Monday, June 17, 2013


President Eisenhower signing Executive
 Order 2305.5, "the bowling ball ID act".
Washington, D.C. 5:00 PM
The Justice Department’s Security and Identification Division released a brief statement today saying that the FBI has been secretly collecting the thumbprint of  everyone who has gone bowling in America since August 5, 1953. According to the statement, the practice ended in 1994 when it became clear that bowling was becoming as popular as broken glass eating contests. The statement went on to say that although the basic reasons for continuing the program had become irrelevant over the decades, the identification program remained an ongoing secret project due to the large number of bowlers that were found to be stepping over the foul line.
Through bribery, shameful acts of pleading and being a fictional character, Goat Soup Radio’s Washington correspondent, Ester Lester, quickly uncovered the dark history of this despicable intrusion into the lives of America’s bowlers. This is that (or, that is this) story.

In the early 1950's, the Eisenhower administration knew where its next fight would be coming from: Russia. Both sides were increasing their stockpile of nuclear weapons and it quickly became the cold war.  Various US agencies began planning for such an event. The Department of Labor began lining all bottom piece pajama's with thin layers of lead while the Treasury Department began printing dollar bills with a picture of George Washington in a hazmat suit.  

The FBI, on the other foot, quickly realized it had no way of identifying Americans on an individual basis should a nuclear war break out. Possibilities were considered such as making everyone in the country stand in a single line and “count off” (which would take too long)  and DNA identification. Unfortunately, only 4 people in the United States had ever heard of DNA in 1953 so that was dropped.
Clearly, bowling was the agency’s best choice. One estimate in 1952 had that 94% of all Americans over the age of 5 bowled at least once per week and that 68% of all Americans over the age of 2 bowled in a league.
Once Presidential Executive Order 2305.5 was signed, the FBI surreptitiously began placing the necessary finger printing equipment into every lane of every bowling alley in the United States. Each time a bowler rolled his ball down the alley his thumbprint inside the hole where his thumb was placed would be photographed and sent to Washington along with his name, what brand beer he drank and whether he, or she, knew how to keep score. 
The program was almost uncovered, however, in 1967. Special Agent Frank Talk was in Colby, Georgia’s 16 lane bowling center after hours filling up the dusting powder when he realized that two teenagers, Cal McCoy and Tulip Carter, were also in the back of the bowling center. Agent Talk had to wait almost 1 hour before they left to finish his mission. Official reports say that the two teenagers were loitering.

Six months later, Agent Talk received the agency’s highest service honor for obtaining not only Mr. McCoy and Miss Carter’s thumbprints but also prints from all “20 fingers, 20 toes and highly accurate descriptions of all birth marks.” Nine months later little Cal Junior was born, later to become Georgia’s 1971 Junior Bowler of the Year.


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