Bon Voyage, Bowling Alley

Over 58 years ago, Fair Lanes began construction on a massive new bowling facility on Marshall Avenue in Laurel. And when it opened on February 4, 1961, it was front page news:

That’s why it was with some shock and sadness that its abrupt closure earlier this week came with no fanfare whatsoever.

Somehow, in spite of the rise of video game popularity and other entertainment alternatives through the years, Laurel’s bowling alley not only remained open—it thrived. In fact, even when Fair Lanes itself went bust in 1995, AMF took over and kept it going.

I’ve written about what the bowling alley has meant to me before, (see here and here) so I won’t rehash too much. Suffice it to say, it was always a very special and familiar place, no matter how much it changed… or how much I changed. It even enjoyed an improbable rebirth in 2014, when duckpins returned to the bowling alley after 25 years.

Learning of its closure feels like losing an old friend. And with Laurel’s classic businesses now practically an endangered species, losing the bowling alley is losing a generational icon.

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7 thoughts on “Bon Voyage, Bowling Alley

  1. Amy T says:

    This makes me so sad. I learned to bowl there and it became my happy place. I bowled there 5 nights a week in winter leagues. I went from a 94 average to 181 before I moved to NC in 2006 where they closed the bowling alley!

  2. Rick says:

    I was shocked. Looked like it was thriving.

  3. Jack Brady says:

    I bowled at original lanes on Rt1 across from Academy Ford. It’s owner, Buster Fleester(?) played in a pickup Laurel big band with my father.
    With friends we bowled first day at the new lanes. In the last year I took grandchildren to bowl.

  4. Bob says:

    There really isn’t anything left of the Laurel I grew up in. No reason to ever go back.

  5. Bob says:

    There really isn’t anything left of the Laurel I grew up in. No reason to ever go back.

  6. […] (and Harley’s, previously) was practically an extension of the bowling alley. When AMF abruptly closed the bowling alley last August, it came as a shock to all. It had opened back in 1961, and really never lacked for […]

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