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98 candles and 10 pins

Bowler Pete Parsons celebrates his birthday and his 204 game with dozens of members of his Arcadia bowling league.

May 01, 2013|By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times

Pete Parsons was on a roll Wednesday in Arcadia.

Not only was he glowing from bowling a 204 game at Baldwin Avenue's AMF Bowling Square Lanes, he was rolling strikes for his three-person team, the Strivers.

And, oh yeah: Parsons took time out to cut his 98th birthday cake and serve up pieces to the 66 members of his bowling league.

He shrugged off both his age and his 204 game.

"I've been bowling for 40 years and then some," said the former San Gabriel business broker. "My wife says I should probably take bowling lessons at some point."

Dee Neff and her husband, Jim, a Glendale dentist, were a few lanes away when Parsons racked up his 204 game three weeks ago.

"Is that a good score? You bet," Dee said. "That's exceptional," Jim concurred.

As a scoreboard over lane 24 flashed birthday greetings to Parsons, he cradled his 12-pound ball and lined up his approach. He smoothly released a curve ball, which gracefully slammed into the pins, knocking eight of them down.

"Bowling is something you can do when you're too old to golf," joked Parsons as he waited for his ball to return. "The people here are the best group of people you can be with."

Bowler Hal Leavens, a former Monrovia sales representative, said Parsons lights up the place when he shows up for the Wednesday afternoon matches.

"He brings cheer to this group. He's never unhappy. Nothing bothers him, even when he's bowling poorly. But bowling over 200 is phenomenal," Leavens said.

A steady stream of well-wishers congratulated Parsons as he prepared to deliver his ball down the alley. Retired salesman Dick Harris of Arcadia reminded him they had been bowling buddies for 10 years. Dan Vanderhoof, a Sierra Madre veterinarian, has been Parson's friend for more than 20 years.

"I treat his animals. He has a dog named Marlowe that's almost as old as he is in dog years," Vanderhoof said with a laugh.

Bowling alley manager Sheryl Martin said Parsons proved that "people from age 2 to age 98 have fun doing this."

Strivers teammates Gene Reiz of Altadena and Casper Dinoto of El Monte watched as Parsons rolled a spare. His next time up, he knocked down all 10 pins.

"You see that? Pete rolled a strike," Dinoto shouted.

"Even a blind pig will hit something every once in a while," Parsons replied.

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