League time. Dig the equipment out of the closet and head for the lanes.
It's time to sign up for the old league, time for a few practice games, time to meet friends and teammates from last season and time to complain about the price of bowling.
But bowling is still the best deal you're going to get, still the most inexpensive entertainment you and your family can enjoy.
You still think it's expensive? Buy a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas, rent a movie and order a pizza. Everything is more expensive than it was last year. But bowling is still your best deal.
You want to talk about expenses? Give a thought to your local bowling center. Before you walk in this season your local center has spent a bundle so that you can walk in and bowl.
"We just have to shut down completely once a year," said Steve Sandusky of Riviera Bowl. "Every other year, like this year, we close for a week so the lanes can be repaired and resurfaced. When the
lanes don't have be cut down, we still have to close for at least three days."
Every year bowling lanes have to be worked on, and it takes time and a major amount of money.
Riviera Bowl has 24 duckpin lanes, and each lane has to receive the same tender care:
* Each lane has to be inspected for bad boards. The normal wear and tear of a season of bowling means that boards on all the lanes must be inspected and bad boards torn out.
* Channels (once called gutters) have to be inspected, bad ones torn out in complete sections and replaced.
* After boards are replaced, a drum sander strips the finish from the lanes, down to the bare wood.
* Now a super sander, 44 inches wide, a bit wider than the width of the lane, cuts the wood of the lane down. Then the lane is sandpapered, then buffed.
* The lane is screened with a screen that looks every much like a window screen with fine grit attached to it.
* The lanes then are cleaned and vacuumed.
* A base coat of epoxy is put down, and the base coat is screened.
* Lanes then are cleaned with towels by hand to make sure that every particle of dirt and residue is removed.
* A uni-cure resin top coat is applied.
* The same treatment is given to the approaches, but the last coat applied is a Hydroslide approach finish.
And, every three or four years the rubber side boards have to be replaced. And new house balls have to be purchased, and house shoes have to be replaced.
* Jesilyn Shukert, 4, has just finished her summer league at Greenway Bowl Odenton.
Jesilyn lives in Odenton with her sister, 8-year-old Laura, and their parents, Mary and Tom Shukert. "Laura started bowling when she was 4 years old," Mary Shukert said. "Jesilyn started bowling last year."
Laura, entering the fourth grade at Odenton Elementary School next month, said, "I started to bowl when I was little kid."
Both Laura and Jesilyn bowl in the same league, Friday Morning Kids, but in different age divisions.
* This Sunday, the "Best of Bowling" WCBM/AM radio talk show will be live at the National Amateur Bowlers, Inc. tournament at Crofton Centre at 5 p.m.
Donald G. Vitek's Bowling column appears every Thursday in th Anne Arundel County Sun. Bowlers are urged to give Don a call with scores and tidbits at 247-0850.