I was saddened to learn today of the passing of a local institution, almost a landmark in the Portsmouth and Chesapeake area, one that holds many pleasant memories for myself and my first two children, as well as many others.
This was my weekend to have my little one, and in the course of playing Saturday night, she set up some play bowling pins from when she was a toddler, and pretended her dolls were bowling. I mentioned her older sister (my two older children do the same, and also refer to their mother’s children by her second marriage as sisters) was a duckpin bowling champion, and she voiced the desire to try the game herself, and I offered to take her to Victory Lanes.
I checked online, and it appeared to be open today, although when I called, I received a recording saying the number was not valid. Deciding to take a chance, we drove there, and although the van for children’s league was in the parking lot, the building was closed. Not wishing to disappoint my little girl, I took her to Funville indoor playground instead, where she was able to run and play. She was happy to go, but stated she would really have liked to see if she was anywhere near as good as her older sister.
My first two children both participated in the chldren’s duckpin league at Victory Lanes throughout their stay in Virginia. It was initially done as an activity – the sort of regular thing that all children can benefit from – and despite some initial reluctance, they both blossomed under the instruction of Mr. Askew, the children’s duckpin league coordinator. Under his tutelage, the both became excellent players, along with many of their team mates (although my oldest daughter was unquestionably one of, if not the, best among them). Simply put, they became kick-ass duckpin bowlers. There wasn’t enough room on their bowling shirts for more patches, no more room for their trophies. They met many fascinating and fun people, got to compete in a friendly atmosphere in a skill-based sport.
In 2002, Mr. Askew passed away. The league at Victory Lanes were determined to honor his memory, and set about bowling their way to the National Championship, becoming almost unstoppable, leading at least two teams and both my daughters to the final competition. My oldest daughter led her team in many of the achievements, and the team dedicated their win to the memory of their teacher.
I have only fond memories of the man, and the many lessons he imparted. My first two were the age my little one is now when they first began bowling, and formed friendships that would last many years, ones that spanned race, gender, and even sexuality. The only thing that mattered, was they were all part of the same team, and it was a lesson that was learned through the easy interaction and the bonds of team competition.
Sadly, duckpin bowling seems to be a dying sport in this country, and that is a shame. It has so much to offer to children and adults, both socially in an entertainment value. It is an indoor sport that does not involve hard impact on the body, and is just plain fun. Whether a victim of the pandemic, or a move toward more home-based electronic entertainment, places like Victory Lanes are a dying breed, and that is a cause for regret. For me, it came as a reminder of how quickly things change, and how precious our memories really are.
Until next time,’