February 26th…“TELL ABOUT A FAVORITE HANGOUT PLACE FOR YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL”
In the Fall of 1966, my buddies and I had just finished watching our Kiester High School “Bulldogs” beat the pants off of a local rival school. With the thrill of the game still fresh in our minds, we pondered what we should do to continue our victory celebrations. Amongst me and my “buds”, it was unanimous that we should continue this mode of celebration at our Kiester Lanes Bowling Alley. This relatively new business was located on West State Street that traveled east/west through the southern part of our hamlet.
Swishing our feet through thick layers of Fall leaves, we meandered through neighborhood sidewalks on our way to the bowling alley. We were normal, rowdy preteens as we walked along in the evening shadows with our puffing breath appearing in chilly vapors on the frosty night air. Like young stallions in pasture, we roughhoused with each other in forms of jovial pushes, elbow jabs and the like. Some of the guys would run ahead to hide behind trees and then jump out to scare us from their secluded darkness. These fun shenanigans kept us all edgy and on our toes as we traversed the rest of the chilly way until we could reach our destination for bowling and tasty treats from the snack bar or grill.
When our gang arrived at Kiester Lanes, it was obvious that every other kid and adult in town had conjured up the same idea. That bowling alley was packed like sardines with bodies from wall to wall! As my ears were filled with the din of conversations and sound of bowling balls rumbling, I began to negotiate my young body through this mass of townspeople. Suddenly, I felt two hands on my waistline. Thinking, in a blink, that it was one of my buddies that had come over with me from the football field, I figured this was a continuation of that roughhousing we’d enjoyed in the neighborhood. Yes? NO!!! Without looking back to confirm who it was that “touched” me, I cocked my elbow and drove it backwards with a quick thrust!! What I heard next was a LADY’S yelp of shock and loss of air as I had literally nailed her in the gut and she was knocked against others in that crowd.
That poor local lady was just trying to get through that tight crowd as I had been trying to do. I was in shock about what I had just done!!! I was ALWAYS taught by my parents to give honor and respect to any elder in all situations. This was NOT my normal “modus operandi”!!! When that poor lady regained her composure, she turned on all her burners and gave me one HORRENDOUS “tongue lashing” about how terrible and disrespectful I was to an adult and especially to a grown woman!! No matter how much I tried to apologize to her in saying this had been an honest accident, in her eyes I was “dead meat”. Her “dagger eyes” burned holes right through my 12 year old conscience that night. That experience changed the entire evening as the only thing on the bowling alley’s menu from that episode was “humble pie” for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.