Bowling has long been a popular sport in the Tri-Cities as this story attests. Although the story begins with the Kennewick-Pasco bowling association, it tells the story of Richland's bowling history further on. Incidently, Craig Craker, a Tri-City Herald sportswriter, is the son of Gil Craker, the author of this story.
Published on March 7, 1976
By Gil Craker, Herald staff writer
Goodwill, a grocery store and tavern are an unlikely triumvirate.
Yet, each has a link to bowling history in the Tri-Cities.
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The Kennewick-Pasco Men's Bowling Association began in 1947 with 120 members when a charter was issued by American Bowling Congress for three leagues made up of 24 teams.
King's Bowl housed the three leagues -- National, American, and Pacific. The four-lane house was located where the current Sportsman (Outer Limits) Tavern is located at 118 W. Kennewick Ave.
"We had to bowl in shifts," remembered Dick Campbell of Kennewick, the first Kennewick Association secretary and first secretary for the Kennewick-Pasco Association. "Four teams would bowl and then the other four teams in the league would bowl. We always had to go to nearby taverns to get the bowlers for the second shift."
Ed VanVier was the first association president.
King's Bowl was owned by Jim and Laura Johnson until it closed in 1950.
Gil Burgund in 1950 opened the Tri-City Bowl at 307 W Columbia St. in Pasco, the current Goodwill Industries building. It must have seemed like a palace to the bowlers at it had eight lanes, eliminating tracking down second-shift bowlers.
Burgund moved to 1315 N Arthur (now 1315 N. Fifth, site of Walt Slipp Tires) in Pasco and expanded to 12 lanes in 1955, the same year a 12-lane house was built at 2611 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick known as Hi-Land Bowl.
Burgund sold the Tri-City Bowl to L.P. Kenyon in 1957. Kenyon added four lanes to make it a 16-lane house - four times as large as King's Bowl.
"Burgund added to the building putting on four lanes," said Ralph Baker of Kennewick, an electrician and long-time secretary of the Industrial League. "Then Kenyon added a bunch of posts and four more lanes. Everybody hated those last four lanes!"
Tri-City Bowl's last season was 1967-68.
Hi-Land Bowl was located at the site of the current Waremart Grocery Store. Hi-Land burned in 1963.
"It was a going thing at the time it burned," said Wakie Wright of Richland, a United Nuclear supervisor. "It was the Kennewick social center with a dance hall, bowling and a cocktail lounge."
"Hi-Land was the site of the first live televised bowling," recalled George Louis of Richland, an Arco truck driver and current association secretary who rolled a perfect game March 3, 1971, in Richland. "The name of the show was ‘King of the Hill'."
"Bob Cochran, Joe Dvorak and myself were some of the ‘King of the Hill' competitors," said Campbell of Casady Bee-Line, who bowled a 300 game March 2, 1962, at Hi-Land.
"Ralph Baker brought the state tournament to Hi-Land in 1957," said Tommy Tomlinson of Kennewick, branch chief for ERDA security. "Ralph has done the most on an individual basis for bowling in the Tri-Cities."
Baker had the first sanctioned 300 game in the Tri-Cities, rolling it Jan. 22, 1957, at Tri-City Bowl "... at 11 p.m." The perfect game came the same year he was president of the Washington Bowling Association. He's been a state director since 1958.
Hi-Land was first managed by Paul Shumaker who later sold to Barney Kofooed.
One of the managers of Hi-land was Larry Ward, Sunnyside police chief and former Kennewick policeman.
Clover Leaf Lanes in Pasco was built in 1958 by Duane and Shirley Emery. It opened with 16 lanes, the current 9 through 24. In 1959, eight lanes were added, lanes 1 through 8, making it the largest bowling center in the Tri-City area.
The Emery's sold their interest in 1960 to Glenn Walkley, Al Turya and Marvin and Alma Jones. Walkley later sold his interest, with the Joneses assuming majority control.
The Joneses kept the lanes until May, 1973, when Atomic Lanes Inc. took over. Managers since have been Earl Martin, Don VanLoo, Martin again, Dave Blevins, Jim Morse and current manager Ray Waechter.
"We really hated to get out of bowling because we really enjoyed the people," said Alma Jones. The Joneses are farmers. "We were farmers before bowling," said Alma, "and we kept it up while in the bowling business."
Connell, with four lanes in the basement of a hardware store, joined the association in 1959. Fritz Day built a six-lane house in Connell in 1960 known as Town and Country Lanes.
In August, 1967, at lane-refinishing time, a fire damaged Town and Country. The cleanup process included adding two lanes to make it an eight-lane house, its current size.
"Fritz got something in his eye," said his brother and current manager Tom Colley. "He decided to go home, about two blocks, to wash it out. He hadn't been gone very long when there was an explosion.
"It moved the front wall out about an inch. Lane 1 had to be replaced, but it was mostly damaged by water. The other five lanes had to be refinished.
