Reminiscing about sports with Dad as he turns 80

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Before I sat down to watch the playoff games last Sunday, Jan. 11, I was able to join my family for breakfast at a local restaurant to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. My dad suffered a stroke six years ago and is no longer able to do many of the things he once did. His speech was also affected, and he isn’t able to communicate as easily as he did prior to the stroke.

I’ve said this numerous times before, but it bears repeating: my dad is the sole reason I have such a passion for sports. He was the stereotypical 1960s and 1970s father. We played catch in the front yard after supper. We shot hoops in my grandmother’s driveway. I never saw anyone able to throw a football as far as my dad could. In the spring and summer months, he would take me fishing on the weekends. During the winters, we could be found bowling together at the Faust Hotel or Park Lanes on Saturday nights.

Then, the 1980s came, and I went away to college, got married and started my own family. My dad and I were no longer able to do as many of those things together like we did when I was a kid. The one exception was bowling.

We bowled on a league together on Tuesday nights at Fairview Lanes, and then when they closed, we moved to Bowl-Mor. After a couple of years there, they closed. That was the end of my dad’s bowling career. He was getting older and wasn’t thrilled about driving all the way out to Cherry Bowl during the cold winter nights. I still make the weekly trek to the lanes.

Last week at bowling, one of my teammates brought in an old weekly re-cap sheet from our days at Fairview. It was from the 1988-89 season. We were reminiscing about the old days, laughing about our averages and remembering some of the guys we used to bowl with and against.

Then, I took a closer look at the sheet and, interestingly enough, saw my dad’s name on there. He was the “Star Bowler of the Week.” He rolled a 259, and with his handicap, added he had a 299 game.

I kept the sheet and included it in the birthday card I gave my dad. When I showed him his name on there, he wasn’t able to say much, but he did get a large smile on his face. I’m positive he didn’t remember bowling such a great game.

For a brief moment there, he wasn’t an 80-year-old man any longer. Even if it was only for a second, it transported him back more than 25 years. It was the best birthday present I could have given him.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Jan. 14-20, 2015, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!