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Lane changes

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Invitation-only days gone, but alley still a draw to all ages

By Cindy Simpson

The sound of balls crashing into pins and the chatter of friends and rivals fills the air at Tri-City Lanes in Midtown.
“Who are you going to find down here?” said Allen Slaughter, who works at Tri-City. “Doctors, lawyers, school teachers, you name it.”
“We are just one big extended happy family because everyone gets so close to each other,” said Loretta Carrington. She recently participated in the coffee league, one of the leagues that have been around since the bowling leagues started in 1964.
“I started bowling in 1995 with the seniors. I wasn’t old enough, but my husband was, so I got to go as a guest. Then I joined a team,” Carrington said. “You get addicted.”
Judy Daniels recalls how difficult it was to get on a bowling league in the early days. So many people wanted to compete there wasn’t enough room.
“You could only get on a team by invitation only,” Daniels said.
Junior leagues are still a popular attraction. The league is for youth 11 years and up and bowls on Saturday mornings.
“There are probably about 50 kids,” Slaughter said. Years ago, he bowled in the junior leagues when his mother drove him to the lanes.
“It is fun. It is kind of a stress reliever for me,” said Teia Monroe.
Cousins Alex Patterson, Tanner and Wesley Greene and Cege Baxter got into bowling together.
Patterson and Tanner, both Rockwood High School students, competed with Stone Memorial High School in a co-op program.
“We did pretty good. My cousin Tanner got rookie of the year,” Patterson added. “He’s pretty good, but I can beat him.”
“Yeah, when they are dreaming,” Tanner fired back. 
Youth can bowl in tournaments for scholarship money, which goes into an account for them to use upon attending college. 
Patterson recently brought home $100 in scholarships after finishing sixth in a Pepsi tournament.
The cousins enjoy their time on the lanes, including the family rivalry.
“It is fun. It is something I look forward to every week,” Tanner said. “You never know until you try it. It is a really cool  game.
Slaughter said the original 12-lane alley opened in Kingston in 1963, and people took to the sport immediately.
“They were right across from the sheriff office where the bank is now,” Slaughter said. “Three years later it moved here.”
Keith Farmer worked for Betty Maples, the original owner, before buying the lanes himself in 1981.
He’s hoping for a resurgence in bowling popularity.
“I think 130 bowling centers shut down last year,” Farmer said.
He does promotional efforts like the Kids Bowl Free program in the summer, which allows children to bowl two games a day all summer long.
The alley is open seven days a week. Leagues include mixed leagues of two men and two women. Thursday is a coffee league for women with a night league for men. Junior League is Saturday mornings.