It’s Thursday evening, April 30th, here at the bowling column desk, a.k.a. my dining room table and I have some fantastic news to share with you bowling enthusiasts. The problem is that by the time you read this, you will already know. Nonetheless, I am happy to announce that at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning (which was Friday, May 1st) Thunderbird Lanes will be opening their doors to open play bowlers for the first time since the middle of March.

The bowling center has made provisions to abide by the guidelines set forth by the City of Lawton and the State of Oklahoma to protect the customers as well as their staff.

Thunderbird Lanes wishes to emphasize that they will only allow a limited number of people in the bowl-ing center at one time in order to comply with the 6’ social distancing safety precaution.

In addition please note that by opening for business, this does not include league bowling.

The regulations for “organized sporting activities” has not been lifted therefore, providing everything goes well and we all behave, it looks to be a few more weeks before league play will resume, just to be on the safest side possible.

Keeping safety first, Thunderbird Lanes along with the league officials from their three senior leagues waiting to return announced that none of those leagues would resume league play until after June 1st, which as of right now, seems to be an all clear date. But we all know that could change.

Those leagues include the Socialites (Mon), the Entertainers (Wed) and the Goodtimes (Thurs).

The Early Birds, TNT and Guys and Dolls are waiting for answers before setting a return date.

Please understand that this is all still speculation as no one really knows what will happen next week but for now, at least we have a plan and are hopefully moving forward.

On the Lighter Side

I had a wonderful visit last week with a gentleman who reads the bowling news on a regular basis and who enjoyed last week’s article about bowling back in the late 40’s and early 50’s.

So much so that he offered to help us out by taking us into the 60’s as he was the President of the Lawton Fort Sill Bowling Association for 1958-59, Dr. Jack Spencer.

I cannot even begin to share the accomplishments and achievements that Dr. Spencer has to his credit including, but not limited to, being shot down in WWII, surviving a POW camp, flying missions all around the world, probably more than once and then settling here in Lawton and opening a Chiropractic clinic at 405 C Avenue, now Edwards, all prior to Dec. 1952.

After settling in, Dr. Spencer found bowling and loved it. The difference between then and now, when asked what kind of bowling ball he rolled he could not recall, nor could he remember where it came from, only that it was black, just like everyone else’s, and it was drilled conventional.

That would never happen today but in his case, it was quite possibly a mail order, large, medium or small drill that you could trade with your buddies because odds on any two being the same or fitting properly were slim to none.

But it didn’t matter.

People bowled for the fun of it, some a little better than others but mostly, just like today, for the fun, recreation, activity and to socialize, now with courtesy distancing, with their friends and with other bow-lers.

Dr. Spencer started bowling at Sooner Lanes on Sheridan Road before moving down to the new bowling center, Thunderbird Lanes, back in 1959.

How he found the time I will never know but Dr. Spencer bowled league on Monday, Wednesday and Fri-day nights and shared memories of bowling the Sunday Sweeper that was ran by Jerry and Norma Hill before they became managers/owners of Thunderbird Lanes.

Dr. Spencer became very involved in the civic community and was an active member of several organiza-tions all at one time, prompting him to organize what he said he felt was his greatest accomplishment, the area‘s first and only, that I am aware of, Civic Bowling League.

Dr. Spencer went out and recruited twelve teams of bowlers, all men, to bowl for their respective civic or fraternal organization.

For example, teams from a Sunday Constitution Civic Club News clipping from August 25th of 1974 showed teams for the season as being the American Legion Post 29, Noon Optimists, Knights of Co-lumbus Lodge No. 1287, Breakfast Optimist, Noon Lions, Knights of Columbus General Tinker Lodge, Air Force Reserve, American Legion Post 193 and Elks Lodge.

After what is believed to be a twelve year run, the Civic league folded but it made quite an impact on Dr. Spencer for him to say that these were his happiest times and brightest moments, bowling with his crew in the Civic Bowling League.

If you have ever bowled league, you know exactly where he is coming from, 48 years later and its all still the same, good times, good friends and memories to last a lifetime.

In closing Dr. Spencer made note of his motto, “95 and still alive” but said that he would need a new one when he turns 96 on July 7th, lucky numbers to him being the 7th month and the 7th day.

Well here’s a motto for you Dr. Spencer, how about “Knocking down sticks at 96” and we will be happy to sign you up for a bowling league.

Thank you for your service, thank you for your support and thank you for sharing your bowling story.

Tip of the Week

This week’s tip is simple, get ready to start back up by practicing you Air High Fives, you know, when you throw you hand upwards in the direction of another person without making contact with them.

I feel this to be the most difficult challenge for bowlers as we give high fives to people we don’t even like if they do something impressive on the lanes. (You know what I mean!)

So get those “Good Job” thumbs up and “Hands in the Air” gestures ready, we are going to need them.

Note: I’m told that the alternative is tougher lane conditions where thumbs up and high fives will not be needed. So, fair warning, let’s learn to keep our hands to ourselves please. We are going to be having enough trouble learning to bowl again as it is.

In the meantime, be safe and tune in next week for more bowling news.

(The Honor Roll is pending the return of league play in the Lawton-Fort Sill area.)

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