Chasing History

Shortly after my father’s funeral in September, my mother presented me with a few items of my father’s that she knew he’d want me to have. Among them was his ABC (American Bowling Congress) Coach’s certificate – establishing him as a recognized instructor in bowling. There was also an old bowling scoresheet from the bowling alley he’d been a house pro in prior to my arrival on this Earth.

That bowling alley is no longer in business, but I recently developed an itch to find out where it was. Did the building still stand? Were there any pictures of the place during its time as a bowling alley?

So far, the search has yielded a decent picture of the exterior as it was nearly 60 years ago – courtesy of a 1959 high school yearbook – and the fact that the building still stands, and aside from a name change on the exterior sign, looks pretty much the same now as it did then, on the outside at least. It was converted to a hardware store in the 1970s and I doubt the original lanes remain underneath the floor (although it is possible and I haven’t been able to locate the current owner to find out – yet.)

It also yielded two grainy pictures of the interior, mostly the lanes themselves and I am still hoping for some better lit photos, maybe even in color, of what the whole place looked like. I have actually made contact with two relatives of the owner when it was a bowling alley to see what they have.

And, a mystery has been solved as well.

When we were living in Southern California, where we moved not long after I was born, Dad had been building model race cars and racing them at a nearby indoor track. I’d wondered what had gotten him into the hobby, because he didn’t strike me as an auto racing fan, but I had never asked him. It seems the bowling alley where he’d been a house pro also had an indoor model car race track. And as the town had little to offer in entertainment back then, I’m thinking he spent some time racing cars there too.

There are still others checking to see what they can find. So the chase for this part of my father’s history continues even as it has inspired another such chase. There are a few things from back in the 1970s and early 1980s I’m trying to track down from my own history – mainly so my kids won’t have to – but also because most of it is also connected to my father. They are things I wish I’d thought of getting and keeping back then. But when you are younger you don’t think of such things.

This project is in its infancy and hasn’t yielded any results so far, but there are folks checking to see if they can help. A project like this requires patience, and a little luck, as I am literally reaching back six decades. And even if not 100% successful, the chase itself is worth it. As is the case in most quests, it is the journey itself more so than arriving at the destination, that is the ultimate reward.

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