HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's the end of an era. Established in 1959, Plamor Lanes represents a rich history in the Huntsville sporting and recreation communities. Neighbor Jerry Damson Automotive Group bought the Plamor property two months ago. The iconic bowling house will close its doors for good at the end of April.
We're trying to build in a direction so it makes it simpler for everybody," says Jerry Damson General Manager Rob Crank. "Not just for customers but for employees -- but with that being said -- land is needed to be able to do that."
The establishment at Plamor is doing their best to get used to the idea of finality.
"Oh honey, I never thought I would ever live to see this place close because it's been in business about 60 years. And like I said, it's not like most bowling centers, it's just a wonderful place -- it's just about perfect."
But you don't have to take 30-year-employee Stella Spray's word for it.
Plamor is a wonderful place with the history to back it up: a roster of more league bowlers than any alley in the city, countless championships and even more memories. It's a house now operating on borrowed time.
Miss Stella says she's cherishing these last months at her home away from home.
"We just want everyone to enjoy it. It's like a family type thing. People just love it," she said.
Manager Bobby Orebaugh, widely regarded as a bowling ball and pro supply savant, has spent his whole adult life here. He worked at Plamor Lanes since 1987. He explains, as competitors lowered open bowl rates and it became more difficult to compete with conglomerates like nearby AMF Bowling Centers, Damson Auto's long-standing bid for the property made too much financial sense to not accept. Damson has expressed consistent interest in the property for about 13 years, says Plamore Co-Owner Thomas Powers.
Much of the Brunswick ball return equipment at the facility is from the 1960s. There comes a time when even nostalgia must give way to technology, and Orebaugh explains, the needed upgrades would have left Plamore in the gutter.
"With the economy downfall, it just got to a point where we couldn't do any upgrades, couldn't keep up with everything. So, their offer came in and we decided to take it," Orebaugh said.
Charles Chisam, member of the Huntsville Bowling Association since 1954 and a lifetime league bowler says, he understands the dilemma. Chisam will soon have to regrettably play ninepins at a corporate competitor.
"That's the national problem," Chisam says. "That the real estate becomes more important than the bowling. I just hate to see it go but I understand why it's going."
Amid all the nostalgia, bittersweet laughs and mainstay cast of memorable characters like Chisam and Miss Stella, Plamore just hopes their patrons will spare a little time to stop in and say goodbye.
"We're still here," Orebaugh says somberly. "We'll be here through April 30th. So, we're not outta the woods yet -- we're here, come see us."
Despite approaching their final days, Plamor lanes will undoubtedly leave a legacy.
In 1995 they were named by Bowlers Journal International as the best alley in the country, and they consistently set records for highest averages by male and female bowlers.