When David Olson started demo work on his concrete staircase, he never expected to pull one bowling ball after another out from beneath.
NORTON SHORES, Mich. — Do-it-yourself (DIY) construction work is a real thing these days. People all over are learning trades so they can build and/or fix stuff and be able to finish home improvement projects without having to pay high labor costs.
A Muskegon man recently started a project in his backyard, only to find out it would “take a lot of balls” to finish it.
David Olson needed a concrete stairway inspected to learn why water kept leaking into his Norton Shores home.
“The inspector told me the cement pad, just off his sliding glass door, was sloping into the house,” said Olson, 33.
Olson didn’t want to hire a contractor to come and demo the stairway so he decided he wanted to do it himself.
“I had a couple hours on my hands so I wanted to take a sledgehammer to it,” added Olson.
He started breaking up the concrete, and after he got most of the top slab removed, he started seeing what appeared to be spheres embedded in the sand underneath.
“It was full of bowling balls,” Olson said. “The deeper I went down, the more I pulled out.”
Before he knew it, he’d piled up 158 bowling balls.
“It became mind blowing,” joked Olson. “I kind of felt like a paleontologist when they got their little brush and they’re dusting the bones off.”
They came out in all colors – black, blue and some with yellow specks on them. None of the balls were drilled, and many were damaged.
“A few of them look like alien eggs,” Olson joked. “Looks like I have some pretty nice antiques here.”
“Brunswick” is engraved on most of the balls, so Olson said he decided to call the Brunswick Bowling office in Muskegon.
“They told me that back in the 1950s, they used to make damaged bowling balls available for people to take for free and use as landfill,” added Olson. “There’s no way to know for certain if that’s what the previous homeowner did, but given where the bowling balls were found, it seems logical.”
As for what Olson plans to do with his new collection of bowling balls?
“A local church contacted me about them and I plan to give 10 balls to them,” Olson said. “The Heritage Museum in downtown Muskegon reached out to me and asked for a couple.
“As for the rest, I don’t quite know yet.”
Olson says he’s certain that there could be hundreds of more buried bowling balls behind his house, but he doesn’t plan to tear up all of the concrete. He adds that he will use some of the balls as decorative elements when he gets around to finishing his backyard landscaping.
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