A Kegel Bahn is the equivalent of a US bowling lane. I was lucky enough to get experience in this pre-cursor to bowling, through one of my co-workers, Wolfgang Kenntemich. Wolfgang first invited me after he invited Gabi and I to the local Carnival festivities in Köln. The group meets every four weeks throughout the year to participate in Kegeln and they also plan a yearly trip for a long guys weekend away somewhere. This year they will be going to the Ahr valley, and although invited, I will not be ale to attend because of my recent job change. There is a great deal of beer drinking that goes along with this activity. Quite a few heated conversations develop about health care and polotics. It has been a real treat for me to be able to participate in this group.
Kegeln differs from US bowling in a number of ways. First, the Kegel Bahn is usually located in a bar, Restaurant or Hotel and if you were not told it was there, you wouldn't know to look for it. Second, a Kegel has no holes for your fingers like a bowling ball does. Third, the Kegel Bahn is very narrow (18") and only expands to a full size lane about half way down the lane. This arrangement makes curving the ball a mandatory skill. Fourth, there are only nine pins and they are arranged in a diamond shape.
One of the best parts of Kegeln is the variety of games. Unlike bowling, not all pins are always present. Of course, you can play the classic style game where you have two tries to knock down all the pins. But there are a wealth of other varieties such as, having all the pins in place and trying to get the lowest number of pins without putting the ball in the gutter (this is called a poodle). You can also lower only the two outside pins (called the farmers) and try to get those. Sometimes only the three center pins are lowered in a row. This is much harder than it would appear. One of the most difficult arrangements is to lower the four dames (the square configuration of four pins within the diamond). I have included a picture of the control box below and hopefully you can get a better idea of how this works.
One of the neatest stories to come from my participating in this activity has been getting to meet and speak with a real WWII veteran and American POW. This gentleman's name is Heinz George and he is currently 76 years old. In 1944, Heinz George was stationed along the Normandy coast in the German army at the mere age of seventeen. He was very lucky and was not along the front lines. He was eventually captured in France and sent to a US POW camp in Colorado Springs after a stop in England. He performed a variety of farming and janitorial jobs for the US and British governments. He eventually made it back into Germany in October of 1947. I can tell you for sure, this is a very nice man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope I'm able to come back to Germany some day and visit with Heinz George again.
The Kegel Bahn:
The control box with the two farmers down:
The Kegel group from L to R (clockwise) Uengen, Jochem, Bernd, Helmut, Heinz-George, Wolfgang, and Klaus:
Bernd, Heinz-George and Mike: