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20230111 Winter Texan Bowling HMiller IMG 7089 webWinter Texans clash in local alleys

Stan Hawkins has bowled for 18 years. Wearing his “Flintstones” bright orange team uniform, designed by teammate Rich Michelena, the “Bowling Stones” and “Pin Pals” were two of several teams who hit the lane at Flamingo Bowl in McAllen for league play.

The lanes were dotted on this day with several neon-colored jerseys from different Winter Texan Parks. Hawkins is a Bentsen Grove resident.

20230111 Winter Texan Bowling HMiller IMG 7088 web“I brought the group here for some 9-pin bowling,” said Hawkins, a 20-year Navy veteran. “When we first started, people just showed up. Now we bowl all year long, all through summer. This group has been together for the past two years.”

Hawkins is a Nebraska native who also drove trucks and raised livestock before converting into a Winter Texan, now a year-round resident. Before bowling, which he said he does three to four times per week, one could find Hawkins on the square dance floor. He is a retired square-dance caller as well.

“This was a career move,” joked the 85-year-old who “is still active.”

It looks like it was a great move. His best game in the Valley is an eye-popping 279.

20230111 Winter Texan Bowling HMiller IMG 7105 web“I left one spare,” he said. “All the rest were strikes. And it was a lot more luck than skill.”

Monika Keckner and her husband Ray have bowled for 54 years. Monika was born in Germany, Ray in Maryland and the two reside in Northern Minnesota – way Northern – but live during the Winter in El Valle Del Sol.

This is their third year bowling in the Valley. They are part of the “Pin Pals”.

“It’s fun. It’s good exercise and we enjoy mingling with other people,” Keckner said. “The Valley is a nice and friendly place, and you don’t need your snow shovels here.”

Keckner’s best game is a 278, leaving “several pins” along the way. Either way, it was a fun 10 frames.

20230111 Winter Texan Bowling HMiller IMG 7096 webSeveral bowlers can be found loading up their gear and heading to the lanes all week. While there are several leagues set up for the various groups, others will just come out to play a series on their own.

There’s friendly banter, games played within games – the “Bowling Stones” had a card-game running simultaneously based on closing frames – and spirited competition.

And, of course, there are the jerseys – none on this day brighter or more able to bring a smile across someone’s face than the Fred Flintstone and the “Bowling Stones.”

“I guess I’m Fred,” Michelena laughed. He has designed other team logos/jerseys as well.

Keckner, whose team was battling the “Bowling Stones”, said the jerseys were not at all intimidating.

“But they are really cute,” she said.