Ed Buckingham – From Coopers to Skyway

Ed Buckingham was born on Feb. 11, 1902 and bowled in many of the old long gone “alleys” that were in downtown Hamilton. He started at Fred Cooper’s, a.k.a. Hamilton Bowling & Athletic Club, at 112 James N. which later changed their name to Tivoli.

About 1910 Ed witnessed renovation at the James St. Armouries which included four alleys for officers use. Common belief is they were in the basement, but in fact they were on the main floor. That space now is an armed forces supply depot. Ed bowled at the Iron Duke, located over Christopher’s Cafe, & across the street from the Hamilton Herald Herald Newspaper Office. Tenpins were on the second floor & five pins on the third. He recalls that every house ball was a different size. On Saturdays in the 1920’s, Ed & his friends would start at Cooper’s, then bowl more at the Iron Duke. With a limited supply of three finger house balls, Ed would slip “Fat Hughie” 20 cents to hold one for him. Most house balls had only one or two finger holes. In 1939 two alleys were built by Stelco in a second floor lunch room on Wellington St.for both five & ten pins. Ed tried five pins but didn’t like it, so went back to ten pins. The alleys in the basement of the Lister Building also were used by Ed & his friends. Hamilton’s Mayor of the Morning, Paul Hanover was a pin boy there years later.

In 1920, the Billy Carroll cigar store was next door to the Tivoli’s entrance. In the store was only one box of cigars, but in the back there was a gambling room which was well occupied. In 1918, Fred Cooper was fined $20 for employing young boys to work as pin boys.

When Hamilton Centre Bowl opened in 1961, Ed was there & when when a small fire started from cigarette butts, he kept on bowling.What’s a small fire when you loved bowling like Ed did.When it closed in 1968, Skyway Lanes was their home. They would bowl two games, then stop for for lunch made by Carol Nalborczyk, before rolling game three. Most of his bowling was for fun with his many friends, but in 1977 he joined the Stelco Seniors League at age 75. His highest average was 165 & when he ended his long bowling career in 1994 at 92 his average was 117 and his bowling shoes were 40 years old. For his 90th birthday in 1992, Ken Welch and his CHCH TV 11 crew travelled to Skyway for an interview. Ken promised to be back for his 100th birthday in 2002, but sadly he passed away on March 30th, 1999 in his 98th year. Ed & his wife Ethel, a Bowlero five pinner, lived in the same house on Graham St. S. for 69 years. She passed away in December 2000 at 96.

After bowling for over 75 years, Ed Buckingham had seen it all. From “ALLEYS”, to “LANES”, from “PINBOYS” to “AUTOMATIC SCORING”, and at many landmark sites as Cooper’s, Tivoli, Iron Duke, Connaught Lanes, Lister Building Alleys, Lucky Strike at King & James, Stelco Wellington Lanes, Hamilton Centre Bowl, Hamilton Mountain Bowl & finally Skyway Lanes.