Around this time in 1999, Hannibal was the scene of a Christmas mystery with undertones of mischief worthy of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

39 large Christmas ornaments made from bowling balls appeared at various locations around town.

One of the festively painted bowling balls appeared at the residence of Mayor Bob Maloney.The story is that he thought it was a prank being played on a neighbor and he put his bowling ball ornament on his neighbor’s porch. Sherri Steinmann’s dog Tazzie started barking and when Sherri went to investigate, she found her ornament, but no sign of where it came from. The heavyweight ornaments also turned up at Jimmy O’Donnell’s, the Hannibal Police Department and dozens of other locations around town. The ball shown above was delivered to us here at KHMO.

The balls arrived with a Christmas related note. At least one came with the instruction to hang it carefullyon your Christmas tree. The inscription on the back of the ball stated that they were from E & O.

KHMO photo, Bill Shuler

Turns out that E & O are none other than Omar Knacky—AKA Jerry Atkins of Hayden’s Hardware and Ed Foxall, who at the time was our General Manager.

They came across the surplus bowling balls in the basement of the old American Legion bowling alley in the former church building on South Sixth. Foxall says they carried the balls one at a time out of the basement. They were washed in a commercial dishwasher.

The discovery of all the bowling ball Christmas ornaments around town drew the attention of WGEM-TV Channel 10. Gordon Boyd brought a camera crew to town for a story which came to the attention of the Today Show. Foxall says we fielded calls from stations in Colorado and California inquiring about the unusual ornaments.

If you received one of these rather unique ornaments, feel free to contact us.

Jerry Atkins tells the story