THE COKATO BOWLING CENTER
The sounds of rolling balls and crashing pins came to an end on Friday, April 17, 1966. That evening, the last game of bowling was played at the Cokato Bowling Center. While not really a long-standing institution in the city, the bowling alley was a popular spot for people to gather and spend time with family and friends.
In a building owned by George Buther at 370 Broadway Avenue South (now home to Paulson Law Offices and Betsy’s Attic Consignments), the story of the bowling alley began. September 15, 1940 saw the opening of this new business. It included a soda fountain for soft drinks and light lunches, four bowling lanes, seating for nearly fifty spectators, and seventy-five lockers in the basement. All this for the cost of $20,000 to the owners.
The owners were two men from Minneapolis, William Erickson and Stan Copouls. Prior to their bowling venture, Copouls worked for the National Tea Company and Erickson for Northland Creameries. Of interest to the Cokato Enterprise was their status as “young, unmarried men.”
The hours of the new Cokato Bowling Center were weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to midnight. A person could bowl for 15¢ per line. Leagues were quickly formed for interested bowlers in Cokato and surrounding communities.
Copuls and Erickson’s stake in the bowling alley did not last long. Thirteen month later, in November 1942, the alley was sold to Lyle Manther of Blue Earth. The entry of the United States into World War II led to the previous owner’s induction into the military.
Manther’s purchase was the first of many ownership changes at the bowling center. During that period of the late 1940s, until the purchase in May 1949 by Bertha and Roy Young, at least four other people operated the alley.
In late-April 1960, proprietor Walter Hayes proudly announced his plans to upgrade the alley. An ad in the Enterprise told of the plans to expand from four lanes to eight, add automatic pin spotters, and install air conditioning. The eight lanes idea was fascinating, considering the building was only twenty-seven feet wide.
Almost exactly six year later, Mrs. Shirley Hayes announced the closing of the alley. The building was purchased by Dick Kallstrom of K&K T.V. and Appliances, who would move his business from its current locale in the Jack & Jill Building.
After barely a quarter-century, bowling in Cokato finished the tenth frame.
Left: The exterior of the bowling alley, taken from a street scene postcard in 1943. We have no interior pictures of the center. If anyone has some they would be willing to donate, please contact the museum.
©Cokato Historical Society, 2004