My Father Begat Our Family’s Happy Bowling Obsession

My father, a long-time bowler—who for a short time toured in El Salvador, a “Gringo” bowling on the Salvadoreño team, that also bowled many years with his own parents here in America—encouraged my husband and I to bowl with the children as a family. My father was one to emulate in bowling. And then of course there were the likes of the PBA greats, like: Walter Ray Williams Jr. (also a champ at horse-shoe throwing), Pete Weber, Chris Barnes, Parker Bohn III, Earl Anthony, and Don Carter. Now those were all grand bowlers of our time!

DadBowling1964_Salvadorians in Guatemala

My Dad bowling in 1964 with a team from El Salvador competing against Guatemala.

It was an overnight addiction. Bowling became our family’s obsession—bowling for a joyous 9 years. My hubby and I would eventually bowl as many as 6 glorious days a week: 4 leagues weekly, plus 2 days added for practice!

Practice, after all, makes perfect!

But it was a good, clean addiction; a fun obsession. And it was the perfect way to keep our family of five enjoying great quality time together. It also allowed our homeschooled children to socialize with other kids of a wide range of ages.

We first signed up with a Junior/Adult Family League. Later also joining a Mexican/American League. And in no-time at all, hubby and I felt confident enough to join a scratch league. But talk about pressure… These scratch teams were made-up of serious and obsessive bowlers. I think we knew we were in over our heads the first night in. However, our pride wouldn’t let us accept defeat, and so we remained, struggling to hold up our good end—hubby with a 183 league book average and I with a 167. Some of these seasoned bowlers were from the high 190s and up to 210 averages. Yikes!

Let me tell you something; don’t ever think you can easily beat old-timers in a league. They may be slow and even appear tired, but they will give you a run for your money. There was one team, for instance, made up of 5 retired men that on a couple of occasions bowled a 1,000 game total. Meaning that each man bowled an average of a 200-game. Impressive to say the least!

Our family would eventually feel confident enough to enter tournaments, and compete with the really good bowlers. We often traveled with the kids to compete in tournaments held in other cities in California.

We started out bowling with the cheapest and most affordable equipment we could find—plastic bowling balls made of urethane. This was the recommended equipment for beginners, because if you happened to decide not to stick with the sport, you wouldn’t have lost a fortune.

Now, with the passing of time, and hours of bowling under our belts, we, naturally, moved on to using reactive bowling balls (some carrying 2 and even 3 balls, for varying lane conditions), and drilled for a “finger-tip” grip (making your already slightly heavy ball feel like it weighed lots more, but so worth the change). Reactive balls, or resin balls, increase the ball’s grip on the lane, creating a greater hook potential. Something most bowlers want to achieve. Resin bowling balls also tend to drive across the oiled lanes, thus reaching faster speeds, and achieving better impact with the pins. And what could be more exciting that to see all those pins go down with a single loud crash!

We haven’t bowled in a league in quite a few years, and we are getting the itch to do so. We still bowl on an occasional Saturday or Sunday, however, just simply practicing is not as satisfying. To bowl when you have a real challenge, against competitors, if you will, that is what a “bowling obsession” is all about!

Talk about obsession: we knew a man that was an alcoholic, and when he quit drinking cold turkey, his new addiction became bowling, but so much better than drinking.

We dream a life to be; we live to dream that life! (vka)

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