Queens County bowling history, Part III
As previously stated in part two, the new IGA supermarket was built on Main Street in 1961 and a bowling alley, called Bowlmore Lanes, was added in the basement of the building.
For the first time in Queens County, automatic pinsetters were available to bowlers. There were eight bowling lanes and a large lunch counter. There had been a grill and deep fryers so you could buy hamburgers, fries and hot dogs. As well, ice cream in a cone, milkshakes, potato chips, chocolate bars, coffee, tea and more were available.
Bowl-more Lanes was a busy spot in the 1960s. Scoring was higher than ever on the new lanes. There were leagues every night and tournaments being held often. There were many leagues with various names including the men’s and women’s, Merchants, Legion, Bowater Mersey, Milton, Misfit, Steel and Engines, Stedmans, a Port Mouton league and more.
By April 1962, bowling was at an all-time high. The eight lanes at Bowl-more could barely handle the large number of bowlers so it was announced in the Liverpool Advance, that six or eight additional lanes were being added.
In August 1962, Bowl-more closed for a short time for the six new lanes to be completed and the existing lanes to be reconditioned. The six new lanes were located on the other side of the bowling alley where the bar is located today. The price of bowling at Bowl-more Lanes was 25 cents a game at that time.
Liverpool produced many amazing bowlers in the 1960s. The bowling center offered a $50 prize to any women who bowled a triple of 350 or better and a $100 prize for any man who bowled a three game total of 400 or more. In March 1965, Mildred Coops Winnie Clattenburg in 1962. Her Ladies High Single still stands as the record high at Liverpool Bowling Center.
bowled a record breaking 366 triple and received the $50 prize. Kit Wells, who bowled a 397, had the closest triple to 400 for the men. Finally in November 1966, Frank Leslie of Brooklyn bowled games of 141, 120 and 140 for a triple of 401 and he became the first person to ever bowl a triple over 400 in Liverpool.
There’s a long list of excellent bowlers from Liverpool. A few notable male bowlers included Kit Wells, Frank Leslie, Eric Whynot, Lew Freeman, George Mitchell, Randy Whynot, and Artie Wells. The higher female bowlers included Winnie Clattenburg, Mildred (Coops) Evans, Maxine Coolen, Gertrude Dauphinee, Vivian Amero, Audrey Thorbourne, Kathryn Grant and Chris Umphrey. There were many more!
By 1967, the original eight lanes at Bowl-more Lanes proved to be enough so the six new lanes that had been added just five years earlier, were removed. A new game room was created where those six lanes had been located. It had two pool tables, five snooker tables and pinball machines. A December 1967 ad in the Liverpool Advance shows the name of Bowl-more Lanes had changed to Liverpool Amusement Centre and Bowling Alleys. The managers at that time were Merrill “Chick” Kaulback and Doug Lucier.
The amusement center part of the business, next to the bowling alley, closed and Home Hardware moved into that space and operated there for several years. A small bar known as Alley 9 opened in the bowling alley on May 6, 1994. When Home Hardware moved to its present location on Main Street, Alley 9 bar expanded into the former hardware store’s space. The larger Alley 9 bar re-opened July 26, 1996. The Grill Pit Restaurant was added and opened July 11, 1998. The Grill Pit changed hands and changed names a few times, but the restaurant still operates.
The bowling alley has seen many managers and employees. Managers included Merrill Kaulback, Doug Lucier, Randy Whynot, Bill Stitt, Bob Pentz, Bob Rapp and Tony Moffatt. Bill Stitt actually bought the bowling center around 1972 and sold it in 1978. Other employees included Morton Williams and Randy Rapp. Working behind the lunch counter over the years were Bev Stitt, Marg Levy, Phillippa Ward, Hazel Sponagle, Terry Rapp, and Judy Francis. Judy was hired on February 12, 1980 to work behind the lunch counter. Now, thirtyseven years later, she still works at the lunch counter and she continues to ensure the leagues run smoothly. Judy has worked at Liverpool Bowling Center longer than any other employee in the history of the bowling alley.
After 56 years of being in business, the record scores at Liverpool Bowling Center are – High No Mark Single (Men) Vic Mcleod 99; (Women) Joyce Foster 98. High Single (Men) Michael Vienneau 201 (Women) Winnie Clattenburg and Evie Fisher 157. High Triple (Men) Tim Mcdonald 481 (Women) Pat Manthorne 381.
Recently, the bowling alley, bar and restaurant was sold. The new owners are Michael Vienneau and Susan Harlow.
When I was growing up, many families were involved in bowling, including my entire family. My grandmother, her husband, my aunts and uncles and my mom all bowled. It was just normal that when my cousins and I were old enough to bowl on leagues, we all joined, too. I started league bowling when I was 14 and at that time, only the one bowling alley existed in Liverpool.
Today, bowling is still enjoyed in Liverpool. Bowl More Lanes, which later became the Liverpool Bowling Center, is still a happening place. The history of bowling has come through many changes over the years but the many memories of pinboys, bowling leagues, family participation and special celebrations that took place at the bowling alleys still live on. Hopefully, there will be a renewed interest in this activity because it was sure a lot of fun for many people over the years, including myself.
A crowd of spectators watch the bowlers at the newly-opened Bowl More Lanes.
In November 1966, Frank Leslie bowled the first ever triple over 400 at Bowl More Lanes.