Queen of the lanes

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Frances Perret of St. Albert is bowling up a storm at the age of 94

The oldest pin knocker at the St. Albert Bowling & Rec Centre shows no signs of slowing down.

Frances Perret turned 94 years young Jan. 30 while still throwing strikes like an alley cat.

“It’s good exercise. You meet a lot of people and you make a lot of friends,” said an upbeat Perret with an infectious smile.

“It’s a great sport and it’s lots of fun like today because I feel like a celebrity,” Perret added of the media attention surrounding her Tuesday afternoon league game a week after her birthday. “It’s all gone to my head and my bowling was terrible but you have your good days and you have your bad days and you take it as it comes.

“But don’t write down my score.”

Born in Toronto in 1924, Perret (née Stuckless) started bowling “a long time ago and that’s when I could bowl,” said the former Regina resident and office clerk before moving to St. Albert. “I dabbled in this sport a little bit in Regina but mostly here.”

Every Tuesday is always a big day for Perret.

“I get excited. I try not to do too much and get over-tired in the morning. I take it kind of easy if I can before I go bowling,” said Perret, who was married for 60 years to James Perret, who died Aug. 28, 2009, and has two daughters, Denise and Michele, and one granddaughter, Mary.

Perret was a twice a week regular at the St. Albert bowling lanes before cutting back on her competitive five-pin schedule.

“I bowled on Tuesdays and on Thursdays but then I would be tired for Friday and Fridays I get my groceries and that takes quite a little bit and then on Saturdays I meet my daughter (Michele) who comes and gets me and we go out for the afternoon so I didn’t want to bowl on Thursdays. It was a little too much when I was bowling twice a week. I liked it but I didn’t want to get myself too over-tired,” said Perret, who admits, “I’ve lost my strength” while gracefully growing older as a bowler. “I’m now at slow motion. That’s what I say. I don’t even run to the telephone when the telephone rings. I take my time to go to the telephone.”

There are no trophies (“I wish I had one”) or perfect games on Perret’s resume except for a shiny Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers Association 250 lapel pin.

“When I first started bowling I was quite a bit younger and I was hitting the 250s and 200s,” said Perret, who cherishes the Christmas present of bowling shoes, balls and a bag from Michele several years ago. “It was a surprise.”

So, what is Perret’s secret for success as a bowler?

“You have to concentrate on the pins to see if you can hit them,” she said. “Concentration is what I would say about bowling. You really have to think but if it doesn’t work who cares.”

Every day is two thumbs up for Perret.

“One thing is have a positive attitude and not be negative about everything. I don’t like it when people are negative. I believe in a positive attitude and accept life as it is,” said the avid walker who relies on a neighbour in her condo for rides to and from her bowling games.

Perret also enjoys quenching her thirst.

“I like a beer. Quite a while back I would have a rum and orange juice once in a while but now we’ve kind of got away from the hard liquor. Beer and wine seems to be the thing now,” she said. “But don’t write that down.”

When asked if Perret feels proud of her bowling longevity at age 94, she replied: “I feel very contented. I think that’s the word I like better. I feel contented with the way I’ve come along.”

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Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.