Photos offer a look back at Edgemere Bowling Lanes
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 12:12

Family started grocery store, bowling alley

by Ben Boehl

    If you happen to be in Edgemere, you might notice a lot of construction along the North Point Road corridor. And you might notice something missing.
    Last May, Edgemere Bowling Lanes closed its doors. Longtime owner John Crunkleton said that the bad economy and the increase of the toll on the Key Bridge started to hurt his business, leading him to close.
    “With all these toll increases and high gas prices, people are getting eaten alive. Their idle dollars are being used in other areas,” Crunkleton told The Eagle last year.
    Crunkleton sold the building to Primax Properties LLC in January. The company has been renovating with an eye toward turning the building into a Dollar General store.
    Crunkleton owned the bowling alley for 30 years, but was not the original owner.
    That would be Sudie Grace who is now 92 years old. Her daughter-in-law Michelle Grace called The Eagle last week to share the story of the Edgemere bowling alley and the adjacent grocery store.
    Since the grocery store has been demolished and the bowling alley is being converted, the family wanted to tell the public how it all began.
    “We thought it would be neat to share the story and these pictures,” Michelle said.
    The bowling alley started in 1948 when Sudie and her husband Herb opened what was then known as Bowladrome with their partners Joe and Mildred Serenella.
  

“The name Bowladrome came from a cousin, Mike Litrenta, who was a famous duck pin bowler. He had said that he wanted to open a bowling alley,” recalled Sudie, who now resides in White Marsh.     
    “Herb and Joe did it first and stole his name idea. Mike did open a bowling alley. The one on Dundalk Avenue (Pinland).
    The Edgemere bowling alley was built next to the Edgemere Foodmart grocery store, which was also owned by the Graces and the Serenellas.
    Both were built on a vacant lot in 1947 and opened together in 1948.    
    The plan was to open the stores in the mid-1940s, but those plans were put on hold as Herb was called to military service in 1945. The grocery store opened when Herb returned, and it lasted for about 30 years until an Acme store moved into Edgemere.
    “[We] closed it in 1976,” Sudie said. “Herbert wanted to retire, and the big store moved into the neighborhood.”
    According to Sudie, an individual owner took over the store in 1976, but he did not last long. Then Howard Carter Plumbing took over the building in 1978.
    She said that the bowling alley drew a lunch crowd with popular hamburgers that were cooked with the ground beef from the grocery store. Workers from Bethlehem Steel and Lee Lumber were among the many lunch patrons.
    Sudie also recalled when Dundalk Eagle founder Kimbel E. Oelke and his family delivered  his paper to the bowling alley and grocery store.
    Now that the grocery store building is demolished for parking and the bowling alley is becoming a Dollar General, Michelle said Sudie has mixed emotions about the change.
    “She is sad to see it go, but she does like shopping at the dollar stores.”