Bowl­ing in Queens County (Part One)

The Queens County Advance - - OPINION - Tim Mcdon­ald Tim can be reached at lo­cal­his­to­

This week, I want to talk about an ex­cit­ing new part­ner­ship for South Shore Pub­lic Li­braries. Over the past few years, we have been col­lect­ing, scan­ning, and dig­i­tiz­ing the Bridge­wa­ter Bul­letin. We have been do­ing this through a part­ner­ship with Light­house Pub­lish­ing and have been dig­i­tiz­ing back copies of the Bul­letin from 1899.

This dig­i­ti­za­tion project is com­plete but we were un­sure of how to share the data with the pub­lic. We have de­cided to part­ner with Da­da­van, a Nova Sco­tia com­pany best known for cre­at­ing a stu­dent in­for­ma­tion sys­tem, and use its Codex plat­form to achieve this.

In lay­man’s terms, we are work­ing with Da­da­van to cre­ate a vir­tual mu­seum and col­lec­tion. The part­ner­ship will en­able South Shore res­i­dents to pre­serve and share their sto­ries by up­load­ing au­dio, video, pho­to­graphs, and other ar­chives to this cen­tral dig­i­tal repos­i­tory. We are be­gin­ning to add items to the col­lec­tion and, in the near fu­ture, will be ask­ing you to con­trib­ute as well.

We hope that through this project, we can work as a com­mu­nity to save and store the sto­ries and im­ages that cap­ture the South Shore’s rich his­tory. Soon, we will be of­fer­ing ac­cess to over 100 past is­sues of the Bridge­wa­ter Bul­letin.

At South Shore Pub­lic Li­braries, we strive to work with our com­mu­ni­ties and through th­ese part­ner­ships to of­fer the pub­lic a way to share their his­tory with each other and with peo­ple from all over the world.

Com­ing up at the li­brary

If you are in­ter­ested in learn­ing about e-books and how you can check them out on your tablet or other de­vice, plan on at­tend­ing an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m. We will be us­ing the new app Libby and go­ing over its func­tions. This is a free event drop-in event for ev­ery­one.

On Oct. 5, come to the li­brary for “Bad Movie Night” start­ing at 6 p.m. We are screen­ing Plan 9 from Outer Space, the clas­sic Ed Wood film about aliens res­ur­rect­ing bod­ies and turn­ing them into vam­pires, which sounds amaz­ing. Watch one of the cheesi­est movies ever made and en­joy the bad ef­fects, weak act­ing, and gen­eral silly premise. Snacks will be pro­vided.

Did you know?

The Thomas H. Rad­dall li­brary is open Tues­days and Wed­nes­days from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs­days 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri­days 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Satur­days 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun­days 12-4 p.m. and closed Mon­days.

The Alean Free­man Li­brary is open Wed­nes­days 5-8 p.m. and Satur­day 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bowl­ing has been a pop­u­lar sport in Liver­pool and Queens County for al­most 150 years.

One of the ear­li­est records show bowl­ing lanes were lo­cated in a build­ing that was once a fac­tory owned by Joseph B. Wy­man. In 1866, the old fac­tory build­ing be­came the home for the Prince of Wales Lodge and, some­time later, housed bowl­ing lanes and a drill hall. Ap­par­ently, the build­ing was lo­cated on Main Street and no longer ex­ists (it may have been on Main Street in Mil­ton but un­for­tu­nately no fur­ther in­for­ma­tion has been found).

Af­ter 1900, it seemed com­mon that a bar­ber­shop would also house a pool­room and a few bowl­ing lanes. This was the case for a busi­ness on Mar­ket Street owned by Ross Hard­ing. I had in­ter­viewed Mr. Hard­ing’s son, Max, in the 1990s and he had given me some in­sights into what his dad’s busi­ness looked like in­side back then.

Ross Hard­ing’s busi­ness had three bar­ber chairs, three pool ta­bles and there were two bowl­ing lanes in the rear sec­tion. This was lo­cated in the build­ing on Mar­ket Street, next to the old Liver­pool post of­fice, which is the site of the present post of­fice.

Max Hard­ing re­mem­bered that around 1915, on his way to school, he would stop at his dad’s busi­ness to do some clean­ing. Af­ter Ross Hard­ing died in 1943, the busi­ness was sold to Max Whar­ton. He op­er­ated the bar­ber­shop and pool­room, but it is not known when the bowl­ing lanes ceased to ex­ist. The build­ing is still stand­ing at 22 Mar­ket St.

