A Tale of Two Bowling Alleys

February 6, 2011 | Uncategorized

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A Tale of Two Bowling Alleys


On Saturday, February 05, 2011, I went to Valley Bowl in Spokane to watch friends bowl the annual “Otto Bowl”.  The “Otto Bowl” was started by Marylin Young as a bowling tournament to honor the late Jim Hanson.  It’s a 6 game handicap tournament and had a full field of 90 bowlers in the 20 lane Valley Bowl.  Valley Bowl is kind of the choice of the old-time bowlers in Spokane.  It’s an old building (I worked there when I was going to college) and has only a little parking.  Improvements at Valley bowl revolve around the bowling area. Attention to their customers has helped Valley Bowl survive while Spokane has lost around 94 lane-beds since 1980.

So that day, I watched an array of 90 bowlers; mostly league and tournament bowlers rolling a lot of strikes; shooting big games; 230s, 240s, a 299, a 288, 260s etc. in honor of one of the most popular bowlers in recent Spokane history.

Later, I went up to Hugo’s on the Hill and saw the complete opposite end of the bowling spectrum.  Hugo’s used to be called Silver Lanes – a 24 lane conventional bowling alley.  Now Hugo’s is a “boutique” alley.  It has 16 lanes with couches instead of settee’s, table lamps instead of flouresent fixtures.  A waitress station was strategically placed for maximum service.  Hugo’s is an upscale, beautiful activity center.

At Hugo’s, there was about 8 lanes going with a couple of families – probably around 24 bowlers.

Hugo’s had 8 servers for 24 bowlers and Valley Bowl had 1 server for 120 bowlers and spectators.

The same day I saw avid bowlers competing and honoring the tradition of bowling – I saw a boutique lane, big screen TV’s with classic rock music, black lights at 5 pm and families enjoying the game at a $27 hourly rate. 

There’s room for both type of bowling centers (alleys)…… but I know which one Otto would prefer.

One of my Jim Hanson stories. 

I worked at North Bowl between ages 15 and 20; so this was around 1973-74.  We had “Moonlight Bowling” on Saturday night.  Jim was a banker but worked the Saturday night shift to make a little extra “root beer” money.  It was Cliff Hutts, Jim and me.  We put in a red head pin and bowlers would get to break a balloon with prizes if they got a red-head pin strike.  A cute girl on lane 23 got a red head pin and Jim announced that she’d get a date with me if she got a strike.  She missed but later got another chance and got the strike.  Jim had “pimped” me out as a bowling prize.  I did take Elaine out and we had a few dates.  She was really nice and sweet but just wasn’t a dedicated enough bowler for me to get serious.


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