Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I Could Use Your Advice Now Grandpa

When I was 10 years old my Grandpa Chet (Mom's Dad) and I were watching bowling on television. I asked my Grandpa if he could teach me how to bowl?

My Grandpa Chet who worked in the back room of the local newspaper usually came home from work, and took a nap on the couch until dinner. After dinner he would sometimes drive us around the lake. Usually he laid on the couch and watched television. In the evenings after everyone else went to bed he would sit in the kitchen and read the paper while smoking several cigs and drinking - a lot.

When I asked Grandpa Chet if he could teach me how to bowl I expected him to say no. But I was shocked when he told me to wait until the show was over then we'd head downtown and give it a try. I was so excited that I got up and ran to tell my Grandma that Grandpa was taking me bowling. She thought that was a wonderful idea. Then she told me to pay good attention to him. She claimed that my grandpa had been a pretty good bowler in his days. "In fact", she added "He bowled a 300 game once."

An hour later my Grandpa Chet and I walked into Cherry Lanes in downtown Madison SD. Cherry Lanes was an old bowling house that was right next to a bar. There were only 6 or 8 old wooden lanes. The place smelled of beer and cigarette smoke. Grandpa rented me a pair of shoes and showed me how to pick out a bowling ball.

Then he got himself a drink, lit up a cig, sat me down at the scoring table and showed me how to keep score. He then sent me up onto the approach and told me to roll the ball down the lane.

For the next hour my grandfather sat back in the pit and told me things I should do differently about the way I was bowling. However none of the advice he gave me seemed to help at all. If fact everytime I tried to to do what he told me to do the results got worse, not better. I kept getting frustrated because he wouldn't show me anything he just sat there telling me what to do. Grandpa Chet got frustrated because I didn't seem to be able to do anything right.

I struggled through three lines of bowling. I only really learned two things that day. One I learned how to keep score. The old way, the right way - with a wax pencil on acetate. I also learned that I liked bowling.

I just couldn't understand why none of what my Grandpa Chet told me to do worked. He was supposed to be a good bowler, Grandma had said so.

My Grandpa Chet never took me bowling again. He died 3 years later. Shortly after this my Dad's Dad, my Grandpa Dick started taking me bowling. We both had fun. He wasn't a great bowler but he taught me what he could. The main two things he did for my bowling game was first, keep me interested in bowling. Secondly he figured out why my Grandpa Chet's advice didn't work for me.

One weekend we were bowling and I was getting pretty comfortable delivering the ball down the lane. But I wasn't getting many strikes so I decided to try some of the advice that Grandpa Chet had given me. I started rolling the ball over the third arrow from the left on the lane and aiming for the 1-2 pocket. I had done this a couple times when my Grandpa Dick asked me why I was aiming the ball like a left handed bowler.

That is when it hit me. My Grandpa Chet was left handed. I am right handed. That whole time that we were at Cherry Lanes he never noticed that I was bowling right handed. All his advice was geared for a left handed bowler.

I kept bowling on and off through the years, when I could afford it. Once I graduated college I joined a bowling league, or two. I took a few years off after I got married, but have been bowling weekly again for the last 8 years.

Tonight I started something new. I established a left handed bowling average. Due to my bad left knee and persistant right elbow problems it just made sense that I should stop sliding on that bad leg and stop slinging around a ball with my bad elbow.

I established an average that was exactly 100 pins lower than my right hand average. So I have a long way to go to get back into the game.

Boy I could really use some of Grandpa Chet's advice now. Especially since I found out that he really did know how to bowl. Several years ago I found a newspaper clipping from an unknown year in my grandpmother's stuff. It told about my Grandpa Chet's league bowling results. The article says that he bowled a 284 game one week, and followed it up with a 700 series the next week. Those aren't slouch scores in anyone's book.

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