Regina and Steve Bonner have managed Larwil Lanes for the past six years.
JACKSON — At one time, it took hours every day to maintain the bowling lanes at Larwil Lanes. Today, a computer-controlled machine can do that same job in approximately 45 minutes. And the old wooden lanes have been replaced with synthetic ones, which have a 30- to 35-year life expectancy and do not require continuous maintenance and other time-consuming and labor-intensive jobs.
So, after nearly 40 years in operation, Larwil Lanes and the bowling industry in general has changed drastically, right? Steve and Regina Bonner, general manager and financial manager, respectively, say not really.
“It’s still the same game. You roll the ball and knock down the pins,” Steve said. “I’ve seen research that shows, when the general public is asked what sports they have participated in, bowling ranks first. It’s a game for the young or old, rich or poor. In bowling, there is no sidelines. Nobody rides the bench. Everybody plays.”
Steve’s enthusiasm for bowling was born from wife Regina’s passion for the game. Raised in a bowling family, her father, Everett Jernigan, remains a scratch bowler, recently winning a senior’s national tournament.
“My father said he bowled because it was the only sport where the ball comes back to you,” Regina said with a laugh.
The Bonners have been managing Larwil Lanes just off Interstate 55 for six years now, but the facility goes all the way back to 1964. Then, the bowling center was well off the beaten path with the Larwil Lanes sign, which still stands though missing a few letters, serving as a landmark for those leaving or entering the city. (The Bonners regret that little or no documentation exists on Larwil Lanes’ earliest days. However, they do know one first occurred there — the first pizza ever served in Jackson came out of the facility’s brick oven, which still exists today.)
That nostalgic atmosphere still lingers at the 24-lane bowling center, but Larwil Lanes has changed with the times. The Tin Pan Caf
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