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BY BETTE ADDINGTON Special to The Californian
Most committed league bowlers bowl with their bowling ball for several years and then they get the bug to buy a new ball. Recent years have shown an increase in the selection with not only a brand offering a large line, but a lot of new brands as well.
You definitely can't say you don't have a variety to choose from!
March 15: Entry deadline for both State and National tournaments.
March 16-17: 2013 GEUSBC Mixed City Tournament, Regency Lanes. Two divisions--Adult & Senior. Team squads both days at 10 a.m.; Mixed Doubles squads both days at 1:30 p.m. Entries accepted day of event (cash only) and you must register one hour prior to desired squad. Entry fee is $25 per bowler per event. For further information, go to www.geusbc.org.
March 16-17: Youth Pepsi District 5 Finals, Valencia Lanes, Newhall.
March 17: San Joaquin Singles Tournament, AMF Visalia Lanes. For further information, call (559) 281-4444.
March 24: Bakersfield 500 Club's 31st annual Spring Fling Tournament, AMF Southwest Lanes, Lunch served 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., bowl at 1 p.m. Entry deadline is March 23rd. Entry fee is $25. For further information, contact Linda Wright at (661) 747-9101.
And while league bowlers who also like to enter tournaments will usually carry anywhere from two to six balls in their arsenal when they come to bowl league, some league bowlers stick with one or two balls each week.
Bowling in one of my leagues, it was brought to my attention that one of our league bowlers was bowling with a ball she has had since the early 1960's! Curiosity got the best of me and so I thought it might be kind of fun to put the word out and see if there was any other bowler in town doing the same. Could it be possible?
Low and behold I did find another league bowler who also used a bowling ball he got right around the same time, so being this was rather unique I thought it would be fun to feature them and their dedication to still using a bowling ball that they got 50 years ago! Meet Norma Pelham and George Waggoner.
My first encounter was with Pelham, who bowls in the Tuesday Ladies Handicap league at Regency on Tuesday nights. She has a Lady Brunswick bowling ball that she estimates she bought new, around 1963, from the late Bud Hannaman at the Bakersfield Bowling Academy. Hannaman also drilled the 12-pound ball for her. This is the first bowling ball Norma ever purchased.
Pelham and her husband, Ron, first got the bowling bug here locally when they used to open bowl at Bakersfield Bowling Academy bowling in the Rainbow bowling where they could get Blue Chip stamps. They then joined a league with one of her husband's fellow workers at the Academy on Sunday afternoons. They bowled this league for a year or so until her husband hurt his back and had to quit bowling.
One of Pekham's best friends, the late, Carolyn Knox, whom she had known since she was 9, was a bowler! (Years earlier, Carolyn took Norma open bowling in Shafter one weekend right after she graduated from high school, and that was it. She was hooked on bowling!) This time, Knox encouraged her to join a ladies league, Tuesday Morning Housewives, and kept her bowling. When the Academy closed, she moved to Westchester Lanes. Norma's career now spans an estimated 48 years now. She only took off in 1968, when she had her last child, and the 2005-06 season, due to hip surgery.
Through her career she did purchase another ball, a 10-pounder, but it just did not fit her hand the way her Lady Brunswick ball did so she ended up giving it to Goodwill.
Her career-high game is a 248, which she bowled in 1995. She has bowled one or two state tournaments and one national tournament back in 1996 where she was thrilled to bowl a 210 game in the doubles event with partner Patty Ward.
She currently bowls in the Tuesday Ladies Handicap league at Regency and the Christmas Club league at AMF Southwest Lanes with teammate Carolyn Jones, carrying a 148 average. Her most recent high game was a 224. She recently re-joined the Bakersfield 500 Club, which she has been a member of for 20 years. She started bowling at age 20. She used to bowl with her daughter, Sherry, in a morning league at the former East Hills Lanes, before her daughter moved out of state.
Pelham said what keeps her in the sport of bowling is she "loves the competition and the friends I bowl with, and the fun!" When asked if she is thinking about getting a new bowling ball one of these days, she said, "I don't think so....this one's OK. Love the colors grey and pink and the way it fits!" And, a weekend or so ago, much to Pelham's surprise, she was at a family gathering and discovered that one of her relatives' late mother, Muriel Dean, had the very same bowling ball that Norma has. It had a date code on it of 1958! It had been stored in Muriel's garage until it was brought back out and used by her daughter, Jan Bench, who has been bowling with it for the last several years.
Norma was born in Bakersfield and grew up and graduated from Shafter High in 1956. She moved back to Bakersfield in 1961. She has worked as an assistant office manager for Southwest TV Repair and also for Farmers Insurance branch for 17 years, which she and her husband owned.
Met up with George Waggoner next at Regency in the Friday afternoon senior league, He also purchased his bowling ball when he started bowling back in September of 1962. He purchased the 16-pound AMF Strikeline from West Sacramento Bowl, where it was drilled by Shig Imura. Waggoner started his 40 years of bowling with this ball by bowling just one league a week. By 1963 he was bowling three leagues a week and continued doing so until 1973. He was forced to quit bowling for 10 years because of the cost of bowling. Waggoner was happy with his AMF Strikeline and "scored well" until it just "became too heavy."
When he retired after working 38 years as a computer programmer, he was thrilled to be presented with a new, lighter bowling ball, which he currently uses for his main ball. But he still uses his AMF Strikeline for 10 pins!
His career high game is a 280, which he shot in 1983 on the first night back at Regency (formerly Rodeway Lanes), here in Bakersfield. He has only bowled one state tournament, in Washington, in 1986. He was born in Oklahoma and came to Bakersfield in 1983.
He currently bowls in the Oldies But Goodies at AMF Southwest Lanes on Wednesday afternoons and the Primetimers league at Regency on Friday afternoons, sporting an average around 177. He enjoys bowling for the "exercise and good friends."
Waggoner also noted, "The bowling alleys take good care of senior bowlers!" And, he also added with affection about his AMF Strikeline ball: "It still picks up 10 pins!"
Both bowlers obviously have a sentimental tie to their beloved bowling balls and have no immediate plans to replace them. As Norma put it, "If I bowl badly, it's not the ball's fault!"