Vernon “Steve” Eidson’s love for bowling went back to his teen years when he earned two cents a game for setting the pins back up at an alley in Brookhaven.
“This was back in the day before the pins were put back up electronically,” said longtime friend Thomas Puckett, 83, of Alpharetta, who worked with him. “We liked the bad bowlers best because you didn’t have to work as hard.”
And, he laughed, pay was two cents a game, not a frame, “but that was good money back then.”
Mr. Eidson went on to become an expert bowler, playing in numerous leagues and on a team for the now-defunct Eastern Airlines, and winning a slew of trophies.
The “pin boy” job was just one of many Mr. Eidson held after dropping out of school before ninth grade to help raise his seven brothers and four sisters after their father died in a traffic accident in Decatur.
Mr. Eidson, who lived for decades in East Point, developed Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago and moved to Fairfax, Va., to live with his only son, John Eidson, 47. He died there of a stroke Sept. 25. He was 86. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at a private club in Fairfax.
Drafted into the Army in 1943, Mr. Eidson drove trucks under fire in Burma and became a bus driver after the war.
“At some point he also drove buses to Atlanta Crackers games and became a big fan,” his son said.
Mr. Eidson's sister, Joyce Hamlett, 80, of Albany, said he “came back from the war with a chest of medals, but he didn’t talk much about it.”
He took a job for Eastern in 1959 as a baggage cart driver and became a fixture in East Point bowling alleys.
At Eastern, from which he retired in 1985, he eventually moved up to a supervisory position. Then he took a gig as a ticket-taker at Atlanta Braves games.
“He would tell stories about driving through Burma and folks shooting at him,” said his son, who lives in Fairfax with his wife, Denise, and some of their 10 children. “He had a lot of friends, loved his grandkids, went to London and Germany to go bowling, which he was very good at.”
"Dad worked hard all his life, but because of what he’d done, he felt America was a great place,” he said.
Mr. Puckett, also a World War II veteran, said Mr. Eidson also had worked delivering milk door-to-door and as a “soda jerk” in Buckhead.
When Mr. Eidson’s Alzheimer’s became advanced, he kept only three items in his wallet — a picture of his deceased wife, Belle, another of his grandkids, and a $1 bill.
“I remember when we would go out to dinner and Gramps would say, ‘Let me pay for this’,” said his grandson, John Eidson Jr., 14. “Then he would see that he only had a dollar in his pocket, and would say, ‘Can you loan me a few dollars?’”
He accepted his infirmities with a sense of humor, often saying, “I’m in pretty good shape for the mess I’m in,’” said his daughter-in-law, Denise Eidson.
Additional survivors include nine other grandchildren, a brother and two other sisters.
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