Garrettsville – The year was 1957 when a state-of-the-art bowling alley was constructed at the crest of the hill along Windham Street (Rt. 82) in Garrettsville, aptly named SkyLane Bowling. Sixty years later, it’s time for “Garrettsville’s Family Entertainment Center” to celebrate with a free concert by Chris Higbee, starting at 8pm Thursday, July 27.
Co-owner and manager Aaron King invites the community to SkyLane for a fun evening of celebration at one of the village’s most enduring gathering places for all ages. “We have something for everybody,” King says. “We’re Garrettsville’s number one family fun center; a great place to get some exercise, build camaraderie and hang out with friends.”
Whether you’re a regular at the coffee club which meets at SkyLane Cafe every morning at 6am, league bowlers who make the lanes their second home during competition season, a kid gaining skills in the sport during a field trip or birthday party, someone participating in the Queen of Hearts/50-50 Raffle, an adult relaxing in SkyLane Lounge after work, a participant in a community fundraiser or reunion celebration, or someone picking their favorite beverage at SkyLane Drive-Thru… after 60 years this is a well-established hub of community activity.
To gauge just how much things have changed since SkyLane opened its doors, consider these fun facts from 1957:
• Average yearly wages: $4,550
• Avg cost of new house: $12,220/Avg monthly rent: $90
• Average cost of a car: $2,749
• Cost of a gallon of gas: 24 cents
• Cost of bacon per pound: 60 cents
• Cost of eggs per dozen: 28 cents
• Popular toys: Slinkys and Hula Hoops
Meanwhile, plans were afoot to bring the game of bowling to the sleepy village of Garrettsville. Over time, SkyLane changed hands, developed new strategies, and adapted to changing times, as seen in the timeline of highlights below:
• 1956 – Roy, Maurice and Murray Paul decide to build SkyLane with the agreement that Huber King operate it. Huber operates the alley with his wife Lois and sons until 1968.
• 1957 – SkyLane makes history by having the first ever 5-7-10 Split (Sour Apple) sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress.
• Early 1960s… Murray “RED” Paul showcases his three antique cars inside the building (currently lanes 13-16).
• 1962 – Culligan’s water softener store is built and opened where the Drive-Thru currently operates.
• June 1969 – SkyLane is sold to Bill White, who hires Sue Wensel to manage.
• 1970 – AMF 81/70 Pinsetters are installed.
• Late 1970 – Don Laubert is brought in as a partner.
• Early 70s… After Culligan moves to Kent… the SkyLane Drive-Thru is opened.
• 1974 – Don Laubert becomes sole owner of SkyLane and Bill White moves on to TwinStar Lanes. Don would serve as owner for nine years and general manager for over 30 years. In this time, Don established many leagues, invented the Scotch Doubles Fundraiser, and was influential in the forming of high school bowling in this area.
• 1983 – The ownership group of Cal King and the Paul Family own SkyLane until the mid 2000s.
• 2001 – Automatic scoring is installed.
• 2007 – A new ownership group consisting of Aaron King, Matt and Brittan Paul, and Rob and Tracy Murray take over.
• October 2016 – SkyLane breaks the world record for having a $3.4 million Queen of Hearts Jackpot.
King looks forward to league season starting up at the end of August and the return of the Queen of Hearts game and 50-50 drawing on September 17. Amidst that excitement, he places long-range focus on developing a new generation of skilled bowlers among the region’s youth. “We work to make every bowler better, because the better their score, the more they enjoy the game and the more often they’ll return to SkyLane,” he says.
Acknowledging he loves being the King behind the Queen of Hearts, he is proud to carry forward the tradition begun by his grandfather, Huber. King says, “I always wanted this job, and finally was given the chance in 2007. I hope to keep things rolling around for many more years.”