MARIETTA - After a year and a half of silence, the thunderous sounds of bowling balls and crashing pins can once again be heard at Pastime Lanes, the quirky upstairs bowling alley that has been a Marietta tradition for 75 years.
"It is just a shame that it has been sitting closed. We have gotten so many phone calls and inquiries," said Rick Coley, vice president and general manager of Promanco, which owns the building and reopened the lanes.
The building has undergone lots of modernization in recent years. Under the management of Vienna resident Russ Mercer, the alley was upgraded to an automatic score keeping system and saw the addition of gutter bumpers, laser lights and a stylish, new interior in 2005.
Manager Russ Mercer bowls at the newly reopened Pastime Lanes. The bowling alley, which has been a downtown Marietta fixture for around 75 years, closed in May 2011. (Photo by Jasmine Rogers)
But the small, 7-lane bowling alley still retains all the charm that has made it a favorite, well, pastime, for so long, said Mercer, who was brought back on to manage the newly reopened lanes.
"This may be the only bowling alley in the area that still has an above ground ball return," said Mercer.
Most bowling alleys use an underground ball return. The above ground return is a classic bowling feature, and children are delighted and sometimes a little frightened by it, Mercer said.
"The kids love it, but sometimes they think it isn't going to stop," he mused.
Though it is small compared to some modern, 100-lane bowling alleys, Pastime Lanes is home to a lot of very big memories. Pastime Lanes first opened in the mid-1930's on Third Street in Marietta. But when the original owner got tired of the alley flooding, he moved it to its current, second floor location, said Mercer.
For some, Pastime Lanes was a first job. For others, it was much more. For Marietta resident Dick Clatterbuck, 73, it was both.
Clatterbuck began working at Pastime Lanes in 1954, at the age of 14. The job was the beginning of a lifelong love of bowling. But more importantly, it was also where he met the true love of his life, his wife Marge, he said.
"She bowled down there, too, in the league with her sister and some friends," said Clatterbuck.
Since Clatterbuck worked as a pinsetter, he had a definite advantage in getting her attention.
"I was still in the pit and she sent the ball down. Well I sent it right back up the alley. Not up the ball return, right down the alley," he said.
The surprising gesture must have worked. Clatterbuck and his wife have been married 51 years.
Those are the kind of memories Coley is hoping the alley will bring to a new generation.
"It's a really intimate, fun thing," he said.
The lanes officially opened Nov. 2, so Mercer could test the waters and ensure all the equipment was still in optimal condition.
Though no date is set for an official grand opening party, Mercer said he has already been hard at work creating bowling leagues and reaching out to local youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. A Tuesday night league, which will begin Nov. 27, has already been formed. Two Thursday leagues are also in the works.
"I want to pack this place up," said Mercer.
There are no set hours yet for the business but Mercer said he is often there and people can come in to bowl.
After the official grand opening, hours will run 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Starting Monday, individuals interested in setting up parties, joining a league, or simply finding out more information will be able to reach the business at 374-7240.