Conner’s Corner: Bowling makes me want to roll

Conner’s Corner / Ray Conner

When Mt. Mesa Lanes closed, it brought me a lot of heart ache. I had just recently got back into a sport that always captured my attention.

For over a year I had to drive by the lanes and see it closed, wondering if it was ever going to see action again. Then the valley got lucky when Gabby Mayfield and her family decided to purchase it. I have been mostly thankful ever since.

You see, bowling has been in my blood for a long, long time. And Gabby, Chris, and Dan have patch-worked this house back into a place that’s fun and competitive when it comes to bowling leagues. A special thank you to these guys.

Ever since I can remember, I went to the bowling alley to watch my family bowl. I think my first attempt was probably when I was around 5 years old, pushing the ball down the lanes with two hands and trying to keep it on the alley long enough to hit something. If I hit one pin, I was very happy.

The Conner family has a long history of bowling that includes aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, mother and father.

I can remember going to watch my mother and a couple of my sisters bowl on Monday night, my dad and two uncles on Tuesday and Thursday, and then a family group would bowl Scotch Doubles on Friday.

Saturday it would be my turn as I bowled in the Bantam Leagues.

Since I have been back into it, I bowl on Monday in the Men’s League, I sub on Thursday, and after Whiskey Flat bowl, in the Laughlin League.

Then of course there are the tournaments. Not to brag (okay, maybe a little), but recently I won the second shift No-Tap Tournament at Mt. Mesa Lanes. It was fun, competitive, and again, fun.
If you are looking to get rich in these tournaments, you’d better think again. These are fun and competitive, but mostly a way to support Mt. Mesa Lanes and the youth bowling programs Gabby has set up for the kids of the valley.

As a goof, I looked up my family’s book averages for the most recent years. It was quite revealing: my brother Merrill Conner (223), My nephew Shane Conner (225), my nephew Isiah Santiago (213), my sister Toni-Conner Karlovek (165), my sister Celestia Conner, who we called C.C. (165), my sister Barbara, who recently passed away (157), and my last sister Debbie (157).

My mom, Lorraine, bowled until she was 70 years old. When she gave it up, her average was a 148. My dad finished up at age 76 and still rolled a 157 average. Then there was my cousin Bobby Conner (178), my niece Kyia (167), my niece-in-law Rida (147).

You might have seen that my wife Colleen is not named here. She used to bowl, but then surgeries got in the way. Now she has started again in the Laughlin League to get back in the groove.
Quite the family of bowlers, as you can see. It’s always nice to be able to brag a little on your family’s accomplishments.

Later on in life, my parents operated and ran the bowling lanes in my home town of Ellenville, New York. It was fun to hang around the lanes as bowlers came to enjoy the chance to roll a few games and watch league bowlers on certain nights.

When I first moved to the valley, my wife Colleen and I started in the Friday Party League. This was a chance to get to know some of the people in the valley, and we enjoyed it.

When our kids started playing sports in high school, we took a break for 15 years, but then were asked to bowl the Gambler’s League, and I was hooked once again.

It seems my kids were never bitten by the bowling bug. They enjoy it, but not to the extent I have taken a liking to.

A funny story about my daughter Tiana Conner. I think she might have been about 11 or 12 years old. We attended a father-daughter dinner and were picked to play in a game similar to the Newlywed Game where questions and answers are supposed to match. Well the question to my daughter was what would her dad do as a career if he had a chance. Her response was professional bowler. Mind you, I was still taking a break and had not bowled in quite awhile. Maybe I missed my calling.

Anyway, the bottom line is, I am back to rolling the ball down the alleys of Mt. Mesa Lanes and could not be happier.