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COLUMN: Bowling has changed much over the years (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 1/1/23

Three strikes and you’re not out; you’re in good shape. Why? Because it’s bowling! Here is an activity that has truly changed over the years.

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COLUMN: Bowling has changed much over the years (VIDEO)


Three strikes and you’re not out; you’re in good shape.


Because it’s bowling! Here is an activity that has truly changed over the years. This is an activity that you may have difficulty adapting to with its new approach to its clientele. I think you will have fun as long as you do not spend too much time comparing it to the old days.

I have slowly seen the changes and have learned to accept them. You see, I was a pinsetter/pin boy at the Norwich Elks Club bowling alley when I was in high school. That means I was in the pit picking up the pins and putting them back in the rack, and therefore I did a fair amount of bowling as a youth and as I grew up. Now I bowl for personal fun which can keep me active on a cold or wet day.

Most alleys still have the basic alley and the gutters, and the pins fall but are now rounded up by a machine and put back in the rack. But even these locations now have bright lights and computers keeping score with easy-to-read touch screens by the benches where you sit. The alleys and area in general are cleaner with no smoking allowed.

Check out this video on bowling from  Clifford Crandall, Jr.:

Depending on when you go there may be upbeat, modern music playing - oh, and it is loud - along with spinning and flashing lights showing on the walls and ceiling. Each alley has plenty of bowling balls to choose from if you do not own one, and the balls vary in color, weight, and finger hole sizes. If you do not have bowling shoes you will need to rent them.

You can throw the ball with your left hand, right hand, or both hands - just don’t cross the foul line where the alley starts. There are 10 pins set up in a V shape with the point of the V facing you. The 10 pins have assigned spots, allowing you to know the number of the pins you may leave standing after your first ball. If you knock all 10 down it’s a strike, which is marked on the score sheet as an “X,” which is the Roman numeral for the number 10.

Three strikes in a row is called a Turkey. That doesn’t mean you’re a turkey. Picking up the remaining pins with your second ball means you have made your spare. The first three pins creating the point are pin 1, 2, and 3. Hence the right side first two pins are 1 and 2 becoming the 1-2 pocket and the left side is the 1-3 pocket. Hitting the pocket will give you the best chance of knocking all the pins down.

The approach area where you deliver the ball must be at least 15 feet long by regulation. The alley is 42 inches wide, and it is 60 feet from the foul line to the head pin giving you plenty of time to put the ball in the gutter, which is the channel on the left and right sides of the alley.

Once in the gutter the ball is structured to go straight to the end of the alley and miss all the pins (bummer!). Bowling alleys have gutter bumpers which will keep the ball on the alley to guarantee children who play will hit some pins. This helps your grandchildren stay interested and have fun with you as they bowl.

Some alleys now are quite different, as the pins have cables attached to the top of the pin and are automatically lifted up and dangle in the air like string puppets. In a few years even more alleys may be like this, and no one will think it’s odd. But if you bowled as a child you may get a surprise the first time you bowl on one of these alleys.

There is a variety of food available and with the lights, music and humorous cartoon scenarios going on with the scoring on the computer screen, children will have a great time. Now as for you, remember it’s a game, an activity to get in some exercise and fun. Gutter balls are OK, or you can leave up the bumper guards if you wish, but have fun!

Keep in Mind: One small step up the mountain often widens your horizon in all directions. (E.H. Griggs)

Clifford Crandall Jr., 75, is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.


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