AMHERST, N.S. – At the age of 97, Florence LeBlanc has no intention of slowing down, especially when it comes to bowling.
“It keeps me young. It’s good exercise,” said LeBlanc.
For forty years LeBlanc has bowled in the Knights of Columbus Tuesday night bowling league at King Pin Bowling in Amherst.
“I got a 79 and 80 the first two strings tonight,” said LeBlanc, while starting her third, and final, string of the night. “And I made a 90 last week.”
LeBlanc Bowls on a team with her son Mike LeBlanc.
“She likes it when she scores better than her age,” said Mike, who is 57-years-old.
Also on the team is her granddaughter, Jenna, and daughter-in-law, Lori.
She says it’s fun to get out and bowl with family and friends.
“I like everybody here. They’re all friendly,” she said.
LeBlanc is originally from Cap-Pelé New Brunswick.
“She was about 18 when she moved to Amherst,” said Mike. “She couldn’t speak English until she was in her 20’s.”
She says hard work has helped keep her young.
“I’ve worked hard all my life, I raised a big family. Eight children,” said Leblanc.
The LeBlanc’s grew up on West Victoria Street in Amherst.
“I worked at the Maritimes Pants Factory during the war but I had to quit when I had kids.”
She also worked at a lobster factory where she lost half of the index finger on her left hand, which, being a righty, doesn’t affect her bowling.
She says the secret to throwing a strike is to throw the ball down the middle.
“If you throw it hard enough they’re all going down.”
LeBlanc drove a car into her 80’s, but then her eyesight started to fail her.
“She has macular degeneration,” says Mike.
“I’m legally blind. Sometimes I can’t see how many pins are left, so they tell me.”
Mike says she inspires a lot of people; while others say bowling is too dangerous for a 97-year-old woman.
“If something happened and she died bowling, she’d die happy because she died doing something she loves,” said Mike. “She could fall and break a hip going to the bathroom. Here she’s getting up and exercising and she looks forward to it.”
LeBlanc’s birthday is in August.
“My grandmother on my father’s side lived to 98, so if I live to August I’ll be even with her,” said LeBlanc.
Will she be back bowling at the age of 98?
“It’s good exercise, but I don’t know how long I can go. I was sick this winter so I missed some time,” said LeBlanc. “But if I feel good, I’ll be back.”
On her final string of the night, LeBlanc scored a 95.