A recent story reported that Lady Gaga had purchased a Malibu mansion with two Brunswick bowling lanes. But Lady Gaga is not the only member of the rich and famous who enjoy the game – and can do it from the comfort of their home. U.S. presidents and their family, for instance, have taken the opportunity to use the bowling facilities at the White House. This yeahstub.com story that appeared Jan. 26, 2014, provides more details about the White House bowling lanes. It is being updated with a postscript.
Bowling has been a favorite activity at the White House since 1947 when two bowling lanes were presented to President Harry Truman and placed in the basement of the West Wing.
It was a gift to Truman from the people of his home state of Missouri.
Here are some other quick White House bowling notes from the book “How the White House Really Works,” authored by George Sullivan:
– One of the best bowlers on the White House lanes was Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Johnson. She once rolled a 188.
She talked about the usefulness of White House lanes amid a 1967 Mideast crisis in her book, “White House Diary.” Wrote Lady Bird: “The U.N. was struggling . . . the Security Council going into session for five or six hours . . . like millions of others I strained with hope toward the U.N. and what it might produce. But I remembered with dismay the expressions of no confidence . . . I turned off the TV and went over to the bowling lanes where I used up my energy in three games, hurling a heavier ball than usual and running up scores in the 150s. All by myself. And while I’m bowling, I don’t think about anything else.”
– President Richard Nixon set the presidential high with a 233 game. He bowled one game after another in rapid succession. He sometimes would total 20 games in one night.
– President Ronald Reagan and his family were not bowlers. Joe Taylor, the longtime caretaker of the lanes, never saw President Reagan bowl.
Postscript: President Barack Obama often has been captured on camera during his tenure playing basketball. And he’s displayed some impressive silky-smooth moves in that sport. As for bowling, let’s just say he was a good sport for allowing himself to be photographed in April 2008 while he was still an Illinois senator and campaigning for the presidency in Altoona, Pa.
He stopped by the city’s Pleasant Valley Recreation Center and before plenty of onlookers, showed he was out of his league chucking a bowling ball by finishing with a score of 37. Still, the left-handed president-to-be was gracious afterwards, telling fellow bowlers that “my economic plan is better than my bowling.” To which a man called out, “It has to be!”
Obama, who nailed a spare in the seventh frame, acknowledged to the crowd that he hadn’t bowled since Jimmy Carter was president, meaning that it had been about 30 years.
In July of this year, Time.com reported that the General Services Administration scrapped its plan to renovate the two bowling lanes at the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley at the White House – just hours after announcing the project. “It has been fifteen years since these lanes have had any professional, industry standard maintenance, modifications, repairs or attention,” the GSA said. “They are now irreparable.”
It also was disclosed by Time.com that a separate one-lane bowling alley is situated under the North Portico of the White House to be used by the First Family and guests. It was added in 1969 by Richard Nixon.