From bowling balls to the wrecking ball | Columns

terrace Lanes is Frederick’s premiere bowling alley…we offer 36 lanes, a pro shop, snack bar, full-service bar, video games, glow lights, and a great techno sound system!” † from the Visit Frederick website.

Spot on — Terrace is Frederick’s premiere tenpin lanes — but it’s also the only tenpin lanes in town. It will be subject to the wrecking ball this summer and replaced, along with the adjacent office building, by 300 housing units. I suppose this is for two major reasons: First, we need more housing in Frederick because there just isn’t any (I’m kidding), and second, the owners of Terrace Lanes will get themselves a nice check from the sale.

I bowled in a Terrace Lanes evening league from 2000 through 2017. I stopped, mostly due to arthritis in my hand. I just recently had the opportunity to return to bowling, as I was invited to join the Tuesday afternoon Golden Oldies retirees league. I couldn’t pass up the last chance I’ll have to bowl here.

I’ve spoken with many of the bowlers. They are all disappointed to see the lanes close. This is more than simply a building in which people roll a ball and knock down pins. For many, this is a part of their weekly social life, a way to sit back with friends, catch up on life, swap stories, have some food and drink, and, especially for the older set, exercise.

Some of these folks practically grew up here, bowling with their parents when they were young, with their children when they were older, and now with retired friends. Let’s not forget the younger set as well — Terrace Lanes has provided a place for teens and young children to bowl in Saturday morning leagues. Several of these young kids have even rolled perfectly 300 games.

Where will they go now? Some will stop bowling — the nearest bowling centers will require at least a 30- to 45-minute drive from Frederick, which is not something a senior driver relishes, especially in winter weather. The avid bowlers will find another center in which to bowl, such as Hagerstown, Taneytown, Hampstead, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, or wherever, depending upon what is closer to home.

I’ve a very good friend who bowls in several leagues here. To a very large extent, bowling is his social life. He cannot drive, but he has a social structure in place around him to get to and from the lanes. He is going to be devastated when this place closes. It breaks my heart when I think of how sad he will be. He will likely find someplace else to bowl, but it will be a much different experience. To Terrace Lanes bowlers, this man is equivalent to the lovable Norm character in the show Cheers. The bowlers reading this know exactly who I’m writing about.

There was one last chance to save the center. Had it been given an overlay by the Historic Preservation Commission it could have eluded the wrecking ball. Naturally the owners were not in favor of that action, and it failed on a vote of 3-2. That would have been a legal stretch — the lanes opened in the early 1960s — not that long ago to we older folks.

I have no great animosity toward the owners of the Terrace Lanes property. They have every right to make as much profit as they can. A bowling center is not something that will make one rich. This one has certainly provided me and others with rich memories and new friends, and it will be missed. Frederick still has a very large amount of area where additional housing is a good fit. But, it has only one bowling center. For three more months, that is. What a loss to our town. All for a little money.

Smith has been a bowler since he was 12. He was not very good then, and he’s not very good now. In between, he wasn’t so bad. Swap bowling memories with him at smithiums@hotmail.com.

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