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Last Night at Maple Lanes

Maple leaves! Bowlers say goodbye to beloved lanes

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

1/6
Strikeout: Frost threw two strikes in a row for his final frame.
2/6
Bowled over: Michael Martell, 15, was crushed at the closing of Maple Lanes, where his mom worked and where he bowled all his life — but he did get to throw the final ball.
3/6
Last go-round: Maple Lanes emptied out after its final night on June 2.
4/6
Pin pals: Long-time Maple Lanes bowlers embraced before shutting down for the night.
5/6
Closed frame: Night manager Andy Colon locks up for a final time.
6/6
Memory lanes: Ashleighanna Lemmerman, 18, got to keep her “Cosmic Bowling Pin” as a memento of the last night on June 2.

Bowlers struggled to keep their spirits out of the gutter at Maple Lanes’ last night on June 2.

Longtime league members and amateur rollers threw their final strikes at the 53-year-old alley — slated for demolition to make way for condos — and remembered the place where they always felt like kingpins.

“A lot of people got emotional. It was hard for everyone,” said Ashleighanna Lemmerman, who has bowled at Maple Lanes for the past two years. “Everybody thought of it as their second home.”

Night manager Andy Colon — who worked at Maple Lanes for more than a decade and closed the place up at midnight — also had feelings to spare. Colon said he was sad to see some of the last old-school alleys in Brooklyn disappear, and feared that the warm relationships formed there would die with it.

“Bowling’s been slowly going away as it is, and it was one of the biggest places around,” Colon said. “Everybody treated everybody like family. And a lot of people, they only saw each other here, so they might not see each other ever again.”

But one of the most affected was 15-year-old Michael Martell, who grew up at the bowling emporium at 60th Street near 16th Avenue, where his mother worked his entire life, and were his deceased father — also a Maple Lanes employee — taught him to bowl.

“It was just going through my head ‘my childhood is closing, what am I going to do?’ It was really upsetting,” said Martell.

Martell got to throw the final frame at Maple Lanes, in honor of the many years he spent there, and used his late father’s ball for the final throw. Nine pins went down, and the seven was left standing.

Building owner John LaSpina — whose father Peter opened Maple Lanes in 1960 — decided to sell the land to a developer last year, claiming it was worth more money than the value of the business. Current plans have a 112-unit upscale apartment complex taking its place.

Brooklyn still has a fair amount of bowling alleys, but none come close to the 48-lane glory of Maple Lanes. For instance, Shell Lanes on Bouck Court in Gravesend has 16 fewer lanes, while the 34-lane Gil Hodges Lanes on Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin turned about half its lanes in 2003 to a gym. Melody Lanes in Sunset Park has just 20 lanes. And three years ago, the borough’s bowling scene suffered a big blow when Mark Lanes on 88th Street in Bay Ridge was demolished and replaced with a parking lot.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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Reasonable discourse

B. from B. says:
They can take up similar sports like bocci, which has greatly declined here in Brooklyn. I passed a park recently and was surprised to see the bocci courts overgrown and apparently unused.
June 6, 2013, 12:13 pm
Anthony from Bensonhurst says:
Translation for John LaSpina's decision: I could careless what my father built. Show me the money!
June 6, 2013, 3:51 pm
Joe from Bensonhurst says:
John LaSpina should choke on his greed money and rot in Hell for every heart in Brooklyn he broke. He is a lying rat bastard.
June 6, 2013, 11:08 pm
diehipster from Real Brooklyn says:
Wow, a rare story from this paper about actual still-normal Brooklyn - a sad story - but still very rare for this paper. I'm surprised a drunken hipster spelling bee in Bushwick didn't top this story.
June 7, 2013, 7:18 am
Jamie from Flatbush says:
diehipster, would you be happier if the article had mentioned hipster bowling venues like Brooklyn Bowl and the Gutter?
June 7, 2013, 9:58 am
Bklyn mom from Carroll Gardens says:
This is so upsetting to hear! My kids have had and have attended a number of birthday parties at Maple Lanes and it was one of the "affordable" places to have a party.
June 7, 2013, 10:15 am
ty from pps says:
If diehipster saw the kid in the main picture on the street, he would start grumbling about how he's a trust fund kid from a cul de sac. How his sad little brain turns EVERYTHING into something related to hipsters is truly amazing (and not in a good way)
June 7, 2013, 10:56 am
PigPen from Peanuts says:
How dirty are they, Tom? As dirty as your racist mind?
June 7, 2013, 3:53 pm
PigPen from Peanuts says:
It's a good thing there aren't too many Hasidic hipsters or you might see some real hateful comments here.
June 7, 2013, 3:54 pm
Pete from Mapleton says:
The LaSpina's are a bunch of greedy bastards. They let the place go to ——. The ball returns and pinsetters were constantly breaking down. Ceiling tiles falling down. But they knew we had to keep paying our league dues. They took the money and ran. The whole family is a bunch of rotten scum with John leading the way.
June 7, 2013, 5:48 pm
TOM from BAY RIDGE says:
To Old Time Brooklyn from Slope. Looks like you need a little lesson on what I said. I don't hate Jews but the Hasidics are not cool at all. The normal Jews are more into the real world. Also you need a beating for your comment about Irish people. We are stlll here but not as many of us and we stll throw beatdowns just like the old days. You are just lucky that I can't find you.
June 10, 2013, 12:33 pm
Dropkick from Brooklyn says:
@B from B - Bocci is in no way a "similar sport". Bowling requires actual skill to be good, bowling requires you to make adjustment and be able to shoot spares. Bocci is a game played by old men in the summer, bowling is for everybody year-round. You're an idiot for even suggesting that bocci is similar to bowling. Get a clue.

As for LaSpina and Maple Lanes. LaSpina is and always will be a money-hungry scumbag who cares only about himself, and Maple was a dump that outlived its usefulness. It was easier to sell the place than to actually invest money in repairs and such. Now all the Maple bowlers are invading Shell Lanes.
July 2, 2013, 10:50 am
Jeff from Brooklyn says:
Hey dropkick —— face, you have no idea what your talking about. I will agree that la spina is definitely a money hungry —— sucker. Maple Lanes was a communal place that was the heart of Brooklyn. I always went there and nothing was falling apart. Even if it was it was, it way more real and had more heart than shell lanes.
Sept. 2, 2013, 8:25 am
Russo from Bensonhurst says:
Maple lanes was a place of my youth and a good period of my life. It's was a place where good kids could hang and feel welcome. They staff was good to me and my friends for a very long time. They treated us like we were somebodys when they gave us priority on a busy Friday night or never charged us for shoes during the week. The pro shop always gave us deals and treated us like we were family. And the rivalries of league play still make for great memories even today almost 20years later. She'll be missed
March 24, 2015, 9:22 am

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