A strong contender for the title was the Ingram Bowling Center at 1801 Dawson St., near the modern-day Dawson-Oleander Drive intersection.
It was launched in 1946 by brothers Arch C. Ingram, Arthur Ingram and Claude Ingram. According to Arch’s son, Dwayne Ingram, the brothers decided on their new business’s location by a coin toss: Wilmington or Florida. Wilmington won.
Ingram’s had six 10-pin lanes and eight duckpin lanes. (Duckpin bowling uses a ball that’s just slightly larger than a softball, without finger holes, and pins that are shorter and lighter, making it harder to score a strike.)
Sometime later, Arch C. Ingram took out the duckpin lanes and added a skating rink; by this time, the business was known as Ingram Recreation.
The lanes were somewhat mechanized, according to Dwayne Ingram, but the set-up process still required the services of a platoon of pin boys, mostly high school students working part-time. (Their foreman was known as the “King Pin.”)
In the early 1950s, Arthur Ingram relocated to Raleigh and Claude Ingram, to Columbia, S.C., leaving Arch Ingram in sole charge. The bowling alley was destroyed by fire in November 1954.
The brothers also launched Ingram Bros. Home Improvement, and Arch C. Ingram was later one of this area’s first franchise-holders in the Hardee’s chain. Dwayne Ingram was longtime proprietor of Schoolkids Records.
Date posted: March 30, 2012