The Bar Chronicles: #3, The ‘Pinboy’

Bar Night 2

‘…bowling really blossomed, particularly among blue-collar types, in the 1950′s and 1960′s after the introduction of the automatic pinsetter’ John McDuling

It was ‘bar night’ for three ‘old’ friends at a local pub in Rochester, NY, ‘The Lost Borough’. Our plan, enjoy a couple of signature brews and add another saga to ‘The Bar Chronicles’. The pub was busy, ‘trivia night’, complete with a booming voice emcee, eager crowd and ample beer to encourage gamesmanship. It added up to a rowdy atmosphere with plenty of hootin’ and hollerin’.

We selected an ‘ale’ from a ‘flight’ and forged ahead with our own game of ‘remember when’, parrying back and forth with personal recollections of our earliest work experiences, our first actual paying jobs.

We were delivery boys in pickup trucks and shoeshine boys on Main Street. We were floor sweepers in a haberdashery and washed cars at a used car dealership. And we were pinboys’ in a bowling alley, at least one was.

‘Pinboys’, a romantic word in a nostalgic sort of way. I was too young to remember ‘pinboys’, but one of us was the right age to be one. He was a teenager and his work station was at the end of a bowling lane where he perched himself on a bench above the pit. When the pins exploded off the deck from the impact of 16 pound balls rolled down the lane like fodder shot from a cannon, he quickly jumped into the pit and went into action; rolled the ball back, cleared ‘deadwood’, or reset new pins for another roll.

Generally, a ‘pinboy’, or pinsetter, managed two lanes, hence speed was an asset, and a priority. Younger boys with small hands could handle ‘two pins a hand’ while the older boys managed three. With pins in place, he’d jump back to his seat, step on a pedal to lower the rods, or pin holders, and wait for the next roll. A good day returned 8 or 9 cents a game, and an afternoon of work brought in some extra cash for this young man’s coal mining family in the post-Depression coal mining region of eastern Pennsylvania.

Tell me about your first job. Did you like it? What did you learn? I cleaned metal paint pots for a painting company and abhorred it. But I learned lessons of responsibility and discipline that comes from hard work, and stays with you for life. I got paid, but it wasn’t ‘romantic’ like my friend’s job, a ‘pinboy’.  I wish I could have been a ‘pinboy’…alas, I was too young.



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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

11 thoughts on “The Bar Chronicles: #3, The ‘Pinboy’”

  1. There is so much I have to say about this, I should just make it a blog post of my own!

    First, if I don’t get to read Bar Chronicles as a book someday, I’m going to cry.

    “… alas, I was too young.” That’s exactly how I feel about a number of things, some of historical significance, some not significant at all, some happened long before I was born, but gosh, I wish I could have been there! You have such a gift for capturing “universal” feelings.

    I can only imagine the trivia that fueled the game in the pub that night, but I am certain it was not nearly as interesting as the “trivia” in your conversation with your friends. Those gamers have no idea what they missed!

    My first job was selling cosmetics in a Merle Norman store. I learned a little about skin care and such, but far more about serving others. I loved it, and when the store went out of business, my boss arranged another job for me in a jewelry store just across the mall. I was a teenager. It was the 70’s. NOTHING could have made me happier than makeup and gold chains!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your flattering reviews. Your reference for a ‘Chronicles’ book has me motivated. U have no idea how to do it but I plan to keep writing the ‘Chronicles’ as long as there is beer. I have one in the works from last week and the other geezers and I go out monthly so I’ll have enough fodder for more. Right now, I’m working on ‘The Onion Suit’. I have more to mention but will save it for off-line after I figure out how to don’t that. Thanks, again, IdaBeth. (Steve)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course. ‘You’re my biggest fan’…what was that movie where she kept saying that about the writer she held against his will…Have you read ‘Bar Chronicles 4…’? And don’t forget ‘The Onion Suit’. You’re the best. (Steve)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So, you were in sales for awhile. Wonderful. I was a teacher for a few years, then went into sales for my career. Both ‘serve’ people. Sales is a wonderful job because you meet so many different people and get to help them. I recommend it for anyone. I wonder if I could sell, ‘The Bar Chronicles’, other than the 1 book you’d buy??? 😉


  3. Ida Beth, in case you missed it, I published a new ‘Bar Chronicle’, ‘How I Met My Wife’. Che knit out and then tell me how you guys met. I’m assuming you’re married…


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