Oregon Tavern Age: Lorna

One recent Saturday afternoon I found myself sitting at a high table inside the dark and tiny lounge of the Reedsport Lanes bowling alley.

Bowling alley? Sure, why not? They are certainly more interesting than brew pubs and at least bowling alleys have the decency to segregate the snot noses and booger chompers (playing on their tablets) from the drinking clientele.

Can a bowling alley define itself as OTA country? You’re goddamn right it can! There’s always a superbly weird and fantastic story in bowling alleys, particularly in rural areas and ones that serve gizzards and deep fried green beans.

Reedsport Lanes has such a story, perhaps the greatest unwritten love story in modern Oregon history. Her name was Lorna. She was a wife and mother. She was a champion bowler for 40 years. She seems to have lived a secret life as a lesbian and traveled all over the country in the 60s, 70s and 80s with four other probable lesbians from Reedsport who rounded out a killer five-butch team that dominated Oregon female bowling leagues and tournaments for almost four decades! Jesus! That’s a lot of lesbian bowling with five women in chain motel rooms when Al Green ruled the charts! Hello Des Moines!

How do I know all this? Easy. It’s documented in several extraordinary scrapbooks shelved in the bowling alley that I discovered five years ago and knew instantly upon that discovery that I had struck pure story gold. One day these scrapbooks might disappear so I have considered stealing, I mean preserving, them.

In the future, I might write up Lorna’s forbidden saga, although clandestine love stories involving rural dyke bowlers with knowing or unknowing logger and fishermen husbands is not something I typically write about.

No one else in the history of American literature has either.

Sometimes, a writer has to challenge himself. So do others in life stuck in ruts and going nowhere.

I sat with my back to the wood paneling and surveyed the room. All five slot machines were occupied by five OTA women with the approximate combined age of 450 years.

Two more OTA women using walkers ambled in. One of them held a can of Bud Light.

I gathered none of the OTA women bowled. They were gamblers.

One of the machines opened up. I play exactly once a year, usually two bucks worth.

I slapped in a couple of crinkled ones. A few minutes later I cashed out after winning $16!

That payment was undoubtedly courtesy of Lorna from the great beyond. Call it an advance. She’d just hired me to ghost up her kink Reedsport story and insisted I don’t tell it slant! There had already been way too much of that in her life.