Sunday bowling and time with Dad | In The Day

The following is written by columnist Jen Anderson:

Before The Summit on Enumclaw’s Roosevelt Avenue was a church, it was a bowling alley. Back in 1980-something when I was in afternoon kindergarten at Kibler Elementary, I frequented this bowling alley once a week with my dad. There was some sort of dairy farmer league in the mornings. So, after the chores were done and before the afternoon milking started, the Plateau dairymen gathered for some friendly competition.

I absolutely loved this day of the week. My little brother had recently ruined my reign as only child and this weekly date with my dad gave me some well deserved attention. Or at least a break from that crying, drooling baby. My dad would let me get a Twix bar from the vending machine (adjacent to the cigarette machine.) I would munch on this tasty treat swinging my little legs from the plastic seats near the lane where I would watch my dad and his friends tally strikes, spares and gutterballs while they kept score by hand. They would discuss popular farm topics like the price of milk, mastitis and manure-pump maintenance.

Following the final frame, my dad and I would stop at McDonald’s to fuel up for my rigorous afternoon of kindergarten. This was before the days of “value meals” so my dad had to actually order fries and a drink to go with his Big Mac or Filet-O-Fish. Thank heavens they had already released the Happy Meal, so I was able to enjoy my cheeseburger, fries and weird orange-flavored drink with one easy order.

When our meal was finished, I would gather up my new Ronald McDonald plastic hand puppet and head for the truck so we could make our way to the kindergarten building (aforementioned plastic puppet caused much grief for my mother when she found me playing “vet” with my stuffed animals at a later date.)

These days made me feel like a celebrity when arriving at school, since I didn’t have to ride the bus with my friends. We would pull up to the Kibler kindergarten building and park behind the bus while we waited for my teacher to come fetch her class for the afternoon session.

I’m not sure how long this bowling league went on, but my mornings at the bowling alley were obviously discontinued as I graduated on to my higher education in first grade at Kibler Elementary.

Although the bowling alley has been closed since the late ‘90s, I still meet my dad there about once a week. The pool tables have been removed, there are no slick polished wooden lanes and the bar is closed. Instead of snack and cigarette machines in the lobby, you can find cookies and coffee. Rather than congregating for a weekly game of bowling, folks now come to hear a good sermon, participate in worship and fellowship with their neighbors. I’m sure some of the churchgoers still discuss the price of milk, mastitis and manure-pump maintenance, or at least something equally exciting.

My dad no longer to takes me to McDonald’s afterward, but occasionally I am able to wrangle an invite to my parents’ house for lunch or dinner following the Sunday service. I’ve been able to upgrade from a Happy Meal to steak (contrary to the editor’s unfounded vegan accusations) and I’ve traded that weird orange drink for a glass of wine, but I still absolutely love this day of the week.