Page 38 - Oct2017

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xcavations of ancient Egyptian artifacts have
revealed evidence of some of the earliest known forms
of sporting games, dating back to 3200BC. Among the
items discovered were large porcelain balls that because
of their size and weight are presumed not to have been thrown
or tossed but instead rolled on the ground, indicating a similar
concept to modern-day bowling.
Four thousand years later in 5
Century Germany, bowling
was introduced as a religious rite. Parishioners would exonerate
themselves from sin by rolling a rock into a standing club
that was meant to represent the heathen and its hedonistic
tendencies. The practice soon morphed exclusively into a form
of entertainment, but somehow, the debauched stigma of its
origin remained and the game was long mired in the dregs of
an unfavorable reputation.
This did not, however, prevent the popularity of bowling
from spreading throughout Europe, and its entrance into the
present-day United States is noted as 1609 with the Dutch
colonization of New Amsterdam (now New York).
The most popular version of bowling in its early form
used nine pins, and it more resembled a team sport than
the individual one of today. The games were always staged
outdoors on a private lawn or public
greens, but soon people began to
install awnings over the bowling
alleys so they were shaded from
the heat and could be used
even in inclement weather. This
eventually led to the opening of the
first indoor bowling alley in 1840—
Knickerbocker Alley in New York City.
The steady popularity of the sport persisted,
despite it being a target of both religious and state leaders
for two-hundred and fifty years. It was prohibited by early
Puritan settlers for its assumed proclivity to elicit undesirable
behavior, and later even some state legislatures specifically
outlawed the game “nine-pin” to reduce gambling. But certain
enterprising individuals in the mid-19
Century were crafty
enough to simply add another pin, circumventing the law and
subsequently creating modern ten-pin bowling, after which the
state and the church seemed to more or less acquiesce in their
resistance to the game.
Around this time began a rapid influx of German immigrants
into the United States, prompted by Germany’s Revolutions of
1848, and they brought their love of bowling with them. This
was also the point when Galveston was fast establishing its sea
legs as a major port of commerce, and with that naturally came
a designation as a port of immigration, as well. A burgeoning
German community was established in Galveston in the
1850s, and it would go on to construct the Garten Verein (now
Kempner Park, 27
and Avenue O) in 1880, a German social
club that included an elaborately designed dance pavilion,
By Kimber Fountain
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