Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 22, 2010

Pinsetter

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

One of the many jobs I had during college was that of a pinsetter.  It was primarily a night job since that is the busy time at bowling alleys.  During the 1950s many bowling alleys did not have automated pin setting machines.  This bowling alley did not have one or I would not have had a job.  However, we  did have racks for setting the pins and it was not necessary to step into the alley and manually set each pin.

The pins were collected and placed individually in this large rack which could be pushed down on the alley and a release was pulled to set the pins in place.  Setting pins was an exhausting job.  I was assigned, as was every pinsetter,  two alleys.  There was a perch between the two to sit  while the bowling balls came rolling down the alley. It was not a resting place, but a place of protection from the flying pins.  Hopefully, the bowlers in the two lanes did not bowl at the same time so that you could be setting the pins in one while the other lane was being used.

Pinsetters were also called “pin boys”   by those who wanted to recognize us as someone lower than themselves.  It was a term used when they would shout at us for faster service.  I used to  joke that “pin boys”  lift tons of weights, mostly 3 pounds and 6 ounces at a time.  That was the weight of each pin.  Imagine the weight.  Each bowler in an average game will roll the ball toward at least 100 pins.  Now multiply that by several games by a multiple number of bowlers in an evening.  In addition, calculate the exertion of pushing the rack to the floor, and lifting every bowling ball and placing it on the incline to return it to the bowler.  The ball weighs between 8 and 16 pounds depending on the choice of the bowler.  So you can see, it was an exhausting job. Perhaps we were slower as the evening hour advanced. 

I wanted you to understand the job in order to properly hear my perspective on certain bowlers.  The pins were set and I would move quickly  to the other lane to pick up the pins, place them in the rack, lift the ball and place it the incline so that it would return.  As I would  set the pins, I would move quickly to the perch as the bowler on the other lane was usually rolling his second ball.  This routine was often interrupted by the attitude and spirit of certain bowlers.

Often there were bowlers who would shout at us, and then it was as if we were the target rather than the  pins.  Certain of these bowlers would roll the ball with all the force they could muster.  That fast ball would hit those pins and they would fly all directions.  They would fly up to that perch, and even into the other lane where I might be setting pins.  The pins were wooden and often they would splinter from the force of the ball hitting them.  It became a dangerous place when such a bowler desired to create this danger.

It was always upsetting to all of us who were working.  I was especially irritated when they would laugh or shout at us.  I soon learned to profile these bowlers.  They were either with several others fellows or with several young ladies.  I believe they were trying to express a macho attitude that made them look like a “big man.”  There seemed to be a sadistic attitude on the part of these bowlers.  Were they seeking pleasure in hurting other people as if they would win an award from those watching them?  Or were they acting this way at the moment to try to prove to others a sense of superiority?  Or what they just trying to impress others with  what they believed was some superhuman power?  I don’t know, but this I do know.  There is no place for this spirit or attitude.  These may have been fine young men on most occasions, but at the bowling alley with friends, they were certainly something different!

There are those who will seek to embarrass or even hurt others for their own pleasure or recognition.  We all are repulsed by such a behavior.  Yet, many times some of us might possibly mistreat others unaware.  We would never intentionally be cruel or unkind, but just in our body language we may convey at attitude that is not characteristic of us.  In an attitude of judgment or self-protection from getting involved with a need that a person may have, we turn away.  How do they see us then?  Do they assume we have an attitude of superiority?  Do they see us as uncaring people?  Do they feel ignored?  As I made a judgment on those bowlers, whether my judgment was right or wrong, I must guard myself on how I treat others and how they perceive my attitude or actions.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else . . . .”  (Luke 18:9)   “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”   (Proverbs 8:13)  “You then, why do you judge your brother?  Or, why do you look down on your brother?”  (Romans 14:10)  “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you . . . .”  (Matthew 7:12)

Lawson

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1 Comment »

  1. Fascinating insight into a long gone era-and, a good insight into our hearts. Thanks

    Comment by jjr — February 24, 2010 @ 10:58 am | Reply


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