Time to Spare: Bowling clears a lane for sport, community

Time to Spare: Bowling clears a lane for sport, community
is a three-part series that explores league culture, highlights women bowlers and details the impact of bowling alleys closing and the history of the sport in Whatcom County.

Written by Jaya Flanary // Photos by Finn Wendt

Thursday night bowlers raise their hands April 27 as a fellow league member leaves a five-pin at 20th Century Bowl. Traditionally, a bowler owes everyone a drink if they miss the pin — however, Social Club leaguers jokingly promise each other more than just a drink.

Part I: ‘Nobody never has not fun bowling’

Bowlers keep league culture alive in 21st-century alleys

Part one explores league culture through reporter Jaya Flanary’s personal experience growing up bowling and through interviews with her fellow leaguers at Bellingham's 20th Century Bowl.

In April, Barbara Demorest of Bellingham reunited with two friends from her 1999 nationals team, left photo, to bowl in this year’s International Golden Ladies Classic in Las Vegas.

Part II: 'No respectable girl would ever go to a bowling alley'

Elite female bowlers set high standards, drive change in Whatcom County

Part two explores what it’s like to be a woman bowler through the eyes of various leaguers including Barbara Demorest, Janel Westerfield and Debbie Missiaen.

20th Century Bowl on State Street in Bellingham is one of three bowling centers in Whatcom County. Originally located on Railroad Avenue in the '50s and co-owned by Dick Brannian, the bowling alley is now owned and operated by his daughter, Beth Brannian, who has worked there since she was 16. “The sense of community that we have here is really special,

Part III: 'I’ll chain myself to this bowling alley if I have to'

How Whatcom County keeps bowling alive, thriving despite national closures

Part three details how local bowling center owners and avid bowlers contribute to the future of the sport and the space it takes to play it.