Last updated: February 19. 2013 9:15PM - 213 Views

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It's a tradition that started more than 50 years and every Thursday afternoon women from the Back Mountain gather to keep it alive.


What started in 1955 as the Irem Temple Women's Club has changed its name to the Thursday Girls.


A group of more than 20 senior ladies gather at Back Mountain Bowl each week. These ladies are usually the only people on the lanes so early on a weekday afternoon, but they light up the floor with their personality and their games.


We do have a good time, said Joanne Runner, one of the bowlers.


The bowlers range in age from 65 to 92. Mary Reese is the oldest bowler and has been with the group for well over 20 years.


The women's league starts on the last Thursday in August and continues for 32 week. The women bowl while some of their husbands watch from the counter behind. They fill the room with laughter and high fives. They bowl in six teams of four but are hardly separated, cheering on one another both during the game and outside the walls of the alley.


We really do have fun, Runner said. There's a lot of camaraderie.


Member Betty Williams considers the bowlers a nice group of friends. She said league members will visit someone who is ill and send holiday cards. Many of them golf together during the summer months, as well.


I started in 1999, said Williams, and by the first week in September, I was one of the girls.


Everyone gets along well, said Runner. It's just nice.


Player Viv Ondish joined the league when she was 80 and had the rare opportunity to bowl with her mother, Ruth Evans, who participated in the league until she was 97 years old.


She was a good bowler, a lot better than I am now, said Ondish. Now 87, Ondish recalls how close she was with her mother and how much it meant to her to share the experience of bowling with her.

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