Who can forget the funny shoes, the rumble of heavy balls on waxed lanes, and the satisfying thwock of your first strike?
Bowling alleys in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where I grew up, used either candlepins or duckpins. It wasn’t until 1954, when I was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, that I was introduced to tenpins. The balls were three times the size and weight of duckpin balls. But I got hooked. I joined many leagues and practiced every day. I even made the base’s bowling team.
After I was discharged in 1958, I came home to find several new tenpin bowling alleys in Lawrence and the surrounding area. Within two years, a TV station in Boston was broadcasting a weekly show from Sammy White’s Brighton Bowl, which was owned by the former Red Sox catcher. Alleys across the state held qualifying rounds—whoever had the highest score over five games won $200. I won the qualifying round to make it to my first week of TV competition in December 1959. On the show, the bowler who scored the most pins after three games was declared the winner and returned the next week to defend the title of King of the Hill. I won my first week and the next four weeks. I qualified for the show a few times after that but lost the TV competitions.
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