Candle Pin Bowling: Lost Relic of New England

I was at least 14 years old before I ever picked up a regular bowling ball, or “big ball” bowling ball as we referred to it.  For years I thought the three holed 14 pound behemoth was a fictitious game of ancient lore, not an actual activity.  You see I was born and raised in New England, where our version of bowling is a bit different.  Bowling here is a ball small enough to be cradled by your whole hand.  Pins aren’t curvaceous and bottom heavy, they are, much as the name would suggest, tapered like candles.  Strikes are far less common and stray balls traversing lanes is par for the course.  This mystical game was what I grew up knowing as bowling.  All the lanes in the area was this bastardized version of an old puritanian children’s game.  Not until I had made my way to the halls of high school did I try my hand at lofting a big dumbbell down an aisle at some Betty Boop silhouettes.  The weight was award, my attempt at spin was non existent, and the gutters seemed like magnetic freeways sucking up every third toss.  Longingly I wished for the small hand held pellet that would crash through the lumber with a crackle rather than a thud. It was at that moment I became self aware of my New England bowling bias and forever remain a small ball purist at heart.

While I wrote a few weeks back that the recorder is something that reunites societies far and wide, sadly I believe that our understanding of what constitutes bowling might separate us.


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