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Turner on a roll with 58 years in business

August 09, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- The Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Californication" boomed over the sound system at Southside Bowl on Sunday afternoon as patrons drummed their fingers on counters to the beat.

The sound of balls slamming into pins added an alternative percussion to the music as a healthy crowd of about 180 people streamed into the local lanes at 17325 Virginia Avenue.

The bowling lanes, along with two others in the area that are owned by Frank Turner, have been a fixture in the community for decades and over the weekend, Turner celebrated 58 years in the business.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Turner celebrated the milestone by offering games, hot dogs and Coca-Colas for 58 cents each at the three bowling alleys. The other two alleys are Turner's Dual Lanes on Dual Highway and Pikeside Bowl on U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg, W.Va.

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Turner bought a bowling alley in downtown Hagerstown in 1952 and built Dual Lanes in 1958. Long Meadow Bowl was built in 1961, and Southside Bowl and Pikeside Bowl were built in 1962.

Turner closed Long Meadow Bowl on Leitersburg Pike on Memorial Day this year after he sold the building.

Sunday afternoon at Southside Bowl was a classic bowling experience.

Bowling shoes for rent were tucked into shelves, and french fries and sodas were being snapped up at the food counter. Cold draft beer taps were there, too, and a steady dose of loud music energized the players.

Donald J. Stevens has been bowling for more than 50 years.

Stevens, of Hagerstown, said he started work at the Fairchild aircraft plant in 1940 and started playing in a company bowling league shortly thereafter.

At 91 years old, Stevens said he still bowls at least once a week.

"It keeps you young," Stevens said Sunday between turns in a duckpin game at Southside Bowl.

Barry Harbaugh, who was sitting inside Southside Bowl, said it's hard to believe 58 years had rolled by.

The area grew and changed, but the local bowling attraction remained, Harbaugh said.

"You could always come out to Southside Bowl. They've always kind of been a mainstay in Hagerstown," Harbaugh said.

The 58-cent deals over the weekend were designed to get people interested in the local bowling alleys as the bowling league season approaches, which is typically in September, said Phil Fox, who manages Southside Bowl.

Fox said another special is planned for the three bowling alleys over the Labor Day weekend when $1.50 games will be offered, as well as 75-cent sodas and hot dogs.

Although Fox was happy with Sunday's crowd at Southside Bowl, he said the sport is not as popular as it used to be. He remembered when two shifts used to be needed to get all the league play in, but now only one shift is needed.

Fox attributed declining interest in bowling to more entertainment options these days.

But Fox said bowling has advantages, like a low price.

He said a night's worth of league bowling costs about $15, making it a cheap form of recreation.

Stevens also talked about the declining interest in bowling.

He attributed the problem to young men who would rather drink and run around with women.

"Of course I like that, too," Stevens said.

Steven Seal, who was bowling at Southside Bowl Sunday, said he believes duckpin bowling will eventually disappear because sporting shows primarily feature 10-pin bowling, which uses a bigger ball.

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