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Last Night at Maple Lanes

Maple leaves! Bowlers say goodbye to beloved lanes

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Bowlers struggled to keep their spirits out of the gutter at Maple Lanes’ last night on June 2.

Longtime league members and amateur rollers threw their final strikes at the 53-year-old alley — slated for demolition to make way for condos — and remembered the place where they always felt like kingpins.

“A lot of people got emotional. It was hard for everyone,” said Ashleighanna Lemmerman, who has bowled at Maple Lanes for the past two years. “Everybody thought of it as their second home.”

Night manager Andy Colon — who worked at Maple Lanes for more than a decade and closed the place up at midnight — also had feelings to spare. Colon said he was sad to see some of the last old-school alleys in Brooklyn disappear, and feared that the warm relationships formed there would die with it.

“Bowling’s been slowly going away as it is, and it was one of the biggest places around,” Colon said. “Everybody treated everybody like family. And a lot of people, they only saw each other here, so they might not see each other ever again.”

But one of the most affected was 15-year-old Michael Martell, who grew up at the bowling emporium at 60th Street near 16th Avenue, where his mother worked his entire life, and were his deceased father — also a Maple Lanes employee — taught him to bowl.

“It was just going through my head ‘my childhood is closing, what am I going to do?’ It was really upsetting,” said Martell.

Martell got to throw the final frame at Maple Lanes, in honor of the many years he spent there, and used his late father’s ball for the final throw. Nine pins went down, and the seven was left standing.

Building owner John LaSpina — whose father Peter opened Maple Lanes in 1960 — decided to sell the land to a developer last year, claiming it was worth more money than the value of the business. Current plans have a 112-unit upscale apartment complex taking its place.

Brooklyn still has a fair amount of bowling alleys, but none come close to the 48-lane glory of Maple Lanes. For instance, Shell Lanes on Bouck Court in Gravesend has 16 fewer lanes, while the 34-lane Gil Hodges Lanes on Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin turned about half its lanes in 2003 to a gym. Melody Lanes in Sunset Park has just 20 lanes. And three years ago, the borough’s bowling scene suffered a big blow when Mark Lanes on 88th Street in Bay Ridge was demolished and replaced with a parking lot.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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Reader Feedback

TOM from BAY RIDGE says:
First off welcome many of former Maple League Bowlers to Shell Lanes. I hope you like your new home. Most of Maple's leagues have came over to Shell Lanes. Too bad the owner John LaSpina didn't sell it to someone who would have kept it as a bowling alley. At least when John sold Strike 10 Lanes he at least sold it to someone who kept it as a bowling alley. He was very greedy and just wanted to make money. He cared about nothing else at all. Hey this was in the works since 2004. He finally got the deal he wanted. I hope that Ashleighanna and many of the other Maple Bowlers in time will find that Shell Lanes is like a second home to her.
June 6, 2013, 1:03 pm
Joe from Bensonhurst says:
John LaSpina should choke on his greed money and rot in Hell for every heart in Brooklyn he broke. He is a lying rat bastard.
June 7, 2013, 5:52 pm
TOM from BAY RIDGE says:
To John
Glad that you liked the lanes and the ball returns. I am friends with a lot of the workers there. I have also met the owner but I don't know him that well. Prices also are very reasonable. However I do agree that the place could use some work. Especially the air conditioning in the summer. It can get very hot. Ventilation in the summer is the big issue there. I know that the bathrooms are not the best but I don't really care much about that. The food is OK there but I don't go there to eat so I don't care much about that either. Eventually it probably will be forced to get a credit card reader. Expansion would be nice but they would have to acquire the property around the bowling alley. Summary if you are going there just to bowl its a good experience. Bar is very reasonable too but small. Food is OK. Bathroom is good enough for now. Shell Lanes is run like a family business instead of a corporate business. You will also see that some of the workers also bowl in the league at the same time. Good Luck to you in your Thursday league. I bowl the Wednesday league.
June 8, 2013, 1:58 pm
Jimmy from Bay Ridge says:
You all sound like a bunch of Commies ripping the owner for selling. What part of Private Property and Capitalism don't you understand? If you all felt so attached to the place, YOU should have made an offer and bought it. But you didn't, deal with it. Ingrates.
June 8, 2013, 5:01 pm
Deirdre McDonald from Marine park says:
I loved bowling at maple lanes I was heartbroken when it closed . I love to bowl and maple lanes became a good home . Shell lanes is a good house but I had so many good times at maple lanes . Please reopen maple lanes you will not be sorry if u do
Nov. 15, 2014, 9:21 pm
Deirdre McDonald from Marine park says:
I love bowling at maple lanes please reopen
Nov. 15, 2014, 9:22 pm
Deirdre McDonald from Marine park says:
Maple lanes should reopen
Nov. 15, 2014, 9:23 pm

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