EVERETT — Glacier Lanes, usually a cacophony of rolling balls and clattering pins, came to a hush on a Monday evening in January.
Tony Cea, 47, was standing before a lane. Ahead of him, 10 pins stared at him defiantly. It was the last frame and they were the only things between him and a perfect game. He focused on breathing right and keeping his legs from shaking.
He took four steps and threw the ball. The throw was “kind of muddled,” he said. It came out lighter than he intended.
He stood and watched as the ball went down the lane. It curved to the right, hugging the gutter. Then, it curved back toward the center.
It smacked into the pins.
They all went down.
He threw his arms up in the air. The whole room became a mess of yells and shouts and hollering and hooting.
For Cea, this wasn’t just a perfect game, it was a perfect night with his family, who all participate in the Icebusters league every Monday. Cea, his mother Vickie Pederson, his sister Christi Aguilar and her son Nick Aguilar all scored over 200 points each, for a total of 1,002.
Three generations; 36 strikes in all.
Bowling is in this family’s blood. Pederson, 70, has been bowling for 52 years, and her late husband was a professional. He was the second person ever to score 300 at Glacier Lanes, which has been open since 1956.
Her kids grew up and worked in the alleys. “Ever since we could hold a ball,” Cea said — about 4 or 5 years old. Their father was patient, but told them how to throw one-handed from the beginning, because he wasn’t about to teach his own kids improper form. Christi Aguilar, 50, recalled tagging along and staying in hotels with her father when he went on tours.
Nowadays, bowling is an excuse to get together once a week.
“It makes your family closer,” Pederson said.
Cea gave another reason why his family got into bowling. “It was something for my dad to impart his wisdom,” he said.
He said “there’s no rhyme or reason” to what will make a good game. He bowled lackluster games before and after his 300, not to mention that he was tired and had strongly considered going to bed instead.
Sometimes, he just finds a rhythm.
“You just feel a groove,” he said.
Pederson said she’s witnessed changes in bowling over the years. She’s seen alleys switch ownership or close down entirely. She remembers when people, not computers, kept track of the score. (She believes that’s how her children learned how to count.) Even the balls have transformed, from rubber to plastic to urethane.
Though she sometimes grows nostalgic for the old days, nothing will deter her or her family from the sport.
“We will do it as long as we can, as our bodies will allow,” she said.