Ave M Becomes A Big Time Action House
The real action started at Ave M when two guys by the name of Mac and Stoop joined forces and made Ave M their home. They would turn Ave M into probably the biggest action house in the Country. The big name bowlers came from all over gunning for these two Damon Runyan characters that would become legends in their own time.
One of the greatest moments I remember is the night this 16 year old tooth pick from Long Island came into Ave M with his backers. I honestly thought the ball weighed more than him. He went on to cleaning out the house, his name was Mike Lemongello, one of the greatest action bowlers of all time. He also did very well on the pro PBA tour as did many of the action bowlers that came out of Brooklyn, such as Johnny Petraglia and Marc Roth just to name a few.
Through out the years there were many good action houses in the Metropolitan Area, Paramus, Yonkers, Kuskies, White Plains, White Stone, Colony, Kings Lanes, Fitzimmons, Bowlmore, Gil Hodgers, and many, many more, but Ave M was in a league of it's own, thanks to Mac and Stoop.
These were the days that most of the major alleys stayed open 24hrs a day, 365 days a year. What more could I ask for.
In my teenage years I had one major problem, my father, he was very strict about me being home no later than 10pm. That was fine before I started hearing about all this great action that was going on late at night after the leagues were over. By this time we were living on a dirt lined Street in Bensonhurst, across the street from the Cemetery. One Friday night I awoke about 3:30 in the morning and started daydreaming about what must be going on at the bowling alley. It became to much to bare just thinking about it, so I decided to gamble, I very quietly got dressed and stuffed some pillows under my blanket and wrote a message that I left early to go fishing with my friends. My bedroom was in the back of the second floor of our home, I went out the window and jumped on top of the back door porch, I then climbed down the peach tree.
I walked the 10 blocks or so to the bowling alley, the anticipation and excitement was mounting every step I took, I felt the blood vessels in my temple jumping for joy. When I finally turned the corner at Ave M and McDonald, the site in front of me was beyond my wildest expectations. The entire block of the bowling alley on Ave M was loaded with double parked cars, they were all over the place, the entrance to the bowling alley was brightly lite and many people were hanging around outside the door.
As I made my way into the bowling alley my heart was pounding and now I totally couldn't believe the site in front of me. All 28 lanes were going and the place was so crowded you could hardly walk in. Money was being bet on the games like it was water and all the famous action bowlers that I had only heard stories about were there live and in the flesh. They came from all different areas, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, Philadelphia, you name it. My whole body was tinkling. I had to go to the bathroom real quick, which was on the second floor behind the locker rooms. As I walked up the steps there were people all over the place, a big crap game was going on inside the locker room. I really thought I died and went to heaven. From that day on I was totally and hopelessly hooked, the world of action was definitely my world.
Six months later after sneaking out of my house and returning before dawn almost every night of the week, it finally happened. It was about 4 am , I was bowling a match with a total of about 500 dollars bet on me, a very sizable amount in those days. It was the tenth frame, I needed 4 or more pins to win the match, as I picked up the ball, I saw my father standing there, starring at me. My knees were knocking, I hit my ankle, threw a gutter ball, and lost the game. My father said to me, pack up your gear and get in the car.
On the way home I expected to have my head busted open, instead, he listened to how much all of this meant to me, and he became my backer. I started spending every free moment I had at Ave M, I became a real good bowler, but was smart enough to stay away from the big names in the game. I bowled with the 190 class action bowlers. It was easy for me to make a living off of those guys. Certain nights of the week, the action was at different houses, Saturday Night was Central Lanes. Later on it would be Yonkers Bowl, Friday Night was Whitestone in Queens. Ave M was the only house that had the constant action 7 nights a week for a period of 2 to 3 years running.
We had all the great action bowlers coming there. Bert Goodman, Sis Montevano & Johnny Myers, Fats & Deacon, Kenny Barber, Joe Santini, Freddy the Ox, the greatest bowler that ever bowled on 4lb lead centered logs, Stoop was the second best. The list goes on and on. They would come in with their own crew of backers, and people that just wanted to bet on them. There's a whole story around each bowler and their backers which you'll see in the motion picture.
To say they were all very colorful characters, would be a vast understatement. What started bringing all these bowlers to Ave M and kept them coming back was Mac & Stoop, who mostly bowled as doubles partners at that stage of their lives. These were two of the biggest characters of all, especially Stoop. I never tired of their endless stories about their lives, on and off the lanes.
Besides being great bowlers they also were great whoremasters who loved to party. Mac was older and one of the most respected persons I ever met, as a bowler and a human being. The sixties was really a very innocent time in bowling circles, people were looking to make a rep for themselves, and a match usually ended when someone went broke.
The seventies were much different, everyone seemed to be looking for an edge. I saw matches end before they began, like the time at Yonkers bowl, when the great Richie Hornright walked off the lanes because his opponent Joe Beradi, threw 10 power house strikes in a row in practice. I was shocked, I never saw that before, and Richie was truly one of the best action bowlers in the world.