost twice as many items as allowed. Chris knew that since he was practically checked out, any explanation of his mistake would only fall on deaf ears. Embarrassed, his only thought at the time was to get out of the store as soon as possible. As he was exiting, Chris' own words as to what happened next were as follows. "I tried to hurry out of the store as fast as I could, and when I picked up my bags to leave the express line, that old lady kicked me right in my a**!. I felt so guilty and I knew I was wrong. I never even looked back and rushed out of the store."


One of the duckpin hall-of-fame's greatest bowlers, Shorty Divver, passed along a story that one of his buddies, Jay Bernarding, told him, and is as follows. The story is about Dave Volk, a former 'Number One duckpin bowler in the country' and one of the best bowlers the game had ever known. Volk's occupation was that of a cab driver. One day while Dave was driving his cab, he happened to see a man on the street wearing a shirt with the name, DAVE VOLK, on the back of it, in big letters. (This was coincidental because the duckpin pro tour's shirts customarily required bowlers to have their names displayed on the back of tour shirts in 3-inch block letters.) As Dave drove closer, he then recognized that it was one of his own pro tour shirts. It turned out that Dave's wife had donated his pro tour shirts to the Goodwill, and apparently, this stranger had bought it, and wasn't too proud to wear it in public.


Back in the early 1980s, an amusing and awkward event happened in this editor's men's duckpin league. First it should be stated that Ebonite used to produce several different lines of rubber duckpin balls. There was a pair in particular, I believe in the Ebonite Tornado line, in which the balls were unusually colorful, being black, with patches of green and orange, and my brother and myself used to jokingly characterize as 'Clown Balls', because of the somewhat loud colors. One night during my league match, we were about halfway through the 2nd game, and it soon became growingly apparent that there was an offensive odor in the bowling circle. With it being an all-mens league, the bowlers just figured that the stench was the bi-product of somebody's chili-dinner, or whatever. The odor dissipated, but then resurfaced once again. Again, nobody said anything, but as the frames were passing, the offensive odor reoccurred time after time. Bowlers who were sitting on the benches in the bowling circle were beginning to gradually make their way back to the concourse area between frames, well behind the lanes, obviously to get away from the smell, and again the assumption was 'something lingering from dinner' for someone. The noteworthy thing was that the smell would go away, but then return again, and it was beginning to become annoying. After about 6 or 7 frames, someone finally noticed that the stench was coming from the ball rack. It was discovered that the odor was actually coming from one of these Ebonite 'Clown Balls'. It was never fully explained, but there must have been something peculiar in the composition of one of the balls. The offensive ball was removed from the rack and then quarantined, where it was zipped up in the owner's bowling bag. From that point on, 'Clown Ball' has always seemed to be an appropriate identifier for that line of bowling balls.

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