High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love at First Strike: My Valentine's Dance Party Will Bowl You Over!

  When we think of  

  Valentine's Day...  

  one special word  

  comes to mind.  


For my Valentine's dance this year I dusted off a stack of records that were popular around V-day during the 50s and early 60s. For decoration I tacked up some vintage pin-ups and print ads depicting guys and girls on bowling dates.

Vintage pin-Up by Art Frahm

If you're ready let's get the party started with
the King of Rock 'N' Roll. As my good buddy Karo
will tell you, too much Elvis is never enough!

 "Too Much" - Elvis Presley (Valentine's Day 1957) 

Some of my earliest bowling memories recall a time when establishments still employed human pinsetters. As I saw it, the pin boy had the coolest job in the world. Maybe he did!

Bowling alleys, as they were once called, began to change over to fully automatic pinsetting machines in 1946, but lanes I remember visiting in the 1950s at beach towns in Maryland and Jersey still used pin boys.

 "Magic Moments" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958) 

Vintage pin-up by Edward D'Ancona

 "Catch a Falling Star" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958) 

Vintage pin-up by Gil Elvgren

Something wonderful happened when I was eight years old. York's Suburban Bowlerama opened for business. Located atop South Queen Street Hill, the lanes were only a couple blocks from my home. Suburban Bowlerama quickly became one of my favorite hangouts.

My friends and I spent hot summer afternoons at the
Bowlerama striking, sparing, gutter balling, playing arcade
games and eating junk food. There was another reason why
we loved to hang out there. The place had one other thing
we could not get at home: air conditioning. In those days,
a/c was considered by many families, including mine, to be
a luxury rather than a necessity.

 "Peter Gunn" - Ray Anthony & Orchestra 
 (Valentine's Day 1959) 

 "Beyond the Sea" - Bobby Darin (Valentine's Day 1960) 

With the TV antenna on my roof pointed toward the south
I was able to pull in a strong signal from the three Baltimore stations, WMAR, WJZ and WBAL. Along with kiddie shows, horror movie hosts, dance parties, Colts football and Orioles baseball, I enjoyed televised bowling programs including the ones created and franchised by Bert Claster, the man who also gave us Romper Room, a show originally hosted by his wife. Remember Miss Nancy?

Vintage pin-up by Edward D'Ancona

Pinbusters and Bowling for Dollars, both of which involved regulation tenpin bowling, and Duckpins for Dollars, which used shorter pins and much smaller balls, both aired on Baltimore's NBC affiliate, WBAL Channel 11.

 "There's a Moon Out Tonight" - Capris 
 (Valentine's Day 1961) 

Vintage pin-up by Gil Elvgren

From 1960 to 1964 I loved to watch Make That Spare, the 15-minute program that featured top bowlers attempting
to make difficult spare combinations for cash prizes.

Don Carter was my favorite bowling celebrity.
I was awestruck by his skill and unusual technique.
Around Halloween 1961, Don became the first bowler
on Make That Spare to convert the very difficult
6-7-8-10 Grandma's Teeth super split, collecting
$18,000. That's the equivalent of a gazillion today!

Vintage pin-up by Edward D'Ancona

 "(Do the New) Continental" - Dovells (Valentine's Day 1962) 

Vintage pin-up by Bill Medcalf

 "Little Town Flirt" - Del Shannon (Valentine's Day 1963) 

 Wrong place - wrong time! 

My least favorite bowling memory was the night in 1966 when I pulled out of the Suburban Bowlerama parking lot in my VW but forgot to turn on my headlights. I got as far as Carlo's Pizzeria down the block before being pulled over by law enforcement. Seems the cops were on patrol that night looking for vandals who had recently smashed mailboxes in the vicinity. As luck would have it, the modus operandi used by the evildoers was to drive through neighborhoods with their headlights turned off.

 "Please remember, ossifer," 

 I pleaded.
 "All Dell rats are 

 presumed innocent until proven 

 guilty in a court of law!" 

  Have a Shady day...  

Vintage pin-up by Al Buell

  and a (Dell) ratty Valentine's day!  


  1. A great post, Shady! Wonderful tunes as well as terrific times brought back from the bowling alley. And I always, always get a kick out of Elvis. Is there anyone who doesn't?

    My husband and I used to bowl way back in the day, and used to be pretty good in league play. I drive by a large alley almost every day on my way home. Hmmmmm. You have given me an idea or two that we may need to visit that place before too long.

