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Bowling & The Turkey Bowl


In the 1970's and 1980's, “The Machine Never Lies”, “One Through Seven for Show...Eight Through Ten for Dough”, and “Do you breathe in or out when you bowl?”, was part of the Sigma Nu vernacular.  Bowling became a true ritual for Epsilon Nu.  Not the kind of bowling that requires two-toned shoes, wrist supports and 16 pound balls, but the kind played on a 16’ arcade machine.  Most have seen video bowling games, some have played “disk” bowling games. Sigma Nu’s game was played on a 1971 Chicago Coin “Monte Carlo” using 6”diameter balls.

“The Machine” was located at “The Hitching Post” in Darrtown, just four miles east of Oxford.  Virtually every Thursday night during the school year (Fridays and Saturdays, too, if we didn’t have other social events), The Post, owned by Earl "Red" Huber, became the Sigma Nu bar.  It was not uncommon to see all 70-80 active members of the House show up at the Post on a Thursday night. 

The Machine would allow for the competition of two, three-man teams.  Although the machine offered several types of bowling games (Flash-O-Matic, Red Pin, etc.), our choice was "Regulation" as it best emulated real bowling.  The Machine had two settings; easy and difficult.  For our purposes, the Machine was set to difficult.    Only a handful of "300" games were known to have been recorded.  The two teams would go head-to-head and, after 10 frames, the team with the most cumulative points would be deemed the winner.

Clockwise: 1. The Commish (Walter J. Bucketts), Jack and Bradli   2. Pepi's Pals (Jack, Flyin', Magerk)   3. The Boys at the bar   4.  Shultzy readies his aim in the finals of T-Bowl, 1978, as the Boys watch

A House bowler points to his EXTREMELY RARE and IMPRESSIVE "300" score on The Post machine.  (The website coordinator must be indulged) 

Teams were formed ad-hoc as guys arrived at The Post.  Guys would form their own teams.  We had some die-hard, really good bowlers and we had a lot of capable casual bowlers.  In addition, this was a game where a guy with a “hot hand” could carry a team throughout the evening.  The rule was that winning team remained on the machine until it lost.  Games cost 10 cents per man.  Your team's place in line on the challenge ladder to bowl was on the honor system.  At any point in time, there might be 5-8 teams waiting for their chance to unseat the winners.  Challengers would pay the 10 cent per man fee for their own team as well as the team they were trying to unseat.

After a game, the losing team would always buy the winners their beers of choice (Stroh’s seemed to be the popular choice), and would give up their place in line.  The first games might kick off as early as 6:00 if the die-hards headed to The Post right after the House dinner, and games would continue on until closing time.

Everybody had his own unique bowling style.  Some threw the ball slowly, some tossed hard, some found success just to right of the head pin while others went just left.  Some took a few steps, others never moved an inch.  Splits were devastating.  Diving on the machine upon release of the ball was also considered a legal practice and fair game in Sigma Nu circles.  There are many die-hards who are still missing the hair on their shins worn off by the machine's rubber endplate. 

Turkey Bowl

Turkey Bowl was the brainchild of Walter J. Bucketts (aka Michael Turnbull ’79).  Walter is considered to be Turkey Bowl Founder, Commissioner for Life and will be Commissioner Eternal.  Earl “Red” Huber, Hitching Post owner, was considered Honorary Lifetime Commissioner and would throw out the first ball at Turkey Bowl with the same degree of ceremony Arnie and Jack get when teeing it up to kick off The Masters.

Turkey Bowl was held on the Monday night prior to Thanksgiving; a day or two before we would leave for Thanksgiving weekend.  Bucketts convinced Red to open up the place exclusively for Sigma Nus.  In fact, Red would politely ask townies and any sorority girls to leave the premises on Turkey Bowl Monday.

The first Turkey Bowl occurred on Monday, November 24, 1975.  The original format included eight, three-man teams competing in a double elimination bracket.  About a week prior to the tournament, the Commissioner would select 8 captains from the senior class.  The captains would participate in an open draft of players from the House.  The teams would create names and some would have team uniforms/tee shirts.  "Pepi's Pals", "Ball Busters", "Strike My Hole" and "Stroh's. Who's Next?" were some favorites.

Among the rules:

1.  “The Machine Never Lies.”  On very rare occasions, the machine might malfunction disallowing a strike or offering an extra shot to a player.  Whatever the machine did was “official”.  There were no "do-overs".

2.  Losing Team would buy the beers for the Winning Team after each game.

3.  Any player still “alive” in the tournament was required to drink one shot of alcohol, witnessed by the Commissioner, at the top of every hour.

4.  ABSOLUTELY NO PHYSICAL INTIMIDATION OR INTERFERENCE.  However, anything goes form a verbal abuse        perspective.

The winning team would take the trophy, and win a few cases of Stroh's.  The Turkey Bowl MVP, selected by the Commissioner, would also take home a bottle of Wild Turkey.  The teams and MVPs would become part of Local Lore and became the answers to some outstanding pledge test questions.

Favorite Commissioner Story:  Commander Matthew “Choo” Beck, distraught over a disappointing Turkey Bowl performance and Social Chairman Steve “Orts” Ortner thought it wise to RUN home from The Post to 300 N. Talawanda.

Turkey Bowl continued after Bucketts’ graduation and with his long-distance oversight.  The venue was temporarily moved to the Riley Inn in 1980 and 1981 after The Post was shuttered during Red Huber’s illness.