By Carol Masshardt

Make no mistake, the forty or so ladies, ages twenties to eighties, own the bowling alley on Wednesday nights from September-April. They come from a variety of jobs, backgrounds, abilities as bowlers, and though some don’t actually recall how they came to join, they surely know why they stay.

“It’s the camaraderie,” said Jeanne Hogan, who comes from her healthcare job at Tufts Medical Center. “I have only been coming about three years, but there are some thirty-plus. It is a fun group. We laugh, we bowl, there are banquets and get togethers. It breaks up the week and the winter. I have good and so good nights at the bowling, but it’s not about winning and losing,” she said.

Betty Dillon heads over from her job at Houghton Mifflin as she has been doing for the past ten years.

“I like the craziness. These are fun ladies with personalities. Some bowled with their mothers, others just heard about it,” she said.

Most have roots in South Boston and are lifelong residents, and others hear about it, and/ or return from wherever life has taken them. Though it seems a group with strong history and connections, it sounds as if new people are incorporated quite easily.

Karen Ceurvels remembers many early days of the group going back fifty or so years.

“We would come here with our mothers, and they would go home to watch Dynasty! I was one of the youngest but see what happens?” she joked. “So, here is the main point. You do not have to be a good bowler. The most important person is the lowest scorer because you start to see their average go up. They are the ones to watch. But we just have fun. We used to be called the “Spare Dames,” (and other names.) I live in Braintree now for reasons of my family and what we needed, but I’m Southie all the way,” she said.

“I just like people and jokes,” said Val Kennealy, and there was plenty to go around on a rainy, raw March night as pre-determined teams played three strings with the undeniable warmth of company.

There are not many places left where you can be who you are, and where a big red bell will ring for you if your talent and luck coincide. But even if you get a gutter ball, there will be a supportive cheer or well-placed joke, and the evening goes on.

In a time of diminishing candlepin bowling alleys, and connections with others for fun and recreation, here you have it. Nestled upstairs in the block with a hair salon and dog spa, is a decades old league that shows no sign of slowing down.