Chasing History: Bowling

Sometime in late June/early July, my website disappeared. As in deleted and there was no backup to be found to restore it. To date, no one has been able to figure out what happened.

The good news was that I had all of my book covers and nearly all of the links saved so I was able to quickly rebuild the site. My estimate is that I recovered and restored between 90-95% of the site within a few hours.

The bad news was that all of my blog posts were permanently lost.

Among them I’d been updating you all on my pursuit of some personal history. I began the search shortly after my dad passed away back in late 2021. So I thought I’d try to restart the blog by redoing the updates on the chase.

My dad was likely one of the best bowlers you never heard of. If the PBA Tour had larger prize funds in the 1960s he might have gone on TourRodeso_Lanes_1963_Dad. But he made more money as a house pro in a small bowling alley in Winnemucca, Nevada – without having to drag his family around the country – so he never tried it.

Rodeo Lanes was the name of that bowling alley, and it closed up shop in the late 60s. The building became a hardware store and now lies vacant in Winnemucca. Over the past 13 months I’ve managed to locate a score sheet, a bowling pin that is showing its age, an old photo that shows a little bit of the interior when it was an active alley (that’s my dad’s league championship-winning team in the photo. He’s on the far left next to the ball return) and copies of old black & white newspaper photos of the place when it first opened. I’m told there is a location just outside town where the bowling balls were dumped when the place closed. I’m debating whether or not to mount an excavation and see if I can find just one with Rodeo Lanes engraved on it (yes, I’m just that loco enough to try) and then seeing if anyone at the current bowling alley in town ever bowled at Rodeo Lanes and has a better photo.

The first bowling alley I ever rolled a league game in was Crown Lanes in Steele, ND in the 1970s. Sadly, 284025477_121114363929201_237850423357350078_nthe house closed in the early 2000s. But recently a couple bought the building and are converting it into a roller skating rink. They kindly sent me a bowling pin, a couple of items with Crown Lanes on it and a foul light cover they found when cleaning out what was left in the lane areas. They also sent some photos of the eight-lane house before they pulled them out (At least you get an idea of what it looked like back in the day). A local woman in Steele is checking around to see if anyone has photos of the place while it was in operation, as well as photos of the Ranch House Hotel where my grandfather was a cook in 1974. As with Rodeo, I have enough to be able to show my grandkids what the places looked like, but I would love to have more.

The first bowling alley my dad and I bowled league in together was Tiffany Bowl in Odessa, TX. It was also where I won my first bowling tournament. The cash prize of $800 is long gone, but I still have the ring that came with the 243-198 victory in the championship match in 1985. It too TIFFANY_BOWL_1has been closed since the late 1990s. But, I have a pin and a patch from the bowling alley and copies of photos of the alley that ran in the Odessa American (To date, this is the best photo I have of the interior).

The good news is, the former owner thinks he has some photos in storage and is looking for them and the University of Texas, Permian Basin, has the photos and negatives from the Odessa American and they are cataloging them. As soon as the run across the originals that ran in the paper, they will scan them and send me high quality copies.

DIvine Gardens 1960sThe first bowling alley I ever bowled in was Divine Gardens in Turlock, CA. I’ve got a pin and some pretty good photos of the place, and this one of Divine Gardens from the late 1960s might be the best I’ll ever get of the place, but I’m still looking for more if I can find them.

As for the other lanes I’ve bowled in, including Brunswick Sands in Lancaster, CA where Dad and I won our first league championship together in 1986, I have plenty of photos and items.

So when it comes to the bowling portion of the chase, I’m pretty close to saying I’ve got the job done. But if you happen to know of anyone who might have something from one of the places above, feel free to click on this contact link and let me know.  

Coming up: Chasing History: Golf

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