By Rosalie Tirella
RIP Colonial Bowling on Mill Street, Worcester.
It was my world: Green Street and the sweet Golub brothers (always a club sandwich for a homeless guys!) and BOWLING! 🎳 at Colonial bowling with Uncke Mark and Aunt Mary and their three kids. Almost every weekend Uncle Mark drove his big shiny gold Elektra up tobour Lafayette Street three decker and we kids (Ma following) would run diwnstairs to hop in the car, sit on our older cousins laps and this carload of kids and adults laughing, talking, would make the drive to Colonial. To bowl with little kid friendly little balls. Ma and my sisters loved to bowl – it was a little too boring for me. As I grew into teenhood, I opted out. Ma and my sisters still went running down those stairs – to bowl! They loved it – Bapy watched it on TV! The pros! My Uncle Fred was in a bowling alley – the one his shop sponsored. All the Woo factories and mills had them! I was out of step with Anerica – for so nany years Colonial Bowling’s huge cement parking lot FILLED UP – TOTALLY! – with cars and antsy kids! And some serious bowlers like my uncke and his buddues. They had their own shiny bowling balls, cool vinyl bowling ball carrier bags, cloths, wrist bands … it was its own subculture.
Mostly working class. Not hip and cool the way bowling is today – often with cool bars, artisan beers, chi chi food made bu chi chi chefs. Even bands playing in the bar.
🎳We had none of that! Man, we bowled! We got our food – our sustanabce – from the long row of candy, peanut, snack-dispensing machines! Pull that clear plastic knob – plunk, dropped yoyr OH HENRY candy bar. (Ma’s fave.)
🎳Half of America – all our backyard mechanics – all of America’s Hee Haw tv watchers and Betty Crocker cooks bowled. No irony in it for us. But the educated crowd looked down on us hayseeds …
🎳No matter! My cousin, who grew up to become a doctor, LOVED TO BOWL. WAS SO SERIOUS ABOUT HIS STRIKES AND SPARES. My sweet Aunt Mary spoiled her youngest child, with the blocked ear, no ear lobe, unable to hear in tgat ear! Go, Jeff, go! she’d holler as her little prince bowled. And she’d clap like crazy – even for a few pins knocked down.
🎳We were Polish immigrants who had internalized the American Dream⭐⭐⭐🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸…so we were fiercely competitive. With our neighbors, classmates – each other. My jock kid sister always wanted to beat Jeff. She got plenty of spares – and strikes. In the zone … concentrating so hard, staring at the pins yards ahead down that shiny pristine lane. The owner – I remember: Always so serious and respectful of all his HINDREDS of customers – the kids and the league players. I remember him giving us our special no skid bowling shoes – rentals. Cool color green (or was it red?) on beige…
🎳Bowling was COMMUNITY. The talk in the factory lunch room, the giddy anticipatory chatter at the breakfast table at the Tirella house, Ma frying up her special weekend French toast for us kids – always cutting the bread in quarters and sprinkling them with granulated sugar when done Magic! Would my kid sister beat Jeff? Would my other kid sister get some spares? Would chubby Rosalie STOP ROLLING THOSE GUTTER BALLS?!
🎳As the decades rolled by and I would drive by Colonial I noticed fewer and fewer cars in their parking lot – even on weekends. Finally just around 10 on a Saturday!!! I felt sad … for the owner and the city. Everyone was on FB or Instagram, hiding inside before all kinds of social media platforms and TV choices…streaming their lives away, alone, locked down in their homes.
🎳We had it different when I was young – We played outdoors with all kinds of sketchy friends, we got beat up! and limped home, we bowled gutter balls – AND YET EVERY DAY WE WENT OUT INTO THE WORLD. To have fun, explore, take our lickin’s … DO SO MUCH WITH FAMILY AND TEAMS AND THE GIRLS CLUB.
🎳And we bowled! Love you, Colonial!🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳♥️♥️: