Walter Ray Works For Free?

Paige Pennington

Following a regional earlier this month in Matthews, NC Walter Ray was invited to make a couple of personal appearances in Virginia. The first was at Hillcrest Lanes in Norton and the following evening at NRV Superbowl in Christainsburg.

We left Matthews after the regional and drove part of the way to the first appearance. Since we didn't have to be there until the late afternoon, Walter Ray decided to stop and play golf (there's a surprise). By the time I got up he had already found a place to play and spoke with a gentleman there about a tee time. We left the nice highway we were on and started getting on smaller (and curvier) roads. I asked Walter Ray if he had told the guy from the course that we had a big motorhome and if it was alright to bring it in there. Walter Ray replied that he had said it was "no problem". We passed a couple of grocery stores where we could have unhooked the Jeep and left the motorhome and I considered saying something, but decided not to. Surely Walter Ray wouldn't get us into a situation where we were going to have a problem (again).

When we reached the turn off for the golf course, it was a one lane skinny little road going around the side of mountain. The gentleman Walter Ray had spoken with happened to be coming out, so we flagged him down and asked him if he was sure that is was ok for us to go down there. He again said, "No problem". Well, it WAS a problem! There were very low trees and we kept hearing the top of the motorhome hitting them and scraping all the way down the ½ mile to the parking lot. When we finally got to the parking lot I got out and was sick when I saw the scratch going all the way down the side of the motorhome. We had previously had a scratch fixed on the bumper that was only about 4 inches long and it cost $426 dollars to repair. I was doing the math in my head and becoming more and more ill! After the round (yes, we decided to go ahead and play…the damage was already done), Walter Ray told me he sure as heck wasn't going to scratch up the other side going out and that he intended to unhook the Jeep and back out! I thought about how much damage he was going to do when he rolled the motorhome into the ravine trying to back up a ½ mile of winding road…but held my tongue. I drove the Jeep out to the end of road and kept traffic from entering while he attempted this magic trick. As I sat there listening for the sounds of crunching metal and holding my breath, I chatted with some of the folks I had kept from going down the road. They all asked me "why" we would have done such a crazy thing on the advice of a "know nothing local"? I just shook my head and smiled. Eventually we saw Walter Ray's back up lights coming around the last turn and we all let out a sigh of relief. After getting the Jeep hooked up again, we went down the road to the appearance.

We arrived at Hillcrest Lanes and were met by an enthusiastic group of folks. They were all very excited that Walter Ray was there. A lot of folks had signed up for a pro-am, so Walter Ray went around the house twice, bowling with each group. After that, he gave a little bit of a "tech-talk" explaining different releases, shots etc and answering questions.
Then, he bowled a couple of games against Manager Jimmy Lane. Jimmy had a chance to beat him the first game, but left a solid ten…the second game I have promised not to discuss!

We would like to than Jimmy Lane, Susie West, Betty West and everyone else at Hillcrest for inviting us! They are truly a great bunch of people. Click here to view photos from this appearance.

The next morning we played golf again (uneventfully thank goodness) and then headed to NRV Superbowl for their "Bowler Appreciation Day". Terry Stike had brought Walter Ray in as a way to say "thanks" to his league bowlers. There were three squads and seven names were drawn from each squad to bowl one game with Walter Ray. Walter Ray did pretty well the first two games, but the last game he only shot 200 and got beat by several people. They had a newspaper reporter there (click here to read article) and Walter Ray even did a radio show live from the center! After picture taking and autograph signing we said goodbye to this great bunch and turned South towards home. Thanks to everyone at NRV Superbowl for making us feel so welcome! Click Here to see photos from this appearance.

Obviously, leaving VA at 10pm…we weren't getting home that night. So we stopped at a truck stop to sleep. There was only "back-in" parking and since you can't back up a motorhome with a car attached, Walter Ray had to unhook the Jeep and back in front of it. The next morning he hooked up the Jeep and we started out across the truck stop lot. About the time we got to the driveway we noticed an incoming car gesturing frantically at us to stop. When Walter Ray got out to see what was wrong I could smell burning rubber when he opened the door. It seems that he had set the emergency brake when he was hooking the Jeep up to the motorhome and forgotten to release it! Since the wheels were locked, the Jeeps tires had been melting as we drug them across the pavement. So, now we had Jeep tires with a "flat spot" on them. Thank goodness that car stopped us. This could have been worse! I have seen motorhomes going down the road towing cars with their wheels on fire!

Between the cost of the tire repair and what I am afraid the scratch repair will be (we haven't had the motorhome in for an estimate yet)…I am wondering if Walter Ray didn't work "for free" this trip? Oh well, we had a great time, met another great bunch of people and played a couple of pretty nice golf courses - so I guess it wasn't a total loss!

If you would like to have Walter Ray make an appearance at your bowling center, please contact for more information.

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