by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
I always get a little nostalgic when a local bowling center closes. Unfortunately it happens all too often, but as new modern centers open, I guess closings are inevitable. My traveling league visited Mady’s several times a year, and I participated in a tournament there once or twice, but I never was part of one of the regular or famous Las Vegas leagues that Mady’s hosted over the past 47 years. But I got to know Gene Mady and some of the other guys like Jim Johnson and Mike Pepek who spent many days of their youth in the basement bowling center near 37th and Central in Columbia Heights. In those days, I was hanging out in the west suburban palaces of the Carriage House, Gus Young’s Biltmore Lanes, Southdale Bowl, and Aqua Bowl; all of which are history now.
I visited Mady’s on April 30th for the Good Luck closing event. On the wall of the staircase was a banner touting 47 years, and folks signed the banner with a memory or two. A number of people were bowling for the last time, and many more were on the floor or in the bar, toasting Gene Mady and the 16 great lanes of Mady’s Bowl. The Minneapolis Star Tribune had a nice article and photos regarding the history of Mady’s, including the pork tenderloin sandwiches, wood lanes, Las Vegas Leagues, and nostalgic bowling. If you want to play laser tag, you were not able to do that at Mady’s. I returned the following Saturday for the “everything must go” sale, but my garage is already too full for me to become and American Picker.
On the brighter side, I earlier mentioned Gus Young’s Biltmore Lanes. In 1967, I was a young kid who joined the Biltmore Major league at Gus Young’s. One of the players on the Edina Electric competing team was another young guy named Bill Johnson. Bill is now a partnered proprietor of Texa Tonka Lanes and last Saturday was surprised by friends and family for birthday number 70, but who’s counting? Bill was one of the average leaders in the old Biltmore Major League. As a senior, he maybe has to walk a little slower when approaching the foul line, (and limp a little when returning to the settee), but still throws a great shot and averages over 200. The event was hosted at Texa Tonka, by Bill’s beautiful bowling daughters, Deb Lantto and Lisa Nadeau. There were well over 100 friends and family well wishers in attendance. A few notable names were Minnesota’s bowling legend Sam Lantto, Deb and Sam’s daughter and Bill’s granddaughter, Larissa, who is already a great bowler following in Mom and Dad’s footsteps. Newly elected Hall of Famer, Smilin’ Carl Fietek from On Track Eden Prairie, Lefty drock, Daron Hansen and many others. Most notable I guess, was an appearance by former Twin Ron Coomer. I’m not sure if he’s a bowler, but he could hit a baseball farther than I hit a golf ball.
Happy Birthday Billy!! Hope you have many more and thanks ladies, for a great party!!