Niles landmark closing

Published 7:42 pm Thursday, March 24, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The news of Whites Lanes closing has touched many people young and old. Some people are saddened by it. Others can't even talk about it without getting a little choked up. But as sad as it is, a piece of Niles history will be closing its doors April 30.
Lance White, who has been running the family-owned business since 1972, said it's time for him to retire.
White admitted he has thought about closing for a while, but the decision came partway through the season when Lance decided this was going to be his last year.
Though Whites has been in operation since 1957, George Brown was the original owner who also built the bowling alley in 1948 when it was called Brown's Recreation.
The building itself has a lot of history in Niles, but most people around here have the fondest memories of Whites. It's a landmark for a lot of the bowlers and it's been a meeting place for people to get together for years.
Lance estimated that about 700-800 people come in weekly, and that's just their leagues.
One thing Whites was very well know for was the Wielands All-Star tournament, which the center held every year until about three years ago. It was one of the things that always created some of the most interest and the most talk.
The tournament was originally started by Ted Wieland, who ran the tournament for about eight or nine years. Wieland, who built Wieland's Recreation, sold his building to Ted Madison, who was not interested in running the tournament.
Whites has also had quite a few professionals and teams bowl on its lanes.
Some teams from Detroit and the Gobles teams would come down and put on an exhibition and bowl against some of the teams from the center.
So what's the one thing White is going to miss the most from the center?
Ray Gouldman has been with Whites since 1955. Though he is already retired from other work, his real retirement will become official when Whites closes.
Gouldman isn't the only one who has been with Whites for quite some time. Helen Morley, who is 97, has bowled at the center since it first opened in 1948. She has bowled every year since then up until this year. Morley broke her shoulder and had shoulder replacement surgery. "She is doing just fine," White said.
Bob Leonard is another bowler who has some history with the center. Leonard has been the secretary of the Knights of Columbus since 1955 and bowls at Whites every Friday night.
Lance also mentioned a few other bowlers who are in their 90's and still bowl every week, some of them three times a week.
Having a clean house has drawn more bowlers to the center and has made most of them feel very comfortable and worry free.