Arthur Ryden has enjoyed competition all his life. He ran cross-country in high school at Alta, and though he weighed just 118 pounds, set a school record which lasted for many years . He took up bowling in 1925 - when he was 9 years old - because his father had a bowling alley in the basement of the clothing store he operated on Main Street in Alta.
After graduating from Alta High School in 1933, Ryden worked in a bank in Alta until 1941. In April of that year, he moved to California and began working as a substitute at several banks in the San Francisco area, needed because many of the banks' employees had been drafted into military service. A few months later, in September, Ryden himself was drafted, and served in World War II as a supply sergeant, stationed on Attu Island in Alaska, part of the Pacific theater of action. Ryden says there were "no women or trees" on the remote island , and was glad to leave there in 1943 to go to Officer's Candidate School at Camp Lee in Virginia, from which he graduated as a Second Lieutenant. Art's brother Arnold was in the military at the same time as he, and was killed at the Battle of the Bulge and buried in France. The two had another brother and two sisters, but Art says he is now "the last Ryden" of that generation.
Ryden continued his dry cleaning business, located across from the depot in Cherokee, for 28 years - retiring in 1982. He did not, however, retire from bowling or shooting pool. Ryden has never bowled a 300 game, saying that 257 is his top score- achieved on two different occasions. His highest seasonal average was "in the 190s" several years ago. Oh yeah, and he also took up a new sport - golf- at the age of 68.
When he was in his early 80s, Ryden had prostate cancer, and received radiation treatment. Not too long after that, he qualified for his first "Iowa Games," competing in the 75-and-older bowling competition. Ryden brought home a bronze medal from the Games. A couple of years later, he returned to compete in Ames, after he had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and the 85-year-old took home the silver medal that time out.
A third trip to the Iowa Games a couple of years later resulted in disappointment. Ryden was rolling a practice ball when his knees gave out. The 87-year-old came back to Cherokee and had knee surgery., then two years later, in 2004, the 89-year-old Ryden returned to the Iowa Games, and this time "brought home the gold." He had to skip the 2005 Iowa Games because he had carpal tunnel surgery on both his wrists.
Ryden says he has had a good - sized contingent of "cheerleaders" at all the competitions, including his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren, and sons and daughters-in-law. Art and Lucille are wonderful people to whom family is very important. Lucille proudly displays a picture from last Christmas at their home- all the children, grandchildren and in-laws were there, and all slept in the house - no motels. Art says there were sleeping bags spread out all over the house to accommodate the large group.
During bowling season, Ryden bowls in the Hawkeye League once a week, and also bowls once a week in a Senior League. These days, his average is in the 140s. Art says he has bowled at many different lanes in many cities over the years, but feels that Cherokee Bowl "is one of the finest bowling establishments I've ever bowled in" - singling out owner Tim Gaydo for his remodeling and other improvements he has made.
The 91-year-old Ryden says he feels "you're never too young to start bowling, and never too old to keep bowling," and concludes by saying, "I feel fortunate at my age to be able to do the things I do."
Keep on rolling, Art.