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Of Ducks and Dogs: Connecticut Road Trip Report

Photo by Mary Bakija; for all of today images, click to enlarge

Back on April 4, we had a Ticker entry that read like so: “Alex Shuman recently went duckpin bowling at a charming place called Perillo’s Bowl-O-Drome in Waterbury, Conn. ‘Sadly, the owner is closing the place for good May 22,’ he says.”

That seemed like something worth checking out before they closed up shop, so on Saturday the Tugboat Captain and I, accompanied by our friend Robert, went off on a little Nutmeg State adventure. We had a great time bowling, bookended by two excellent food-related stops.

Our route was a clockwise oval, beginning in NYC and looping up north to central Connecticut, then down to New Haven and back home:

We left Brooklyn shortly after noon. Traffic on the way up was pretty bad, turning what should have been a two-hour drive into a three-hour ordeal, so we were good and hungry by the time we arrived at our first stop: Blackie’s, a hot dog joint in Cheshire that I’ve been stopping at for about 20 years.

On my first visit back in the late 1990s, I was impressed with the dogs and asked the counter clerk how they were cooked. She said, “Oh, they’re boiled [ever-so-slight pause] in oil.” I laughed and said, “Oh, you mean they’re fried.” “Oh no, not fried,” she insisted. “Boiled. In oil.”

By any name, they’re great dogs, especially when topped with a mix of mustard and Blackie’s homemade hot pepper relish.

It was a short drive from Blackie’s to Waterbury, home of Perillo’s Bowl-O-Drome, which did not disappoint. Lots of great fixtures and signage, and of course I loved the green/white color scheme.

For the uninitiated, duckpins is popular primarily in Baltimore and in lower New England. (In upper New England, you’ll find candlepins.) The lane is the same as a standard tenpins lane, but the pins are short and squat, and the balls are about the size of a softball, which makes it very hard to get a strike. Nobody has ever thrown a perfect 300 in ducks, a point of pride among the game’s partisans, who think traditional tenpins is too easy.

In ducks (and also in candles), you get three balls per frame, instead of two. Ducks pinsetting machines don’t automatically clear out the fallen pins between balls or rerack the pins at the end of the frame — you have to tell the machine to do that. The rerack command is sent by pressing a button attached to the ball return fixture, and you clear the fallen pins via a little foot pedal located beneath the ball return. Each pair of lanes has two of these foot pedals, which are nested together in a way that I find immensely pleasing:

The owner wasn’t on-site, but we chatted a bit with the desk clerk, who said Waterbury used to have eight or nine additional ducks houses. “On a Friday night, you couldn’t get a lane — they were all booked up!” he said. Perillo’s is now the last place left in Waterbury (although there are a few others in nearby towns). He also said he didn’t know anything about the place closing next month. “I’ve heard that kinda thing before — they’re always talking about closing it up! But I’ll keep showin’ up for work until they tell me not to.”

Periollo’s only deficiency is the lack of a bar, so after bowling we stopped for drinks at a watering hole we’d noticed a few miles away (sorry, no photos) and then headed south to our final stop: New Haven, home of some of America’s best pizza. I’d eaten several times at the most celebrated of the town’s pizzerias, the excellent Frank Pepe’s, but I’d never been to Sally’s, which was supposedly at least as good, so that’s where we went.

I loved it. Sally’s is smaller and more homey than Pepe’s, and pie had a slightly more charred crust. We ordered a large, half-pepperoni and half-cheese. As usual with New Haven pizza, it was oblong — somewhere between an oval and a rectangle. A spectacular capper to a really great day.

Traffic on the way home was much better, and we were home before midnight. Such an excellent day! All the more so given that I’ve been having some health-related issues and other stresses lately, so it was great to have a near-perfect road trip. However you spent your weekend, I hope it was just as rewarding.

(Mega-thanks to Alex Shuman for telling me about Perillo’s Bowl-O-Drome. Without his tip, this adventure wouldn’t have happened.)

