A family’s last chance at a Lucky Strike
Bowlerama Stoney Creek, which began as Lucky Strike Lanes in 1958, closes Sunday.
Joe Ciach knows he won’t get through this weekend with dry eyes.
“A bird could fly into a window and I’d cry, so it’ll be an emotional time,” says the talented 50-year-old bowler, who organized Saturday’s Lucky Strike Farewell Sweeper, at Bowlerama Stoney Creek.
Ciach and his younger sister Val Ciach-Link will bowl their last games at the storied lanes, which will close after Saturday’s tournament and Sunday’s final league games. The building will be torn down for redevelopment and so will an adjacent house, at 125 Hwy 8 east, where Val, Joe, and their sister Kim grew up. Their father Bill, managed the centre, which started as Lucky Strike Lanes in 1958 and was taken over by Bowlerama, and owner Jack Fine, in 1968.
Bill, his wife Barbara and the three kids worked at the centre and the kids all eventually became successful bowlers. Joe and Val have each rolled perfect 300 games in 10pin and each has bowled for Team Canada in world championships. And Kim was a national youth champion in 5-pin.
“Jack Fine owned the centre and had a house there,” Val Ciach-Link said. “That became our family home for 30 years. When Joe was little, he used to sneak out of the house, and go bowl in his pyjamas.”
And it was the late Jack Fine, Joe says, who introduced his parents to each other.
Bill died in 1997, but Barbara will be there this weekend for the closing tournament and closing ceremonies which Joe mounted in memory of his father.
The Ciachs say that BSC is the last “split” alley in the area, featuring 12 lanes of five-pin and another dozen of 10-pin.
“I remember when I was little, my parents and their friends would bowl 10 in the leagues and all the kids would go to five,” says Val. “It’s always been a family-friendly place. I take my kids there every time I bowl and I don’t worry about them.
“At one time, it had to be the No. 1 spot for birthday parties in the area.”
Various leagues bowl at the centre every day except Saturday, and thousands of Hamiltonians got their first taste of the game there. Val says league bowlers will now migrate to Skyway Lanes, Burlington Bowl or Splitsville.
Val lives in Cayuga and says walking into “quaint” BSC “is like stepping into the ‘60s or early ‘70s.”
Joe who lives in Mississauga, adds, “It’s been 59 years and it has been almost like a landmark in Stoney Creek. I remember when there was a drive-in theatre across the street … Things have changed. Kids play video games all the time now.” When Val bowls her final league game Sunday she expects she’ll “be emotional. I’ll be quite upset for many different reasons.
“It’s closing the door to my childhood playground.”
The old Lucky Lanes, now Bowlerama Stoney Creek, is closing after this weekend.