Traditional events come and go. It wasn’t long ago, about this time of year, when 100 or more of the better bowlers in the Midwest made the trek down I-94 to Wagner’s 66 ½ lane bowling center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Even if you only bowled one CBA tournament each year, that was it. Take off work early on Friday to get there in time for the sweeper. Get a poolside room at the White House, if you made the reservation a year in advance, and prepare for the competition - 100+ bowlers across 40 of the lanes on two separate shifts. The tournament was a marathon, and if you had not mastered the fifth or sixth arrow by game 6 or 7, you were basically toast. The rewards were great for those that did, but the fun was there for everyone. One year, Tom Corbett made arrangements for a $5,000.00 bonus prize for anyone rolling a 300 during the stepladder finals in the CBA That carrot only lasted a month or two, as Jerry Holldorf, from Eau Claire, not only rolled a 300 that weekend in the qualifying, but notched another perfecto in the stepladder to pocket the big bucks.
The traditional Eau Claire experience has waned, but many of those participants have reached “senior” status. You know, the time of your life when you get a birthday cake with black frosting, and you can’t eat it anyway because of your diabetes, and a lot of cards and flags that say “Over the Hill” and “Gera Speed tastes good and it’s good for you”. “Join the Viagra for lunch bunch” - etc. etc. Recently, 44 of these baby boomers competed in the Midwest Senior Classic tournament at West Side Lanes just south of the river on Robert Street in St. Paul. The Holseth’s host a fine tournament each year for us graybeards, including a great meal after the competition. This year, the automatic scoring screen flashed many old pictures of CBA bowlers and other bowling dignitaries. Most folks looked younger (and thinner) in the photos, except of course Jim Lindquist and Roger Blad who looked the same But the real treat is the nostalgia in the banquet room. The walls are adorned with over 100 photos and magazine covers, many of them autographed. There are autographs of Hall of Famers Dick Weber, Earl Anthony, and others, as well as notables Steven Spielberg, and the Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore. I even spied a photo of my old friend and Twin Cities’ bowling legend, Leo Mann.
It’s a one day tournament, no White House partying by the pool, but the potential is there to make the “Prime Rib Open” as big an event as the old days in Eau Claire. It would be great to see this tournament mushroom to 72 bowlers, 6 on a pair. But please, not 67 or 73. We need to keep things even for the benevolent Mr. Dorek.