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Click to enlarge

KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a Swiss Army medallion (shown above). Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News:  The Padres wore  naval camo yesterday for Air Force Appreciation Day. They’ll wear the blue camo pattern one more time this year, on June 25 for Navy Appreciation Day (from  Maximiliano). … Great-looking color-on-color game between the Astros and Rays yesterday (from Patrick Hackett). … Odubel Herrera of the Phillies was wearing mismatching batting gloves yesterday (from LaBar). … The Great Gazoo was at the Brewers game yesterday (from Nick Lineback). …  Umpires have been wearing a “RG” memorial patch for former ump Russ Goetz, who died in March. They’ve also added an “MJ” patch for Mark Johnson, who died in October. … The Braves will give away this nice sliding Dansby Swanson bobblehead in June (from Smow). …  Check out Darryl Strawberry’s McDonald’s wristbands  that  made the  cover of a 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated (from  Michael L. Hayden). … The Lehigh Valley IronPigs wore Phillies-inspired fauxbacks yesterday (from Eric Chase). …  Tennessee has striped socks that match its dark gray uniforms (from Nick Lineback). …  The Rowan University softball team was sporting some nice yellow stirrups yesterday (from  Frank McGuigan). … Texas Tech softball has some crazy helmets.

NFL News: Washington CB Joe Lavender had a “Hit Win” sticker on the back of his helmet in 1976 (from Peter Fredrickson). … Here’s what every NFL team’s  helmet looks like  in its rival’s colors (from  Brian Sandler).

Hockey News:  The Devils allowed their season ticket holders to come paint whatever they wanted on the ice at the Prudential Center (from Stan Capp). …  Alex Ovechkin has a  memorial sticker  on his shoulder pads to  honor of the victims of the 2011 plane crash that killed every player on Lokmotiv Yaroslavl, a KHL team (from  Stein).

Basketball News:  According to this report, it was Celtics coach Brad Stevens who led the push to add black mourning bands to the team’s jerseys in honor of Isaiah Thomas’s sister, Chyna, who died in a car crash just before the playoffs began (from Phil). …  The Lakers’  new training center  will feature two full-length courts. One of them appears to sport the newly named South Bay Lakers logos. … University of Minnesota’s Nate Mason was spotted  wearing his own jersey to a party this weekend (from  Steve Rausch).

Soccer News: Liverpool L.F.C.  was forced to wear Yeovil Town L.F.C.’s change kit when its  own uniforms didn’t make it to the game. BBC has a video recap, but it’s only available to those in the UK (from  Josh Gardner). … White-on gray was a theme in MLS yesterday.   Orlando City FC /New York City FC  and the Sounders/Galaxy  played along (from thanks to all who shared).

Grab Bag: Ben Greenfield  spotted this  Packers/Brewers/Badgers logo mashup on the sign of a gas station in Mukwongago, Wis. Why is it being used as a gas station logo, and why weren’t the Bucks included? … A bunch of hash browns have been recalled because they include  “extraneous golf ball materials” (from  Douglas Ford). … Aussie football player Bob Murphy played his 300th game for the Western Bulldogs this weekend, so the team wore throwback guernseys with collars to mark the occasion. Murphy is the last active AFL player drafted in the 20th century (from Kurt Crowley).

Comments (47)

    The Badgers/Brewers/Packers mashup logo came to be in 2011. Badgers football had a great season with Russell Wilson, Brewers won the NL Central Division for the first time ever, and the Packers were defending Super Bowl Champs. Was a great September/October. Tailgating at the NLCS, people had the Packers game on their TV’s

    Funny, some friends and I were just talking about that 2011 mashup logo the other day, and about how the Bucks weren’t included. I made the point that it was in-part understandable since that logo was sparked by that first weekend in October 2011 with the Brewers playing the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, the Badgers blowing out Nebraska and the Packers doing the same to the Broncos…and, of course, the NBA wasn’t yet in season (and also in a lockout). However, as a resident of western Wisconsin, I never noticed anyone wonder about the lack of the Bucks in that mashup, which may have to do with the lack of Bucks success/statewide fan passion around that time and over the decade prior.

