The game of bowling has been around for a long time. In the 1930s, an Egyptian child’s grave unearthed objects thought to have been a crude form of bowling. If true, then bowling has been around since 3200 BC. A lot has changed in the game. Not just in the materials used to make the balls and pins, but the exact rules for the game have varied.
As immigrants arrived in the colonies, they brought along their versions of bowling. At one time, in the mid-1840s, Connecticut had outlawed bowling since it contained an element of betting and gambling. By the end of the century though most states had seen an increase in bowling enthusiasts. On September 9, 1895, the first standardized rules were established in New York City with the creation of the American Bowling Congress.
In the early 20th century, bowling alleys used teenage boys as pinsetters (also known as pinboys or pinspotters). They would sit behind or to the side of the pit (area containing the pins). Once a customer bowled, the pinboys would leap down and remove the downed pins. If it was the final roll, they would reset the pins. The pinboys would also roll back the ball. This had to be done quickly and efficiently.
Being a pinboy was not an easy job. Besides dodging stray pins, they worked very late in the evenings – midnight or even later. Once source stated that they were paid by the game (the better the bowler’s game, the more the pinboy earned). Generally, pinboy averaged $2-$4 a week for their work.
The 1930s brought on many changes to both bowling alleys and the workplace in general. Gottfried Schmidt invented a mechanical pinsetter in 1936. It would take years to perfect it but, all the while, bowling alleys became to embrace mechanical power over human power. Two years after Schmidt’s invention, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to end child labor by signing the Fair Labor Standards Act – which placed limits on it. The sight of pinboys, or even human pinsetters, became less and less before the profession became wholly obsolete.