Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Happy Birthday, Holiday Lanes

Holiday Lanes neon sign by Henrietta Wildsmith, photographer. Source: The Times Dec. 31, 2014.
Did you know that bowling has been around for hundreds of years? The first mention of bowling in Bossier Parish newspapers was Thur., Jul. 10, 1930, when an article appeared in The Plain Dealing Progress. According to the article, W.R. Goodwin of Forest, Miss. was lauded for popularizing the bowling game in Plain Dealing. The bowling alley was located in the McKellar Brothers hardware store, which was formally the J. P. Keeth general store.

Then on Fri., Oct. 24, 1930, the following announcement appeared in The Planters Press, “Mr. R.T. Grounds took up his new duties as manager of the Bossier City Bowling Alley Monday morning. Mr. Grounds is the brother of L.O. Grounds, who opened the Bossier City Bowling Alley and is now in Winnsboro, Texas, where he is completing plans for opening a Bowling Alley in that town. Mr. Grounds comes from Minden, La. where he has been managing a Bowling Alley. He will be assisted by Miss Arline Foster of Stamps, Arkansas.” 
Also, in 1930, advertisements can be seen in The Planters Press for Pony Bowling, which was a version of bowling that was played on lanes that were 30 feet long versus 60 feet for a ten-pin alley. The pins were smaller, as were the balls, which were wooden, fitting in one’s palm. This pony bowling alley was located next door to the Planters Press in Bossier City. 

In the fall of 1935, another entrepreneur came to Bossier City to open a bowling alley, T.J. Henry came from Franklin Parish. He set-up his bowling alley at 309 Barksdale Boulevard, which was formerly the Broussard Store. In the Planters Press, Henry was quoted in saying, “Bowling is among the most healthful recreations.” Not only was bowling a popular sport among men and women, but it was touted as a way to shed a few extra pounds and to stay fit and trim.  

In the mid-1940s, George H. McDonald, of Benton, Ark, owned and operated a ‘min-a-golf’ that included an outdoor double ten pin bowling alley in downtown Bossier City, at 1001 Barksdale Boulevard. 

If you have noticed, all of the bowling alleys were brought here by businessmen that relocated here to open these bowling alleys. The reason for this is because the bowling alley industry was on the cusp of the golden age of bowling (1940-1960). By 1945, bowling had become a billion-dollar industry, and every entrepreneur was working on getting a piece of the pie.

In 1959 a group of local investors announced their intentions of opening a modern bowling alley in Bossier City. Architects Frey Huddleston and Associates of Shreveport designed the contemporary building of concrete, brick, and glass construction. This 32,000 square foot bowling alley was the largest clear-span bowling center in Louisiana when it was completed sixty years ago. This design eliminated any visual supports, which tend to distract bowlers and blocks the view of spectators.
Architects drawing of Holiday Lanes 1959. Source: The Times, Oct. 4, 1959.

Holiday Lanes boasted many features, including Brunswick automatic pinsetters complete with subway ball returns. Every detail was tended to, such as the acoustic treatments to reduce noise and the elevated spectator seating for better viewing. Keglers could shop for all their bowling needs at the pro shop, including being expertly fitted for a bowling ball. There was a glass-enclosed restaurant that seats 100 people and offered a view of all the lanes. They even provided a supervised nursery during the day for bowling mothers. 

Mr. Ausbon Stokes winner of Holiday Bowl trophy for being
the first person to bowl a perfect score at Holiday Lanes.
Stella Stokes Collection: 1997.042.014.

Holiday Lanes is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month. While it started as a 32-lane alley, it was expanded to 44-lanes in 1974, making it the largest bowling establishment in the area. They have also worked to make bowling accessible to everyone by offering bumper rails for children, wheelchair ramps, and ball ramps for people with disabilities. Holiday Lanes has always focused on building  community while providing fun for the whole family.

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish history? Visit, call or email the Bossier Parish Library History Center for help with your research. We are at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

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