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Bowling ... Whatever happened? A look at women’s leagues

Bowling, BWBA ... Bethlehem Women’s Bowling Association was a vibrant group that increased the participation in the mid 1900s. They organized in 1944 with 260 players and grew to 1,728 during the 1980 season with a 30-week season, except during the Christmas holidays.

According to the 50th Anniversary yearbook (1994) the highest series rolled was by Karen Trimble at Olympian Lanes, formerly PMP, with a 668 series in 1985. The first member to roll into the 600 Club was Jean Toth in 1956 with a 639 at the former Liberty Lanes next to Liberty High School. Compared to the standards of the modern day, 200 averages and 700 series they were the trend setters.

Speaking of averages, Mary Szakmeister’s 187 in 1963-64 was the all-time leader when she competed in the South Side Women’s league at the former Hungarian Hall on Third Street. In fact, her composite average over a five-year season rounded out to 183 which would of topped numerous men’s leagues. The only 180-plus average during the span was by Rita Yob, who competed at the same site.

Of course, in the early days, the stay-at-home moms enjoyed an evening to socialize and wanted to explore what husbands were enjoying. Yes, they found a way to relax with a night away from the family and to meet new friends.

The yearbook is filled with numerous scores, records and programs the organization sponsored over the 50 years. When in comparison to their counterparts, the women’s statistics are truly a “Who’s Who” of Christmas City bowling.

From single-record scores by Stella Tremba (279) and Helen Kopchak (277) during the 1972 campaign, to the 12 teams competing in the city championship in 1945 at Central Lanes, are all posted.

The anniversary noted the location of 50 city tournaments along with the entries in each category, teams, as well as singles and doubles to include all events along with the total prize fund. The late Marie DeAngelis served as president for nearly 30 years and had a host of assistants such as, Lenny Alich, Cindy Aykroyd, Jayne Jacobs and Ruth Frey, who presided her as the leader. The addition of the eight lanes at Bath Legion was added to the list during the 1984-85 season.

Records, well they are meant to be broken with fresh names that will be replaced in the future, but, then we ask, bowling, whatever happened.

Chip Walakovits is a former bowling writer for the Globe Times and can be reached at whochip@ptd.net