The Mast-Head: Gone, Not Forgotten

East Hampton Bowl had been shuttered at the end of June after 54 years

   Unfortunately perhaps, East Hampton Bowl was just the kind of place you did not think about much — or miss until it was gone. This dawned on me as I was driving west on an errand early Sunday. One word on the classic road sign said it all: Closed.
    East Hampton Bowl had been shuttered at the end of June after 54 years. My first thought was of my son, Ellis, who is 3. He had been there a few times but would in all likelihood never be there again. It was a melancholy moment.
    I would not go so far as to call it a rite of passage, but for several generations of East Hampton-area kids, bowling was part of childhood, whether for a friend’s birthday or a rainy-day diversion. There was something about the place that set it apart from other South Fork’s diversions: the absence of daylight, the loud pop music, its connection to what seemed an earlier, more innocent America.
    Last month, the bowling alley’s owner, Craig Patterson, said that costs and a difficult environment in which to run a business helped him make the decision to close. League play, once a dependable source of East Hampton Bowl’s income, was down, he said, as was general attendance, thanks perhaps to the recession. Crazy-high bills for electricity may have played a role, too.    
    The property, as you might imagine, is valuable, what with the huge parking area, good highway exposure, and a fully functional bar with ample space for a pool table and live music. When our reporter was working on a story about the place’s demise, Mr. Patterson told her that he had turned down as many as seven real estate offers a month.
    What will happen to the property now is anybody’s guess. I’d prefer it to remain a bowling alley; the nearest one is in Riverhead, and on a blustery November day when the kids said they had nothing to do, it was a godsend for parents. But in truth, going perhaps only two or three times a year, we were not going to make the difference. If East Hampton Bowl were to reopen by some miracle, I would vow to make it there more often.