Norwich's oldest bowling league calling it quits

NORWICH – The oldest continuous running bowling league in Norwich, Norwich Club Men’s, will come to an end this month on its 100th year anniversary at Plaza Lanes in Norwich.

The “Norwich Club” was originally situated in the City Police Department Building beginning in 1910, and stayed at the site for over three decades. The alleys were eventually torn town around World War II, said league secretary Tom Bryden.

From there, the Club moved its bowling activities to the Norwich Bowling Center until that site’s closure in 1995. The past 15 years, the Norwich Club Men’s has operated at Plaza Lanes in the South Plaza.

“In the last 30 years, the league has gone from a five-bowler, six-team league that started bowling Thursday at 9 p.m. (and often ended in the first hours earlier Friday a.m.), to a five-team, three-man league that starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.,” Bryden said. “There was a ‘who’s who’ of Norwich still bowling in the league in the 1970s. Ed Lee, Ben St. John, Dave Koterba, Harold Skillin, Hall Jennings, Butch Ryan, Dick Ellinwood, Ken Stewart, and Leigh Bowman were all bowling when I started in 1978.”

Along with Bryden, current league bowlers Mike Smith (1970), Steve Bliss (1976), and Ralph Lynn (1977) have participated in the league over 30 years. “This is a perfect time to call it quits,” Bryden said. “There’s great camaraderie, and we hope to continue to get together socially once or twice a year.”

The final banquet for the league is slated for Friday, May 7 at Taylor’s Country House in the Town of Norwich. Former Club bowlers are invited to stop by and join in a final toast.

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