Recently a reader gave me a clipping about the Xenia Duck Pin Bowling Alleys.
This is what I discovered. The Gazette dated Jan. 8, 1940 gave the following report: “A ground floor business room in a building owned by Home Federal Savings and Loan Association is being redecorated for installation of six duck pin bowling alleys. The manager will be Perry O’Neal.”
“The new tenant will be the Packard Bowling Company of Red Oak, Iowa which operates a chain of bowling alleys in various parts of the country.”
“Equipment is being shipped here by the company. Until recently the East Main location was occupied by a Xenia Branch Firestone Auto Supply and Service Store.”
The next day, another ad appeared to encourage local bowlers to enjoy the new facility. “Announcing Duck-Pin Bowling for Xenia. Six brand new regulation alleys – each sanctioned and conducted in an atmosphere of refinement catering to ladies and gentlemen enjoying a clean, inexpensive sport. Watch for our opening date. ”
The Xenia Evening Gazette reported Jan. 19, 1940 “Thank you Xenia! For making our opening such a decided success. We shall strive to merit your continued patronage by conducting our alleys in such a manner you’ll be proud of us.”
In order to stimulate interest in the new venture, several ads appeared including, “Do you like to bowl? You do! Then submit your name to Xenia Duck-Pin Bowling Alleys.” For those who bowled well, there was a possibility of earning a portion of the $128 offered in cash prizes.
By the first week of February, Xenia Duck Pin Bowling Alleys had eight teams in the Commercial League of Xenia. Bryant’s Service Department, Walkers’ Shell Service and Oglesbee’s Service won their matches in a clean sweep. The feature for the evening was when Harry Wolf bowled 198. Other teams were Famous Auto Supply, Western Union, Bryant’s Sales, and Lang’s Used Cars.
The following ad appeared in the paper Aug. 29 when fall leagues were getting ready to start.
“These 25 Xenia Business Firms are now sponsoring the Xenia Duck Pin Leagues.” The sponsors listed were Lang’s Motor Sales, Bryant’s Motor Sales, Oglesbee Filling Station, Famous Auto Supply, Xenia Gazette, Walker’s Shell Service, Western Union, Beam Farm Supply, Woods’ Barbers, Kennedy’s Grocery, Gallaher’s Drug Store, Checo Products, Smith Advertising, World Wide Lunch, Harry’s Ohio Bell, Farm Bureau Coop, Railway Express, Purdom Motor Sales, Chenoweth Motor Sales, Xenia Farmers’ Exchange, Moose Lodge, Main Auto Supply, Rose Marie Beauty Salon and Xenia Standard Auto Parts.
Bowling scores were reported on a regular basis in the paper under the heading “Strikes and Spares.” Each team was listed, along with the scores of each of the players, listed by name.
Perhaps it was the type of alley, or the quality of the bowling balls which made for scores that seemed less than scores in league play today.
Duck-Pin alleys continued to attract both men and women bowlers. During the summer of 1940, the fee was 10 cents a line at all times. A new manager was hired, Jack Jones. His wife, Beulah Jones was hired as a ladies’ attendant. All alleys were air conditioned. League bowling took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, while open bowling was available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The alley was open for open bowling on Labor Day as well.
To encourage young folks to participate an ad was placed which entitled any boy between the ages of 12-18 years of age to bowl on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon for 5 cents a game.
In addition to Duck Pins, another bowling alley was in business about the same time. Recreation Alleys were located at 36 ½ E. Main St. This facility also included billiards, but by the mid 1940s both of the bowling alleys had closed.
For a short while Eichman’s Radio occupied the building and then for several years, the building was occupied by Home Furniture. Robert “Bob” A. Brunner was the manager. The store offered complete home furnishings, appliances, carpeting and charge accounts. They specialized in Mohawk Carpets and appliances included those from Zenith, Norge, Motorola and RCA Whirlpool.
The next and last tenant was Dayton Unclaimed Freight and Furniture Warehouse. The building which had been originally located on the corner of Whiteman Street was razed some years ago, and today, a vacant lot is the only evidence of the former bowling alley.
Recreation Alley with the original address of 36 ½ E. Main Street is now 66 E. Main St. The building has been home to a number of businesses over the years including Lord’s Women’s Clothing Store, a comic book store and a beauty supply shop. The building is still in use.
Several years later Community Bowling Lanes opened for business, but that is a story for another day.
Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.