CARSON CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — Stepping into Carson City Lanes is like stepping into a museum dedicated to bowling.
From the way scores are recorded — there are no computer tabulators and scores are recorded by pencil on paper — to the ball returns, which use gravity to bring bowling balls back on an exposed rail.
“Those are made by Brunswick corporation out of Muskegon. You don’t see many like this anymore,” Carson City Lanes owner Keith Dykhouse said.
The game of bowling hasn’t changed much over the years, and neither has Carson City Lanes since the Dykhouse family bought it in the 1950s
Harry Dykhouse saw combat in World War II and like so many men of his generation came back to raise a family and start a business.
He and his wife Dorothy Dykhouse bought the alley in 1959.
Their seven kids grew up with the family business, including son Keith Dykhouse.
For 60 years, the bowling alley was the gathering spot for family and friends in the Carson City area, providing a chance to unwind one frame at a time.
“Back in the day, it was a social event, as far as like the woman getting together, getting out of the house. Getting a babysitter and getting out with their friends and the men doing the same thing on their night out,” Keith Dykhouse said.
Harry Dykhouse died in 1993. Dorothy Dykhouse, with help from the kids, took over until her death in 2017.
“It was still doing pretty good. Open bowling and things like that. But March 16th of 2020, we were forced to shut down with the COVID,” Keith Dykhouse said.
Pandemic restrictions took a toll on the business.
“There was so much uncertainty,” he said. “We really didn’t know what to do.”
These days, Carson City Lanes opens up for the occasional private gatherings.
But the days of league bowling on weeknights and kids bowling on the weekend are gone, at least for now.
Carson City Lanes is up for sale.
Keith Dykhouse said it wasn’t an easy to decision.
“It’s going to be tough. You think about it a lot. You think back on the memories and … we had a lot of loyal customers and a lot of people that were good friends,” he said.
They’ve had some offers to buy the alley, including one that’s now pending.
Some potential buyers have mentioned keeping it as a family-oriented entertainment business.
But Keith Dykhouse knows the reality: While the bowling alley hasn’t changed, the times have.
“As far as what the younger generations do for entertainment now is different than what we did when we were younger,” he said. “Things have to change. Times change. And hopefully, the people who come in, they can create the memories and things like that for the younger generation.”