AMHERST, N.S. – The world was much different when the Monday Night Ladies Bowling League started in Amherst in 1948, but one thing has remained the same.
“Bowling is a lot of fun,” said Pauline Pettigrew, the longest serving member of the league. “I used to bowl good but now I bowl terrible, but that doesn’t bother me. I come back for the laughs.”
Pettigrew is as old as the league.
“I was born in 1948, and the league started in 1948. I’m 70”
She joined the league in the early 70’s.
“My son was born in 72, and I joined in 73 because somebody got pregnant and couldn’t bowl anymore.”
Pettigrew started bowling with the league at Bickerton’s bowling alley.
“That’s where the Elmtree Tavern is now.”
And then made the jump to the King Pin Bowling alley when it opened in 1977 following the closing of Bickerton’s.
She’s made a lot of friends in the league over the past 45 years.
“Most of these women here I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t for bowling, and there’s a lot of former bowlers I run into throughout town.”
Pettigrew plays for the Alley Kats and, like most of the women in the league, she isn’t very competitive.
“I bowl against myself more than I bowl against the other team,” said Pettigrew. “It doesn’t bother me if the person bowling me beats me.”
Unless it’s her sister Maryanne.
“I don’t like losing to my sister, which happens quite often,” she adds with a laugh.
King Pin Bowling keeps an historical record of the Monday Night Ladies League. It shows that in 1992 the league was still flourishing with eight teams, but by 2004 it had dwindled down to four teams.
And that’s where they’re still at today, a league with four teams and four players on each team.
“I need to keep this league alive” said Lynn O’Laney, who helps run the league and, also, King Pin Bowling. “It would be sad to see this league fold after so many years.”
Current players aren’t getting any younger, and O’Laney is looking towards a new generation to join the league.
“I’d love to see us have something in Amherst that young women, and all women, can go to and relax and have some fun,” said O’Laney. “Right now, there’s no place in Amherst where groups of young women can get together and have fun.”
O’Laney would like to see an eight-team league again, and one way to trend in that direction is to have a three-week special.
Anybody who wants to join the league, for the first three weeks they pay $1.75 in league fees, $2 for the 50/50, plus they get their bowling shoe rental for free.
“They can try it out and, if they like it, hopefully they’ll keep coming back after the three weeks is up,” said O’Laney.
Amy Rhindress and Alison MacDonald tried it out for the first time on Feb. 4, and both said they’ll keep coming back.
"Why not, there’s nothing to do on Mondays, and it’s nice to get out and try something different,” said Rhindress. “It’s my first night and all the women are funny. I’m having a good time, and I’m bowling alright too.”
She said she’s going to try to get more people to join them on Monday nights.
The league starts at 6:30 p.m., and runs to about 9 p.m.
“It’s a perfect amount of time and a perfect night of the week to do it,” said Rhindress. “There’s nothing else going on and you get out of the house.”
After the three weeks is up, the cost to play in the league is $10.50, plus $2 for the 50/50, and $2 for bowling shoe rentals, for a total of $14.50 per-week.
“The league is open to all women, including women who have never bowled before,” said O’Laney. “This is not a competitive league, this is a fun league. It’s very relaxing, and I hope people come out and give it a try.”