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Bowler Randy Silverman savors end to his smoking days

Randy Silverman recently blasted a 246 game.
Randy Silverman recently blasted a 246 game.
Fred Eisenhammer

This is one of my favorite examiner.com stories and originally ran May 16, 2012. A postscript has been added to the original version.

About 35 years ago, Randy Silverman enjoyed the game of his life, rolling 11 strikes and one spare en route to a spectacular 279.

“It was one frame short of a perfect game,” said Silverman of Westlake Village. “An embarrassing anecdote about the 279 was that I didn’t bowl a 600 series, but I’ve bowled several 600 series since. But not that time.”

Silverman is an accomplished bowler who bowls consistently in the 155 to 160 range at the age of 67.

The right-handed Silverman flashed his precise style in the first game of league play Tuesday night at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills. Silverman rolled three straight strikes in frames two to four, then notched two spares before settling for a 167 – 10 pins above his average.

His second and third games were not quite at that level: 148 and 122.

But no matter.

Randy Silverman is a winner no matter what he bowls.

Seventeen years ago, Randy made one of the most momentous decisions of his life: He abruptly quit smoking.

It all came about after going to his doctor for his annual physical at the age of 50. A one-time three-packs-a-day smoker who was a “committed smoker since I was 13,” Silverman gave his doctor legitimate worries.

During his physical, Silverman was given treadmill and X-ray tests and to the surprise of both Randy and his doctor, everything appeared just fine. It was at that time, Silverman made his possibly life-changing decision.

“I just decided I was very lucky and had pushed the envelope as far as anyone could push it,” Randy said. “I was one of those smokers who not only suffered from the addiction of nicotine, but from a habit that I thoroughly enjoyed.

“But I just took my cigarettes out, put them in the trash can, walked away and never touched them again.”

Whereas other smokers are sometimes motivated by a poor health report, Silverman had another motivation. “I was motivated by being afraid of having a bad health report,” Silverman said.

“My dad [Sid] worked at a hospital and what scared me most was the emphysema and the people who were tied to their chairs with an oxygen mask on their face and a tube through their nose.

“I just didn’t want to be one of those people. I had reached a stage in my life when it was time to quit.”

Silverman, who doesn’t preach against smoking and rarely talks about his personal situation, said it was by no means easy to quit at the start.

“It was a complete nightmare time,” Silverman said.

But now, Silverman said he rarely thinks about lighting up and finds smoking “very offensive.”

Asked if he’s noticed a difference in his bowling since he’s stopped smoking, Silverman said he hasn’t.

“I don’t feel healthier,” Silverman confessed. “Everyone tells me the food is going to taste better, I’m going to feel improvement in my breath capacity, but I don’t feel any of those improvements.

“I’m sure I’m a healthier person than if I hadn’t stopped. But I haven’t noticed the changes.”

Randy bowls on a team with longtime friends Ken Borshell, Larry Menzer and Cecil Fine – the last two of whom he’s bowled with for about 35 years.

Borshell, a nonsmoker all his life, said he’s never discussed with Silverman his friend's cigarette travails.

But he’s not surprised that Silverman acted so decisively.

“When he puts his mind to do something, he does it,” Borshell said. “He’s a very strong-willed individual.”

Randy was asked his goals for bowling – a game he’s played for about 50 years.

“My only goal is to maintain myself health-wise,” Silverman said, “and continue to bowl as many years as I can.”

Postscript: Randy still has not touched a cigarette since he’s quit 20 years ago. He’s averaging 156 and this season crushed a 246 game.

Looking back at his decision to quit smoking, Randy – who looks much younger than his age of 70 – says now: “I don’t know if I’m feeling any better, but I’m better for it.”