    A Green Bay TV station did a story last night about the Bucks’ lack of impact in the northeast part of the state:

    And there is at least one version of the Winsconin logo with antlers:

    Paul & Co. Thanks for the travel/eating/bowling postings. Looks great and a reral guide for those of us needing suggestions. Hope to make my way up there from New Orleans to do a Duckie Bowl/Pizza/Ocean appreciation trip some day soon. Love the fact that no one has ever bowled 300 in Duckie Pin Bowling.

    Nobody’s ever thrown a 300 in candlepins, either. Again, that’s a point of pride among the sport’s devotees, who tend to say, “Eh, *anyone* can throw a 300 in tenpins.”

    Must be my upper-Midwest upbringing, but I never heard of duck or candle pin until your story. Fascinating. Thanks!

    Appropo of Nothing ….

    The Color/Rival nmashups of the NFL helmets just reminded me of something that I have been meaning to mention for awhile.

    In the very early morning coverage of this year’s Super Bowl, the network had a youth football team in full detailed, expensive uniforms in studio for about an hour watching hosts conduct the features and interviews, and the team was outfitted in the very detailed Seattle Seahawks fluorescent Green Color Rush uniforms – but with the older, Silver Seahawks helmet. I must tell you, the Silver helmet looks 10,000 times better than the Blue helmet with that set. I must say – I am a Pete Carroll/Mono-Blue/Legion of Gold Teeth hater because I am just sick of the Seahawks (love Russell Wilson, hate the Trey Anastasio “Wilson” cheer, hate the horseshoe up the ass wins they eake out, Hate the crowd, Hate the mono-Blue unis, hate that Dave Krieg beat Jim Zorn out of his job 40 years ago – I can continue) – but I actually LOVED that mono-Green uniform with the Silver helmet ….

    some of the NFL helmets in rival colors look good, but some give me a really weird feeling of disgust. Interesting psychological aspect I didn’t expect.

    I normally don’t get too excited by hot dogs but those pictured make me wish I could have a couple for breakfast.

    Agreed. Interesting how some ideas get stuck in your head. At some point this coming weekend I’m going to have a hot dog or two and Paul’s trip is the direct reason for that.

    Yeah, those look amazing! And for city people, the $2.25 price is downright reasonable!

    Awesome post! Absolutely love both Blackie’s and Sally’s, thanks for the trip report.

    So the Padres are “honoring” the Air Force by wearing a rival service’s recently cancelled pattern of camouflage? Stay classy, San Diego.

    But a perfect example of what’s wrong with camopander uniforms. Even if one sees a bunch of physically fit young men who’ve refused to serve their country dressing up in soldier clothes as patriotic or whatever, more often than not teams’ camo choices actually get in the way of the intended tribute. If it’s Air Force Day, it’s Air Force Day. The men and women of the United States Air Force aren’t sailors, and they’re not interchangeable with the men and women of the United States Navy. The military services aren’t paper distinctions like football or basketball conferences, they’re distinct institutions with very different missions, histories, and traditions. The differences matter. Currently, the USAF wears a highly distinctive (also: ridiculous) pattern of camouflage. If you want to “honor” the Air Force by wearing camo, wear Air Force camo. If you wear Navy camo, you’re honoring the Navy.

    Personally, as a Marine Corps veteran, I’m humbled if anyone tries to honor me or thank me for my service in any way. They don’t understand that I’d rather not be thanked. I didn’t sacrifice one-millionth of what many others did. But their heart is in the right place, and they mean well. And some might say that they’re just trying to sell camo jerseys. I’m sure that doesn’t hurt in a Navy/Marine Corps city like San Diego. But the executives who make the decision to sell the jerseys and hold the “Thank You, Veterans” ceremony or whatever aren’t the ones who did the legwork in putting it all together. Those are regular people who get paid by the hour and who spent time trying to put something nice together. And maybe they don’t use the right camo pattern or use lingo that makes me cringe on the inside, but these regular people don’t know any better. They mean well and they’re just trying to show their appreciation.

    That’s probably the best defense of camp uniforms I’ve ever seen. Agree with you 100%.

    In the picture, I don’t think it looks like the Navy pattern at all. It looks more like an urban pattern you might see a SWAT team wear. Still, it’s not the Air Force ABU pattern.

