At various points in the 1950s and ’60s, the town had at least three bowling alleys — one at the corner of Oceanic Street and Lumina Avenue, one at Lumina and one at the Atlantic View Pier, what is now the Johnnie Mercer Fishing Pier.
Longtime Wrightsville Beach resident Bill Creasy, 82, worked racking pins at the bowling alley at Oceanic Street and Lumina Avenue starting when he was about 14 years old, a job he held for three summers. If the alley had an official name, Creasy said he doesn’t know what it was — perhaps just The Bowling Alley. It was a duckpin and tenpin bowling alley across from the Neptune Restaurant. “Duckpins are smaller than tenpins, making the play more difficult. In addition, bowlers are allowed three balls per frame instead of the two allowed for tenpins,” wrote Virginia Whiting Kuhn in her book “Tide and Time: A History of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina,” a book commissioned by the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.
Creasy, who was interviewed for and contributed photos to Kuhn’s book, said the bowling alley where he worked was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Sandlin. Roy Sandlin managed the bowling alley while his wife ran the concession stand where you could buy drinks and snacks.
“That was a pretty big sport back then,” Creasy said Jan. 27, 2011, of bowling.
The alley where he worked was a popular meeting place.
“Behind the alleys, there were rows of benches and people came in there and sat and socialized even if they weren’t bowling. It was just kind of a hangout, the same way the one at Lumina had a spectator’s area and people would come and watch the other folks bowl even though maybe they didn’t.”
Creasy said if he did a good job of quickly setting up the pins, he might get a reward.
“They might give you a little tip for doing a good job, and they did most of the time,” he said.
Creasy said the alleys at the Atlantic View Pier were concrete, whereas the other alleys were polished wood.
Most of Wrightsville Beach’s grand hotels also had bowling alleys at one point, according to “Tide and Time.”
Date posted: January 28, 2011
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