Ten Pin Smithers

I stopped in a small town near Akron, Ohio, to chance a lunch in a small diner along the main street. The diner was situated next to a bowling alley, and outside of it, right along the street, was a statue. Having to walk past the statue, I became interested in it, for it was a man, down on his knees, his hands over his eyes, and in front of him was a lone bowling pin. I read the plaque at the base of the statue. It read, “Dedicated to Ten Pin Smithers and His Almost Perfect Game. January 9, 1974.”

I chuckled, shortly after which I heard a voice. I turned and saw an older man with short hair and glasses sitting on a bench just a few feet from the statue.

“Bet you never heard of Tin Pin Smithers before, did you?” he asked.

“No, can’t say I ever have,” I replied. “This statue seems a little odd, though.”

“Ten Pin Smithers,” the man said. “If you’ve got a couple of minutes, I’ll tell you his story. It’s rather sad.”

A story. Just what I wanted, and right in my line of work, which is reporting human interest stories for the newspaper and a local online magazine site back home. This was the reason of my trip. I was looking for something interesting.

“OK,” I said, “Mind if I sit down beside you?”

He jumped right in as I was finding a seat.

“Back in ’74, as the plaque says, a company was staging a bowling tournament right here,” He pointed over his shoulder to the bowling alley. “A hundred dollars to the winner, but there was a huge bonus if anyone bowled a perfect game. You know what a perfect game is, don’t you? Twelve strikes in a row for the game and a perfect 300 score. Worth a million dollars. A million dollars.

“Ten Pin Smithers had been home from Vietnam for about a year, and he had found getting back into society challenging. He had some emotional issues from Vietnam, plus he couldn’t find a job. However, he loved to bowl, and he was pretty good at it. So, he entered the tournament. All he really hoped for was winning the hundred dollars. At worst, second place, which was fifty dollars.

“Well, he made it all the way to the championship match. The place was packed, and the entire thing was being recorded so it could be shown on TV. His opponent was some out-of-town guy named Larkin, or Larabee, or something like that. Guy had a real unusual delivery when he bowled, and every time he released the ball he yelled out, ‘Come home to Papa!’ He wasn’t much of a bowler, though somehow he managed to make it to the championship.

“The final match was over pretty quickly. Larkin or Larabee was awful, while Ten Pin rolled strike after strike. The excitement grew, the tension grew, the crowd got real excited, but that didn’t seem to bother Ten Pin. When it was his turn to bowl, he calmly took his bowling ball, lined it up, and rolled it down the alley. Like I said, strike after strike.

“In fact, his first eleven rolls were strikes. He had just one roll left in the game, and if he got a strike there, he would win the million dollars. Everybody was cheering for him. Still, he did not appear nervous. The last roll, he did the same as all the others, calmly lining up his shot, and then he rolled it down the alley. It appeared to be a perfect hit, right in the pocket. Wouldn’t you know it, though? The six pin, which is supposed to knock down the ten pin, went around the ten pin and left it standing, the only pin left.

“That statue you see there? That’s the exact representation of Ten Pin Smithers when he lost that million dollars. Just dropped down on his knees, put his hands over his face, and finally ended up staring at that lone pin still standing.

“People always wondered how that affected his life. How would his life have been different? He remained here, but has been obscure ever since. Seldom talks to people about it. Seems to have no regrets. Says it’s the best memory of his life. For once, he was in the spotlight, everybody was cheering him on, and he ended up with a hundred dollars.”

The man stopped speaking. I got up, thanked him, and told him I was going to use that story—whether it was true or not—in the next column I wrote. He said that was fine with him. He didn’t think anyone would object. I asked him if Tin Pin Smithers was still around.

“Yeah, he’s around somewhere,” he said. “You might be able to find him if you ask around. That was 45, 46 years ago. He’d be in his upper sixties by now. Doesn’t look anything like the statue anymore.”

He wished me a good day, rose from the bench, and started walking towards the bowling alley door. When he was about 20 feet from the door, a man came out and yelled to him, “Hey, Ten Pin, lane number 7 has a problem. Could you go back and fix it?”

Two Found Poems

#1

I didn’t sleep much.
I couldn’t, somehow, for thinking.
And every time I waked up
I thought somebody had me by the neck.
So the sleep didn’ do me no good.
By-and-by I says to myself,
I can’t live his way.

#2

The sun was up so high when I waked,
That I judged it was after eight o’clock.
I laid there in the grass and the cool shade,
Thinking about things
And feeling rested and rather comfortable and satisfied.

I could see the sun out at one or two holes,
But mostly it was big trees all about,
And gloomy in there amongst them.
There was freckled places on the ground
Where the light sifted down through the leaves,
And the freckled places swapped about a little,
Showing there was a little breeze up there.
A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at me very friendly.

Found poems came from The adventures of Huckleberry finn, chapter 8.

Turbine of the Mind

Roads in state of disrepair,
Terns circling rain-created pond.
Auto junkyard on the right,
Why is it so hot out here? 

Beeping horn from passing truck,
I left the stove on, I hope it’s fine.
A fire truck blares its siren;
I wonder where it is going. 

A large branch falls from the huge oak tree,
Situated in my front yard.
It missed my car by a foot or more.
I really need a drink. 

Papers scattered in the office,
No one to help them find their places.
A new novel started reading this morning.
New, but not really. 

Feet hurt, but they’ve been worse.
There was a shark attack along the coast.
Lying in bed, mind won’t be quiet.
Mother’s birthday was two days ago. 

Who knew life would be like this?
Original plans abandoned years ago.
The circus has closed, no shows anymore.
Vacation ends soon, too soon. 

What powers this turbine?
Is there an ‘Off’ switch?
How do I harness its power?
Just as well. It’s mine.

Flashing Red Lights

Red lights, flashing to a metronome,
Warning drivers to come to a halt,
Lest they never make it home,
Causing accidents that were their fault.

They are not placed there for our harm,
Or to impede us in our own path.
So, a driver should approach them with great calm,
Pressing the brake, not creating great wrath.

Lights exist solely for our care,
To regulate safety along the road.
To prevent death and pain more than we can bear,
And to keep us from our eternal abode.

So, when in life, to a red light you come,
Do not breeze through, or ignore its sign.
Your future and safety and then some
Depend on stopping – not only yours, but also mine.

Shunned

I offered friendship, but you refused.
Kindness and compassion were not returned.
You showed such things to many others,
But none was directed to me.

I pondered, attempting to discover why,
Blaming myself first for your coldness.
So, I applied more grace, only to find
You much more distant, cold, and uncaring.

Finally, communication stopped altogether.
I still assumed the fault lay in me.
We would pass, and you would not acknowledge.
Just kept your head down and went on your way.

Conversations ceased with others when I approached.
You turned and left me alone.
Still, I wondered, what had I done?
What had I said? Or failed to do?

After prolonged time, I concluded you simply were not interested
In me as a friend, a colleague, or an acquaintance.
It grieved me, and it was difficult to resolve.
I have, though still with the question of “why” unanswered.

Photo Blog – July 3, 2019

July 3, 2019. First morning glories of the year. There are about 15 who popped out this morning. More on the way for tomorrow.

July 3, 2019. First wooly worm spotted for the year. On my morning walk.

July 3, 2019. The hydrangea bush is not producing much this year, but this little beauty is working on it.