Every time I drive down Dalton Ave. in Pittsfield, I get sad going by where Ken’s Bowl used to be.  I can’t help it!  Ken’s Bowl meant a lot to many people, including myself.  It was part of my life in some shape or form for around thirty years.

I didn’t know it at the time, but about two years ago in March 2020 I rolled my last game at Ken’s Bowl.  I don’t think anyone bowling that night knew they would never bowl another game there.  Of course, in March 2020 Massachusetts (and the country) shut down due the pandemic.  I think many of us thought that Ken’s Bowl would re-open in late 2020 for fall leagues, but obviously that didn’t, and couldn’t happen.  The doors never re-opened, and within two years the building was demolished.

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Going Back in Time

I grew up in Lee, and learned to bowl at Lee Lanes, another bowling alley long gone.  I was part of the Travel League, which would compete each Sunday at the four major bowling centers in Berkshire County (Cove, Lee Lanes, Ken’s and Mt. Greylock).  I competed from around 9 years old to 18 years old.  I met lots of great people and made some great friends, both coaches and players.  I have lots of good memories bowling at Ken’s as a kid and teenager.  I competed in tournaments, practiced my form, did open bowling.  When I was in my mid 20’s I moved to Pittsfield and joined a Wednesday night league at Ken’s which I was part of until it all shut down.  Heck, my first date with my wife Mariann was at Ken’s Bowl!

Bowling ball hitting its target.

One of the big things I miss is seeing all the people.  Wednesday nights were packed with two leagues, and I met a lot of people I would’ve never met otherwise.  Even if you just saw other league members once a week, and even if you just exchanged a “hi” or “hey nice shot”, there’s something to be said about getting out, competing, being a part of something, and hanging with people that would’ve otherwise been strangers on the street.

I miss Ken’s because it was a family night.  My dad, brother and I all bowled on the same team, along with another father/son duo.  My Mom would come down and watch.  I know we’re not the only family that did something like that.  We all have busy schedules, so it was a time to spend together as a family if only for a couple hours a week.  I was looking forward for my son to get old enough to appreciate it and maybe start bowling in youth leagues himself, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen now.

I miss Ken’s Bowl simply because it was something fun for people to get out and do during the cold fall and winter months in Berkshire County.  Whether you were a serious bowler, or just wanted to go and have a few drinks with friends, it was something to get out and do no matter your age, which is something Berkshire County has always struggled with.

So yeah…I get sad when I drive by.

Now, I need to be clear that this isn’t a knock at the current business that’s there.  Times change, and things come and go.  Likewise, I need to give a big shout out to Cove Lanes for keeping bowling alive in Berkshire County, and most importantly for giving high school bowlers a place to go and compete.

And, to end on a high note…knowing how packed Ken’s Bowl was, and how popular it was, I think there’s a market for a new bowling/entertainment center in Pittsfield.  Maybe it only has half the lanes of Ken’s.  Maybe there’s a restaurant, or go-karts, or who knows what attached.  I’ll leave that to better businessmen and businesswomen to figure out.  I’ll be glad to help when you do.  Because Ken’s Bowl meant something to a lot of people in Berkshire County, and it would be nice to get something like that again.

Do you miss Ken’s Bowl like I do?



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