Glen McGhie Honoured For Life in Five Pin Bowling

from the Kingston Whig Standard 2015



KINGSTON — Once upon a time, before modern machinery made the pin-boy obsolete, there was a lad who collected and erected downed bowling pins, on five- and 10-pin lanes, with the sort of swiftness that indicated his life depended on it – and sometimes perhaps it did. Like the time that airborne pin took him high on the shoulder next to his brain-box, which, the experts advise, should not absorb the impact from a three-pound, 15-inch, flying piece of hard maple.

“I took a lot off the shins, because some (bowlers) wouldn’t give you enough time,” said Glen McGhie, the pin-boy from Essex, Ont., who eventually left the pin deck for the other end of the lane. “I’d get so mad sometimes I’d throw the pins right back at ‘em.”Still, he engaged his duties with the wonderful enthusiasm of a kid on his first payroll — in this case cash on the barrel each and every time he showed up to pick, set and, when possible, dodge bowling pins. The money rolled in. Literally.“I was paid by coins the bowlers threw down the lanes,” McGhie noted. As with nightclub servers, the generosity of tipping patrons in the alley was in direct correlation to their intake of happy fuel.Fast forward six decades and McGhie is a freshly minted member of the Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers’ Association hall of fame. Last weekend the 69-year-old lanes lover was inducted in the the builders category and rightfully so. Never a lights-out bowler though certainly better than most, his forte lies in development and promotion.Prior to his retirement from the Air Force, Sgt. McGhie, at almost every posting during 25 years in uniform, played in and managed bowling leagues. In Lahr, West Germany, he was in charge of an eight-lane alley on the base. In Winnipeg he served as Youth Bowling Council supervisor/director at the base bowling alley.While at CFB Kingston he became the first manager of new Garrison Lanes Bowling Alley, a position he held into retirement, 27 years in all.

In 1993, McGhie and Doug Bird co-founded the Special Olympics program at Garrison. What started with a few teams and a handful of participants today sports 14 teams and some 70 players, every Friday with another weekday added this year. “To see them socialize and compete is a phenomenal thing,” said McGhie.Prior to last weekend’s enshrinement ceremony in Hamilton, his most memorable moment in 5-pin occurred in 1983. McGhie bowled a perfect game at Garrison, one of just six 450 scores at the 10-lane venue.The military, aware of the sergeant’s vigour for the sport, once dispatched him on a brief, sensitive assignment — sensitive to the taxpayer. “I was given two days’ notice,” said McGhie, who at the time was still running the Garrison lanes.

He winged his way aboard an Air Force Hercules transport to the Canadian Forces Station in Alert. His mission: Repair and, yes, test repeatedly, four broken bowling lanes.“I had enough time to pack my screwdrivers and go,” he said.

Aside from flying 10-pins that nailed that Essex pin-boy long ago, McGhie, who still bowls once a week, has avoided injury in a pair of bowling shoes.Well, except one time which was no laughing matter, although he cracked up plenty when retelling the tale. The event was a Christmas Fun Bowl in Winnipeg. McGhie, honouring the ‘fun’ aspect of the evening, bowled a game backwards, no doubt emboldened by some of that aforementioned happy fuel. “I slipped and fell down the lane and was in real pain,” he remembered. “I kept yelling. ‘Help! Help!’ but no one came.”

When help finally arrived, the problem was instantly pinpointed. “I had a sliver in my arse an inch wide and this long,” he said, spreading apart his thumb and forefinger to the length of a child’s crayon. “I needed three or four stitches at the hospital. “There might’ve been a couple beers involved,” he added needlessly.

There you have it — bowling’s version of the term ‘take one for the team.’ Every hall of famer needs a hall-of-fame story guaranteed to draw a few laughs. That one’s hard to top.