Friday, May 1, 2015

Broadway Recreation Ad – April 10, 1956

Well, the last day of April was yesterday but here's one final vintage April ad. It ran in the pages of the Lorain Journal of April 10, 1956 – 59 years ago. It's a snapshot of a moment in time in bowling history–when Broadway Recreation switched to automatic pinsetters.

What did they do before that? According to this website, before automatic pinsetters became standard in the late 1950s, boys were employed "to pick up bowling pins, arrange them in order and return bowling balls to the players."

The website says that the boys were sometimes called "pin monkeys," and that explains why on The Flintstones, real monkeys were shown performing the task in the bowling alley where Fred did his famous twinkle toe ball release.


Anonymous said...

FYI...the old bowling alleys from broadway are stored at the bowling center on old route 20 in Elyria. I believe it is now closed as well.

Randall Chet said...

My father was a "pinsetter" during that time and worked at Broadway Lanes. He was 16 when this ad came out. He described "semi-automatic" machines where the pins were knocked down and the sweep pulled them into the trough. Pinsetters grabbed the pins (they were probably brought to the top of the machine by a giant rotating wheel) and manually loaded them into the tray, placed the ball in the return chute, and pulled the handle which dropped the pins onto the alley for another frame. This might have been the automatic machines described here? When I was a 16 year old "pin chaser" and worked at Rebmans, this would have been 1980, the machines were truly automatic. After the sweep did it's work, the pins were picked up by a giant rotating wheel at the back of the machine, which then deposited them on a swing arm conveyor belt on the top. As each pin was dropped into the tray, the dropping action activated a switch to advance the arm to the next pin position in the tray. My job was to basically babysit the machines, clear jams, and be a minor mechanic by changing belts. Two pin chasers per shift, each responsible for 24 lanes, keeping a log of problems. Some nights were a breeze with hardly any troubles, so we spent the time cleaning, doing homework, or perusing questionable reading material. Other nights were a frenzy of action. We burned a lot of calories sprinting from machine to machine. Many times we had to manually operate a particular machine, usually when it's "brain", a rudimentary electronic control box about the size of a breadbox, fried. The pay was bad, sub-minimum wage (training wage they called it) but it sure beat flipping burgers, and we could bowl on the cheap. Lot's of fond memories!

Anonymous said...

That's a great story!