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Candlepin Bowling

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    • Candlepin Bowling

      Next week is my bowing leagues Christmas party. I'm the guy who arranges for the pizza delivery, brings some extra cold ones for the guys, and stuffs the envelopes with cash prizes, and gets a few bottles of cheap wine so that everyone goes home with something.

      Candlepin bowling is a charmingly New England thing. Three balls, little balls, the dead wood stays in the lane. It is the most frustration sport I've every played. I suck as a bowler, I am one of the worst in my league. But I work hard to try to keep the group together. Strangely enough, I feel like I am doing God's work here :) Bowlers are mostly working guys. Once a week we get together, throw back a few beers, talk crap, and let off some steam. A relaxing respite from the pressures of modern life.

      Candlepin bowling is dying. Every year another bowling ally closes down. The land they sit on has just become too valuable around here. We had to move the league to another town a few years, the old alley is a mini-storage facility now. We lost about half our players with the move. The new place is just too far for some guys to drive now. When I joined the league years ago I was bowling with the 'greatest generation.' Men I admired. Men who served and sacrificed for their nation. Men who built and gave back to their community, who cared for their family above all else. The 'greatest generation' is gone now. It is mostly the sons of these men that I bowl with. They do not articulate this, but I feel that some of them, like me, just feel this a tradition worth holding on to.

      There was a book that came out a few years ago titled "Bowling Alone."
      bowlingalone.com

      The book talked about how our society is changing in ways where people are more isolated from each other, are less social, contribute less to their community. Candlepin bowling is dying, churches are dying, the Masons and other fraternal groups are dying. Traditionally these groups could be counted on to pitch in to help a neighbor in need, to visit a shut-in, to serve on town boards, to have some civic pride. I'm not sure most people appreciate how much we are losing. Now the expectation seems to be that the government should take care of everything. Increasingly people don't get to know their own neighbors. And they go bowling alone, if they go bowling at all

      Sorry for my sentimental rant. This has been on my mind today as I pick up the provisions for next week's pizza/ bowling/ Christmas party.

      To my southern friends on this list, I hope you make it up here someday to give a few strings of candlepin bowling a try. It is maddening, it is wonderful, it is a dying sport that I love. Don't wait too long to try it.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Interestingly, the Simpsons modeled their bowling alley on the place I actually bowl, the Wakefield Bowladrome. See below...





      It is a great place, 1950's retro. Unfortunately the owner seems to be slowing down. I know my days of bowling here are numbered.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • This is the first i've heard of candlepin bowling, but back in the day i went bowling with some friends in baltimore. what the heck, tiny ball and tiny pins, they called it duckpins! i bowled one game and decided it was a dumb game, not as much fun as real bowling. my friends continued bowling while i drank beer and ate polish sausage with hot relish. the bowling was forgettable, but i'll never forget the heartburn i suffered that night and if i never hear another polka band i'll be happy.
    • I recently tried the similar game of Duckpin Bowling for the first time. It seemed to have many parallels to your description of your local candlepin lanes. Everything was original (1958 iirc) Complete with the ashtray with eight cigarette holders at every desk.
      >>>Advertise here! Affordable rates and no long term contracts. Send a PM for more details!<<<
    • chief wrote:

      This is the first i've heard of candlepin bowling, but back in the day i went bowling with some friends in baltimore. what the heck, tiny ball and tiny pins, they called it duckpins! i bowled one game and decided it was a dumb game, not as much fun as real bowling. my friends continued bowling while i drank beer and ate polish sausage with hot relish. the bowling was forgettable, but i'll never forget the heartburn i suffered that night and if i never hear another polka band i'll be happy.
      Now you got me thinking about old John Candy with his Polka Band in the first Home Alone. :)
      Not quite on the par with A Christmas Story, but still pretty good holiday movie.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Duckpin is even rarer than Candlepin. I believe there is one duckpin lane left in the Boston area, although there are still several in Rhode Island. Duckpin has ten-pin style pins (candlepins are straight), but you throw three smaller balls like in candlepin (I think the balls are a bit heavier, though).

      I tried duckpin once, but candlepin will always mean true bowling to me, and I think most New Englanders. In duckpin the lanes get swept of deadwood between every throw like in tenpin. I think that the deadwood is the most intriguing thing about candlepin. It creates an infinite number of varying situations and challenges.

      The wood can be your friend, or your enemy. Long live candlepin :)
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • While I grew up with traditional bowling and even was on our club team one year in college, I have never done candlepin or duckpin.

      On the other hand with raising four children, I have done a lot of skee ball at Chuckie Cheese. :D
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • odd man out wrote:

      I've heard of candle pin bowling but never seen it or done it. However I do remember duck pin bowling when I was growing up in the DC area in the 60s and 70s. I even recall the local TV station would broadcast duck pin tournaments. Because the balls are smaller, it's good for young kids.
      Yes, candlepin is fun for the whole family, from toddlers to grandpa. That said, it is wicked difficult to be consistently good at, at least for me.

      When I was growing up the local TV's would all be tuned to Saturday afternoon candlepin bowling. Believe it or not this was the highest rated sports program in Boston at the time, out performing even the Red Sox games. As the local networks started coming under control of the New York based broadcasters, the Candlepin bowling shows were cancelled. Really, they cut one of the most popular shows on television, I think the New Yorkers just could not understand it.

      Anyway, that was the beginning of the decline of candlepin bowling around here.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Astro wrote:

      chief wrote:

      This is the first i've heard of candlepin bowling, but back in the day i went bowling with some friends in baltimore. what the heck, tiny ball and tiny pins, they called it duckpins! i bowled one game and decided it was a dumb game, not as much fun as real bowling. my friends continued bowling while i drank beer and ate polish sausage with hot relish. the bowling was forgettable, but i'll never forget the heartburn i suffered that night and if i never hear another polka band i'll be happy.
      Now you got me thinking about old John Candy with his Polka Band in the first Home Alone. :) Not quite on the par with A Christmas Story, but still pretty good holiday movie.
      yeah, when i was going to school in baltimore 1969 to 1973 polka bands were everywhere. or maybe it was just because my girlfriend was polish descent. i used to dread going out with her family, which invariably meant a polka dance club. it seemed every grandma in the place wanted to teach the kid with the southern accent how to dance a polka. jeez!
    • ...speaking of fun nights out in MD a long time ago...

      My good friend was getting married (probably around 1980). Everyone went out to a crab house in Annapolis (awesome). Then the guys went to some redneck bar for a bachelor's party. One of the guys in the wedding party put a boatload of quarters in the juke box and played Whip It by Devo over and over. The regulars were not too happy. Maybe the closest I've come to being murdered.