It has been a tough year and a half for friends of mine in Grafton and Saturday night was the Last Call! The Grafton Bowl as many people know it is no longer. The doors were closed for the last time on Sunday and there was a huge "party" Saturday night. It seemed like the entire town was their for Tiddly, Goody and Katy.
Tiddly is retiring after working and being part owner of The Bowl for 40 years. The plan for the past 15 years was to have Katy take his place and be co-owner with her brother-in-law Goody. That plan was derailed when the building, which they lease, was sold to an investor. He had different plans. He wanted more than the building...he wanted to be a silent owner of the bar and bowling alley and the past 18 months has been very stressful for my friends.
After more than 30 years of working at The Bowl for Goody and 15 for Katy, the lease ran out this weekend, the doors were locked and the building is now being renovated over the summer. There are a lot of questions, and Goody and Katy may return, but it will be different..you can just feel it. The building will have new carpet, paint, a new bar and bowling area (I am sure it will be nice and modern), but it won't be The Bowl...The place I have been hanging out at for 4 years. Fresh paint and carpet can't replace people...friends...family! It reminds of when Cheers was sold to a corporation and it changed initially, but the regulars slowly turned it back around.
Tina and I walked into The Bowl one night after dinner 4 years ago and met Goody and Katy and instantly got hooked. I feel like I know most of the people in Grafton and it is because of The Grafton Bowl. It is like Cheers..where everyone knows your name. I started bowling on Mondays and Tina and I bowled once a month on Saturday's in a couples league. We have met so many great people, and some we call family, all because we walked into this small town bar/bowling alley like I grew up in back in the 70s and 80s in Wisconsin Rapids and Fond du Lac. It just felt comfortable when you walked in and everyone shouted your name and you stayed for hours talking and laughing with friends and strangers..it was where you went to relax and hopefully that won't change!
I wish Goody, Katy and their families all the best and my gut says everything will work out in the end. It has to...they are The Bowl..without them, it won't succeed.
Saturday night was fun and sad. I have never seen so many people hug and share a laugh and a tear. Some of these people have been hanging out there for 30 years so it was like losing a friend, but I still hope everything works out over the summer and we are all bowling again in September and hanging with Goody and Katy.
To the Grafton Bowl and all the great people that welcomed Tina and myself into their lives the past 4 years. Cheers!