by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Several years ago on these pages I authored an article entitled “Cathedrals”, which lamented the loss of some of the bowling centers in the West Minneapolis area where I grew up. Aqua Bowl, Gus Young’s Biltmore, Southdale Lanes, Lilac Lanes, and Carriage House were all part of the conversation. There were many responses from those who may have lived in other parts of the metro area, that mentioned some of their favorite bowling establishments that had closed.
More recently, West Side Lanes, Mady’s, and Spectrum joined the bowling center cemetery. I had heard the rumors, but now it is official, the next center to bite the dust is Midway Pro Bowl on University near Snelling in St. Paul. Of course, the incompetence of bowling reporting of the Minneapolis Star Tribune referred to Midway as a “Bowling Alley” enough times that I am sure Brent Prentice’s knuckles are whiter than a Tide underwear wash. It seems that Midway Pro Bowl is forced to make room for a soccer stadium.
I know I am old, but when I was a kid, there were plenty of bowling centers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for us to hone our skills. We only had heard of soccer and knew it was a stupid game played in Europe and South America because they were lousy at football and baseball.
Years ago, at another closed bowling center, Chanhassen Bowl, I participated in a league with Gary Arntzen and he invited me to his pro shop at Midway Pro Bowl. He fixed the thumb hole on a Blue Hammer that I was using, and fitted me with a Brunswick Rhino Pro, the green one with purple lettering. I scored my first 300 with that ball a few months later. What was interesting was that Gary’s shop was a small room next to the stairs, but later in life he expanded to a large pro shop store on the west end of the center. As life went on and my company moved me to our St. Paul branch, I spent a number of lunch hours talking with Al Loth or Gary, and playing the PacMan machine. I never bowled in a Midway league, however they had a famous league there, I believe it was called something like the “St. Paul Retail League”. They would post the weekly scores on a large scoreboard on the wall. I have participated in a number of tournaments that were held at Midway, however.
I am always sorry to see a center close, and I wish safe harbor to the employees and hope they will find future success. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, I will never attend a pro soccer game in Minnesota!