COLUMBIA — After the crash of pins accompanying a strike a few lanes over, Ty Brewer tossed his bowling ball a few feet in the air. The ball landed with a thud and began rolling down the lane toward the single remaining pin.
After the ball rolled by the pin, Brewer hung his head for a second, which made the U.S. Navy veteran's patch on his hat visible. Then, he returned to his seat behind the lanes next to Marvin Walter, who had rolled the strike just before Brewer's spare attempt.
Brewer took a sip from his glass of whiskey and then continued his conversation with Walter about their wives who are no longer able to bowl.
Walter, 73, of Keytesville, also wore a Navy veteran's hat while he and Brewer, 72, of Eldon, chatted and laughed like life-long friends. The two men had never met before Saturday's competition at AMF Town and Country Bowling Lanes, but learned they had a lot in common.
They had enlisted in the Navy a year apart and both served on submarines in the Pacific Ocean. They were both electricians after their service, and both had bowled doubles at the Missouri State Senior Games with their wives until their wives could no longer compete.
Brewer has been bowling in the senior games for more than 20 years and said he likes seeing old friends, as well as meeting new people, at the bowling alley.
"I know most of these guys, but you meet new ones all the time like this gentleman (Walter)," Brewer said. "I just enjoy getting together with people you haven't seen for a long time. You know, you only see them here once a year."
Brewer added that you can't make friends in some of the other events like the 100-meter dash like you can at bowling.
After rolling another strike, Walter slapped high-fives with half a dozen other bowlers.
"I like the bowling alleys and the camaraderie here," Walter said.