"I'd like to see more seniors join us on Monday mornings at Thunderhead (Westminster)," said Henry Wheeler. "It's informal, it's great exercise and it's inexpensive."
Added Irene Wheeler, "We have a great time. If you're over 60 years old, you're going to feel right at home. I guess most of the bowlers are over 65."
Henry and Irene Wheeler moved to Carroll County four years ago from Connecticut to be closer to their family. Henry, 70, didn't start bowling until three years ago; Irene became interested in the game about the same time, "but she used to bowl about 30 years ago," Henry said. Earlier this month, the Wheelers had their 46th wedding anniversary.
The bowling on Monday mornings is very informal; there are no set teams.
"Henry just puts different bowlers together as he sees fit," Irene said.
"And everyone just bowls the best they can."
That best is pretty good. Ann Curran is carrying a 147 average.
Gene Krause has a 149 average; Wayne Smith, who is over 70, has a 149 average.
Walter Ziles carries a 132 -- not bad for a gentleman who is 80.
Just last week, Millie Howard threw a 233 game, and Herb Martin has a high game of 202.
"We keep it very informal," Henry said, "because we don't want people to think they must be there every Monday. This way, if they make it, fine. If they don't, that's OK, too."
The Wheelers used to live in Ansonia, Conn. -- about 12 miles from New Haven -- where Henry was a loan officer for about 30 years as well as being city treasurer for seven years.
Never heard of Ansonia? Henry said Ansonia had one of the best high school football teams in the nation: state champions four times.
"But we met the nicest people since we moved to Maryland," Irene said.
"Between our church -- St. John's of Westminster -- and Thunderhead Lanes, we've made many good friends."
The Wheelers don't bowl just on Monday mornings; Tuesday morning they bowl in a mixed league at Thunderhead and on Sunday they bowl in another mixed league in Hampstead.
Henry has a 142 average with a high game of 199 and a high set of 512.
Irene, with a 124 average, still has topped Henry's high game with a 202 of her own.
There you have it. An informal get-together every Monday morning with folks who just like to have a good time.
Everyone puts a dollar in the hat and every once in a while the group eats out. And Thunderhead keeps the price of the games inexpensive for the Monday morning seniors -- $1 a game.
"We would love to have more seniors join us," Henry said.
Steven Rothenberger of Westminster and Bob Hollingshead of New Oxford, Pa., teamed up to tie Ken Brewbaker of Carlisle, Pa., and Roger Horst of Chambersburg, Pa., for the first-place prize of $3,800 in the scratch doubles tournament at Hanover Lanes in Hanover, Pa.
Steve had a 681 set and Bob threw a 613 series for a total of 1,294.
That's nice bowling, guys.
Doug Burkholder recently was selected bowler of the week at County Lanes in Westminster for his 698 set.
Burkholder, a contract carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, lives in New Windsor and has a 300 game, a 299 and a 297, with a lifetime high series of 766. His current average is 199. He's been bowling since he was 21 and he's still doing a lot today.
Monday he bowls at Perry Hall Lanes in Baltimore County, in what is believed to be the oldest league in the nation -- the Drug Trade of Baltimore League. On Tuesday you'll find him at the Terrace Lanes in Frederick in the Francis Scott Key League. Wednesday, it's the Carroll County scratch league at County Lanes; Thursday, it's the trophy league at County Lanes; and on Saturday, it's the Interstate Travel league.
Somehow he managed to squeeze in a win at the Greater Baltimore Bowlers Association tournament with Danny Haines of Taneytown's Thunderhead Lanes in the doubles competition last year. Haines had a 667 series and Doug had a 756 set to take first place.
It's new and it's legal: The Handle Grip Ball is a regulation bowling ball equipped with a retractable handle. Upon release, the handle retracts flush with the surface of the ball to produce a true roll.
Elaine Rebatzko, World International Bowling Congress group executive-technical, said the handled bowling ball can be used in sanctioned WIBC and ABC league and tournament competition "in the case of a physical handicap."
However, she added, bowlers wishing to use the ball in sanctioned competition must request special permission from Bowling Headquarters, 5301 S. 76th St., Greendale, WI 53129-1191.
Tournament update: There will be a National Amateur Bowlers Inc.
tournament at Fair Lanes Towson, Oct. 27 and 28. Information: 825-4100.