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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Tenpin Game

Perhaps you've heard the saying, "If our town didn't have a bowling alley, we'd have no culture at all."

Zion Bowling Lanes with Zion Hotel visible in the distance, circa 1955. Press Association Inc. photograph. Notice the contrast between the modern, streamlined bowling alley building and the historic Zion Hotel (built 1901) in the background. Dunn Museum. 

Bowling became hugely popular in the U.S. in the 1950s thanks to television. Broadcasts of “Championship Bowling” and “Bowling for Dollars" had wide viewership. 

Ninepin bowling was brought to the New World by European settlers. The origin of the tenpin game in the U.S. is unknown, but by the late 1800s it was prevalent in Illinois, Ohio and New York.
The Ackerman Hotel in the Fox Lake area, shown at left about 1930, was one of many local hotels that had a bowling alley. The Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake also had an alley in its basement.

I love the sound of bowling, the way the ball hits the pins with a crash. One of my clearest recollections of bowling as a child was on vacation with my family in the 1970s. I stood at the line and found my mark, swung my arm back, and the ball went flying off my hand and into everyone waiting their turn!

This bowling-themed purse is from the Museum's permanent collections. It was used in the Prairie View area (now Lincolnshire) around 1962, no doubt on bowling night.

Bowling alley at Fort Sheridan, circa 1970. (left)

The Women's Army Corps (WAC) bowling team, Fort Sheridan, 1959. From left to right: Master Sergeant Ruth Jacobs, Sergeant First Class Betty Bodell, Sergeant First Class Lydia Lambrecht, Major Ethel Martin, Sergeant First Class Marilyn Barahill.


Anonymous said...

Bowling and history, how can you go wrong...what if
abe (happy 200th) Lincoln made bowling pins instead of fence rails? Seriously though, did the army women have to pass on the beer frame because they were in uniform?

Anonymous said...

It does make you wonder if good ol' Abe would've been president had he taken up bowling!