Military veteran Brad Mayberry has brought bowling back to the former Red Bud VFW building, turning the key on Blossom City Bowl at 1019 Veterans Street.
Like everyone else, the 31-year-old Mayberry has 168 hours in his week. Unlike most, he doesn’t have a great many left for sleeping. He holds a full-time job as maintenance supervisor for the Amateur Trapshooting Association in Sparta. He also does about 20 gigs a year as a disc jockey and operates a business producing commercial video products.
The bowling alley job alone consumes about 60 hours a week of his time.
Mayberry, the son of William and Sharon Umbdenstock, told the Republic-Times how his life wound its way to this new adventure.
“I graduated from Red Bud High School in 2000,” he said. “I worked for awhile for IMT Industries, traveling and installing machinery. I think that’s where I found that I had a solid interest in mechanical things. I can look at a machine and figure out how it works.”
In 2002, Mayberry joined the Marine Corps. He served two tours in Iraq before coming home in 2006.
Back in Red Bud, he went to work for the ATA and also dabbled part-time at the former Red Bud VFW bowling alley. The alley was built in the 1950s and closed in October 2012.
“The old owner said he’d show me three things about pin setters. Then he let me figure the rest out for myself,” he said. “When the VFW closed, I went to the bank that held the note and offered to go into the bowling alley at least monthly to cycle and service the mechanical pin setters there. They tend to shut down permanently if left unused for a month or more.”
It wasn’t long before a bank officer met him there for a visit, Mayberry said.
“He wouldn’t let me leave until I agreed to put the place into operation,” Mayberry explained.
Bowling is a season sport in Red Bud, Mayberry said.
“People here pretty much bowl from October through April,” he said. “That works for me, because my job with the ATA is busiest in summer.”
A visit to the pin-setting machines at the far end of the six-lane alley is like a journey through a time warp.
“These are first generation, third model automatic pin-setting machines,” he said, peering over a tangle of belts, arms, cables, electric motors and hundreds of incomprehensible parts that whir, clank and thump in operation.
“The working guts of these came from the former Bee-Hive Bowl in Waterloo when they shut down,” he added. “The old owner here bought seven of the machines for Red Bud – including a garage full of spare parts. They’re about 60 to 65 years old. We’ll never know for sure, because a fire at the American Machine Foundry where they were made destroyed the records from that era.”
Mayberry spends a lot of time with these machines.
“The ratio of bowling to fixing is about two hours of games to an hour of maintenance,” he said.
Bowling is making a comeback, Mayberry said.
“It had almost died among younger people, but now we are seeing bowling re-emerge as a sport in high schools,” he said. “We still don’t have the bowling leagues here in Red Bud, but that’s a goal of mine.”
One thing missing at Blossom City Bowl is automatic scoring.
“We feature 100 percent vintage scorekeeping,” he said with a chuckle.
Mayberry runs Blossom City Bowl just on the weekends.
“I’ll open during the week if a group wants to make a reservation,” he said. “We even have ramps for youngsters to try the sport if they cannot roll the balls.”
Slowly but surely, tournaments are starting to resurrect.
“This weekend, we have a nine-pin tournament with $1,500 in prize money,” he said. “And the Randolph County Fair has scheduled a fund-raising tournament on March 22.”
Blossom City Bowl doesn’t serve alcohol. The old bar in the VFW facility is separate from the bowling area.
“But we are insured and can allow adults to bring their own drinks in,” he said.
For more information on this weekend’s tournament, or on the bowling alley in general, call 618-708-1336.