    Thanks for some great food for thought today!

    1. Hi, Shelly! I haven't been bowling in ages and often wonder how much the experience has changed. As we were reminded in the comedy movie Kingpin, some bowling establishments have turned into "discos" with loud music, strobe and colored light shows, subdued mood lighting, glow in the dark pins, etc. I hope you and your husband will revisit your local lanes and file a report on your blog. Thank you for coming to my V-Day dance party, dear Shelly, and have a wonderful day!

  2. Now then Shady, that was MY kind of post - I loved it. The vintage bowling pictures were wonderful,. and I loved all your music choices today, especially Perry Como, Bobby Darrin, and Del Shannon, who was always one of my favourites. I can still remember playing "Runaway" over and over (and over!) on my Dansette record player, by leaving the arm up. Elvis, of course, will always be the king. Great , fabby post my friend. Smooches to you for valentines day!

    1. Hallo and SMOOCHES right back at you, dear friend Thisisme! I'm breathing a sigh of relief knowing that you enjoyed the musical selections in today's post. You have told me a hundred times or more that your favorite band is Blunt Force Trauma but Perry Como is the next best thing, right? (LOL) My mom (mum) was a big Perry Como fan and I watched his program with her every week. "Beyond the Sea" contains one of the greatest big band instrumental segments of any pop recording, don't you agree? It thrills me to listen to it. Thank you sincerely for coming over for a look and a listen, dear friend Thisisme, and happy V-Day to you and your husband!

  3. That was a fun post, Shady! I've been in a bowling league at your old stomping grounds for over 20 yrs.
    Love those vintage pictures. Must admit, I don't dress like THAT to bowl!
    I enjoyed today's music too. I was very familiar with "Peter Gunn" just never knew the title!
    Btw, they tore down Carlos and "put up a parking lot"!
    You never said if you got outta your ticket or not????

    1. Hello again, dear Toni! Oh NO!!! They tore down the pizza place and put up a parking lot? And they call that progress? (LOL) Oh well, time marches on, as they say. Yessum, I did get a ticket for driving with my headlights out but luckily the police did not link me to the neighborhood vandalism. It's interesting to learn that you bowl at Suburban, the same lanes that I used as a kid. Did you ever convert the tough spare that Don Carter made on TV, the 6-7-8-10 Grandma's Teeth split? Does Suburban Bowlerama have bleachers and cheerleaders like I saw on Kingpin? (LOL) Does it blast dance music and have colored pins that glow in the dark? Just curious. Thank you very much for joining the fun today, dear friend Toni. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your husband and please come back here again soon!

    2. Ha! I've Gotten that Grandmas teeth split many times but could NEVER pick it up. I have picked up other split combos and surprised myself! There's No bleachers or cheerleaders like on Kingpin, just my fellow teammates! If you go to Suburban Bowlerama on the weekends, they do play very loud music (mostly Rock and Pop), there's disco-like lights and glow in the dark pins , it's very distracting but fun and certainly NOT for the serious bowler!

    3. I'm thinking the game or sport of bowling needed to reinvent itself and add all those bells and whistles in order to compete against all the new electronic games that young people have available to them now. It's just like the major theme parks. They all need to offer the latest rides and arcade games to remain competitive and profitable. Thanks for swinging by with the extra information, dear friend Toni, and have a happy Valentine's day!

  4. Happy Valentine's Day Tom. I hope you get to spend some quality time with Mrs. Shady! Now I want to go bowling! :)

    Emma x

    1. Hi, Emma! I'm happy to know this post planted the idea in your mind to go bowling. In my youth I bowled tenpins and duckpins. I even took a bowling course as part of physical education in college, but it's been decades since I've been on the lanes. I thank you, dear friend, for stopping by for a visit and I wish you and Donnacha a very happy Valentine's Day as well!

  5. Why, Shady, I think you really hit the jackpot today! I can't even be specific about one song or the other on your line-up, because they're all favorites of mine...from Perry Como to Peter Gunn! And, all on Valentine's Day, I remember all of them! I have to tell you though, 'Little Town Flirt' was a real favorite, I always liked Del Shannon's work. You just don't hear his songs much anymore.

    Great Elvis song too, will send Karo over this way. He, now is fighting the flu...ugh! Just when we thought he wouldn't get it! So, he's out for the count right now!

