One of our goals for this trip from The List was to bowl at vintage bowling lanes in out of the way locations. There is something about a local lanes that is true Americana.
While we were out for a run last night we came across the Ball Sq. Bowling Alley in Somerville MA. We decided to poke our heads in for a peek, with the intention to come back the next day to bowl.
The place turned out to be a vintage candlepin bowling alley built about 1964 that we were told is rarely open but you could picture generations of Somerville locals playing a few games here after work. The Mystic Learning Center was having a fund raiser for their summer program and offering games at the very reasonable $2 a string.
I was so caught off guard by the amazingness of this place that I sorta turned into a bit of a dorky fanboy. (Becca can attest) I grew up bowling at theWamesit Bowling Lanes in Tewksbury, MA which had a sort of early sixties chrome design straight off a Buick. It was right next to the Wamesit drive-in theater, and as you can imagine, the memory of both now sit under a Home Depot parking lot. On Saturday mornings we’d watch the Boston area’s best bowlers on Candlepins for Cash (video) with Host Bob Gamere before moving on to Creature Double Feature (video), but I digress…
Florence, or Fluffy to her friends, from the youth center and her fellow bowlers invited us to play and after about 10 seconds of conflict we scrapped the run we were halfway through and put on some bowling shoes.
The alley is simple, with only 10 lanes, but has some deco-ish details on the ball returns that added a touch of character. If you haven’t played candlepin before, you quickly learn you have to really whiz it down there to get action from flying pins, and once you knock pins down, they stay on the lane. Playing the “dead wood” is fair.
The youth center has two big fund raisers yearly, one at the bowling lanes, and one at a local bar. If you’d like to know when the next one is at either location, drop an email to fluffy [a] mysticlearningcenter.org or mlcenter [a] verizon.net