My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
In the movie “Bull Durham”, Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis described major league ballparks as “Cathedrals”. This year we are bidding farewell to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and even a Yankee hater such as myself cannot hold back a tear of nostalgia as we close the book on the cathedral that Ruth built. I felt the same way when I learned that they imploded the Stardust out in Las Vegas.
With that in mind, and during my conversation with Bob Hanson last week, I couldn’t help but remember the many bowling centers that have gone the way of Met Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and the Stardust. Our own Stardust is not included in the group. Only the sign has changed. The Stardust is alive and well as Memory Lanes On 26th and 26th. I can’t say the same for Mr. Nibs and Duffy’s at that intersection.
I grew up in Hopkins so I knew Aqua Bowl, Chanhassen Bowl, and Biltmore Lanes pretty well. But I also spent time in Bloomington near Old Shakopee Road and Cedar, and bowled more than a few games at Cedar Lanes and Stadium Bowl. Bob mentioned East Side Lanes, might have been before my time, but I did venture to St. Paul occasionally to the Rice Bowl, Hafner’s, and Falcon Lanes. Falcon reminded me so much of Bryant Lake. It sounds like Minnehaha’s name will be added to the list. We frequently hear the term, “Carry the house”, and many times bowling centers will be referred to as this house or that house. Could it be this was started at the Stahl House in St. Paul.
In Minneapolis, I don’t remember Loring Nicollet, but I do remember the Lincoln Rec on Hennepin. Chalet Bowl on Highway 55 and Southdale Bowl in Edina were state of the art in the 60’s. Bowling centers of the day had character, and a distinctive aroma found nowhere else. Lyn-Del and Lilac Lanes graced the western suburbs. NABI took me to Diamond Lake, Village North, and Lynbrook. I have a couple of pins from Lynbrook decorating my garden.
Survivors include Texa-Tonka, Midway Pro Bowl, Country Club, Ran-Ham, West Side Lanes, and Mady’s. These centers are the “Cheers” of bowling, where everybody knows your name. My traveling league stops twice a season at Mady’s, complete with wood lanes and high boards. My league mates snarl a bit because they know the scores will be lower. I like the challenge. It reminds me of the years back when 600 was a good score, and Gene Mady is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and a pioneer of our sport in the Twin Cities.
Although I would not compare a stadium or a bowling center to a house of worship like Crash did, I will say that the centers have a personality of their own. In some of the newer centers, the Xtreme high ceilings and aesthetics produce an aura of subliminal elegance. And if I forgot yours, send me a message or go to the forum and light a candle for your favorite center. Most of all, have a great league season.