Friday, February 25, 2011

Grub and the Lost Boys (and Girls)

Who would've thought ten minutes in a tiny eight-lane bowling alley would turn out to be the best part of my Friday.

I recently had a brief conversation with a worker at the Lincoln County Courthouse about how neat my job is because it allows me to meet such a variety of people. That is the best part, the people I get to meet. The writing is my second favorite part. People put the life in the writing.

From 9 a.m. until about noon this morning, I sat at my desk and retyped old newspaper entries for a "this day in history" type thing. For three hours. It felt like the longest Friday morning of my career to date.

Thinking I would be doomed to regurgitate who was who's coffee guest in 1961 Beloit for the next four hours, my boss gave me the welcome news that I could take off early. I did have a short appointment at 4 p.m., but we decided I could just run back into town for that.

While I didn't mind starting my weekend early, I wasn't terribly thrilled about having to go back into town at 4. All I had to do was stop by the Canton bowling alley and photograph the owner and his dad, the former owner, for a story I had already written about them.

So, at 3:45, I made the jaunt back into town. I'd already met Jeff, or "Grub," the owner, but today I also had the pleasure of meeting his dad, Don, for a brief few minutes. I learned that he used to not only work for my newspaper, but also the Sioux Falls newspaper, the Argus Leader, as a printer. You know, back when they did it the old-fashioned way, by hand, laid everything out. We talked about changing technology, "funky gadgets" and the wonders of digital cameras. I got to see "Grub" interact with 30-some middle schoolers at the alley for their weekly bowling league shenanigans. He playfully told a girl shoes would cost her 10 million dollars.

When I finally got around to taking the photo, they suggested I take their picture along with all the kids. The kids, after all, are one the biggest reasons Don and Grub keep coming back to this place.

Their little family lined up in front of the bowling lanes, the kids giddy that they were going to be in the newspaper and Don and Grub playfully grumbling that people were going to have to look at them.

"Now, pretend you're normal," Grub told the kids.

We took one normal picture.

"Ok, now go crazy!" I told them. They were very obedient.

I snapped my last photo, thanked the kids, told Don it was nice to meet him and smiled and waved at Grub as I made my way out. I caught myself singing as I walked to my car.

That dingy little eight-lane bowling alley transformed into the magical equivalent of a summer tree-house, almost like their own crew of lost boys (and girls). I don't know if that makes sense, but it sure gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

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