Reg Co­hoon also had a bar­ber­shop, pool room, and bowl­ing lanes in Liver­pool. The bar­ber­shop was lo­cated at present-day 216 Main St. and the bowl­ing al­ley and pool­room were next door at present­day 212 Main St.

Mr. Co­hoon’s grand­son, David Man­ning, re­mem­bered that the bar­ber­shop had a cou­ple of large bar­ber chairs and the usual sink and counter that you would find in a bar­ber­shop. There was a room in back that had a shoeshine bench. Be­tween the bar­ber­shop build­ing and bowl­ing al­ley build­ing was a set of steps that still ex­ist. Th­ese steps went up­stairs to a small rental apart­ment and also to the apart­ment where Reg and his wife lived.

Lawrence “Lal” Oickle was Mr. Co­hoon’s right-hand man and he ran the bowl­ing lanes, the pool­room and the shoeshine stand, while Reg Co­hoon did the bar­ber­ing. Lal would some­times also do the job of set­ting up the pins.

In keep­ing with the theme of bar­ber­shops op­er­at­ing bowl­ing al­leys in their build­ings, the vil­lage of Cale­do­nia, in the North Queens district, fol­lowed in that trend as well. The lo­cal peo­ple en­joyed bowl­ing in the bar­ber­shop owned by long­time res­i­dent, Ran­dall Dukeshire. He had first opened his bar­ber­shop in 1938 and even­tu­ally added a two-lane bowl­ing al­ley and two pool ta­bles at the back of his build­ing. Ap­par­ently, this amuse­ment area op­er­ated well into the 1960s.

In March 1919, Liver­pool res­i­dent Arthur Had­die an­nounced in the Liver­pool Ad­vance that his busi­ness, con­sist­ing of one bil­liard ta­ble, eight pool ta­bles and two bowl­ing al­leys, was for sale. Un­for­tu­nately, noth­ing else is known about this bowl­ing al­ley.

The last of the older bowl­ing al­leys was called “The King Pin” and it was lo­cated up­stairs above Mil­ford’s Garage. This build­ing was fur­ther back on the prop­erty presently the site of Phar­ma­choice, 255 Main St. Howard Mcgowan was the first owner of The King Pin. Arthur Had­die was the owner of a bowl­ing al­ley in Liver­pool. In 1919, he had his busi­ness up for sale.

Later, as­sis­tant Liver­pool Post­mas­ter Wil­liam “Bill” Joudrey, pur­chased the bowl­ing al­ley busi­ness in 1942.

Ted Fos­ter of Brook­lyn bowled at The King Pin and re­mem­bered the lanes be­ing quite warped and crooked. Back in those days, lane main­te­nance was not a pri­or­ity. He joked that if you could get the ball in the right groove, it would go to the cen­ter ev­ery time.

Scor­ing wasn’t as high as it is to­day and there were no au­to­matic pin­set­ters at any of the bowl­ing lanes that have been men­tioned. Young guys would work as pin boys to earn a few cents. It was a dan­ger­ous job, as pin boys waited on a nar­row wooden plank above the pins. Once the bowler was fin­ished, the pin boy would jump down and re­set the pins. But, one wrong move and they could ac­ci­den­tally knock down the pins. This meant they had to start over to re­set them.

Al­lan Harlow of Beach Mead­ows re­mem­bered be­ing a pin boy at The King Pin in the mid 1950s. His older brother, Ray­mond, worked there and would oc­ca­sion­ally get Al­lan to come in and set up the pins. They worked only for tips that were given by the bowlers. Al­lan re­called that they would sit on a plank with their legs dan­gling above where the pins were lo­cated. The balls and pins would fly around and not once did he get hit. Though Al­lan was only a young boy, he re­mem­bered a few pool ta­bles at the King Pin and maybe four or six bowl­ing lanes.

A 1960 ad­ver­tise­ment in the Liver­pool Ad­vance men­tioned that The King Pin bowl­ing al­ley was re­open­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, there isn’t much known about the re­open­ing or when or why it had closed. By the early 1960s, bowl­ing had be­come a very pop­u­lar sport. Mod­ern bowl­ing al­leys were be­ing built in most com­mu­ni­ties and Liver­pool was no ex­cep­tion. The look of bowl­ing in Liver­pool was about to change!

To be con­tin­ued….


The Mersey Lanes Ladies League from 1964.


Reg Co­hoon once owned a bar­ber­shop, pool room and bowl­ing al­ley on Main Street.


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