The Kegelbahn and Auf Wiedersehen

Charles Cumpston picks up a spare in a basement kegelbahn.

Glasstec 2010 is now history for the 45,000 who visited during the four days. Organizers released a press release citing an air of optimism and I think they got that right for the international glass industry as a whole. U.S. attendees brought a blank slate—neither too optimistic nor too pessimistic. “We are sitting on the elevator in the basement,” said one attendee, “I don’t think we will go down any more, but we are sitting still waiting to go up.”

 Professionally, glasstec 2010 marked an achievement for USGlass. We were told it was the first time a news organization ever covered the show with daily video reports every day—and we did this along with written reports, photos, a slide show, blogs and more. I hope we make it look easy enough that you would not know the Herculean effort it takes, both at show site and back home, to get that type of same-day coverage to you.

 Megan Headley, Charles Cumpston and video producer Marshall Stevens were at the show all day, then created finished product at night. Stories and blogs are written at crazy hours and a cataclysmic pace. Our staff back in Virginia coordinates with them and has to accommodate the time change. I hope you forgive me the pride I have in the great work they did. And thanks to Lyle Hill (who hijacked our video unit one day) and Lou Cerny of MTH Industries who helped us in understanding the solar market.

 Glasstec 2010 leaves me with some great personal memories too. It was great to see Bob Lawrence of Cristacurva Craftsman and meet Francisco Sanchez Gil of Cristacurva … and to get a chance to be part of a very special announcement by one of the most well-known people in the glass industry (see my blog later this week) …  it was also great to see the Mobius brothers of Garibaldi Glass there … or witness Glaston’s Onduso Brown get some back pain relief from a true Turkish massage, delivered right on in the middle of the Glaston pub    …. ….Hundreds of little memories created by a week of glass in Germany.

 My favorite one came the last night during a final dinner at small local restaurant not too far from the Messe (excellent food, reasonable prices, if you want the name of it,  e-mail me). Anyway, all during our delicious dinner in an older, typically cozy European restaurant, we kept hearing some banging and cheering. “There’s a kegelbahn dowstairs,” our wonderful translator Brigette Schmidt said. “They are bowling in the basement.”

I laughed. “No, really, they are doing it,” she said emphatically. There was absolutely no way I could imagine anyone bowling in such a small space. But curiosity won and down two flights we went. There in a very, very long and extremely narrow room was the world’s smallest bowling alley complete with one lane and a picnic table, two competition teams and plenty of pitchers of Pils and Alt. The lane was all of about 18 inches wide at one end but opened to about 30 inches in front of nine extremely well-worn pins. The gutters were about a foot wide on each side.

 Once the bowlers heard we were from the United States, they invited us to bowl a few rounds and became quite the cheering section for us. This is how I ended up bowling at 10 o’clock at night in the world’s smallest bowling alley in Dusseldorf, Germany.  A nice end to a good week.