alleys never die
they just roll away
Stadium Bowl-O-Drome closesBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
its doors today after serving
Oahu for 45 years
As all hell breaks loose elsewhere around the island at the stroke of midnight, it will be so quiet in the Stadium Bowl-O-Drome you could hear a pin drop.
The bowling alley that once served as a backdrop to Honolulu Stadium was expected to close its doors permanently at 3 p.m. today after 45 years of service -- the victim of the economy, more affordable golf rates, costly court-mandated repairs to comply with disability laws, the Sony PlayStation and a lease that's up, among other things.
A steady stream of customers young and old made their way yesterday to empty out their lockers ($20 a year for the bigger ones) and take a final look at the Hawaiian motif murals that grace the inner walls of the building.
"We just came to pay our respects," said Bob Medera, 51, who took 7-year-old daughter Rebecca and some friends bowling yesterday.
Medera recalled being taken to the alley by his own parents. "It was great. I hate to see it all go," he said.
Owner Ed Kinzie, 84, said it was businessman Chinn Ho who convinced his mother, Adelaide Stagbar, to open an alley next to the stadium on four acres that used to be owned by the University of Hawaii.
Where as many as 24 leagues once scrambled to reserve the best time slots, there were only six last month, said manager Al Aquino, an employee for over 30 years.
"I remember days when people had to stand in line to get a lane," Kinzie said.
The only hint of better days gone by is the parking lot, as big as a football field, behind the bowling alley. It was nearly vacant yesterday and strangely out of place amid the dense expanse of two-story walk-up apartments that comprise McCully.
"We got plenty parking," Kinzie said. "We don't have plenty people."
"We're going to miss over here," said Valerie Narikiyo, 61, of Manoa, who's bowled at Bowl-O-Drome for more than 30 years. "Many of us bowled a long time together. It's like a second family here."
"It's good exercise, it's good to go out once in a while and socialize," said Dora Sugimoto, 61, of Kailua, who had been in the same mixed doubles league as Narikiyo.
"They want to get away from their husbands," Aquino kidded. "They want to hang out with me."
Aquino and Kinzie worry most about where senior citizens, some of whom drop by every day, are going to go.
"They sleep and everything else here," Kinzie said. "And some don't bowl. Some play the pinball machines as practice for their Vegas trips."
Some of the old-timers discussed whether golf -- and the mass appeal it enjoys today -- can be considered a worthy successor to bowling.
For Aquino, there is no comparison. "In golfing, you hit the ball and then you have to chase it," he said. "Bowling -- you throw the ball and the ball comes back to you."