I rolled one of the last strings ever at Fairway Lanes in Natick Friday afternoon, as the candlepin bowling alley shut its doors that day after 56 years in business.
For the record, my three string total was 336 and I left one pin standing in the final box. Some unfinished business, I guess.
I grew up candlepin bowling from an early age and collected many a shiny trophy, never partaking in ten-pin bowling until I was an adult. My parents were always glued to the TV on weekends to watch the candlepin bowling shows featuring stars such as Stasia Czernicki and Fran Onorato, and my first job as a teenager was fixing pinsetter machines at the old candlepin bowling alley in Milford, Mass. And no, I’m not so old that I had to physically set up the pins (see Candlepin Bowling History).
Although I did juggle the balls and pins while waiting for machines to break down, and took more than one ball or pin off my skull… which might explain a few things about me today.
I’ve carried my dirty green candlepin bowling balls and never stylish white shoes in my car’s trunk for years, though I’ve only bowled a few times a year of late. Sadly, I removed them from my car Friday night.
The closing of the Natick alley, and the shutdown last month of the Needham Bowlaway, leaves Wellesley with one of the few remaining candlepin bowling alleys around (the old Star Market/new Whole Foods space was looking very bowling alley like a few months back, but alas, it will be a grocery store). The International Candlepin Bowling Association Website lists 32 candlepin bowling centers in the state, though the number might be a little outdated following the latest closings. Other lanes can be found throughout New England and parts of Canada.
Wellesley’s candlepin alley might not be known by many in town: The six lanes are tucked away at the Maugus Club and are for members only and those arranging functions there. I once had a chance to bowl at Maugus as part of a fun competition called a Racketlon that also entailed table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis.
A rug company will be replacing Natick’s Fairway Bowling on Rte. 9. There’s apparently still some hope that the Needham alleys will re-open under new ownership. If so, I’ll toss my bowling balls and shoes back in the trunk.