Bowlers recall good times at Whites Lanes

Published 7:46 pm Friday, March 25, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Something that sticks out in a lot of the locals' minds was the fire that happened in March of 1960. Though the fire was never determined, it caused some extensive damage to Whites forcing the leagues to play in other houses for the remaining eight weeks of play. The building was fixed and seven months later it was reopened.
That is only one of the many memories people have of Whites Lanes. If one made a list, it would probably never stop.
When Wendy Pingel got the news of the center closing, she admitted she was shocked, then very sad. Pingel has been an employee at Whites for five years and doesn't want to see it close.
Pingel added that the youth tournaments have brought home some big trophies for the past five years too.
With the center closing, a lot of people, especially ones in leagues at Whites, will be left with two choices; either move one to another bowling alley or quit all together.
Wyvonne Johnson has been bowling at Whites for 15 years and said she is going to miss it a lot. Johnson will continue to bowl at Joey Armadillo's.
"I really will miss this place. Lance is so accomodating and it's so much fun here. It is a smaller house, but it's easier especially for some of the seniors and it's just a fun place to interact with everyone," Johnson added.
Pat Gresham is the president of the Thursday morning league and is also sad to see the center close.
While some bowlers will be able to handle going to a new alley, there are still some people who will resist change. National statistics show that when a lane closes 40 percent of the bowlers are done right then and the following year an additional 20 percent are done. Within a two year span 60 percent of the bowlers are done.
Joseph Aiello, who is 96 and has been at Whites for two seasons now, isn't really sure what he is going to do.
White admitted some of the reasons people will have trouble moving on is because of the lane changes over the years. It's not just your typical throw the ball down the lane and hope it hits some pins and not the gutter type of game anymore. Lane conditions today promote high scoring and make it easy for even the worst bowler to end the game with a decent score.
Although these conditions are becoming very popular among bowlers, White said he has not seen a decrease in the number of people who attend his center because of it.
White started bowling when his dad bought the building, but admits he didn't join a league until he was in college. He spent some time in Alaska in the service, spent five years in St. Joesph and then came into business with his dad.
Entering retirement still looking for what he wants to be? Most people enter retirement happy they have the rest of their lives to rest and do whatever they want, but not White. He is just getting started.
Whites' doors are closing soon, but it doesn't mean White can pack up and hit the golf course. It's going to be a while before all is said and done.
White doesn't know what will happen with the building, but just knows that the property is very valuable.
The center carries a lot of memories for everyone who has ever bowled there and carries a big piece of Niles' history with it. While so many are sad to see it go, a lot understand why and think Lance deserves to take time to himself. Whites' last day in operation will be April 30.