by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
This month we were saddened to say goodbye to a great bowling proprietor in our state of Minnesota. Most of us knew Bob Tuttle as CEO and proprietor of Stardust Lanes in South Minneapolis. I first met Bob in 1990. Prior to then, I tended to Boomer’s Ballcards in Hopkins, and my employment with Graybar Electric frequently had me travelling, or working out of St. Paul. By 1990, I my position was stationed at the Minneapolis District main office, just three blocks from Stardust Lanes. It was time to get back into bowling, so I canvassed my Graybar friends and came up with 18 people to form a 6 team league with 3 bowlers per team. Bob was so accommodating. We bowled Mondays at 5:00 PM. He gave us a fair price and did not require any long term commitment. I think the first year we only bowled 18 or 20 weeks. But by 1995 we had expanded to 10 teams bowling 28 weeks, and Bob was on hand nearly 99 per cent of the time, making sure things ran smoothly in his establishment.
I think Bob was most endeared to the Southtown League, 16 teams, bowling at Stardust at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays. I am not sure when it was first formed, but I joined the league in the 90s, bowling on the Stardust Lanes team with Bob, Bob Jr., Tim, and Mike Tuttle, along with Neil Anderson. At the time it was one of the strongest leagues in Minneapolis, with many great bowlers and big jackpots. Then Al Larson came along with a laptop, and all of a sudden there were 50 scratch and handicap brackets going within the league. You could spend $200 on league night, OR you could walk out with five or six hundred dollar bills in your pocket on a good night. And speaking of C-Notes, Bob had a tradition of awarding $100 to any bowler rolling a 300 game in any league. Even after the center was upgraded with synthetic lanes and your bag was upgraded with reactive equipment, Bob continued with the tradition. I finally got my C-note in March of 2000. Thank you, Bob.
It wasn’t always about bowling. My friends from Graybar and I had lunch at “The Dust” four or five times per week. It was truly an entertainment center for us. I remember when trivia was popular and Bob installed the game on TV screens to drive us nuts at lunch hour. We also would frequently stop for “One quick one” after work. Fridays featured live bands and a dance floor. But then one night we were introduced to a new form of entertainment called “karaoke”. There was a guy with a leather hat who called himself “Crocodile Bundee”. Later he was on WCCO radio as Bill Bundee for awhile. We stayed a little later when karaoke was at “The Dust” and I admit I embarrassed myself more than a few times behind that microphone.
We also enjoyed a few Graybar company events at the Stardust. I organized “Bowlamania” where Graybar competed against Lindy Lundeen, Bill Hunt, and Norwest Lighting. We had a great time, and ran up a bar tab that I am sure made Bob smile. But on the humanitarian side of life, we once had a fund raiser at the Stardust for a young mom who had lost her son to cancer. We had about thirty bowlers participate, who had solicited pledges per pins. Bob donated all of the bowling lineage that night. He was generous beyond expectations. Bob was deservingly inducted into the local Bowling Association Hall of Fame for meritorious service in August of 2005.
One thing I only learned recently; Bob hosted the TV show “Bowlerama” along with his friend, Steve Nelson. Bob was also a better than average golfer. One year I was invited to join a group on a Las Vegas weekend. We left the Union Plaza one morning for Angel Park and a round of golf. It was February and I had not played for awhile, and the driving range was open and included in the cost. I hit so many balls on the range that I had blisters by the time we got to the first tee. But Bob could hit them long and straight. Not me, I explored the desert. But I remember getting back to the Union Plaza about ten hours later, and Nancwa was still sitting at the same dollar poker machine seat that she occupied when we left.
As Willie Nelson once sang: “Classify it as good times, good times.”