Bowling  -  Poetry in Motion


The Bowling History column takes a strange departure from its normal content this month as the topic is bowling poetry. That's right. Poetry!!

You are probably wondering what bowling has to do with poetry, besides maybe, that Brian Voss' bowling style might be considered poetry in motion. Well, that is NOT what this column is about.

Through my research of local bowling news, I came across not one, or even 2, but 4 poems on local bowling! I will describe or share parts of these poems with you for your enjoyment. I will conclude with a modern update to the oldest bowling poem I discovered.

The last of the poems to appear was written by Frank Mazzone who was secretary of the Cross Town League. It appeared in the Kokomo Tribune on May 4, 1958. It was dedicated to his wife and entitled "Tuesday Night Widow". In five verses, Mazzone writes about the ups and downs of bowling. He explains the seasonal bowling cycle from its start in September until the end when everyone is looking forward to the start of next season. (The season must not have seemed so long in 1958!)

Another poem appeared on April 26, 1940. The author was only identified as Captain R. L. C. It was entitled "About Bowling - That Easy Game". It's a story about a bowler who could shoot 600 series "with the greatest of ease". But, over time, the bowler begins to lose his hook and aim. Its' closing lines are

"Shoot hard baby!" is still his yell

But his bowling has gone to ... well, well well.

The third poem was published on March 9, 1939 following the death of Pearl Cornthwaite. Cornthwaite was one of the top local women bowlers and active in the Kokomo Womens Bowling Association and served as its Secretary. Organized bowling for women locally was less than five years old. The following poem appeared shortly Cornthwaite's sudden death from a brain hemorrhage. It was written by Mrs. Harry Jackson - Pearl's mother. Cornthwaite's nickname was "Twinkle Toes" and "Strikes and Spares" was the newspaper bowling column at that time.

Last year when I'd pick up the paper
And turn to the Strikes and Spares
I'd smile as I'd look for the score of "Twinkle Toes"
For I'd know her name would be there.
But now when I pick up the paper,
I still turn to the Strikes and Spares,
And I smile, but oh, with a heartache
For I know her name is not there.
But though you cannot hear her voice,
And her smile from you is gone,
When I think how she loved her bowling pals,
I know her spirit still carries on.
And so when those balls get contrary,
And won't roll down the alley just right,
Close your eyes a second, listen and you will hear,
"Now get out there girls and strike!"

The fourth and final poem I discovered appeared way back on December 11, 1917 in the Kokomo Dispatch. It was entitled "Under the Alley Lights" and is repeated here. The author is unknown, but was obviously a bowler. It mentions top bowlers Carl Maudlin, Claude Jones and Homer Kilbuck.

"A"stands for the alleys
About sixty by four,
They used to be greasy,
They are not any more.

"B"stands for that Brooklyn,
Of "cross over" fame,
Makes averages very thin,
And loses many a game.

"C"stands for Sir Carl
For Maudlin is his name,
And we all agree
He's king of the game.

"D"stands for a double,
Well, quite often we don't
Yet who would court trouble
By wagering we won't.
"E"stands for error
A bowlers chief woe,
If it wasn't for these
Oh, how we would go.

"F"stands for foul,
So watch you step,
Stay back of the line,
Or lose all you "rep".

"G"stands for groove,
Also known as "slat"
Say what does it prove
Those scores which are not?

"H"stands for head pin,
It's not to be shunned,
Before you should begin
Just look at Rule No. 1.
"I"stands for interests in
The game's getting fine;
Not only out West
But down all the line.

"J"stands for Herr Jones,
Late of the Pottery clan,
A king-pin star was he
And a real sort of a man.

"K"stands for Kilbuck,
As you might well know;
And may the Toledo Kid
No more spares blow.

To be continued (maybe)

The author never did finish his poem. So to make things complete, I thought I would spruce up the holiday season and finish the job, 80 years late.

"L"is for Lowry
Bowling was his life
He gave so much in return
May others see the Light.

"M"is for muscle
Won't help much in this game
You must stay relaxed
Or your scores will be lame.

"N"is for the new technology
That's changing this game
Now everyone can throw a hook
And pursue their chance at fame.

"O"is for one
The top participation sport
You know bowling's great fun
Go out and knock down some more!

"P"is for patience
You can't strike all the time
So pick up your spares
Until you find the right line.

"Q"is for the questions
That all bowlers raise
When they leave a ringing corner pin
And stare in a daze.

"R"is for Robert W. Thornton
Don't recognize the name?
We all know him as "Tex"
A local legend of the game.

"S"is for Stanley and Stewart
Beth and Deb are their names
They're tops for the women
And shoot a lot of big games.

"T"is for Dave Turner
Secretary/Treasurer you know
His motto is "more speed"
He can't throw it slow!

"U"is for ugly
Which some people say
Describe Jack Bender's strikes
I saw a few today.

"V"of course is for victory
To which competitors aspire
Oh, to win a City Championship
That goes down to the wire!

"W"is for We Care
It comes from the heart
Mike Butler started the Pledge Bowl
For bowlers to do their part.

"X"is for excitement
(I'll take some literary relief")
The pin action you can get today
Is almost beyond belief!

"Y"is for you youth
They're the future of the game
We have some great young stars
Keep watching for their names.

"Z"is for zilch
There are no letters left
You're probably thankful
Cause my poetry's not the best!

Hope you enjoyed the change of pace this month. Finally, you don't have to tell me. I'm not a poet. And I know it! (Oops. There I go again!)

Have a wonderful holiday season!