STILLWATER, Okla. —
“It takes a heap of bowling
on a lane to learn the sport.
A heap of gutter balls and you
sometimes must resort
To a few words of exclamation
before you hit a pin,
And just when you think you've got
the hang of it, you gutter it again.”
In 50 years, the group has seen many changes. When the group started in 1963, bowling cost $1.35 with not many mothers working outside the home and membership peaking at more than 40 bowlers. Now, league bowling each week is $7 for three games plus a shoe fee if needed. A portion of the money has always been donated to the trophy fund but the league does not purchase trophies. Instead, the bowlers collect the weekly donations and contribute the funds to church needs and other charitable causes.
For many years, the bowling alley offered free coffee and a free baby sitter to the league which was popular for young mothers. Although those traditions faded away, each team continues to create their own name with league groups calling themselves anything from Spare Angels to Divine Duds to Holy Rollers. Members have ranged from college age girls to 93-year-old bowlers. The fellowship of the bowling league was so important to the late Zelma Tinker that she continued bowling even after she was declared legally blind, serving as an inspiration to many bowlers, Cooper said.
The league continues to recognize birthdays and holidays with dress-up days for Halloween and Easter bonnets in the spring. When a bowler gets a “turkey” — bowling lingo for three strikes — league members shout out “gobble, gobble, gobble” and the bowler is entered in the turkey book. A sweet treat from the candy jar is awarded each time a team has a star frame.
Cooper said people have been bowling for more than 7,000 years with bowling games starting in the third century on church grounds where clergymen encouraged their flock to club the heathen out of their system by throwing a ball at a set of pins which represented paganism. Those who could knock down the pins were said to be of good character and were leading a good life. Those who missed had to do penance.
The good life is certainly represented with health benefits as Cooper continues to bowl in her 86th year seeing the lanes change from manual pin setters to computer generated scoring. She received recognition from President George H. W. Bush for regular participation in a sport throughout her life. League secretary Rita Breuninger has seen the health benefits for many members and said a body in motion stays in motion.
“We don't care how well you bowl,” said Rosetta Silver, Presbyterian Women's Bowling League president. “It's a very supportive group – and there's lots of camaraderie and fellowship.”
Cooper agrees saying: