Locals react to the return of senior bowling competitions at Erwin's Buffaloe Lanes.
ERWIN — Thomas and Cynthia Malone were among the dozens of senior bowlers sharing laughs and holding conversations while their balls rumbled down the hardwood floors at Buffaloe Lanes on a Wednesday afternoon last month.
It’s a tradition the Eastover couple had revisited for seven straight years prior to the emergence of a sweeping pandemic that shuttered most entertainment venues throughout most of last year.
With restrictions and indoor capacity limitations in the rearview, local residents are filling the lanes again to get their weekly dose of safe fun.
“It’s a good way for me to get exercise. I’ve lost 10 pounds since I started bowling,” said Thomas Malone, 69, a cancer survivor who gave up golf when he was diagnosed several years ago.
“My muscles are stronger. It’s really good for you.”
This year, the bowling center has successfully been able to house its routine number of leagues, which include two primarily reserved for seniors.
The Silver Strikers run on Monday afternoons, consisting of 13 teams ages 56 to 90, while Wednesday’s Afternoon Delights is also comprised of most of the same senior bowlers.
Godwin native Newanda Colvin, assistant manager and youth coordinator at Buffaloe Lanes for the past 12 years, noticed an enhanced appreciation for the sport since the onset of COVID-19.
“It’s good to see people back out. And I have a strong desire to see everybody do what they need to do to be healthy,” he said.
“There’s a renewing of the fellowship that we had before the pandemic. ... I enjoy talking with them again and seeing the camaraderie again.
“People need people and it’s much easier to communicate in person than it is through all the ways we can on social media.”
The Malones have bowled in various cities, including nearby Fayetteville, but say it’s the family atmosphere at Buffaloe that keeps them coming back.
They make up a portion of several couples that join singles in friendly competition year round.
“I’m around him 24/7 and I love it,” Cynthia Malone said of her husband. “Everything we do, we do together. We’re competitive, but we never get upset with each other.”
The current fall session is set to run through December, when league champions will be crowned. Winter leagues will follow (January to May) and summer sessions run from June through August.
“It’s nice to come back out ... it’s so much better than sitting at home doing nothing,” Cynthia Malone said.
More information about upcoming leagues at Buffaloe can be found online at www.buffaloelanes.com/erwin or by calling 910-891-7668.
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2040.