Thursday, April 2, 2009

Smoking Pinsetters


Above we have one of my favorite moments from “Since You Went Away” (1944), when two sarcastic, smoking, female pinsetters make disparaging remarks about Jennifer Jones’ bowling prowess.

“Well, she finally hit one.”


Have a look at the scene where a determined Jennifer Jones attempts a bowling lesson, and you’ll see pinsetters in the far background, behind all the alleys, jumping down at safe moments to retrieve pins.

Along the same lines as our earlier post on slide rules (see here), a category I suppose we could call Stuff We No Longer Do, a live person doing the pin setting is something you see only in the movies these days. It has been quite some time since bowling alley pin setting has been automated, which must have put a lot of sarcastic smoking females out of work. (Have a look here for my post on New England’s bowling game, candlepin bowling, on my New England Travels blog.)

Pin setting was mostly done by boys and young men, but I imagine we have young women doing the job in this film because it was wartime, and lots of formerly male-only jobs were taken over by women. It wasn’t until after the war that a lot of bowling alleys started getting automatic pinsetters.

For more on “Since You Went Away”, not about the bowling, have a look at this earlier blog post from April 2007.

4 comments:

John Hayes said...

Hi Jacqueline:

What a fun post-- one of the umpteen jobs my dad had in his life was as a pinsetter in the long defunct Bellow Falls bowling alley.

Still catching up on Google Reader-- always look forward to your posts.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, John. Your father was a pinsetter? My hero! God bless the pinsetters, lamplighters, and guys who harvested ice on ponds with hand saws. A noble breed.

John Hayes said...

I think lamplighting & ice harvesting were about the only two jobs my father never had-- he was (I think) a typical Depression era working class guy-- he did whatever he had to do.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

A good man.