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
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,"
"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