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Original Issue

Swinging down the Lane

Alleys have become lanes, and a strong appeal to the family trade has made bowling a $1 billion industry

Big, bright, clean and colorful, packed with kids and their parents, the modern bowling establishment is a vivid contrast to its counterpart of the recent past. The alleys of only 10 years ago presented a picture of dust and gloom where a predominantly adult male clientele scowled over heavily scuffed boards and, crouching in the dark compartments behind their battered pins, the pin boys scowled back.

Nowadays nobody scowls. The pin boy has been replaced by an automatic device credited with triggering bowling's amazing growth into a $l-billion-a-year business. Delighted bowling alley proprietors, many of them name athletes like the six below, pictured when they attended a Brunswick-Balke-Collender sales convention, are pulling in as much as 13% profit on their investments. Shares of the two major equipment suppliers, American Machine & Foundry and Brunswick, are riding high in a stock market that is generally low. The happiest social factor is bowling's powerful appeal to the young. Ten years ago the American Junior Bowling Congress, for bowlers 18 years and under, had only 24,000 members but today it lists more than 300,000. The fact that mother and dad also get a kick out of the game has given bowling a population explosion all its own. With 26 million bowlers in the U.S., it ranks as one of this country's most popular participant sports. As the color pictures on these pages indicate, bowling is a family 'event that may soon draw better than Sunday dinner.

Chatter and fun are enjoyed by youthful bowlers at the 44-lane Cotton Bowling Palace in Dallas, which includes nursery, barber shop, beauty salon and restaurant.

Family sports idols and new proprietors include football's Bobby Layne and L. G. Dupre, bowling's Don Carter and baseball's Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial and Yogi Berra. All wear mortarboards, swap equipment at Brunswick convention.

Tots and teen-agers abound in Dallas alleys. Above: Nancy Kay Ganner, 6, helps her father's friend, Raymond Ballentine, keep score. Opposite: two youngsters talk while others prepare to bowl and check scores.