    And, the bowling posters...aha, that's why you REALLY hung out at the bowling alleys before time to go to the Shady Dell, lol! I always liked playing the pinball machines at the bowling alleys. It's the only place a girl could get away with playing pinball, and, there was a sign on them saying you had to be 16 years old to play, but no one paid any attention to who was playing them! Really great posters and advertisements Shady!

    This was great and colorful! I hope you and Mrs. Shady have a great Valentine's Day...I'll try to keep the chubby Cupid at bay! Take care, see you soon!♫

    1. Hello hello hello, dear Suzanne! Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that Karo's got the bug on the eve of V-day! Maybe if he hears Elvis singing "Too Much" it will be just the tonic he needs to bounce back. I'm delighted that you enjoyed my dance party this evening. I loved Del Shannon and his early death was indeed a tragedy. I must confess to you that I was hooked on pinball! I played every chance I got and was quite good at it. I started playing at that Bowlerama near my home and continued when the Dell became my new hangout. Thank you very much for coming, dear friend Suzanne. It's nice to know that you and I have some music and memories in common. I hope you'll give Karo some chicken soup before bed and that he'll be feeling much better by tomorrow. I wish both of you a very happy Valentine's day!

  6. What a fun post! I enjoyed all the vintage posters and pinup art. I haven't been bowling in quite awhile. Maybe I'm waiting for the grandkids to go with me. We can "bumper bowl." I'm a terrible bowler, but it's still fun.

    1. Hi, karen! Great idea for you and your grandkids to enjoy a couple hours of bumper bowling. Pop-up rails and inflatable tubes that keep the ball in play for children didn't exist years ago and I felt sorry for kids who rolled gutter balls each and every time. No fun in that! I'm sure you've seen some wacky things happen while bowling. I remember a young one rolling the ball so slowly that it came to a stop halfway down the lane. I remember people rolling the ball just as the guardrail came down to reset the pins, resulting in a terrible collision. I remember people losing their grip on the ball and tossing it down the adjacent lane or backward into the seating area. I remember a ball that ran into the gutter with such force that it jumped back on the lane and made a strike! (LOL) Hey, thank you very much, kind friend, for letting me bowl you over today. I'm glad you had fun and I wish you and your lucky L a very happy Valentine's day!

  7. Hi Shady! I love bowling and I loved reading this post. I had certainly heard of pin up girls before but never knew there were pin boys in bowling alleys! I must admit, I never thought of bowling as 'sexy' until I saw some of those playful print ads you shared! It's a bummer that you got pulled over by "The Law"...I hope they didn't give you too much trouble. I have forgotten to turn my headlights on many a time and, after remembering, have thought, "I'm lucky I didn't get pulled over!" (LOL)

    My son recently saw someone bowling on tv and has been asking to go. I am really looking forward to taking him. Bowling is so much fun!

    Happy Valentine's Day, Shady! :)

    1. Hi, Jenn June! I'm sure you and your little man would have loads of fun bowling. A bowling center attacks all the senses at once. I remember hot summer days when I walked up the hill to the one near my house. When I went through the revolving door and into the air conditioned interior it felt like heaven. The place had a pleasing aroma all its own, a mix of woods and leathers and urethane. Every couple of seconds the lanes came alive with the distinctive sound of a ball mowing down pins. Yes, I really hope you take you son bowling and write a post about the experience. Dear Jenn, I am so pleased that you came over for a visit and that you enjoyed this post of mine. It makes me happy to make you happy. Please stay well and have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

  8. I never looked like those girls when I went bowling - more's the pity! I did love bowling though. Our parents took us when we were kids and my husband and I took our kids and grandkids. Many hours of fun. I used to take my grandsons to one in Vancouver that was only $1 per person in the afternoon. They loved it.

    Loved the line-up today. Perry Como was a favorite of my Mom's; in fact she even has new CDs of his. He had such a smooth, beautiful voice. We watched "The Perry Como Show" every week.

    Wonderful to hear "Too Much" by Elvis. He is just one of the greatest. Bobby Darin was a fav of mine and I always loved "Beyond the Sea." And "Little Town Flirt" is such a fun song.

    "Bad Boys" is a great song. I love the guy's voice, the tune and the words. Glad you only got a ticket and not jail time. Happy Valentine's Day.

