If Gov. Ted Kulongoski starts a bowling memorabilia collection during his tenure, he can say it started in Hood River.
For one thing, the “Gov. Ted” bowling ball is a one-of-a-kind.
Kulongoski, whose 2002 campaign made striking use of his passion for bowling, picked up a new bowling ball and an equally-unique bowling shirt from two Hood River groups when he visited on Jan. 29.
First was a “2003 Turkey Bowling” t-shirt from Mt. Hood Railroad, presented by board member Jack Mills, previewing the November 2003 frozen turkey bowling event held at the Parkdale train terminus. The railroad board also gave the governor a hat and train lantern pencil sharpeners.
Mills and railroad general manager Michelle Marquart said they wanted to give the governor something to remember Hood River by, after his brief tour of the depot and the railroad’s new engine, purchased with the help of federal grants via legislation supported in 2001 by Sen. Rick Metsger (D-Welches).
Metsger, Rep. Patti Smith (R-Corbett) and the Hood River Chamber of Commerce set up Kulongoski’s first visit to Hood River County as governor. The visit featured meetings with economic development officials and downtown business owners, including the railroad.
Rounding out Kulongoski’s four-hour Hood River stay was a gift from Brian Shortt, president of Heights Business Association: a bowling ball engraved with “Gov. Ted.”
Shortt said the gift came together on short notice, in the interest of acquainting Kulongoski with the Business Association during his visit.
Shortt called Orchard Lanes co-owner Pat Olson two hours before Kulongoski’s scheduled stop at Full Sail Brewery, and Olson was able to engrave a ball in time for Shortt to present it at the pub.
According to Short, “When the box was opened and he looked inside, (the governor) yelled ‘Look what I got!’”
Shortt said Kulongoski then “pulled out a table, put his diet soda down and said, ‘let’s talk.’ And we talked for 10 minutes.”
But the ball came with a catch. There were no holes drilled in it.
“He’s got to come back,” Shortt said. Orchard Lanes will custom drill the fingerholes when Kulongoski returns, he said. The Olsons also gave the governor a gift certificate good for three free games.
Shortt said he was “impressed” with the governor.
“He’s an outstanding grassroots kind of guy,” Shortt said. “This is a guy who is just down to earth, who looks you right in the face.
“I’m feeling fairly fortunate as Heights Association chair, to have had 10 minutes one on one with the governor,” he said. “My hat’s off to the Chamber of Commerce and (Rick) Metsger and (Patti) Smith for orchestrating the governor’s visit in such quick fashion.”