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Now gone, Cedar Lanes was bowlers’ haven for 54 years

Cedar Lanes bowling alley was one of the largest in the state when it opened at Cedar and Shields avenues in 1959. The bowling alley was torn down in 2012.
Cedar Lanes bowling alley was one of the largest in the state when it opened at Cedar and Shields avenues in 1959. The bowling alley was torn down in 2012. Fresno Bee File Photo

Q: What is the history of Cedar Lanes bowling center? It was so sad to see it close. From the age of 10 we spent many hours there. We had lots of fun and good food at the café. It would also be great to learn more about the owners.

Leonard Breitling, Kingsburg

A: The sport of bowling boomed in the 1950s and 1960s, according to “Fresno County in the 20th Century.” When Cedar Lanes opened in 1959 at Cedar and Shields avenues it was Fresno’s seventh bowling alley – and the fourth to open in three years.

The bowling alley was owned by the Cedar Lanes Corporation of California. According to a 1958 Fresno Bee story, corporation officers were building contractor Spalding G. Wathen (president) and his brother Richard Wathen, whose family-run company built the center, restaurant owner Al Pardini (vice president), local businessman Robert McMillian (secretary), home builder John Bonadelle, restaurateur Marion Hansard and Jim Logan (treasurer), a former Edison High School history teacher who later ran his own restaurant before becoming a planning consultant.

The owners knew their bowling: Spalding Wathen, Pardini, McMillian, Logan and Hansard were certified bowling pros, The Bee said.

The one-story building cost nearly $1.4 million and took nine months to construct using concrete block and steel. Cedar Lanes featured automatic pinsetters and boasted “refrigerated air conditioning.”

Cedar Lanes had 32 lanes, the same number as Fresno’s Mid State Bowl, which at the time was “the largest bowling layout between San Francisco and Los Angeles,” The Bee said.

“This will be the most elaborate and modern alley in California. We don’t think it will be matched anywhere in the state,” McMillian said when the lanes were under construction in 1958. Cedar Lanes also had a coffee shop, a dining room, a lounge, a recreation room and banquet rooms. The center was open 24 hours daily.

In the early 1960s Wathen Bros. built the Cedar Lanes Shopping Center near the bowling alley. In addition to a Safeway market and Thrifty drug store, there were 10 stores that originally included Larre’s women’s shop, Cashion’s shoes, Dick Contino’s men’s store, Jean Kirby’s salon, American-Parisian Cleaners, Pollard’s Bakery, James Mitchell’s carpet and drapery store, Glenn Thornton’s barber shop, Pardini’s liquor store and a “children’s nursery for the bowling alley,” according to The Bee.

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A deconstruction and salvage business called Revive Industries worked with artists and volunteers to salvage two layers of laminate and wood bowling lanes and other retro fixtures from the Cedar Lanes bowling center before the building was demolished. MARK CROSSE Fresno Bee File Photo

Cedar Lanes was sold and demolished in 2012 to make way for a Walmart grocery store. On its last day the lanes hosted the final round of the women’s state bowling tournament before closing at 3 p.m.

After the center closed, salvagers scrambled to remove the hardwood bowling lanes before demolition. Some of that wood was used to build counter tops and tables in the Ampersand ice cream shop across from Fresno High School.

Q: I lived on Kings Canyon east of Sanger and went to a two-room school on Belmont called Lindsay from 1932 to 1940. I always wondered about the origin of the name and school. The building is gone and I think it was moved to Centerville.

Carol Smith, Fresno

A: The Lindsay school district was organized in 1910 and named for Elliott W. Lindsay, the first superintendent of the Sanger District who served as the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools from 1906 to 1919.

Lindsay was born in Nova Scotia in 1861, according to historian Paul Vandor. He taught school in Canada before coming to Fresno in 1888. He married Rebecca L. Fader in 1894.

During Lindsay’s tenure as superintendent of Fresno County schools, enrollment grew from 8,150 students in 1907 to 15,140 in 1917.

Lindsay declined to run for another term as superintendent in 1919, the same year Vandor’s two-volume local history and biographies of pioneers and notable citizens was published.

Vandor wrote of Lindsay, “No incumbent in the office ever worked more indefatigably for the upbuilding of the school district of the county than did he.”

Lindsay taught at Fresno State Normal School, the predecessor to Fresno State, after he left the county post. He was an avid hiker, climbing Mount Whitney twice. Lindsay retired in 1932, according to his 1947 Fresno Bee obituary.

The original one-room Lindsay School was built on Belmont Avenue near Newmark Avenue, two miles east of Academy Road, in 1910. The school was built on a two-acre parcel bought from Hiram and Edith Barklew for $135, according to “Public Schools of Fresno County.” The building was designed by noted Fresno architect A.C. Swartz, who designed Washington Union High School in 1901. Lindsay School was built by S.S. Holden at a cost of $2,448 and paid for by a bond issue.

There is some confusion over the name of the school’s first teacher. One source says it was Lenore Johnson but another source says the teacher’s first name was Levon. Whoever it was, the teacher was paid $65 a month.

The school outgrew its one room by 1919 and another bond was passed to add a second room, which was built by Hugh M. Marshall Sr. and W.B. Vaughn.

A second teacher was hired after the addition was built. A third teacher was hired in 1929 to meet the needs of growing enrollment. At about that time a small one-room building was built on the property for the first and second grades.

The Lindsay District’s last year was 1948, and it was annexed to the Centerville Union District in 1949. The last teachers were Barbara E. Dark and Leota Davis. The last district trustees were H.W. Heinz, Otto Olson and Q.C. Allyn.

The two-room building was moved to the Centerville Union campus. The one-room building was moved to the Round Mountain campus but was later returned to the Lindsay site.

More about: In response to an item about Fresno artist Alice Stukenbroeker that was published on April 8, Thomas Glasrud of Lakeside wrote recently to share his memories of her.

“We greatly enjoyed your column about our former neighbor Alice Stukenbroeker,” Glasrud wrote. “My family lived across the street from Alice and her husband, Garland, on Hampton Way in Fresno. I spent many an hour with Alice in her home studio as a 4- to 7-year-old. My mother worked part-time and Alice offered to babysit.

A painting by the late famed Fresno artist Alice Stukenbroeker at a home in Fresno on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

“There were only two rooms that were off-limits to Alice’s art supplies and those were the master bedroom and the kitchen. It was truly an artist’s enclave. I just remember as a child that Alice was one of the nicest, warmest people I had ever been around. She spoke mostly in a whisper as she had had  cancer and had lost her full speaking voice.

“My parents purchased three of her oil paintings around 1960. We soon moved to the San Diego area where we still live. My mom continued to communicate with Alice for a number of years and we followed her career.

“We still have her paintings in our home. My favorites are the Budapest skyline and the impressionistic street scene using browns, reds and subtle pinks. Alice was a truly talented artist and wonderful woman. We were so lucky to have known her.”

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to or by mail to Paula Lloyd, c/o The Fresno Bee Newsroom, 1626 E St., Fresno CA 93786. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number.