    Liverpool L.F.C. was forced to wear Yeovil Town L.F.C.’s change kit when its own uniforms didn’t make it to the game.

    That’s a very attractive jersey. I really like the colors and design. Guess it’s time to watch more soccer. And really, American sports would do well to show more soccer fashion sense.

    You should join us for one of Hot Dog Tours – besides our established New Jersey Tour in October this year, we are doing one up here in the Hudson Valley July 1, starting in Middletown. (Hot Dog Nation on FB..) Lots of interesting characters and lots of good dogs…

    Although Pepe’s and Sally’s are both excellent, gun to my head, I’m picking Sally’s every time. Modern Apizza is also worth checking out in New Haven.

    I have to go with Pepe’s…both pies are awesome, but Sally’s service has dropped in years. Plus Sally’s is being sold, so who knows where the quality will go.

    So, are the bowls used of different weights like in regular bowling or are all the same?

    From a brief search it looks like the balls are around the same size and weight as the balls used in 5 pin bowling (which also has the 3 balls per frame as well). Believe it played exclusively in Canada.

    As far as Canada, it seems duckpin (“petites quilles”) is played in the province of Quebec, and candlepin in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.


    I think the Cardinals helmet was a little weak in just white with the blue/lime green bird. This would have looked better more closely resembling the Seahawks helmet, with navy blue helmets with the Cardinal head being the same color as the hawk with white/navy/silver with lime green eyes.

    Paul, as a born and bred New Havener, it was an honor for you to enjoy Sally’s on the street by dad was born on.

    It’s a shame that duckpin bowling places are going by the wayside. There’s another one in West Haven called Woodlawn you may want to check out.

    I love your excursions postings. It looks like you really know how to have to fun and to appreciate the simple things in life that really matter. Sometimes today we lose sight of these things. I would love to give the duckpin bowling a try.

    Thanks, Art! At some point during our excursion I thought to myself, “I’m 53 years old and my idea of fun is still hot dogs, bowling, and pizza!” For better or worse, right?

    When Uni Watch comes to its end someday, I could see you becoming the proprietor of an old bowling alley.

    Oh, I’ve thought about it. In fact, I thought about it 20 years ago and almost moved to Wisconsin to do it!

    Wanna be my pinsetter mechanic? Gonna definitely needs one of those….

    I agree with Art here too.

    The excursions and food posts are my favorite inclusions on UW. I’m a foodie myself, and wish I could do more traveling (finances impact that more than anything). But, I have always tried to document my travels and food when I do.

    If anyone knows where I can get an oil-boiled hot dog and an oblong pizza in the Vancouver area please let me know.

    Probably boiled or grilled like most places.

    Boiled in oil feels like it would be greasy to me. Surely if the oil isn’t hot enough to fry it it will absorb the oil? Doesn’t sound appealing.

    1) The oil *is* hot enough to fry it.

    2) I don’t think you understand how oil absorption and frying work.

    3) There are lots of ways to cook hot dogs besides boiled or grilled: steamed, griddled, roller-thingie’d, etc.

    Steaming is my preferred method, but there’s no wrong way.

    Going back to my stadium vendor days, I can tell you one of the best things I’ve ever had was a hot dog wrapped in foil that’s been kept warm by a sterno. And washed down with a flat cola…mmm…

    Next time, let me know you’re in CT. Great duck pin lanes in Winsted, and you can make a stop at Ralph Nader’s American Museum of Tort Law!

    In Danbury, CT (my hometown) there is a duckpin bowling establishment; appropriately called “Danbury Duck Pin Lanes”. It is certainly a trip back in time, I had a birthday party there when I was 7 or 8. Also, there is a family run hot dog restaurant called JK’s. JK’s is the home of the original “Texas hot weiner”. If you are ever in the area again, JK’s is worth it, I go there once or twice a year. Great to see you head up to CT, thanks for the story.

    It’s odd seeing places you pass by everyday being featured on a site you read like this, I live in the suburbs of Waterbury, less than a 20 minute drive from Cheshire, and I love their dogs, though the state has a bunch of really good hotdog joints, I think there was like a travel channel-type documentary on it…

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