Skyway Lanes celebrates 54 years of bowling

Fifty four years ago, friends Emil Nalborczyk, Stan Dumala and Emil Labanowich started construction on Skyway Lanes on Barton Street (now Melvin Avenue) just east of Parkdale. The site was a small tool rental house.

Originally it was to be only 16 lanes, but later was changed to 24. Nalborczyk ran a Beach Road meat market, Dumala worked at Dofasco and Labanowich ran a hardware store. The official opening was Sept. 21, 1957 with Hamilton MP Bobby MacDonald cutting the ribbon, assisted by Alderman Vic Copps.

An exhibition match was held by ABC Hall of Famer Buddy Bomar and Gabe Bihary who was elected to our Hall of Fame in 1970. Earlier that year, Bihary won the Hamilton, Ontario and Canadian tenpin championships and competed at the ABC Masters in Forth Worth, Texas. He passed away last September and his sister, Mary, continues bowling Mondays at Skyway.

From 1957 to 1960 pin boys were used on all 24 lanes to set both five and ten pins until 12 lanes of automatics for 10 pins were installed. In 1961 the other 12 lanes were converted to automatics and five pin bowling was history after four years. These remained until automatic scoring machines showed up in 1978. When Labanowich left in 1965, Emil’s brother, Ed, took his place. He was an oil company salesman and teacher. Emil Nalborczyk passed away in 1966 and his widow, Carol, came on board.

In the mid 1980s, Carol and Stan sold their shares to Ed and his wife Helen. During the next few years, their children Christine, Danny and Andrea all worked at Skyway Lanes. Danny currently lives in Australia.

Ed supported his Skyway bowlers, travelling to Kansas in 1987 and Finland in 1989 to cheer them on. An avid fisherman, on a boat trip to Sweden, Ed insisted on fish at every meal. In May 1994, Ed fired his first 600, a 608 at the ABC Tournament in Alabama. Ed passed away much too soon in September 1994.

Helen continues to bowl on Wednesdays, Stan Dumala turned 87 last February and Carol Nalborczyk lives in east Hamilton.

Four important Skyway firsts are Jim Kompare’s perfect game, Mike LaCroix’s 299, Stan Quin’s 298, and the first 800 triple, an 824 by Danny Downs.

Several prominent local tenpinners had their start at Skyway including Al Tone, Bill Rowe Jr., Danny Downs, Don Wira, Don Schatz, Ed Maurer, Art Oliver Jr., Lionel Lewis Jr., Wendy Zielonka, Linda Higenell, Joyce Campbell, and George Lambert.

Tenpin bowling at mid field of Ivor Wynne Stadium? It happened at half time of the Calgary-Hamilton game on Aug. 5, 1988. Former Tiger-Cats competing were Ron Howell, Bob Krouse and Dave Marler. The TiCats record in 1988? Same as the last two seasons – nine wins, nine losses.