Engineers bowling together since 1938

Originally Published April 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 12, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

From the left, Leon Gray, Paul Hadfield, Bonnie Noggle, Jerry Noggle and Jay Woods are a few of the bowlers that are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock Bowling League that formed in 1938.

— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock Bowling League has been hitting the lanes together in central Arkansas since 1938.

The league meets every Monday night at Millennium Bowl in Maumelle to play three games.

Jay Woods of Cabot, public affairs specialist for the Corps, said, “Bowling is a way to come out, socialize and have fun. We get to hear stories from the past.”

He said the league started bowling at Pla-Mor lanes in Little Rock in 1938.

“After that, the league moved all over town,” Woods said, and since 2005 has met at Millennium Bowl.

“We bowl every Monday from the end of August to the first of May,” Woods said.

It started as an all-men’s league and, in the 1970s, Woods said, the league allowed women to join. Bowlers in the league range from 30 to 70 years old.

The league doesn’t have an “official” name, but the six teams who bowl in it have team names that range from “Spare Us” to “Just for Fun.” Before the teams had the bowling-related names, Woods said the teams were named for the division of the Corps where the participants worked.

“The only original name left is ‘Survey,’” he said.

Woods said five former members of the league made it all the way to the Central Arkansas Bowling Association Hall of Fame.

Some of the league members have been bowling together for more than 40 years. Participants in the league either work, or have worked, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock division.

Leon Gray of Conway has been bowling with the league for 43 years.

“I love to bowl, and I love these guys,” Gray said. “We’ve had a good, long career together.”

Gray was a computer programmer at the Corps before he retired, and he said the league gives him a chance to hang out with his former co-workers.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Gray said. “[My wife and I] drive from Conway every Monday.”

Jay Townsend of Maumelle is the league’s newest member. Townsend is a public affairs specialist for the Corps and said bowling is a way to connect with current and former employees.

“Some of these people built our country’s infrastructure,” Townsend said. “Maybe I can learn something from them.”

Family members and spouses of Corps workers also are invited to bowl with the league.

Townsend said he and his wife use the weekly bowling night as a way to spend time together, too.

Gray said he will be 80 years old next month.

“I plan on [bowling] as long as I can,” he said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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