Striking a Balance Amid the Recession
SUPERIOR, Neb--On the night we met her, Tracy Quackenbush was not a stay-at-home mom who had just started a job search.
Nor was Linda Tucker a restaurant bar owner waiting to see if the recession would chip away at her customer base.
Nor was Jill Bauer an independent abstractor and title researcher whose days had grown busy a year and a half ago because of the number of families refinancing their homes and again this year because of the foreclosures.
No, on this night, these women were not wives nor mothers nor employees nor bosses.
They were the Tuckers, one team out of five that had claimed a bowling lane for the first night of the season for the women’s league in Superior, Neb. On this night, there were no bills to pay, no children to feed, no jobs to stress about. There were only 12 pins, one ball and the pressure to make a strike or a spare on the fifth frame or face the punishment: the walk of shame to the bar where a potty training bowl sat waiting for their quarters.
“The amount that I spend on bowling is $7, and we buy drinks in rounds, so that’s $10 to $12 more,” Tracy Quackenbush said. “That’s worth my weekly sanity. I’d rather be coming here to bowl than to a therapist.”
And, it seems, more of her neighbors feel the same way. This year, the league added two teams, which is only 10 more people but in a small community is almost double the number of women who played last year. More women also signed up to be substitutes this year.
“The sub list is just as long as the bowling list,” said Tracy, who is also the league’s president. “Getting this much of a response is a sign that people are really needing a break.”
Her husband, who works at a hog farm that ships boar semen, has lost customers lately, she said. And with her children now ages 5 and 8, she has found herself looking for work during one of the tightest job markets in recent history. Of the applications she has submitted so far, she said, “nothing has come of it.”
“I make time for this,” she said of bowling night. “These are my best friends. These are the only five women in the world that I dedicate one day a week to.”
As we spoke near a table topped with beer bottles, her turn came up and Linda yelled, “Quit your damn yakking and play.”
Linda, who is nicknamed “Ma Tucker,” owns a bar and restaurant and said she has not yet seen her customers dwindle but knows that during hard times people cut back on eating out. “We haven’t felt it yet, but I know it is coming,” she said.
Then she quickly changed the subject. After all, bowling night was not the time for that kind of talk. It was not the place for lamenting or worrying or stressing.
“We come to bowl and we come to drink and we come to talk,” Linda said. “We just forget what’s going on in our lives and have a good time.”
A few feet in front of us, Tracy bowled a strike and pumped two fists in the air.
“Come on! Come on!” she shouted. “Where’s the love? Where’s the love? “
Michael and I had ended up at the six-lane bowling alley after driving through the area and finding the streets empty, except for a line of cars parked in front of Superior Bowl. We went inside to find out what was going on and discovered a place preserved in another time. Scores are still kept by hand and the price for coffee is 25 cents. On the bar, a jar of hot mama sausages sat next to a jar of pickled eggs, which sat near two kinds of beef jerky.
Owner Mike Fenimore said league nights (men take over the place two other week nights) help keep the place open, which he is more concerned about than making a profit. He splits his time between a full-time job at an auto parts store and the bowling alley, where he charges 50 cents for shoes and $2 a game. High school students pay only $1.
Because we had come on the first night of the women's season, other than Fenimore and MIchael, there were only about three other men in the room. They sat at the edge of the bar, drinking beer and taking in the scene: women shouting and high fiving and making fun of one another. One of the biggest laughs of the night came when a new player, who was left handed, bowled three gutter balls in a row with her right hand before asking if she should switch.
“There’s supposed to be bowling etiquette,” Jill Bauer said. “We don’t have it.”
Every year, the women take team photos and somewhere there is a picture of Jill with a bowling ball drawn on her exposed pregnant belly. It was taken when she was pregnant with her now 16 month old, during a time that work was hectic because of all the refinancing taking place. The wife of a farmer is now six months pregnant with her third child and busy because of the number of foreclosures.
Throughout the night, her teammates rubbed her bulging belly for luck as if she were a Buddha statue.
After Jill scored a strike, a teammate yelled, “Way to go preggo!”
“I’m the other pasta sauce,” she said, laughing.
“I think everyone needs something,” Jill said of bowling night. “I think we become better moms and wives when we have a chance to relax.”
Posted by: sheri_berri | August 26, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: itsonly10AM | August 26, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MamaMary | August 27, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MHibernia | August 27, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.