On Saturday I hopped in the car with my buddies Shane Arbogast and Friederike Paetzold (yes, they win the award for the couple with the most syllables). We were heading upstate to meet up with our friend Robert Vickers, who has a house up in Barryville. I’d been told that some bowling would be on the agenda, which is always a good thing, but I had no idea it would end up being one of the best bowling experiences of my life.
Things started getting good as we drove through Port Jervis, where we happened upon the PJ Bowl and decided to stop in for a look. The lanes were being conditioned, so we couldn’t do any pin-bashing, but we ordered a round of beers and enjoyed looking at the groovy signage, the gorgeous floor tiling in the ladies’ room, the checkerboard lockers, and the photo of how the place used to look.
I loved the beautiful masking units but was surprised that they didn’t include lane numbers. “Yeah, that’s just the style of these masking units,” explained Fred, the manager. “We tried adding little number signs to them, but they looked like crap, so we said the hell with it. We’ve only got a dozen lanes, so I figure if we say, ‘Okay, you’re on lane 7,’ you should be able to figure it out.” Fair enough.
But the PJ Bowl was just a warm-up. Soon we arrived in Barryville and met up with Robert who took us across the Delaware River to Shohola, Pennsylvania. That’s where I had my first of what I hope will be many, many encounters with Rohman’s.
As you can probably tell from that photo, Rohman’s used to be a hotel. The ground floor is an incredible bar — one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of drinking in, complete with a coal stove (burning good Pennsylvania anthracite, natch), lots of beautiful pressed tin (much of it peeling just so), countless old cloth patches in various states of nicotine stainage, a pool table over in the corner, and — most notably — the oddest bar stools I’ve ever come across. As you can see, they sort of fold up against the bar, but each one is on a hinge, so it can swing out when you’re ready to park your keister. The whole thing reminded me of a tractor seat, sorta-kinda, and I couldn’t stop looking at the curved stems — so cool!
The bar would’ve been enough to keep me happy for the rest of the weekend, but something much better awaited us upstairs: a room with four very old bowling lanes. How fantastic was this room? Let me count the ways:
• No automatic ball-return or pinsetter here, kids — we had to do all of that manually. While two of us were bowling, the other two were down at the far end of the lanes to act as pin monkeys. I’ve bowled in places with live pinboys before, but this was the first time I’d set the pins myself, and it was quite an experience. After each shot, the first task is to hoist the ball onto the ball-return track. Then you have to step on this little foot pedal that’s set into the end of the lane. The pedal activates a series of mini-spikes that raise up out of the floor — you use these to set the pins (each of which has a little recessed hole at its base for just this purpose). Of course, being down at that end also provides a bird’s eye view of the pin-bashing. Then, after a frame or two, we’d trade places — the bowlers would walk down to the lane pit and the pin monkeys would walk back to the front of the house.
• Each ball-return track was equipped with a Safe-T cuff — basically a speed bump to slow the ball down at the end of the track. Never seen this particular version of it before. Very cool.
• The scorers’ tables had these really nice Brunswick bases.
• Each lane had its own numbered lamp hovering just in front of the pins, and each lamp fixture was connected to its wiring by something called a tubelet — never seen that particular piece of hardware before.
• The back wall of the room had recently been repainted — except for one spot.
• Gotta love the seating area, including the spectator chairs. Also, note the Xmas tree in the far-left corner — a nice touch in April.
• Behind the chairs: your own private jukebox.
• Brunswick’s original blueprints for the room are hanging on the wall! I was particularly intrigued by the note at the bottom, which says the lanes were “Pennsylvania Style.” Scott Little, do you know what that means?
• Old-school scoresheets, natch.
• I don’t know if it was the time of day or the room’s orientation or what, but there were these incredible shafts of sunlight coming through the windows at odd angles, bathing everything in this really nice glow (which was occasionally augmented by amber beer shadows). Just made everything seem that much more magical.
One odd footnote to all of this: The following day — i.e., yesterday — we went out for a country drive and saw a group clustered around a fire. At first we thought it was a bonfire, or maybe a pig roast, but it turned out to be something much more bizarre: A local Boy Scout troop was disposing of old American flags by burning them. Yes, I realize that’s the proper protocol, and maybe lots of you participated in similar rituals with your own Boy Scout troops, but it still seemed completely surreal to me. I shot a few mintues’ worth of video so you can see for yourself (I embedded it below because embedding is fun, but you can see a larger, higher-def version of the clip here):
Not a bad weekend, right? Hope yours was as enjoyable as mine.
