High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Bowled Me Over..... and it was Love at First Strike! Revisiting Valentine's Daze of the Past!

This old Dell rat's feelin' lazy.

So this Valentine's Day, I'm gonna skip the mushy stuff. This year there will be no waxing philosophical about love and romance. Instead, I have elected to change lanes and go with a bowling theme. Why? Why not?

Along with some vintage soda pop print ads depicting guys and girls enjoying themselves on bowling dates, I selected some songs that were popular on V-days during the late 50s and early 60s. As if all that wasn't enough to keep you entertained for hours, I would also like to share with you a few of my favorite bowling memories. How romantic!

Let's roll!

"Too Much" - Elvis Presley (Valentine's Day 1957)

Some of my earliest bowling memories revolve around establishments that still employed human pinsetters. As I saw it the pin boy had the coolest job in the world. Maybe he did!

Bowling alleys, as they were called back then, began changing over to fully automatic pinsetting machines in 1946, but some of the lanes that I remember visiting during the 50s at beach resort towns in Maryland and Jersey still used pin boys.

"Magic Moments" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958)

"Catch a Falling Star" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958)

When I was eight years old something truly wonderful happened. York's Suburban Bowlerama, located atop South Queen Street Hill, opened its doors for the first time. The Bowlerama was located only a couple of blocks from my home and it quickly became one of my favorite hangouts. (In 1958 I didn't even know that the Shady Dell existed!)

During the summer months my friends and I loved to spend scorching hot afternoons at Suburban Bowlerama because, in addition to bowling, pinball, arcade games and vending machines filled with snacks, the place offered something else that we could not get at home - air conditioning. In those days, a/c was considered by many families, including mine, to be a luxury rather than a necessity.

"Peter Gunn" - Ray Anthony & Orchestra
(Valentine's Day 1959)

Wild, wacky, wonderful moments in bowling:

I once saw a bowler lose his grip on the backswing and his ball bounced through the settee and into the spectator gallery where it was caught by a guy who simultaneously spilled a cup of soda all over his lap! I saw another bowler lose his grip and roll the ball down the lane adjacent to his, resulting as you might expect in a gutter ball. I saw a ball roll into the channel, jump back onto the lane and make a Brooklyn strike! I saw a ball hit the metal sweep bar while it was in the down position, reverse course, and roll all the way back up the lane and into the hands of the show-off who launched it! I saw a child use both hands to push the ball toward the pins but it was rolling so slowly that it stopped halfway down the lane!

"Beyond the Sea" - Bobby Darin (Valentine's Day 1960)

With my antenna pointed southward I was able to pull in a strong signal from the three Baltimore TV stations, WMAR, WJZ and WBAL. Along with kiddie shows, horror movie hosts, dance parties, Colts football and Orioles baseball, I enjoyed televised bowling programs including the ones created and franchised by Bert Claster, the man who also gave us Romper Room, a show originally hosted by his wife. Remember Miss Nancy?

Pinbusters and Bowling for Dollars, which involved regulation tenpin bowling, and Duckpins for Dollars, which used shorter pins and much smaller balls, both aired on Baltimore's NBC affiliate, WBAL Channel 11.

"There's a Moon Out Tonight" - Capris (Valentine's Day 1961)

From 1960 to 1964 I loved to watch Make That Spare, the 15-minute program that featured top bowlers attempting to make difficult spare combinations for cash prizes.

Bowling legend Don Carter was my favorite. I loved his unusual technique and his marvelous skill. Around Halloween 1961, Don became the first bowler on Make That Spare to convert the nearly impossible 6-7-8-10 super split, collecting a prize of $18,000. That's the equivalent of a gazillion today!

"(Do the New) Continental" - Dovells (Valentine's Day 1962)

The most strikes in a row that I ever managed was seven. They all came at the start of a game. When a crowd gathered behind me and I heard murmurs about a perfect game I choked and came nowhere close to 300.

"Little Town Flirt" - Del Shannon (Valentine's Day 1963)

My least favorite bowling memory was the night in 1966 when I pulled out of the Suburban Bowlerama parking lot in my VW but forgot to turn on my headlights. I got as far as Carlo's Pizzeria just down the block before being pulled over by law enforcement. Seems the cops were on patrol that night looking for vandals who had recently smashed mailboxes in the vicinity. As luck would have it, the modus operandi used by the evildoers was to drive through neighborhoods with their headlights turned off.

Wrong place - wrong time!
"Please remember ossifer," I pleaded.
"All Dell rats are presumed innocent
until proven guilty in a court of law!"

Have a Shady day...

and a ratty Valentine's Day!


  1. Yes, I remember pin boys as I did that to raise pin money back at 20th Century Lanes on S. Pine St. This was a favorite hang out for the guys in the hood. No juke box, but pinballs and an old fashion soda fountain. Lanes had I believe 4 lanes in the basement that remained pin boys even after machines came in. I also went to Surburan after it opened. Enjoyed stopping at DQ going up Queen street hill. Also set up pins at Central lanes near the YMCA on Newberry St. Yes, I know that really gives away my age. Make sure you don't give bowling balls rather than flowers or candy however. Later, Jerre

  2. It's off topic, Jerre, but I was wondering if you or anybody else remembers the soap box derby races that were held on Queen Street hill in the 1950s? Kids in homemade cars zoomed down a ramp at the top of the hill at Randolph Park across from the Acme supermarket and Bud Landis' P-66 station. They raced down Queen St. past Mid-Hill Supply, past Tommy's Ice Cream, and all the way down to the city line at Rathton Road. How many of those landmarks still remain today? Thanks for your comments, Jerre!

  3. I remember the 20th Century Bowling Alley. When you walked in everyone knew everyone. That was about the mid "60's!! What great times!! I remember going to the Shady Dell every night, everyone knew everyone there too!! Those were great times!!!

  4. Hello Anonymous! I'm go glad that you commented here in my moderated section. Please come join the fun on the front page week by week. I love hearing from people who actually went to the Dell and are willing to share their memories!


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