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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Unknown Bowler Finally Revealed

All this talk about the Unknown Bowler (See the December 28th Blog entry) brought back memories of a nutsy late 1970's TV show that I somehow thought to be pretty funny. It was called the Gong Show and featured an off the wall host, Chuck Barris, and a recurring character called the Unknown Comic.

The Unknown Comic from the Gong Show.

The Unknown Comic and the Unknown Bowler share a similarity. There was a mystery surrounding their identity. There was also a difference. I never did find out who the Unknown Comic was, but I was able to solve the mystery of the Unknown Bowler.

The Unknown Bowler from Bud Steele's mid to late 1960's Atlantic Gas Station team.

I went through my electronic history newspaper clipping files in search of a clue to figuring out the identity of the Unknown Bowler. It was my only hope, as no one I had shown the bowling team photo to could identify the man. After a while, I finally hit pay dirt! A found a 1968 newspaper photo of Bud Steele's prize winning bowling team. Some of the bowlers were in the earlier photo, including Bud Steele, Owen Carty, and our Unknown Bowler. Jack Mathis and his son-in-law, Tiny Keufer, were new to the team. The caption below the newspaper photo revealed our Unknown Bowler's name - Roland Swenson.

1968 Tuckerton Beacon clipping
Photo taken by BettyJean Mathis Keufer.

But, who was Roland Swenson, and what was he doing on a New Gretna bowling team? I've never heard that name before.

The only person still living from that 1968 team is Tiny who lives on South Maple Avenue, so I gave him a call to ask about Roland Swenson. Tiny didn't remember much about Roland except that he was a friend of Owen Carty who lived on Long Beach Island, and refinished wood floors for a living. Not much information but 1968 was a long time ago, and it was all that Tiny could recall. It was enough, however, to explain why no one from New Gretna could identify Roland. He was not from New Gretna, so he wasn't recognized.

Bob Brown who was in the original bowling team photo posted on the December 28th Blog is now living in Delaware, and I don't know how to get in touch with him. He may remember other information related to his ex team mate, Roland. Perhaps someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can get in touch with Bob, ask him about Roland, and give us an update.

I did call Helen Sears Carty, Owen's wife. She remembered Roland but couldn't recall anything more than what Tiny had remembered. She thought Roland may have lived in Tuckerton rather than Long Beach Island as Tiny had mentioned.

Owen and Helen Sears Carty with their daughter, Joyce in the late 1940's. (Photo courtesy of Helen Sears Carty.)
Helen did remember Owen bowling a 299 game at Stafford Lanes in Manahawkin. She said that he lost a perfect game on the last ball which was a solid pocket hit. The six pin shook and wiggled but failed to fall. A 299 score was still a significant feat; however, and Owen became somewhat of a celebrity around New Gretna for a while.

For all those who might doubt Owen's remarkable game, the score sheet follows. I'm a little puzzled regarding the (blind) notation following Roland's name. I'm sure that he wasn't blind, so it must be a bowling term that I am not aware of.

By the way, the December 28th Blog entry contest for the first person to name all the bowlers to win a free breakfast with Jim McAnney remains unclaimed, as no one was able to name Roland Swenson. Sorry about that Jim. I guess you'll have to eat breakfast by yourself.

Well, that just about ends our little bowling escapade here at the Blog for now, unless someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere has something to add.

Pete S


  1. Hi Pete: Your mention of the bowling alley in Manahawkin brings back the memory of my Mother and Stepfather bowling there on Friday nights. In order to get to the bowling alley you had to walk through the bar first. One evening they took me with them and after bowling, as was their custom, they stopped in the bar afterwards for a beer. The bartender then asked me what I wanted to drink. Now, remember, I was about 7 years old at this time. I piped up and said "a Tom Collins". Everyone just about died from laughter and I have no idea where I had heard of such a drink. The bartender fixed me a Shirley Temple Tom Collins. He used soda but trimmed it up to look like the real thing.
    Bars were different places then. I would never dream of taking a young child into one today.
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  2. Blind, Pete, I believe means he was absent and they used his average less 10 pins...I think.
    Bowling used to be a really big thing up in Vermont where I was raised. Both my parents bowled in a league, most every night of the week. And the "alley" was a neat place to hang out back then. Ahhh the good ol' days.
    Postmaster Michele

  3. I am glad my grandmother (Helen Carty )gave me the web address for this blog. I enjoy the stories in the Gazette and can't wait for the next one to be delivered to me from my Nana.

    As far as the bowling goes a few things. I can remember a 10th birthday party that I had at the bowling alley in Manahawkin. I remember seeing Poppy's name ( Owen Carty ) on a plaque, hanging above the lanes I felt proud. My Poppy passed away when I was 7, but I got to know him very well, and still have fond memories of him 30 years later.

    In later years, my friends and I would go and "hang out" out the alley on the weekend eating stale nachos and drinking warm "cokes", trying to one up each other, but I was the only one who's grandfather bowled a 299 and had the proof hanging over the lanes. By the way, when I go bowling now I use the same bowling ball and bag that rolled that 299. Unfortunately I have never came close to duplicating the score.

    Once again I am so excited to find this blog and I will be loyal reader.

    Glenn Jones
    Tuckerton NJ

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