Win Some Free Stuff (but not from me for a change): With the NHL playoffs upon us, longtime Uni Watch pal Teebz is once again running a playoff pool on his excellent site, Hockey Blog in Canada. “There are a ton of excellent prizes that I’ve accumulated over the year that I’m putting up for grabs, and Uni Watch readers have always made a strong showing in the pool,” he says. “You don’t need to know a ton about hockey, either.” Full details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Zdeno Chara, who has a broken nose, wore a facemask cage the other night (with thanks to Matt Beaudin). … Interested in the latest trends in stadium design and management? Then you may want to attend this conference (with thanks to David Raglin). … Bronson Arroyo engaged in a bit of cap-based gamesmanship the other day. … Absolutely stupendous old Converse sneakers with swastika-ish tread pattern here (amazing find by Lance Smith). … Good story about UVA’s colors here (with thanks to Kevin Zdancewicz). … Interesting shot of the Islanders preparing for their team portrait (with thanks to John Muir). … Last year the Nats wore blue caps and sleeves on the road. Blue socks and catching gear, too. Now they’ve switched to red accessories except for the blue cap, which doesn’t make much sense. … Mike Pelfrey continues to wear that “Sweat It Out” undershirt, which practically looks like plastic. … Here’s a faaaascinating video clip of an antique sock knitting machine. Related item here (awesome stuff from Amy Fritch). … If the Giants are gonna shelve their helmets upside-down, shouldn’t the little name labels be oriented the other way? (With thanks to Brinke Guthrie.) … Kurtiss Dilley noticed that Kevin Kouzmanoff apparently doesn’t bother with the A’s green socks. I asked A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich about it, and he said, “You guys are sharp! What you see there are the bottoms of his cold-weather long underwear. He had green socks on underneath.” … Society for Sports Uniform Research founder and all-around swell guy Donovan Moore has officially pulled the plug on the SSUR and rebooted it as ColorWerx, a name that better reflects his encyclopedic knowledge of team colors. The rebranding includes a ColorWerx blog and ColorWerx Twitter feed. … Good DIY story from Daniel Carroll, who thought it would be good for his senior baseball league to have a scoreboard: “And then last year I remembered that my dad had built a scoreboard when I played baseball in the front yard as a little kid. I went downstairs to chase after it, and sure enough, it was there, so I took it along to our next game. I bought some cardstock and printed up some numbers and boom — scoreboard. But I wasn’t satisfied with it, so I made some adjustments. Now this year I’ve decided to rebuild the scoreboard completely and improve some things. I just painted it green (no pictures yet) and I’m starting to prepare painting on the inning numbers. Also, I have a lot of room at the top of this board, and I can’t decide what to do with it. I could cut it off completely, but I was thinking about painting our league logo on it, or painting an Ebbets Field-like Shaefer ad on it (or perhaps something more local, like Rainier or one of the Seattle-area microbrews).” … Remember how CC Sabathia changed his cleats in the middle of the first Yanks/Sox game? We had assumed it was because the first pair was uncomfy, but it turns out umpire Joe West made him switch. … LeBron James’s latest tattoos are a quotation from the movie Gladiator: It reads, “What we do in life” on the right arm and “echoes an eternity” on the left. “Only problem is that the correct quote is “…echoes IN eternity,” says Ken Ritz. … Alex Ovechkin was wearing an NFL undershirt the other day (as noted by Kenneth Stack). … I recently attended the “Cars, Culture, and the City” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. It included this awesome photo of Ray Robinson outside his restaurant. … Two good sleeve observations by Alex Higley: First, Tony Gwynn Jr. has really love jersey sleeves. And Melvin Mora is wearing really short undershirt sleeves (but still has that long sleeve on his left arm, which he’s been doing for years now). … Last Friday I mentioned Camera Guy, who works at Pirates games. Turns out he also makes bobbleheads. Here’s a video about him (with thanks to Nicholas Kowalski). … Brett Crane notes that Angels pitcher Matt Palmer has “Amen” on one side of his glove and “In His Name” on the other. … After all the build-up, UVA’s new football uniforms turned out to be pretty basic. Additional photos here, and further info here. … The sweater history of the OJI hockey club — that’s a Japanese team — can be found here (with thanks to Alec Pappas). … Terence Kearns was at yesterday’s Mets/Nats game and spotted a guy with B&CNOB — that’s borough and city name on back. … New uniforms for the hot dog vendors at the Ballpark at Arlington. “They also yell ‘Frankfurters’ instead of ‘Hot dogs,'” reports Marcus Ramsey. … The Madison Mallards are holding a uni design contest. “They’re hosting a ‘What If?’ night,” explains Damion Beth. “Kids 12 and under get the opportunity to design a uniform if the team was called the Madison Moo, and the winning entry will be worn by the team on June 19th.” … Meanwhile, the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, is conducting a logo contest. Further details here. “If this one wins, I may have to leave town,” says Jim Roddy. … “Major League Baseball is bankrolling the new Australian Baseball League commencing October 2010,” reports Stuart Scott (no, not the one you’re thinking of). “Some of the uniform debacles from the past season are highlighted here.” … In a rather bizarre example of cultural imperialism, hockey jerseys have become status symbols in Africa (with thanks to Geoff Treen). … “College lacrosse refs usually wear the same gear as football refs (down to the white hats too), but look at the officials in the Big City Classic,” says Travis Holland. “My guess is that the green stripes are to support the Headstrong Foundation, a cancer support organization for a former Hofstra player who died in 2006.” … Lamar University, which is reviving its football program after 21 years, has unveiled the new uniforms (with thanks to Chris Mycosckie). … Good for the U. of Wisconsin, which has cut ties with Nike due to the latter’s labor practices. … What is the most consistently erroneous jersey reproduction? Jeff Barak says it’s CCM’s Mike Modano jersey treatment. Details here. … No photos, but several readers noted that Cards catcher Nick Stavinohva was wearing a red catching helmet on the road, instead of navy, and also appeared to be wearing Yadier Molina’s gear — his chest protector collar had “Yadi” on it. … New uni components making their on-field debut yesterday: the Rays’ baby blues and the Giants’ orange-brimmed caps. … Someone over on the Chris Creamer board found a leak of the Nats’ stars/stripes cap, which is consistent with what I’d been told last month — white crown, colored brim.