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Game helps keep Blake going strong

Maxwell Blake, 90, has limited vision, but he can hit his spots on the lane.

By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003


BROOKSVILLE -- Maxwell Blake turned 90 last month. He can't see out of his right eye and has limited vision in his left.

He "spot bowls," meaning he lines up his shots according to the markings on the lanes a few feet beyond the foul line, since he can't see the pins at the other end.

And yet, the Brooksville resident is "ashamed" to admit he has a 127 average.

"I know I can do better," Blake said. "I just haven't been doing it."

Blake bowled well enough to receive four awards Wednesday from the American Bowling Congress: 200 game, 500 series, 75 pins over average game and 125 pins over average series. He also received a coaster to commemorate his 200 game.

"I'm surprised that he's doing as well," said Blake's wife, Alyce, 86. "But most people that we know spot bowl. They do not pin bowl."

Blake has been bowling since he was 18. He rolled his high game of 275 about 15 years ago. As recently as nine years ago, he had a 182 average.

He and his wife have been bowling together for more than 28 years. They compete with the Alley Cats in the Over the Hill Gang League on Wednesdays at Mariner Lanes and on opposing teams in a non-sanctioned league Thursdays at Louie's Bowling Center.

"(Bowling) is very important to him, because it's the only form of sports that he's capable of staying with," Alyce Blake said. "He's had to give up golf, which he was very adept at. We're getting older, let's face it."

Blake used to cut gem stones, giving away the jewelry he made to family and friends. He was forced to abandon the hobby after grinding a $250 stone to dust after losing the sight in his right eye.

"That was when I said, 'It's time to give it up,' " Blake said.

He kept a star-shaped sapphire in his drawer for years. For the couple's 50th anniversary, Alyce had it made into a ring that Blake wears every day. His wife held onto a couple of jade pieces, including a ring and a necklace.

The couple met at National Automotive Fibers, in Dearborn Heights, Mich., where Blake worked as an assistant purchasing agent and Alyce was a new employee in the timekeeping department.

"Right away, I liked what I saw," Blake said.

In August, the couple will celebrate their 66th anniversary.

Blake later worked as a buyer for Ford Motor Company for 20 years. Two years after he left the company, the couple moved to Clover Leaf Farms, a retirement community in Brooksville.

Blake's sight began to fail about five years ago. But it didn't keep him from bowling.

"I'm so grateful for that," he said. "It's kept me going."

-- Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastor@sptimes.com .

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