A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

History: Bowling in Keyport, 1954-1955

According to the 12 May 1955 edition of The Independent, a new 20-lane Bowl-O-Drome being built on Route 35 near the Keansburg Gateway in Middletown would replace the Keyport landmark known as the Raritan American Legion Post No 23 alleys. With air conditioning in summer, a lunchroom in the lobby and a meeting room for club gatherings, the new alleys were prompting leagues from Long Branch, Red Bank, and Keyport to sign up. They alleys would continue to have pin boys setting the lanes in the back, but new underground ball returns would prevent disturbance of bowlers' concentration. Dom Lafayette, the owner of the Keyport alleys, was partnering with Lupe Ruffini of Red Bank in the new enterprise, which was expected to open in August.

A year earlier, there were 6 columns of bowling teams listed on the next to last page in the newspaper. The page was nearly filled with team and individual player names, game scores and set totals, and standings. Bowling was a big deal in the 1950's and nearly every shop in town had a team, or two, or three. Here are the leagues and teams:

The Keyport Businessmen's Bowling League: Keyport Radio & TV, McQueen's Cleaners, Keyport Jewelers, Burlew's Restaurant, Keyport Cleaners, Tourine's Tavern, Montagna's Sunoco, Garber Supply, Cliffwood Inn, Varlese's Construction, Keyport Bar, Pete's Tavern, Walt's Tavern, Mike's Esso, Single System, and Rollo Trucking.

The Matawan-Keyport Merchants League: Burlew's Restaurant, Frank's Barber Shop, Regan's Bar, Cliffwood Amoco, All-Bros. Woodworking, OK Sales and Service, Cliffwood Fire Co, Cliffwood Angels, Crate's Beverages, Keyport Diner, Wehrle's Dairy, Consolidated Fuel, Rapolla's Market, Jag's Sport Goods, DeLuxe Cleaners, Anchor Inn, Walling's Market, Old Mill Dairy, Schank's Oil Heaters, and Mat-Key Rec.

The Key-Mat Church Bowling League: Calvary Methodist, Bayview Presbyterian, Gethsemane Lutheran, Matawan Presbyterian, Matawan Methodist, Keyport Reformed, Hebrew Congregation, Keyport Baptist, St John's Methodist, and Matawan Baptist.

The Mat-Key Mixed Sunday Night League: LaZare's Shoes, Mat-Key Rec, Keyport Diner, Jim's Bar, C F Bahrenberg Market, Oswald Seafood Market, Bayshore Stationers, Bayshore Hardware, Hollywood Service, and Keelan's Bar & Liquor.

Keyport Recreation League: Tetro's Bar, Rose Hill Trucking, Martini's Diner, Aumack's Furniture, John's Bar, Dixie Lee, Brentwood Hotel, and Burlew's Restaurant.

Keansburg Ladies Monday Night League: H Wasserman & Son, Gentile's Market, Pete's Inc, Keyport Recreation, Mat-Key Recreation, H L Scott's, Marquet's Pharmacy, Richard's Hollywood Market, Keansburg News, and Louis' Restaurant.

Keansburg Businessmen's League: Andy's Station, Thompson's Sweets, Central Tavern, Crate's Beverages, NJ Shore District, Harold's Garage, Ambrosino's Farm Stand, and Consolidated Fuels.

Middletown Bowling League: King's Hardware, VanNortwick Bros, Port Monmouth First Aid, Mack's Oil Delivery, Mallett's Builders, Giles Market, Prestage Plumbers, Noble's Service Station, Brady's Sport Club, and Beacon Beach Assn.


  1. Where is the Keansburg Gateway? Is the building that housed the bowling alleys still there? Is the Raritan American Legion Post in Keyport still in existence? I'm an old bowling buff and have great interest in the bowling centers in the area that are no longer open.

  2. The Keansburg Gateway is actually the intersection of Palmer Avenue and Route 35 at the juncture of Holmdel and Middletown. I suppose this could be a reference to Harmony Bowl, which is on Route 35 in Middletown, on the north side of the road between Cherry Farm Road and Harmony Road. There is an American Legion Post in Keyport, right next to the post office on West Broad Street. I'm not sure it is in the same location it would have been in 1955, though. If you're interested in bowling, you should check old copies of The Matawan Journal, which reported scores and news quite frequently, at least in the 1950s and 1960s. Local bowling alleys include lanes at Airport Plaza in Hazlet off Route 36 and Middle Road, and Strathmore Lanes in Aberdeen (former Matawan Township) off Route 34 between Atlantic Avenue and Cambridge Drive.

    1. Pat,

      I doubt that the house mentioned in this article is, in fact, Harmony Bowl which was built several years after Middletown Lanes and, despite their proximity, operated "side by side" for quite some time.

      I know that they razed Cozy Lanes (I believe that was the name) in Morgan recently but I'd really like to know the original location of Matawan-Keyport Rec(reation).