"After 29 years you miss it," Mickey Lotz of Glen Burnie said. "But life goes on and so does the league."
The 29 years were at Greenway Glen Burnie. The league is the Wednesday Care Free Ladies, and Lotz would have bowled duckpins for another 29 years at Greenway if a fire hadn't leveled the center just after the 1993-94 season had started.
Lotz, past president, secretary, treasurer, past everything in the 12-team women's league, has spent her entire duckpin career with the Care Free Ladies.
Now that the Care Free Ladies are bowling at Riviera Bowl in Pasadena, it's difficult to believe that the league spent almost three decades at another center. The laughter, the fun, the camaraderie fills the 24-lane center on Wednesday mornings.
Elaine Johansson, president of the league, began her career in Boston -- with candlepins.
Johansson, who lives in Glen Burnie, has been president of the Care Free Ladies for four years.
"Sure, I miss Greenway," she said. "But everyone here treats us just great. And the scoring is better. I'm averaging four pins better  than I did at Greenway ."
Dorothy Gurtler of Linthicum began her bowling career in Sharon, Pa., with tenpins, but she's been bowling with the Care Free Ladies "for seven or eight years."
Gurtler, as are just about all the women of the Care Free league, is modest about her duckpin accomplishments, "Not good enough. . . . I just love the sport," she said.
"We all miss Greenway. But Riviera Bowl is very nice to us. We were welcomed and treated great."
Susan Schoening began her bowling career in Frankfurt, Germany, with tenpins. The Glen Burnie resident has been in the Care Free Ladies League for 14 years and carries a 105 average.
"When we came to Riviera Bowl after Greenway burned out, we were treated like family," she said. "When we told them we lost our equipment in our lockers they offered us everything at cost. We couldn't have been treated any better. I love bowling here. It feels like family."
Making Greenway bowlers feel more at home is Ken Klingensmith.
"After 22 years at Greenway it seems strange to be in another center," Klingensmith said. "But I'm seeing a lot of the same people that used to bowl at Greenway."
The Lake Erie, Pa., native lives in Pasadena, and, believe it or not, doesn't bowl.
Retired from Maryland Cup Corporation, he's done everything from chase pins to work the control desk on a part-time basis. You'll find him at Riviera Bowl now in the evenings at center control.
"After all these years in the bowling business I've seen a lot of changes," he said. "When I started there were two shifts of five-member teams every weeknight. Now it's down to quads, then triples and now some doubles on the late shift.
"And of course the scoring has increased. Twenty-two years ago you didn't see anyone averaging in the 150s. Today it's common with the better leagues."
NABI tourney pays off
The National Amateur Bowlers Inc tournament at Annapolis Bowl last weekend drew 292 entries and paid out $8,650 in prize money.
Danny Mitchell of Forestville claimed first place and a check for $1,500. Dale Hogue of La Plata finished second and won $750, and Michael Parks of Washington took home $300 for third place.
Jim Doyle of Catonsville picked up a check for $200 for fourth place, and Tom Fielder of Laurel was fifth and won $175.