There's a lot of league action at the Holler House. The night I was there, it was mostly ladies. They play a little side deal, too. One of the women brings a deck of cards with photographs of naked men on them. I tell you, after I saw this deck, I didn't know whether to spit or go blind. The way it works is, everyone antes 50 cents, and if you make a strike or convert a tough split, you get to draw a card. The best poker hand of naked men at the end of the night wins the pot.
There are still pinboys at the Holler House. Three games for a buck, plus tips. Pinboys pretty much disappeared in the 1950s when the automatic pinsetters came in. Just in time. The National Child Labor Committee was on the warpath, claiming that pinboys (the ones who really were boys and not the old rummies) were getting only 11 cents a line, staying out too late, getting clobbered by flying wood and associating with undesirables (i.e., bowlers). It was assumed then that once pinboys were eliminated and the beautiful new centers with automatic lanes were constructed, bowling's image problem would be solved. But, of course, it didn't work out that way. Evidently, bowling is just destined never to be respectable.
Only, thankfully, at the Holler House, bowling never changes. Two guys were talking at the bar. The one with his hat on said, "I seen a guy come on TV Saturday with 23 balls that he used."
The other guy said, "Yeah, he's got one for this alley, one for that alley, one for splits, one for—"
"That ain't bowling."
"Yeah, bowling is one ball, you and the alley."
At the Holler House, they haven't had but two 300 games in 80 years, and the last one was in 1934. What would you give somebody if he bowled a perfect game at the Holler House? Marcy slid me another shorty and said, "I'd give 'em Gene."
Gene, you will recall, is Marcy's husband.
Gene had a stroke a couple of years ago, and he'd already gone up to bed. He's back to bowling once a month with the boys, though. Still, it made Gene and Marcy think, and so they bought a condo in Arizona. It hasn't what you would call taken, though. "We got furniture and everything," Marcy says. "You'd think we were newlyweds or some-thin'. But the last time I was down there, all I wanted was to get back to Milwaukee. I says to myself, 'Marcy, you are not ready for this.' Gene too. He's not ready to leave the Holler House."
Their grandson Michael, age 10, the fourth generation at the Holler House, is already learning to oil the alleys. "Friday nights now is the young people, and as loud as they play the music on the alleys then, I won't even go down there," Marcy says. "But, oh God, I could never give up this place. I could never give up the bar or the alleys."