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Bowling ... Whatever happened?

Bowling... let us test your memory banks - remember Ritz Lanes, Washington Lanes (not the school). This should be easy: PMP, Main Street in Hellertown or The Plaza on the second floor of the hardware store.

Yes, all former sites that coexisted in competing for those once a week league performers that filled every lane, every night.

The Ritz on Third Street in the basement of Pep Boys where you were always greeted by dapper owner Mr. Bill Stoudt. Besides lanes and small refreshment counter, this was the spot for a game of billiards (pool). Each day as the lanes filled to capacity the tables were buzzing with play in the smoke-filled arena. It truly was standing room only, a spot where Lehigh students gathered after class to expand their horizon on two new games, billiards and ten pins. A place to relax and get away from the books.

Northampton Heights, Fourth Street, across the bridge, Washington Lanes, was a few blocks from the school. The Berezny family owned and operated across from the grocery store with the family name.

The MO was the same, counter for light lunch and alleys to accommodate, and maybe a pinball or two for some amusement.

The Pursel family had a near dynasty on Main in Hellertown with father and son Ed operating PMP.

The duo competed in numerous leagues throughout the Lehigh Valley and were extremely competitive. Ed Jr. replaced the legendary Lou Erb as the columnist for the Morning Call. Members only was the call for the Steel Club that produced numerous top performers to include Norm Nelson Jr.

Southside hosted a list of private clubs to include Panthers, formerly Hungarian Hall, National & Catholic Sokols and in the 60s the Hungarian Catholic Club joined the ranks. An old-timer reminded me of the Northampton Club located near Carlton Ave, affiliated with the Knights of Columbus and Holy Ghost. The Hillers had the Beneficial Club on Broadway along with a strong junior program.

As we journey across the Fahy Bridge (New St.) was CIO Lanes, a popular spot for all the folks who were employed at the Steel.

Craig Ihle, longtime bowler, recently searched the history books and located lanes on West Broad near the movie theaters. Bill Clauser, former bowling association officer, informs us that, yes, lanes were in the basement of the Boyd. We are searching the books to find a name or an affiliation to the site.

And then we ask... bowling... whatever happened?

Chip Walakovits is a former bowling writer for the Globe Times and can be reached at whochip@ptd.net