Alley camaraderieEvery Wednesday, a group of friends gathers at Uncle Bob’s Bowling Center to bloom. The bouquet of ladies share stories, time and high fives at the Iron River bowling alley.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Every Wednesday, a group of friends gathers at Uncle Bob’s Bowling Center to bloom. The bouquet of ladies share stories, time and high fives at the Iron River bowling alley.
“I like everything about it; the people, the camaraderie, the fun,” said Betty Tribbey, who joined the Late Bloomers league in 2000.
The Late Bloomers are serious about their bowling, but even more focused on each other. Whether planning a dress-up day, setting up a fundraiser for Special Olympics or just chatting about their week, they say, it’s the people who make it worthwhile.
“We become like a family,” said Toni Peterson of Brule. “Everyone cares about each other deeply.”
And they’re looking for more ladies to join the fun.
“We welcome everybody,” said Judy Darwin, one of the founding members of the league, which started shortly after the bowling alley opened in 1998.
“You can be a grandma,” said fellow charter member Lois Leslie of Iron River.
“Grandma? You can be a great-grandma,” said Donna Graul, another charter member.
“We’ll teach you how to bowl,” Darwin said.
The average age of the 33 bowlers is 67. Graul, the oldest active member, is 80. Each of the bowlers, in teams named for flowers like roses and violets, took their own path to the garden.
“I joined because you can’t golf in the winter,” said Karen Beneke. “I started out as a substitute, then the Dandelions adopted me.”
Rozie Maki of Iron River never bowled before in her life, but when her friends asked her to join the Violets she dug in.
“It was fun, not cut-throat,” she said. And she got to hang out with her classmates Janelle Armbruster and Ginger Weyandt from the Iron River School class of 1961. Although Maki is trying to better her bowling game, it’s not her only reason to drop by Uncle Bob’s.
“Because it’s fun it’s a great social thing,” she said. “We just have a good time.”
Charter members Marlene Parkhurst and Darwin have been bowling for decades. The two have a friendly rivalry going and this year. Parkhurst, a retired Northland College professor, is leading.
Members come from down the block or as far away as Barnes, Port Wing and Washburn.
Peterson bowls with her mother, Sondra “Jo” Peterson, on the Dandelions team.
“It’s been a wonderful thing for my mom and I,” Peterson said, although her mother sometimes takes her to task for wandering around and chatting during games.
“Remember when they first started how bad they were?” Graul asked.
“We were horrible,” Peterson agreed. But more experienced members took the time to mentor them. Now, Graul said, they’re very good. Women of all skill levels are welcome. Lower average bowlers are given a handicap to even the playing field.
Peggy Hipsher of Iron River started bowling when Peterson, who graduated from Northwestern High School in 1983 with her, asked. Now, it’s a weekly outing for her.
“I like it,” she said. “I like to come out and see my girls.”
Pauline Wellman, owner of the Twin Gables in Brule, enjoys being able to get away from work once a week to bowl.
“They are wonderful women to get away with,” she said, and it’s good exercise. “This is playing together.”
Wednesday, the ladies passed out high fives freely whenever anyone cleared a lane.
“We congratulate everybody,” Parkhurst said.
The Late Bloomers league bowls 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday at Uncle Bob’s Bowling Alley.
For more information on the league, contact Peterson at 715-372-8214, Tribbey at 715-292-3405 or Beneke at 715-372-8214.
“It’s a special group,” Darwin said. “We’re not many, but we’re special.”