Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 13: The first skee-ball games had 36-foot ramps

The first version of skee-ball is not what you see today. Invented by J.D. Estes of Philadelphia in 1909, the first version of this classic game had 36-foot ramps. It was also an outdoor game, and was invented as a much cheaper version of bowling.

"The real estate on a beachfront boardwalk is so expensive in terms of rent that no business could afford a full-scale bowling alley," said Angus Kress Gillepsie, professor of American Studies at Rutgers University and co-author of Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. "What you have in effect is miniature bowling, same as miniature golf."

The alleys were cut down to 14 feet in 1929, and today they're between 10 and 13 feet. The benefit of shorter ramps is that you can fit more into one space, and it's a game more people can play, from the adults gunning for high scores, or kids whose parents help them along.

Atlantic City hosted the first skee-ball tournament in 1932. You'll find skee-ball in just about every shore town, and around the country. It's made appearances in the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants, too.

This tip is drawn from a sidebar in the second edition, FYI. Yes, it's a travel guide, but I stuffed a lot of cool history facts in as well.

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1 comment:

caite said...

I love Skee-Ball! Love it.