Little, yes - your basic 5-foot-2, eyes of blue, Old, yes - at 90, she has the luxury of admitting it. Lady, yes - the green earrings and green slacks and green print blouse all match, primly, perfectly.
But little old lady, heck, no.As Catherine Quigley, mother of three, grandmother of 11, great-grandmother of 21, she would seem to have all the dodderer's credentials. But as Cyclone Kit. Quigley, she literally puts senescence aside with a crash.
The crash usually features eight, sometime nine, once in a while ten bowling pins flying every which way. For this is Cyclone Kit Quigley of Silver Spring, a member of the national duckpin hall of fame. At 90 years and one month, she not only still bowls every weeks; she is still one of the best female duckpinners in Washington.
Duckpins is much tougher than any other form of bowling, and scores are consequently much lower. Still, the numbers don't lie, as they say, and these are Quigley's.
She finished last season with an average of 93.18. High for the Friday Nighters League was 96.34. Cyclone Kit had the season's high game - 126. And she was one of only two league members to show up each of the season's 27 weeks.
In her prime, Quigley's numbers and awards were even more stunning. She was most valuable duckpinner of the year (1934) and was nationally ranked four times (third in the U.S. in 1930). In 1940, she rolled the all-time record high game for the Washington area, a 169.
Quigley taught the game, introduced her three sons to the game, brought her late husband along to watch every time she bowled a serious match.
But probably the truest measure of her devotion was the record she established between 1922 and 1949, most of it at the old Brookland Lanes in Northeast Washington. She did not miss a single league match in those 27 years.
It totalled out to 4,440 games without a miss. One Washington sportswriter, obviously hoping for the movie rights, went so far as to christen Kit. "The Lady Lou Gehrig of the Mapleways."
The streak snapped because a sister in Connecticut died. Quigley was so distraught at the prospect of missing a match that a tried for a one-day postponement. That proved impossible, but her record still stands.
So does she, which is more than most 90-year-olds can say, and more than one would expect to say about a woman who had a heart attack 25 years ago.
But Quigley's hobby transcended and outlasted even that brush with death. "I'm just glad it happened during the summer," said Cyclone Kit. "No league during the summer."
It is now 52 years since Kit Quigley first hefted a grapefruit-sized duckpin bowling ball and let fly at 10 stubby pins arranged in a triangle.
She was introduced to the game by a friend, but they would not let her join the post office women's league until she got her average up.
How she did that she doesn't remember, and where the motivation came from she doesn't know. But by the end of the 1925 season, she was already one of the most respected duckpinners in town.
"I've just always liked the game," said Quigley, as she sat beside a packed, three-tiered trophy case in her 17th-floor apartment. "I just love the excitement, seeing them pins fall. I just hope I can keep on a little while longer.
"You know, there were some years when I didn't think much of it. I just did it to be active. Now I get a bigger thrill out of it than ever because the grandchildren are all so proud."
Like great golfers and tennis players, Kit Quigley has "grooved her stroke" - settled on a way to throw a bowling ball that is comfortable and endlessly repeatable. Even at 90, she does not jerk or twist or fling or drop her ball. She rolls it. It's right foot, left foot, right, left, heave.
Still, duckpins requires luck. In "regular" bowling, pins tend to tumble like dominoes. In duckpins, it is common to hit the headpin perfectly and have the ball plow straight through like a snowball, plucking only three or four pins.
"Very seldom do I get lucky" says Kit Quigley. So she gets smart. She throws a controlled hook, "drawing" the ball into the headpin at an angle. It has been her "stroke" for 50 years, and "it's the kind of ball I always try to throw," she said.
This month, after the usual five-month summer layoff - and shortly afte a nasty fall in her apartment - Kit Quigley came out for the opening night of the fall season.
When the Friday Nighters meet in the basemen of downtown Washington's Almas Temple, it is hardly a battle of the bloodthirsty. Opponents cheer for each other, gossip with each other, even buy Cokes for each other.
"That's one of the reasons she comes out, "I think," said Helen O'Dea, Quigley's friend and opponent for 40 years. "She loves the friendliness."
Still, it's serious business, and no one is more serious than Cyclone Kit. When she collects the grand sum of one pin with her first ball, she utters a word under her breath that great-grandmothers aren't supposed to know.
It can only get better after that, and it does. Cyclone Kit getw two spares, and finishes with a 93, her average exactly. Her score is second best on her team. The Saints, and third best of all the women bowling that night.
She fades to an 84 in her second game. "Not my night," she says. "But not too bad for an old lady."
Old lady? This is the sprite who danced the polka at her 90th birthday party. This is the energy machine who still cooks full meals for her family on an hour's notice. This is the woman who played poker or pinochle every Saturday night for 35 years - and seldom lost.
"It's too bad it's going to end soon," said Kit Quigley. "Who lives much longer than 90?" But she is up and out of her melancholy right away. It is three hours until the fall league begins, and "I'm really looking forward to it. That's the great thing about bowling. You never know how you're going to do."