2018-01-21 / Insight

Bowling alive, well in Almont

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Almont’s Hideaway Lanes, said owner Paul Abromaitis, over the past 25 years has become more than a place to bowl and have a few beers. He said it’s become a family fun center. 
Photo by Phil Foley Almont’s Hideaway Lanes, said owner Paul Abromaitis, over the past 25 years has become more than a place to bowl and have a few beers. He said it’s become a family fun center. Photo by Phil Foley ALMONT — Bowling is the Rodney Dangerfield of sports. While evidence of bowling-like games can be found as far back as 3200 B.C. in Egypt, the first images of bowling that come to mind for many people are Ralph Kramden and Fred Flintstone.

For most of the 20th century it was a working-class sport peaking in the 1970s. USA Today reported that while 26 percent of the nation’s bowling alleys closed between 1998 and 2013, Michigan saw a 28 percent decline, with 91 of the state’s 328 bowling centers throwing gutter balls over the 15-year period.

Still, there are places were bowling is thriving, or at least holding its own, and Almont’s Hideaway

Lanes is one of them.

Lapeer’s Karen Russell, president of the Greater

Lapeer Bowling Association, which represents bowlers at

Gerlach’s Bowling Center in

Lapeer; Cedar Lanes, Imlay City;

Hideaway Lanes Almont; and

Holly Meadows Golf Course

& Bowling Center in Mussey

Township, said her group represents 1,600 bowlers in the four communities.

But that’s down from a peak of 2,500 bowlers, Russell said, adding that last year and men’s and women’s associations voted to merge.

Still, Paul Abromaitis, who bought Hideaway Lanes in 1994 as a 25-yearold college graduate with a degree in hospitality and some money from his grandparents, is upbeat about the business. “Twenty years ago,” he said, “we had full lanes every night.” He said while things slacked off, “We have more bowlers than we did four, five years ago. We’re making a comeback.”


Lapeer’s Karen Russell is the president of the Greater Lapeer Bowling Association, which represents 1,600 league bowlers in and just outside Lapeer County. She said it’s a sport anyone of any age can have fun doing. 
Photos by Phil Foley Lapeer’s Karen Russell is the president of the Greater Lapeer Bowling Association, which represents 1,600 league bowlers in and just outside Lapeer County. She said it’s a sport anyone of any age can have fun doing. Photos by Phil Foley “It’s something to do,” said Carl Henkel, who comes over from Allenton about once a month to bowl with friends and “hang out.” The Almont High School graduate said Hideaway is “close to home.”

A couple of tables over, the Hartzig Plumbing Supply team was playing a make-up game for the Monday Night Men’s League. Almont’s Scott Landerschier, Henry Schugard, Marc Stillinger and Jason Reholdt said they all met as soccer dads and recruited Henry’s brother Ron to form the five-man team.

“I took bowling in college as a ‘blow-off course’ and it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought,” said Landerschier, the old man of the group with more than 14 years bowling under his belt.


Almont’s Scott Landerschier was introduced to bowling in college, where he discovered it was a lot harder than he thought. He said it’s a good way to stay connected with friends. Almont’s Scott Landerschier was introduced to bowling in college, where he discovered it was a lot harder than he thought. He said it’s a good way to stay connected with friends. The group’s been bowling together about two years and Stillinger said, “It’s a chance to get together and hang out.”

“Comradeship,” is the key to the bowling experience.

Members of the Wednesday Night Ladies League echoed the sentiment. “It’s a chance to get out of the house,” said Almont’s Jackie Forbes.

“It’s a social event with a little exercise on the side,” said Jill Jefferies, who comes up from Bruce Township to bowl Wednesday night.

Almont’s Michele Harlow said she met the women on her team for the first time as a “walk in” and they became friends.

“The center,” said Abromaitis, “has become something besides a bowling alley. It’s a family fun center, a place for parties.” He said Hideaway Lanes has “become a staple of the community” by hosting school events, birthday parties, fund raisers and other social events.

Abromaitis, who grew up in Southfield, said, “I love this area.” He said his business has helped tie Almont, Dryden and Imlay City together. “They have been great, loyal friends of this business.”

He added, “In our neck of the woods, bowling is alive and well.”

Russell, who’s 67, said part of the attraction to bowling is that it’s a sport you can play almost no matter how old you are. “I can’t play softball anymore,” she said, “but I have an 87-yearold friend who still bowls.”

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