If the shoes fits ...

June 29, 2003

Losing Kona Lanes brings bittersweet feelings to many who have

considered the local bowling alley as one of the time-honored

treasures which has been shared over the years.

When I arrived at the Pilot in January of 1964 as a "stringer,"

perhaps best described as a "part-timer," one of the hot topics of

the day was Kona's general manager, Dick Stoeffler, who had recently

bowled back-to-back 300s competitively on Kona's lanes.


The feat, coupled with Stoeffler's accommodating personality, gave

the bowling alley a magical aura.

The magic faded over the years and Kona's fate is sealed. Now just

dust and memories.

For myself, however, Stoeffler and his 300s take a backseat to

recollections of victory over my ex-boss, Bill Lobdell.

It was truly a Mutt and Jeff deal with my editor, who learned of

my experience as a bowler during a casual conversation.

I had averaged 179 with a high series of 679 (three games) in the

summer of '57 with my pop in a mixed league in Pasadena, and claimed

a high series trophy in Riverside on the final night of league in the

summer of '62 with a 646 when our Graybar Electric of San Bernardino

team swept to win the team title by one game.

For a once-a-week bowler it was better than most, but, of course,

far from the big boys. After that, priorities sent the ball, bag and

shoes to the garage and various trophies went about the business of

gathering dust.

Not long after that I found myself at the Daily Pilot and in due

course (about three decades), Lobdell entered the scene.

Lobdell, the boy wonder at the Pilot, an All-CIF caliber water

polo player when at Long Beach Wilson High School, some 25 years my

junior, tall, trim and very confident in all endeavors, was truly an

imposing adversary. Besides, he was my boss.

And, I would find to my dismay, knowledge of the game and

experience will do little to offset 35 years of rust.

"I've never bowled and you don't get any practice for this,"

insisted Lobdell.

"Of course," I responded.

It was around 1997 or so and with the big match coming up in about

two weeks, I dug my bag out of the garage only to find the ball

bulging out of it, the seams in the bag wasted by time. The shoes,

still very pliable, looked OK, but the ball felt like it had added

some pounds over the years, about at the same ratio as myself.

"No problem," I told myself. "He won't see the bag, anyway."

And my shoes, which were my pop's, had that same great feel. They

were black, totally perforated, a very old-fashioned soft style. I

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