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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Trenton Pinsetters: 1909

Trenton Pinsetters: 1909

December 20, 1909. "Boys working in Arcade Bowling Alley, Trenton, New Jersey. Photo taken late at night. The boys work until midnight and later." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The Tarps *

I wouldn't bet on the pin setters dropping behind the tarps. Those are there to take most of the momentum from the balls so that they drop into the pit at the end of the alley. Needless to say the balls hit there with a pretty substantial force. Standing behind them and having limited visibility would be dangerous when some guy is hurling a 16 lb. bowling ball at you. As I understand it most later bowling alleys had a platform above the alley like the one these kids are sitting on but it had a sort of screen or wall in front of it. When a ball went through the kids would drop down set the pins and jump back up all while hoping that some sadistic SOB wasn't throwing another ball to hit them.

[There are a few photos of the kids coming out from behind the tarps, which are not fastened at the bottom. - Dave]


Those kids must have been very distracting to the bowler.

[I think they stayed behind the tarps until the ball came through. - Dave]

Duck Pins

Duck Pins is still a fairly popular variant of bowling in some areas. It's the preferred version in Quebec for example. Candle Pins (where the pins are basically straight tubes with only a slight bulge in the middle) is the found mostly in Eastern Canada and New England.

Duck pins

My Dad told us kids that he once worked in a bowling alley setting duck pins. Didn't say how much he was paid or anything else about this job. This would have been in the 1930s in or around Clairton, PA, south of Pittsburgh. Later he would work as a hod carrier and parking cars in a parking garage before joining the Marines in 1940. He had a lot to say about these jobs.

Joe Bartolini
West Columbia, SC


Those duckpins look like upside down maracas.


...mix of regular and duckpin bowling on adjacent lanes.
Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

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