Hustling games at a 1960s bowling alley

Hustling games at a 1960s bowling alley
Bowler Kenny Barber: "I don’t pick up 

a ball for less than a grand a game."

Mr. Barber and others were "action bowlers", guys who gambled against each other for huge amounts of money in the bowling alleys of 1960s New York. Of course, there were side bets, and con men who tried to gain unfair advantage:

Like Tony Side Weight, Goldfinger earned a reputation for lodging lead in his bowling ball to give it more "side weight." According to the crooks whose livelihoods depended on the extent of their mastery over various measures of deception, extra side weight turned the ball so sharply toward the headpin that it obliterated the pocket with an authority no ordinary ball could muster.

Steve Harris, a former pro shop owner from Neshanic Station, N.J., said he would drill a hole in a ball, pour mercury into it, then plug the hole with a liquid that hardened overnight.

"As the ball rolled, the mercury would shift in the ball and it would go sideways and kill the pins," Harris, 71, said. "I would also get lead sinkers from the fishing store and do that. But you could not control them. You just played with them."

Somebody forgot to tell that to Goldfinger, who won four consecutive matches with his loaded ball before the gangsters got a clue.

"He’s throwin’ a loaded ball," one of the gangsters growled behind Goldfinger’s lane as he pulled a five-foot cigar out of his face…

Read the rest: When Thugs and Hustlers Ruled Dark Alleys, The New York Times>>

Action Bowlers>>

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2 thoughts on “Hustling games at a 1960s bowling alley

  1. We never called it con,it was action, hustling,looking for a fish,etc.

    Nice job.

    Steve Harris
    Pro Shop in NYC 60’s

  2. Steve:

    If you guys were hustling, were there other guys who you might have called con men? For instance, what would you have called a guy who pulled a short change con where he tried to get more money back from a cashier, for instance? Was he pulling a con, or did you call it something else?

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