Jon de Vos: King Edward bowls his way to Arkansas
I’ve been thinking about King Edward III a lot lately. You’ll remember, he was the English monarch who had the misfortune to rule England for 50 years, from 1326 through 1375. Everybody imagines that being king is a cushy job, with the ladies-in-waiting, roast pigs and jesters to take your mind off the lack of sanitary facilities.
Kings obviously did have it good, or else why would they murder each other to get the throne? Edward III’s father, Edward II, was murdered for the offense of dallying with the boys and hanging out, listening to old Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf records, while the bonny Scotsman, Robert Bruce, reclaimed Scotland from English rule. This opened the throne for his son, Edward III, who accepted the crown when he was 14 years old. Ed III had it tougher than the rest. He ruled England through the Black Death, the plague that wiped out half the people in his country and Europe during the mid 1300s.
As if the Black Death wasn’t enough, early one gloomy 1337 morning, Eddie, King of England, woke up in Windsor Castle and decided he was also the King of France. He led his army across the English Channel and invaded France, making short work of most of the unsuspecting French. He won the battle but couldn’t quite put an end to the conflict that came to be known as the Hundred Years War. The episodic violence between the French and the English actually lasted 116 years, until Joan of Arc finally broke the spirit of the English and, in 1453, drove King Henry V back to England through the Chunnel. (Uh, for you fact checkers, that was hyperbole; the Chunnel was not completed until 1994 and Henry V had nothing to do with it.)
I’ve been thinking about King Edward because he banned bowling in England.
It interfered with archery practice. I’ve been wondering how that went for him and it’s a good thing for him my wife wasn’t around then.
Here’s the short story about bowling: Archeological evidence indicates that little Egyptian kids were knocking down standing-up-things with rolling-things 5,000 years ago. Germans claim that the modern form began there around 300 A.D. and the Dutch brought it to the New World in the 1600s.
The reason I’ve been thinking about bowling is because my wife is an avid bowler. This fall, she’s bowling in two leagues and subbing in a third. I’m not such a devotee, confining my semi-exuberance to one league, hoisting my spirits with the great rock ‘n’ roll residing in the Grand Lake Lanes jukebox. Twenty plays for five bucks.
We just got back from bowling all the way to Little Rock, Ark. The rules were 1) the bowling alley had to be in the navigation system, 2) it had to offer open bowling as we were driving by and 3) it couldn’t be more than ten miles off the interstate. I won’t bore you with the details, let it suffice to say that, naturally, I took high game. OK, fair’s fair, my wife will hastily add that my high game was the only game I won on the entire trip.
Still, high game! I knew I could’a been a contender.
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