    1. Hi, dear Belle! Yessum, I got off with only a ticket and didn't have to do any hard time at Rikers. (LOL) I sat with my mom and dad and watched Perry Como every week. As I'm sure you recall music/comedy/variety hours were plentiful on televison in those days and I watched them all with my parents. As much as I loved bowling I honestly don't remember ever bowling with my parents, only with friends and cousins. I'm thrilled to have you here, dear friend Belle. I'm happy to know you enjoyed some of these tunes and I wish you a safe and happy weekend!

  9. Kathleen Mae SchneiderFebruary 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    This post certainly brought back memories for us, Tom. The music was of course very familiar. My sister lived on a property near Philadelphia owned by Perry Como's cousin and she met him once, saying he was as nice off screen as on. Bob said he was originally a barber; is that right?

    One of my very first dates was bowling with two other couples, one of which was my cousin and his girlfriend. I think it was at an alley on Market Street closer to North York. Anyway, it was my first time bowling, and I did everything you mentioned above. I threw gutter balls several times which necessitated my date "helping" me learn the right form. Then on my own for another try, I dropped the ball on the back swing and it went under the scoring table. The other couples had to get their feet up to prevent getting hurt. The next time the ball went in the right direction but went ver-r-ry slowly and never even got close to the pins before ending up in the gutter. After more instruction from my date who told me to throw with more force, I summoned all the strength I had and somehow threw my ball into the alley next to ours about the time the guy over there was winding up to throw his. I completely embarrassed myself, although it broke the ice and we had a very good time. As you can imagine there were many jokes about my being dangerous with a bowling ball. Even more amazing, the guy asked me out again! (He was very handsome, but alas, he liked Corvettes more than me...)

    I knew Bob bowled officially in a league with his family but after reading this post, he told me about a second rather dubious one. As a senior in high school, he bailed out of study hall every Thursday afternoon with his best friend to go bowling. His friend had a car to get them there- a 53 Chevy with a mint green top and darker green body. They ended up joining a league with a bunch of older housewives and had a great time without ever getting in trouble! I asked him if they didn't feel just a little out of place but he said they didn't because the women paid for the food! 44 years of marriage, and I never heard that story before.

    As for the pinups, Bob says to tell you he never saw anything like that at the bowling alley in his town, although he does remember bowling with a couple of wannabes...

    Thanks for the great post Tom. I tried to find something nice to say about the last one, but I came up short because of my ignorance about that kind of music. As Lincoln said, it's better to keep quiet and be suspected of being stupid than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Have a good weekend in sunny Florida.

    1. Your Abe Lincoln quote made me LOL, Kathleen! :) You don't fool me, dear friend. I happen to know that you are president of the Murderdolls Fan Club but you didn't want your mother to find out. (LOL)

      It's been raining in sunny Florida for three days but that's good news because we desperately need the moisture.

      Yessum! At an early age Perry Como was a skilled barber in Canonsburg, PA before building a career as a singer. Bing Crosby once described Como as "the man who invented casual."

      I'm delighted to know that you and Bob enjoyed my bowling theme and could relate so well. Thank you both for contributing anecdotes about your bowling experiences. I have always found that young men are happy to help a girl with her technique no matter what the game or sport. It is indeed a way to break the ice. Bowling certainly is meant to be fun, awkward moments, mishaps and all. (Be glad you didn't suffer wardrobe malfunctions like the ladies did in those vintage pin-ups.)

      Thank you again Kathleen and Bob for bringing so much to the party. Have a safe and happy weekend!

  10. What an awesome theme. Bowling was something that was not readily available to me growing up but like golf I used to watch the pros and wouldn't miss it if it was on. My personal bowling used to be pretty good the first frame and then it went south from there. Loved the tunes but really enjoyed the art work more. I love old scenes like that a lot. Great post.

    1. Hey, Odie! Welcome back, good buddy! When I was a kid I watched every golf and bowling program I could find on TV. I especially enjoyed watching the pros competing on Make That Spare, converting "the bucket," "the goal posts" and other challenging pin combos. I was quite a good bowler by the time I went to college. I remember one game starting out with seven strikes in a row. When I realized that a crowd of curious onlookers had gathered behind me, I choked and finished with a 189 or something in that range. In other words I am great at most sports unless somebody's watching me! (LOL) I'm glad you enjoyed my cheesecake pin-ups, too. Thanks so much for coming by, Odie, and give Rocky and Soffie a biscuit for me!


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