Gutter Ball

11/05/11 7:48 PM

A party invitation!

Fairways Bowling Lanes, Route 9. Westbound. Natick, Massachusetts. 3:15 PM. Sharp.

The year is 1971.

The occasion: Bradley Reisenhardt’s  birthday party.

I’m was not a big fan of Bradley Reisenhardt. We never collected baseball cards or burned leaves with a magnifiying glass together. Nor was Bradley part of my bicycle posse or chestnut hunter/gatherer of friends.  Yet, why not attend? His birthday party was a bowling birthday party held Fairways Bowling Lanes.

After May 2oth I will write about Fairways Bowling Lanes in the past tense. Fairways, the hippest, retro bowling alley west of Boston is days away from closings its doors forever.



No party. No last bowl. No last waltz. No last slide down the polished lanes only to land hard on my ass.

Sad yet true,  the closing of Fairways marks the end of an era.

Fairways Bowling Lanes opened in 1955. It’s architectural style is true to 1950s  form. Its color scheme screams the 1950s; aqua, tan, and a retro shade of puke green.

At Fairways, you rented bowling shoes. Cool shoes. Ones with burgundy and tan leather stripes with a big numbers on the back heel to indicate your shoe size–not your age. When you returned shoes after bowling, the teen behind the shoe concession sprayed each pair with disinfectant. Who wants that job? PU.

Fairways has plasic contor benches. You mold into their curvilinerar form. We gravated to the curvature of the bench. Somehow it felt cacooning and comfortable to sit in this particular spot between taking turns to bowl.

Fairways is a candle pin bowling alley. Small balls. Small pins. No Fred Flintsone and Barney Rubble big bowling balls.

Easily distracted, I would watch bowling balls magically fly back and clink to a stop on the  automatic ball return track. I would hit the pin reset button just to watch pins reset.  Hit. Reset. Hit. Reset.  A modern marvel to a child of the Baby Boom Era. A perfect bowling score.

There is a 1950s style scorekeeper’s desk complete with an ashtray. Who kept score? Only serious bowlers. We kept rolling bowling balls until something made contact. I was never a serious bowler; a social bowler. A birthday party bowler. King of the gutter ball.

When I was an undergraduate at Boston College, I returned to Fairways with friends. One of my friends from the Midwest exclaimed, “What. No beer? What kind of a bowling alley is this?”

I replied, “A sober one?”

Fairways  attracts families, groups of friends, church groups, veterans, leagues, and was perfect for couples on a double date.

Fairways is well lit. Warm in winter. Cool in summer. One of its post World War II charm? Air conditioning.

A close neighborhood friend read me an article in the Boston Globe noting the closing of Fairways. She dug the article out of her newspaper recycling  bag just for me to read.   I felt stunned to learn of Fairways demise. A sign of the times. Who bowls anymore when you can sit in front of  a laptop and play virtual checkers, bowl, or kill aliens with someone in Uzbekistan? In the end, the article noted the high cost of heating and  cooling the mammoth 26+ lane alley.  Wasn’t this a reason–warmth and cold—that attracted customers in the first place?

Fairways is a pristine example of 1950s architecture. It is emblematic of the post World War II era. Two friends chimed in. Where are local, state, and/or national historic societies to save Fairways? Bill Gates. Steven Spiegelberg. Where are you? Be white knights and please rescue Fairways in Natick, Massachusetts. You can bowl for free…….

At my neighbor’s house, we mimicked each other……..they way we use to bowl at Fairways. Legs spread wide. Two hands on the ball. A pendulum swing, back, then forward. With a jerking motion, we would  project (throw) the bowling ball down the lane. Roll baby, roll.



ANOTHER gutter ball.

Try again. Who is keeping score?

I am in a way.

I can count on two hands the number of buildings being knocked down or going out of business from an era when America freshly defeated fascism—and a communist lurked under every bed. Our national social and architectural heritage is being destroyed with each tick of the clock.

 I want to toss one last gutter ball at Fairways before it closes.


Pretty please?

That ball is going, going……………………………gone.

Brendan Ben Feeney

33 Comments on “Gutter Ball”

  1. Serratore230 Says:

    Surely a perfect piece of writing! We’ve book marked it and sent it out to all of my friends since I know they’ll be intrigued, thank you very much!

  2. Adah Says:

    Hey Ben,
    Loved your blog. Too bad we couldn’t celebrate our birthday’s there this year! We’ve been robbed.

