My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
“We are older than we once were but younger than we’ll be that’s not unusual”. This line was in the verse to “The Boxer”, added by Paul Simon for the Concert in Central Park in 1981 and it applies to all of us. Sometimes I envy Delmon of the Minnesota Twins because no matter how old he gets, he’ll always be Young.
It gives me pause to remember a great sports legend in Minnesota as well as a fine gentleman and bowling proprietor in the Twin Cities, Gus Young. Gus graduated from Carleton College in Northfield in 1932 and was captain of their basketball team which lost only one game in three years. After coaching at several high schools, as well as Carleton and the U of M, Gus made his name famous with an eight year tenure at Gustavus Adolfus college in St. Peter, Minnesota. He finished his coaching career by dethroning the Hamline Pipers and winning MIAC Championships in 1954, ’55, and ’56. Gus became famous with me a few years later as proprietor of Gus Young’s Biltmore Lanes in Edina.
Biltmore Lanes was one of the most modern centers in the Twin Cities at the time. Located on old 169, a few blocks west of Highway 100, it had 32 AMF Lanes. It had automatic pinsetters and your ball came back over the surface, and was slowed down by one of those crescent shaped things with rollers, as opposed to the round “O” shaped thing of the past. It had lighted telescores, so that all the bowlers could see the scores on the white screens overhead. And it had Gus Young and the “Friends of Gustavus” 24 team mixed bowling league. At the time, it was the largest league in the city. Let’s face it, most centers did not have enough lanes to host a 24 team league.
Gus was a decent bowler, but his contribution to the sport went beyond his skills. Gus believed in the value youth sports, whether it be bowling, basketball, baseball, and since it was the 60’s in Edina, I suppose I should mention hockey Well known Twin Cities’ bowlers who started at Gus Young’s include Sam Lantto, (Who is older than he once was but younger than me), and Bob Johnson, (Who is younger than he’ll be, but older than me.)
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Biltmore Lanes included a Pro Shop operated by Twin Cities bowling legend, Leo Mann. Gus Young died on Halloween, October 31, 1977. The next year he was inducted into the Gustavus Adolphus Hall of Fame The school’s basketball court is named after him, as well as an avenue in Edina.
Sadly, the Biltmore Lanes site in Edina is now a shopping center. Highway 169 no longer winds its way to Shakopee on that route. But Gus Young’s legacy lives on both in St. Peter, and the Twin Cities.