Owner Ada Doctor said the lanes has seen more hard times than good. "I make enough to make payments," she said.
Vineyard Lanes in Kennewick was opened in 1964 with 24 lanes, its present size. It was built by Atomic Lanes, Inc.
Vineyard's first manager was Ed Robinson, followed by Ken Bro, Bill Vosper, Dick Hoefert, Bob Holsinger, Martin, Vanloo, Martin again and current manager, Joe Grinder.
The machine used at Vineyard to drill holes in bowling balls is a survivor of the Hi-Land fire. It was rescued from a garage by Martin, used in Dayton for two years before being brought to Vineyard. "The table it stands on," said Martin, "I built in a high school shop class."
The Richland Bowling Association formed in September, 1944.
There were 12 lanes in the Richland Community Center at 660 George Washington Way, next to the Gas Light Tavern. It operated as Richland Bowl until 1959 when it became Space Lanes. It closed in 1962.
Martin Foisy was the first manager of Richland Bowl, owned by his brother, Nick of Prosser. Among other managers were Vosper and Leo Rollick, Jack Houston of Houston Realty, who bought out Rollick, Tony Christensen and Tiny Drake, with Drake being its last manager.
Rollick bought out Vosper, who bought a tavern. Rollick rolled a 300 game in doubles in the 1946 ABC tourney in Buffalo, the same year he was first in singles and team and runner-up in all-events.
"Leo was a very good bowler and a national champion horseshoe pitcher," said Wright, Richland secretary in 1955.
There was a one-year -1944-45 - 12-lane house operated at the Hanford construction site. At Camp Hanford, the army constructed an 8-lane house that operated from 1948 to 1951.
The present Richland bowling center, Atomic lanes, was opened in 1959 with 24 lanes. A 12-lane addition opened recently, making Atomic the largest bowling center at 36 lanes in the Tri-City area.
"Houston was its first manager," said Gordy Nielsen of Richland, a Benton County Commissioner. "He spearheaded the whole deal, land and all." Atomic Lanes, Inc., joining the Richland bowling scene when Atomic Lanes opened, took total control in 1960.
Wendell Odor became manager, followed by Vosper, martin Vosper and Martin again. "I'm the only person in the Tri-Cities to manager each current bowling center twice," said Martin.
Vosper retired May 1, 1975. Martin is the current manager as well as being manager of Atomic Lanes Restaurant and Tri-City bowling general manager.
In 1963 the men's associations merged, becoming the Washington Tri-City Bowling Association. "It took us 5 years to get together," said Louis. There ate 2,400 members this season.
Tomlinson was secretary-treasurer for 11 years - 1962-73. He was secretary of the Kennewick-Pasco unit for six years and of the Tri-City unit for five years. He was also the state president in 1970, the last time the state tourney was in the Tri-Cities. Also, while serving as head of the state unit Tomlinson recorded the first league-sanctioned 299 in the Tri-Cities on March 16, 1970 at Clover Leaf.
Nielsen was the first president of the Richland Association and was the secretary "for the next five years." Louis was the last Richland Association president. Vic Faubert, current president, was the last Richland secretary-treasurer.
Bud Wollam was the last Kennewick-Pasco president.
Kennewick-Pasco's first year book was in 1959-60. Richland published its first year book in 1960-61.
The Hall of Fame was established in 1965 with Eddie Vogel being the first inductee.
Others in the Hall of Fame are Nielsen, 1967; Ken Devine, 1968; Earl Kiger, Tom Bishop and Vern Beal, 1969; Baker, 1970, and Tomlinson, 1974.
A plaque with the eight names is hanging in each of the four houses in the bowling centers in the association. Membership is awarded, the plaque reads, to these members in recognition of the meritorious contribution to the game of bowling.
Among the highlights of bowling in the Tri-Cities was a national five-game record of 1,333 by Martin at Atomic Oct. 25, 1972. The record still stands.
The Kennewick-Pasco Women's Association was formed in 1947 with 51 members. Ellen Anderson was the first president and King's Kourt was the first league with eight teams. Bev la Rue was the first secretary.
There are 2,143 members in the association this season. Elva Lowe is the president and Phyllis Bentley the secretary.
The Richland Women's Association was formed Jan. 17, 1947, with 200 members. Ruth Tattu was the first president, Julia Eldredge the vice president and Eleanor Clements the secretary.
There are 1,175 members this season. Barbara Alderman is the president and Mona Lindgren the secretary.
The Richland Women's Association formed the juniors organization in 1949. Ida Winston is the current president and Janet Brinkerhoff the secretary. There are 200 members.
The Kennewick-Pasco junior unit was formed with 100 members in 1962. Ray Mewes is the president. There are 600 new members.
"A lot of credit goes to Marie Smith for making the association really go," says martin. "Although not an officer, she plays a key and vital role."
Bowling has provided many memorable moments in the Tri-Cities and with continued growth, many more moments worth remembering will be accomplished.