2 more deaths in the family

This morning’s Asbury Park Press brought the sad news that Memory Lanes, my local bowling alley, burned to the ground.


If you’re good at shooting billiards, you’re a shark. Pool halls have a dark, sinister, poetic panache associated with them. Being good at pool can get you laid. Have you seen The Hustler? Or its sequel, The Color of Money? But nobody gives a shit if you’re a good bowler. Least of all, hot girls who wear a lot of black and like to hang out in tough neighborhoods. And I don’t know why that is. To me, they’re two sides of the same coin.

Isn’t that a great name for a bowling alley? Memory Lanes? Bowling is perceived as a low-brow form of entertainment but it’s always been a part of my life. There aren’t many things I did as a child that I occasionally still do today. I use to take 7-Year Old Daughter to Memory Lanes. We had a nice time but now it’s gone.

The second passing came courtesy of The Recording Academy, the association that bestows Grammy Awards. Polka music has been quietly eliminated as a category. It’s considered irrelevant. My father was an empty, useless man but one thing he did right was play polka music when I was growing up.

On Sunday mornings we use to watch the locally produced Polka Varieties on TV. It was like (and I’m not kidding about this) American Bandstand for polka music. The host was Paul Wilcox (Paul Whitesocks) and instead of attractive teens dancing to the latest rock hits, there was a live band, usually Frankie Yankovic, and the dancing audience was comprised of extremely old people.

Laugh if you want, but it takes a great deal of dexterity to dance the polka. Especially for women! They have to perform all those complicated steps backwards. Yankovic was a virtuoso of the button box. The Beer Barrel Polka! Who Stole the Keeshka Polka! And the polka guaranteed to offend at least half your audience, The Too Fat Polka.

I don’t want her.
You can have her.
She’s too fat for me.

Look, obviously, I’m not trying to insinuate that a bowling alley and an antiquated form of music meant as much to me as my recently deceased mother. Don’t be an idiot. But things pass out of your life and you feel a void, even if it’s a small one.

* * *

This was the first Saturday that I didn’t have my usual afternoon phone chat with my mom. It was weird. I called her number so I could listen to her recorded greeting but the number had already been disconnected.

6 thoughts on “2 more deaths in the family

  1. I’ve been there myself pal. I lost my favourite bar and cafe within weeks of each other. The void never gets filled.I’m also sorry to hear about your Ma.Keep the faith.

  2. May late wife tried to teach me to polka. You can do the polka steps to many country & western songs, did you know? Polka and fox-trot are the two staples of any rural hall dance in Alberta.Odd, but as I started the paragraph about polka’s, and before I scrolled down to see the lyrics, the “Too Fat Polka” popped into my head. Weird.My second daughter loves to go bowling and goes with her friends now and then. In our town, the bowling alley has had a tough time making a go of it. It opens, it closes, it opens, it closes, changing owners every time. (Same with bingo nowadays. Can’t compete, I guess.)Do you think it’s an odd thing about our culture where we grow up and leave home to make our own way. I mean, really leave home? I’ve wondered, at times, how it came to pass that I’ve lived a long ways from my parents (now just my mom) for most of my life. Same for my in-laws. I know quite a few people who still live in the area where they were born. They see their parents weekly, if not more frequently. I wonder why it wasn’t something for me; why I had to get away.I think I’ll call my Mom today.

  3. i was bummed on a trip back home to find the old drive in movie theatre had been razed and replaced with a strip mall… yeah, we needed more nail salons, tanning establishments and payday loansharks…but bowling? The Big Lebowski did a little to bring it back as ‘cool’, and both of my sprogs will hit the lanes sometimes out of sheer boredom… Sorry you lost the favorite haunts…

  4. yepp yepp. sorry :/ i just wrote down and deleted the last of her numbers at a gaudy grunge coffee shop with loud heavy metal playing in the background. i thought it was the appropriate mood setting for such a gloomy event. it was hard to delete the pictures but i didn’t think id be able to get them off of the phone anyway. It didn’t really hit me until i saw my moms, yours and my number in the phone.

  5. Nurse: Thanks for the hug. You really do work in the healing arts.Jimmy: Actually, I still remember your post from when your pub closed its doors. It was, as are many of your posts, memorableRob: That was one of the most entertaining comments I’ve ever been left. Thanks, tons.Daisy: That’s the thing; the sprogs will bowl to relieve boredom. Kewl kids will shoot pool to enhance their image.N: It’s going to be a while before I delete the photos. The number was bad enough.

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