Don#039;t hold this Mayo

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Maybe Ponce De Leon did find that fountain of youth.

The living proof of such a discovery could rest in Rolland Mayo, an Ironton man who is still bowling at the spry young age of 96.

And even more remarkable is the fact Mayo didn't begin bowling until 1992 when he was introduced to the sport through a friend.

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"A friend of mine, Raymond Murphy, took me to the bowling alley. We got to talking about it and I told him I'd never been in a bowling alley or seen a bowling alley," Mayo said.

Once Mayo tried the game, he was hooked, but he admits it wasn't easy initially.

"I wasn't very good at first. I didn't think I'd ever bowl a 100," Mayo said with a laugh. "I used to throw softball (fastpitch) and I thought I could throw (a bowling ball) like a softball, but it didn't work."

Persistence paid off as Mayo went to the bowling lanes on a regular basis. Now Mayo has an average of 193 in a Monday league and a 158 average on Thursdays in the seniors league.

"I don't practice much any more. I used to practice every day. You couldn't drag me out of there. But I can't do that any more," Mayo said.

Although Mayo grew up in Ironton, he went to Douglas High School in Huntington, W.Va., a school for black students during the days of segregation. Mayo played football and basketball at Douglas.

"I lived in Ironton, but I went to play ball there with Harland Williams," Mayo said.

As the years flew by, Mayo adjusted to the sport of bowling and has had games of 274 and 279, his best.

"In the game I bowled 274, I had a spare the first frame and then 10 strikes. I got two extra balls and I got a spare," Mayo said.

"I hope to bowl 300 before I quit. That's my goal."

Although Mayo was a good athlete and has become a good bowler with seven trophies sitting in his home to prove it, he had a greater love when it came to sports: fox hunting.

"I like any sports that are competitive, but my greatest sport was fox hunting," Mayo said. "I loved to fox hunt. I used to keep 25 to 30 hounds all the time. But it's about over now. There used to be a lot of it. It's a lost sport now."

As for now, Mayo has no plans of slowing down.

"I hope to bowl a long time. I don't feel as good as I used to, but I'm blessed. God's been good to me," Mayo said.