Several months ago I went bowling with a blogger buddy, and it brought back great memories, some of which I had nearly forgotten.
I had a great time. I haven’t been bowling in decades. The blogger buddy is fairly regular at it, with their own set of bowling balls. Yes I said, “set,” as in different weights and hole types for differing lanes and needs. Gulp.
I did okay. Re-learner’s luck for the first round, a mixture of gutter balls and strikes. A slightly poorer second round but more consistent throws with fewer gutters and fewer strikes, but still a few of each. By the third round my arm was giving out so it was even worse. My friend did not do their best I am sure, it having been a little while since their last game. But the friend did well and I am sure if felt good to knock the dust off their bowling shoes.
But it wasn’t about the games, it was about the company and I enjoyed the hell right out of myself. As we bowled, we talked and supported each others game. The bowling brought up – an – – old – – – memory . . .
Fade in: Jimi Hendrix rifting, “Purple Haze.”
In ‘72 Columbia got its first FM Stereo Rock radio station, WCOS. It is now Country but for most of the 70’s if you were listing to radio and into rock your radio was glued to 97.5. It had been put together by Woody Windham. He had been an AM DJ staple for years and he still works the radio waves today.
In ‘73 he worked up a promotion deal with a fast food chain and a downtown bowling alley. Every Saturday morning for the entire summer was “Bowling with Woody.” The doors opened at 9am and for one buck you could bowl from nine until noon and if you played your cards right, well threw your balls right, you probably walked out with a free lunch to boot. So every Saturday morning Smedly would roll up to my place in his beat up 1961 Ford Fairlane at around eight in the morning. There are only so many lanes in a bowling alley so you had to get there early if you wanted to get in.
Let me describe Woody Windham. It’s easy really. Think Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. Like Fever, he was tall, about 6’3″. Full beard, but not long. Long hair pulled back in a pony tail, though brownish-red instead of Fever’s blonde/brown/white. Exactly the same spacey, probably loaded, hippy, not quite all there attitude. Now take about 50 pounds off Dr. Fever and you have Woody. More than six feet and maybe 150 pounds soaking wet.
While folk bowled, he would DJ from a booth set up right behind the center lanes. The prime spot to be though Smedly and I got there only once the entire summer. During the course of the three hours he would come over to this lane or that and make a bet. Something like, “If you get a strike I’ll give you a coupon for a free cheeseburger.” So as I said, if you threw your balls right you could walk away with a free lunch. Deal alert! One buck gets three hours of bowling and lunch. Duh! However . . .
The first time Smedly and I went Bowling with Woody we had been playing for maybe 40 minutes, having a great time bowling and listening to Woody do his DJ thing, rocking the building with great tunes old FM style, not too many breaks or chatter and nice long tracks. We had gotten our buck’s worth 30 minutes in. Suddenly Woody pops up at our lane. He makes a deal with Smedly. “If I don’t knock down more pins than you in one roll, you get a free burger. You go first.”
Smedly lines himself up and lets loose the mightiest monster his 135 pounds, skinny, assless frame could muster. Yeah, we were both 98 pound weakling nerds back then. But it was a descent throw. Sadly, three pins refused to fall. But hey, Woody is an old hopped up hippy, and a toothpick to boot. Seven out of ten stood a chance.
Woody picks up his ball. He does not place his fingers. No. He palms it. Just holds the damn thing in the flat of his hand. Holding the ball a bit out in front of himself, he eyes the pins and with a careful, deliberate but firm roll, he leaves one pin standing. Little did we know, he was toying with us.
Then he says to me, “If I don’t get a strike, how about some free french fries?” “Sure.” Again he palms his ball. This time he holds it behind his back. His long, lanky legs take three giant steps and WHAM! He let fly an F’ing ICBM! The ball touched down right at the edge of the left gutter, arched its way toward the edge of the right gutter and hooked right down between the One and Three pins. The rack exploded!
That pot-head, toothpick of a guy could throw that ball anywhere he wanted it, and with power. It was amazing to watch, especially with his unique palming style and the way he worked his skinny frame, and yet would hit the pins so hard it truly sounded like the thunder of the Norse gods playing ninepins. I guess that is how he came up with the promotional idea. Mixing your favorite pleasures must be a fun job to have.
Woody would visit each lane several times during each Saturday. He made sure no one walked away empty handed. We always left with at least part of a free lunch and hours of fun in our heads from our day bowling with Woody.