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Bowling for dollars, and a heck of a lot of fun 

  • Alice Coleman sits between her turn at Boutwells Bowling Center on January 31, 2018 GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Beverly Frawley gets ready to bowl with her friends on the Sometimers team at Boutwell’s Bowling Center in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Alice Coleman watches as her ball nears the candlepins at Boutwell’s Bowling Center in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Diane Colman reacts after her turn during the Senior League games at Boutwells Bowling Center in Concord on Wednesday.

Monitor staff
Published: 2/4/2018 3:00:19 AM

Don’t let Alice Coleman fool you.

Forget her age. Cut through her modesty. Ignore the slow approach she takes while moving toward the lane at Boutwell’s Bowling Center.

During Senior League action each Wednesday, watch Alice’s smooth delivery. Hear the crackle of the pins. See her score, shown high on a TV monitor, rise above the rest.

“She’s incredible,” said teammate Diane Colman, one of four members on the Sometimers. “She usually out bowls us all.”

Then, with a dismissive wave of her hand that tried to push this notion of greatness aside, Alice said, “I don’t know about that.”

The end of that game will tell that story. The other story is the league itself, which gives seniors on 12 teams a place to compete, reminisce, laugh, meet new friends and attend a year-end banquet, where prize money is given to the season’s best.

I stuck with the Sometimers, a team of women who rotated sitting next to me and filled my notepad with humor and life, both its ups and downs.

The team included Alice Coleman, Diane Colman, Nancy Nylen and Beverly Frawley. Notice the subtle difference in the spelling of Coleman and Colman. The letters are close and the teammates are closer, all having met through their weekly bowling sessions, which end in May.

They call themselves the Sometimers because “Sometimers we’re hot, and sometimers we’re darn cold,” Alice told me.

“Sometimes we can’t hit the side of a barn,” Diane added.

Beverly, Diane and Nancy are all in their 70s, and Alice is the oldest in the group. She lives in Concord and wants her age to remain as secretive as a Robert Mueller investigation.

But the woman can bowl. She’s a retired secretary who moved here with her husband, Edwin, in 1964. Edwin passed in 2003.

Alice wore a peach-colored sweater and a hard gaze each time she approached the lane. She loves the league, telling me, “It’s a lot of fun, whether we’re good or bad.”

Last year she bowled a total of 303 over a three-game stretch, a fact that Nancy quickly confirmed. Nancy added another tidbit, the one about Alice’s recent car accident, which did nothing to curtail her passion for, or participation in, the league the following day.

“She was here the very next day,” Diane said.

“This one loves it so much,” Nancy said, pointing at Alice. “That’s what you call a dedicated bowler.”

Nancy lives in Penacook and retired from Blue Cross/Blue Shield after 32½ years. She’s been bowling in various leagues for 40 years. She fell recently, which was why she wore a black, Velcro wristband on her right wrist.

“I told you not to go into that bar before coming here,” Beverly joked.

“That’s what I like about this league,” Nancy said. “We have all walks of life here and a lot of fun happens.”

Beverly lives in Pembroke and worked for General Electric for 19 years. She’s been married for 61 years, to George, whom she met on a double date in front of the old Concord Theater downtown.

She’s bounced back from breast cancer, which forced her out of action last season. She’s got 19 great-grandchildren, nine grandchildren and a story about meeting George.

“I was 16,” Beverly said. “My mother said, ‘You’re not going out to meet a boy, are you?’ and I told her “no.” I lied like a rug.”

Diane lives in Concord and worked for the state as an administrative assistant, retiring in 2010. She wore bright pink and showed a colorful personality, stomping the floor in hopes of toppling a final, wobbling pin, fist pumping and talking about her travels, both while married and since her divorce.

She lived in Illinois (“Flat. Not even an ant hole visible. Nothing but corn and soybeans”), and Alabama (“They wanted me to speak softly and slowly, and I’m a Yankee, through and through”).

Then she got divorced and came back to Concord, where her independent spirit has led to trips to Alaska, Hawaii and Greece, and which will lead her to Ireland in May.

“I don’t do much except for travel and bowl,” Diane said.

The Senior League began more than 50 years ago and includes teams named the Spring Chickens and the Harem.

There’s a team potluck dinner each Christmas at Boutwell’s and an end-of-the-season banquet in May at Alan’s of Boscawen.

After applying pressure, Alice finally admitted that she has won the high-average award a couple of times. She scored an 89 in Game 1 last week, tops on her team.

“I just toss the ball and hope for the best,” Alice said. “That’s why we’re called the Sometimers.” 

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