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Verdugo Views: There used to be bowling alleys to spare

April 23, 2014|By Katherine Yamada
  • The Anheuser Busch Clydesdale team paused in front of Jackson Bowl, 416 South Glendale Avenue, in 1950. The outfit was on a cross-country tour celebrating Anheuser Busch's 50th year in the beer brewing business.
The Anheuser Busch Clydesdale team paused in front of… (Courtesy of Special…)

Bowling alleys have been around in Glendale for many years. Some, such as Jewel City Bowl and the Montrose Bowl, are still here; others, such as the alley in Jensen’s Palace Grand Shops on Brand Boulevard and the Glen Bowl on Colorado Boulevard, disappeared when the buildings were demolished or dramatically altered.

One of the first alleys arrived in 1923, when the Glendale Recreation Center and Club opened in Jensen’s with a tournament: Caswell’s Gateway team versus Jensen Drugs, “an all-local match that will surprise you as to the class of bowlers that Glendale can produce,” as noted in an ad in the Glendale Evening News, March 1923.

Then there was Jewel City Bowl, said to be the first to have pin-setting machines in Southern California. Bill Russell, a longtime Glendale resident, played in the Rube Tucker League at that bowling alley in 1952.

In a 2011 letter, Russell said he enjoyed bowling so much that he left his first job “throwing newspapers for the Glendale News-Press and the Glendale Independent” and got another job — setting pins at the Glen Bowl, near Bob’s Big Boy.

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“This high paying job (for pin setters) was 10 cents a line (game) plus tips,’’ Russell wrote.

He noted that carhops at Bob’s were making much more. One busy Memorial Day, Russell worked from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. setting pins for afternoon bowling, early and late leagues and then pot games for money late in the evening, netting him $15 in tips.

He calculated that he picked up 2 1/2 tons of pins while setting up two alleys.

Another popular place was Jackson’s Bowl. Paul Jackson, who attended Hoover High, recently recalled that alley.

“I believe there were 18 lanes. In the beginning, all the lanes were manually loaded by a ‘pin setter’ who was paid minimum wage. At that time (in the early 1950s), minimum wage was about 75 cents an hour. This was very hard and hot work,” he recalled. “At each bowling booth, there was a tennis ball with a slit in it. When you were finished bowling, you would put a tip in the ball and roll it down the gutter for the pin setter.’’

Jackson’s shared a parking lot with a small market and Henry's restaurant.

“When you walked in, on the left was a soda fountain, with about 10 stools, which made a great hamburger and fries,’’ Jackson recalled.

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