    Adah! Yes. We WERE robbed. And what a birthday party it would have been!!! Imagine celebrating with R, L, M, B sr.—and the 2 of us– birthday boy and birthday girl? Oh look! I bowled a strike————three lanes over—-Oops. Sorry for messing up your game, people in lane 18. Next time we get together, it will be to discuss Chapter 14 of our book–soon to be adapted to the silver screen. Who will play ALL the characters? Where do we begin? Have L call central casting in Hollywood this afternoon. I have the number. Kudos to R for digging the article out of the recycle bin. Her perserverence and determination wins her the Congressional Medal of Honor.
    In Freindship, Ben…………………the King of the Gutter Ball.

  3. seoeps Says:

    Very good. Your posts are more and more interesting.

  4. Lalacarlosfs Says:

    Hello. This is a very cool website!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I am satisfied to search out numerous helpful info here in the publish….

  5. London Funds Says:

    I simply could not go away from your site before suggesting I extremely enjoyed the information.

  6. marilee Says:

    Credit for the great blog post. I am glad I have taken the time to read this.

  7. Dorthy Eguchi Says:

    I am very pleased to find this web page. I want to tell you thx for your effort in crafting this terrific read! I certainly appreciated it and I also have you book-marked to check out new issues you post.

  8. Oehlert Says:

    Nice information!

  9. Termite Exterminator NYC Says:

    I’ve been absent for some time. Thank you. I will try and check back more often.

  10. Byod Says:

    Very awesome. Great arguments! I appreciate you making this article online. The rest of your web site is also high quality. Have a fun.

  11. Shapiro Says:

    Nice opinion! You might want to follow up to this topic.

  12. Sylla353 Says:

    Amazing stuff! This is the type of info that should be spread around the net. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post at the top!

  13. Laptop BT Says:

    I needed to thanks for your time for this wonderful learn!! I definitely enjoying each little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  14. Rosenzweig Says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post……

  15. michelle9497 Says:

    Hello! Just want you to know that I really found this website really helpful to me. I will come back to this blog more often to read more. Thanks.

  16. glennd Says:

    Thanks guys. I just about became lost looking for this post.

  17. Says:

    I wish to get across my love for your kind-heartedness in support of persons that require guidance on this area of interest. Your personal commitment to getting the solution throughout has been extraordinarily beneficial and has consistently helped employees just like me to reach their objectives. Your personal invaluable suggestions implies much to me and further more to my office workers. With thanks; from everyone of us.

  18. Chet N. Says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  19. Roanhorse65 Says:

    I think you’ve made some actually interesting points. Not as well many people would really think about this the way you just did. I’m definitely impressed that there is so very much about this topic thats been uncovered——and you did it so well, with so very much class. Really good stuff here.

  20. tender02 Says:

    Your blog is amazing… I subscribed to your blog!

  21. concent19 Says:

    Fantastic blogpost, thanks a lot!

  22. Jarrod A. Says:

    Great blog. Many websites like yours cover subjects that aren’t found in magazines.

  23. Longin Says:

    I was very ecstatic to discover this site on BING. I wished to say thanks to you with regard to this good post!! I

  24. Spadlin NYC Says:

    Very interesting topic, thanks for posting.

  25. Flucas72574 Says:

    Keep functioning. Splendid job!

  26. Tischer Says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using MSN. This is a very well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  27. Projection Screen Fabric Says:

    Very interesting. This is my most favourite content.

    BBF’s editor sends this personal message to Projection Screen Fabric from BBF:

    “When I read your screen name, I said….’This sounds cool…..’ Many thanks for being a reader of my blog. Do post 3 of your favorite things on my post about Lar.” Best regards from Cape Cod, MA. USA Brendan Ben Feeney

  28. Sewing Says:

    This is really a really great read for me. I have to admit, you happen to be one of best bloggers I ever read. Thanks for posting informative articles.

  29. blink Says:

    Hey really liked yout post..thanks

  30. 2697 Says:

    Normally I don’t read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.

  31. Oakland A's Player Says:

    Awesome post. Thanks Again. Keep writing.

    BBF’s editor passes along this personal message to an Oakland A’s player from BBF:

    “Thanks for taking time to drop me a message. What? No post-season baseball for the A’s? Well enjoy the time off. You deserve time with friends and family. Time to eat a few corn dogs and fried dough now that the trainer is looking the other way…heheheh.” Regards, Ben

  32. Landolfi Says:

    I must say, I thought this was a pretty interesting read when it comes to this topic. I liked the material. . . . .

  33. 299524Turano Says:

    Fantastic Post!! Thank you significantly!