True rollers

Photo by Violet Snow

Photo by Violet Snow

Want to buy a bowling alley?

The eight-lane Margaretville Bowl, located 45 miles west of Kingston on Route 28, is on the market for $289,000. Owner Michael Finberg says the 52-year-old business is still thriving. Across the industry, league bowling, once the mainstay of the alleys, is down, but he says the advent of Cosmic Bowling (also known as Rock ’n’ Bowl), featuring loud music, light shows, and glow-in-the-dark pins and balls, is bringing young people back to recreational bowling.

The appeal of bowling, says Finberg, is that it’s social, and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy it. “Bowling is not an aerobic sport, but it requires balance and timing. You have to learn the markings, how to pick up the spares. Someone not as strong can have a lightweight ball, but with accuracy and practice, they can score well. This opens the sport to many more participants.”

Not having bowled in more decades than I care to estimate, I decided to bowl a game at HoeBowl-on-the-Hill in Kingston, just to refresh my memory. And the memories came back with a rush — the multi-colored shoes, the rumble of the balls on the lanes, the clatter of pins, hefting various balls to find one light enough for me, but with big enough finger holes — and especially the little fan at the ball return to dry the sweat off your fingers. All these details brought back rainy Saturday afternoons at the Mardi-Bob Lanes in Poughkeepsie, where as a child I threw many a gutter ball.

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Of course, there have been technological changes since then. At the HoeBowl, the balls return in a few seconds, without that impatient wait to see your sphere spit out by the rotating machinery before you throw the second ball of each frame. Scoring no longer relies on pencil, paper and mental arithmetic. Scores appear automatically on screens overhead, calculated by a machine that detects how many pins have been left standing.

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