by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
|Fred Fish at work, Perry's Automotive|
Sir Flinders Petrie discovered bowling artifacts in an Egyptian tome dating the game to 3200 B. C. in the 1930s. The game was being played in Germany in 300 A. D. and popular in England in 1366 A. D.
English, Dutch and German settlers brought their own variations of the game to America. Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle awakens to the sound of "crashing ninepins." in 1819.
Arguably, the first permanent American bowling place, for lawn bowling, was in New York's Battery area, now in the heart of the financial district. The small plot is still called Bowling Green.
But ten pin bowling did not take off as a major sport in America until the 1950s, following the introduction of the first rubber ball, the "Evertrue" in 1905 and Gottfried Schmidt's automatic pinspotter. Owners of bowling establishments were no longer dependent on "pinboys."
Playing a game cost 25 cents. Renting bowling shoes was a dime. The rate of inflation on the cost of bowling from 1955 to 2014 has been 781.2%.
The subject came up during the hour and 15 minutes I waited for a City Taxi Cab to arrive at Perry's Automotive the other day. On the wall was an article from the Star Beacon chronicling the first 300 game of 1974 played by Fred Fish at Lake Shore Lanes. Fred works at Perry's. Fred said he no longer bowls because of the cost, remembering the four games for a dollar he paid in 1974.
According to the cumulative rate of inflation if Lake Shore's management had raised their prices along with other costs of living the price for those four games would be $4.79, with a rate of inflation of 379.0%. Lake Shore on occasion offers all you can bowl coupons for $10.
Fred gave up bowling.
America went off the gold standard in 1913 with the establishment of the Federal Reserve, whose stated goal was to provide stable prices. In 1913 a loaf of bread cost about a nickle. Today it costs about $1.45.
In 1776 when Thomas Jefferson bought a loaf of bread it cost the same as it did when J. P. Morgan bought a loaf a century later, about a nickle. The price had not changed. The value of the dollar increased 11% from 1776 to 1912, 136 years.
So, where did the money for bowling go? When you find out tell Fred.