MOUNT AIRY - "I just enjoy the heck out of the people who bowl," is the way Ted Watkins put it when asked if he ever became bored with the game after being associated with it for so many years.
Watkins has been associated with bowling for a long while.
His dad, Robert Watkins, known as Zeke, owned the Mount Airy Bowling Center from 1963 until he sold it to Joe Rineer in 1976.
Ted Watkins has been bowling since 1963 and still bowls in the Friday Night early league at Mount Airy and subs for the Tuesday night early league as well.
He's an internal auditor for Oakwood Living Centers, lives in Woodbine, was born and raised in Mount Airy and has a 127 average. But about 12 years ago that average was more than 135 and he had a high game of 215 with a high series of 525. That's when he was bowling in the pro tour. Now he limits himself to leagues and a little practice.
If you need a sub for your team, I suggest that you call Ted Watkins.
The last Tuesday night of October, he was subbing and the first two games were pretty fair; they totaled 324. For the last game, Ted opened up. That game was 189 for a 513 set.
So there's the best excuse in the world for hanging around bowling centers -- after a while you just naturally start bowling great games. It works for Ted Watkins.
While we're on the subject of hanging around bowling centers, especially Mount Airy Bowling Center, how's this for really hanging around?
Dick Hammond started working part time at Mount Airy in 1967. It's 1990 and he's still at the lanes, part time.
It's not all he did, of course.
He managed to spend 31 years with the Maryland state government before retiring in 1981. He carried about a 120 average before he stopped bowling because of a bad knee about five years ago. He's rolled a 486 series and 189 high game. He also has the time to work in the real estate field for Grimes and Associates in Mount Airy, part time.
Hammond was born in Libertytown in Frederick County but has lived in Mount Airy since 1955 with Nancy, his wife. He raised his son, Robert, and his daughter, Lisa, here in southern Carroll County. What exactly does he do at Mount Airy Lanes?
Had to ask, didn't you? Simply everything. He can run the snack bar, dress the lanes, fix the pin-setters, chase pins and probably wash the windows in a pinch.
I didn't ask, but I bet he keeps score when Nancy, Robert, and Lisa bowl in the Tuesday night mixed league. Before he damaged his knee, Dick was the fourth member of that team.
The whole family does pretty well at duckpins; Nancy carries about a 110 average, Lisa around 115 and Robert's good for about 135. It sure does put the "family" back into family bowling, doesn't it?
If you spend any time in the Mount Airy Lanes you'll find yourself talking bowling with Joe Rineer.
And if you talk bowling with Joe Rineer, you'll learn a lot about the game of duckpins. He not only bowls a pretty fair game, but he has a strong insight into the game.
I mentioned that it's difficult to maintain a high average without a lot of practice. Joe said, well, yes, except there's a woman here in Mount Airy who doesn't believe that practice is that important.
"I don't practice at all," Becky Brown said when I asked her how she kept her 135 average. "I just throw the ball on each lane before the league starts, but that's it as far as practice is concerned."
Brown, a Mount Airy resident and a nursing assistant at the Pleasant View Nursing Home, has been bowling for 17 years. While she did bowl one year on the Amateur Duckpin Tour, she limits her bowling now to the Monday Night Ladies and the Wednesday Night Ladies leagues at Mount Airy Lanes.
Bowling only those two nights a week, Brown maintains that 135 average and has had a high game of 234 and a high series of 510.
If she ever starts to practice, I'd like to be around to see what happens. She does all her bowling with a 3-pound, 10-ounce ball with a 4 -inch diameter; she prefers the smaller ball for the higher degree of accuracy she can achieve.
Accuracy is what it's all about for Brown.
"I enjoy duckpins, because it's such a challenge," she says. "I don't think that tenpins has the same challenge as duckpins. I know that I prefer duckpins."