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DECEMBER 30, 2007    

Bowling the way it used to be

Sharon and proprietor talking about bowling The first thing you have to accept when you bowl at Mahall's Twenty Lanes in Lakewood is that you'll be keeping score. On a piece of paper. Yourself. None of those fancy electronic scoring gizmos that project the scores on a screen above the alley.

So when Sharon & her two kids, Joanne and I went bowling this afternoon the first thing we got was a quick course in how to keep score.

The bowling alley proprietor talked us through an entire game, writing the numbers upside down so we could read them, through all ten frames. Clearly he'd given this lessons many times, but managed to sound interested anyway.

scorecard showing strike How to score a strike:

After the scoring orientation we got a scoresheet, pencil, shoes and were ready to go. We walked up a few steps to lanes 9 and 10, and it was like being back in the 50s when my family used to have a monthly bowling get-together in the winter months.

Bowling balls on ball return At Mahall's the furnishings and lanes themselves are worn but well maintained, like a '57 Chevy that's only driven in nice weather. There's a sort of preserved-in-amber feel to the place that I really appreciate.

The only obvious concession to the modern era are the colorful balls. When I was a kid they were all black, with maybe an occasional "marbled" black and red or black and blue one. Today we played with orange, red, purple and green ones.

Bowling alley house phoneThe house phone caught Sharon's eye because of its "antique" look. I had to point out that it was high-tech for its day, with pushbuttons instead of a rotary dial.

Plastic labels show the critical numbers: BAR 11, SERVICE 12. What else would you need?

Mixed leagues signOut in the lobby a big sign suggests a way to spice up your life: Join a Mixed League. Who needs Internet dating?

All in all bowing at Mahall's was a fun way to spend part of an afternoon. My scores? Well, let's say I broke 100, once. Needless to say we didn't put that part about how to score a strike to the test very often.

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