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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gutter talk

Friday, March 30, 2012

It's been a tough couple of months for people who cherish the good old days. Hostess Twinkies are no longer being manufactured, the company having filed for bankruptcy. Those tasty treats bring back memories of my elementary school days when I would always bring a package to school, eat one Twinkie, and then trade the other to the class sweet-freak, Alan Guggenheim. In exchange, he let me look at his papers during math tests. My grades went way up. So did Alan's cholesterol.

Last night I read that the Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer be available in print form. The publishers have decided to go completely digital. I'll miss them. I recall opening my first set on Christmas morning. Later that day, one fell behind the bookshelf and we didn't find it until we moved . It was yellowed of course, but I still relished it. Wait, I'm still thinking of the Twinkies.

Finally, USA Today reported last week that bowling alleys in church basements are dying out. I'll pause a moment while you compose yourself. Neil Stremmel, the president of the U.S. Bowling Congress, claims that no one saw it coming, which is exactly the kind of thing everyone said in the United States Congress about the recession.

I talked to several neighbors who are avid churchgoers and none of them had ever heard of a church with a bowling alley, although my friend Bob explained to me that prayer and bowling have always gone together. Negotiating a 7-10 split and recording a 300 are achievements of a celestial nature. As in most churches, perfection is sought, but seldom achieved.

I wanted to search online to see where these churches were, but I wasn't sure how to look it up. I put in the words BOWLING, CHURCH and INDIANA but no sites were found. Then I substituted OHIO for INDIANA and discovered 60 churches with lanes in Buckeye basements. But I had entered it incorrectly and actually there are 60 churches in Bowling Green, Ohio. Not the same thing.

In the USA Today story, one man lamented the fact that his church's bowling alley in New Haven, Connecticut had been there for almost a century, but it was not attracting very many players in recent years. He blamed it on all the competition out there for parishioners' free time--movies, cable TV, social media. His wife thinks it's because there's no automatic pin machine and no beer is allowed in a Baptist church. Yes, I think she may be on to something.

I grew up in a Jewish home and my family attended a reform temple. I am pretty sure we didn't have a bowling alley in the basement, but our rabbi was an avid golfer, so he was pushing the congregation to install an artificial putting green. I don't think there would have been enough room, not with the deli taking up so much space. Just for the record, Mrs. Goldberg's matzo balls were as big as bowling balls, and they were just as hard.

I belong to a Unitarian church now. I'm going to suggest to the board that they build a couple of lanes in the basement and start up a league. Maybe we could play your church team. Good luck coming up with a clever name for your squad. Holy Rollers is already taken.