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Thruway Lanes: 1956

Bowling alley circa 1956. Next door: Fine dining at the Thruway Restaurant. Color transparency by Dmitri Kessel, Life magazine photo archive. View full size.

Bowling alley circa 1956. Next door: Fine dining at the Thruway Restaurant. Color transparency by Dmitri Kessel, Life magazine photo archive. View full size.

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A sad loss

I'm sad to say that as of March of 2015, The Thruway Lanes is no more. The car dealer next door to them bought the building to expand, and shut them down.

Way late to this party

I grew up a couple miles from Thruway Lanes. They did have good fries (crinkle cut if I remember correctly). I was closer to the Airport Lanes though, and that's where I belonged to a league.

Dream font

Does anyone know the name of that typeface? This is a very special photograph -- just solid, but lonely and moody, too. I used to dream about places like this when I was in the Peace Corps. I wanted to be in Cleveland -- in a bowling alley. Never mind that I had never been in Cleveland nor in a bowling alley.


While at the local Kroger, I found that even Pillsbury commercial pie crusts are made with lard - and they proudly proclaim "No Trans Fats!" My wife is firmly in the lard camp, as well - flaky, delicious crusts every time.

Lard? Never!

Aunt Chick would tell you that butter is the secret to perfect pie crusts -- of course, her non-stick rolling pin cover and pie pans wouldn't hurt, either. When I moved into my first house, I found several small cookbooks left behind, including a well-buttered copy of "Aunt Chick's Pies." My first two pies? Perfect!

[Still, try lard. Another really good cookbook: any 1950s edition Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. - Dave]

Thruway Lanes cont'd

Oops, sorry, yes Thruway Lanes is still in Cheektowaga, N.Y. (a suburb of Buffalo, about 25 minutes from Niagara Falls). You would take exit 52W of the NYS-90 to get there.

I can clearly remember the smell of the place. Nothing like a bowling alley to bring back a lot of childhood memories. I still have friends who bowl on leagues at the Thruway Lanes!

[Thanks for the info! You know what would be great? A current photo taken from the same angle. - Dave]

I'm a Local

The Thruway Lanes (as we locals call it) is now AMF Thruway Lanes. It is still there; among all the new shopping malls surrounding it you could hardly see it if you didn't know it existed.

I was just thinking about how good McDonald's fries used to be, yes they may not have been good for you but we all knew that. People are eating the new less fat ones, (which to me taste like and have the texture of sticks)!

Back in the early 70's the local FM radio station (97 ROCK) used to have a contest of the best McDonald's fries around. The franchise at Clinton & Ogden always came up the winner!

[Where's "there" -- Cheektowaga? - Dave]

Lard Almighty

Yes, when I worked in a bakery in the early 1990's, we used lard in our pie crusts and they were sublime. When we switched to vegetable shortening, they were still good but you had to finesse them more to get them that way.


Lard is from pork. Beef "lard" is tallow. I have no idea if you can buy it in grocery stores. McDonald's used to use it for their fries.

[It's next to Crisco in the shortening aisle at Costco. Think of it as spackle for the arteries. Lard is, by the way, the secret to really good pie crust. - Dave]

Great French Fries

Unfortunately you will never get great french fries again.
What made them so good was that they were fried in beef lard. The Health Nazis have taken away that particular pleasure along with many others. Smoke, drink and eat what you want and save Social Security from bankruptcy.

[You can still buy lard in just about any grocery store. So have at it. - Dave]

Thruway Colors

The colors are arresting, but I think they may owe more than a bit to the kind of red-shift fading typical of Ektachromes from this period.

Cheektowaga Lanes, outside Buffalo

The building appears to be the Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, New York -- 1550 Walden Avenue. The front entrance is to a mall-like area that leads to the bowling alley. In 1972, I worked as an Air Force recruiter in an office in that little mall area. There was also an Army recruiting office. All of us ate at the restaurant. Thruway Lanes was THE center of Cheektowaga. Anyone else have pictures of the Thruway Lanes in the 1970s?

A Hopper Feel

Man, this place is hopping! It's pretty eerie.

Buffalo NY

Empty Fishbowl

I love the warm Flintstonian vibe of the bowling alley entrance, but that chamber of solitude on the left is the most depressing storefront ever.

An order of fries

When I was in high school the bowling alley restaurant was the best place to go for great late-night french fries and a cup of coffee. With three or four friends you could probably spend $2. Leaving our Honda 50 scooters in the parking lot we were a wild bunch.

Fast forward to I have a car and can go anyplace I want to, but where can I get great french fries?

That Fifties Feeling

Looking at this kind of place in the fifties brings back that old feeling. This was when a dollar was dollar, life was steady and predictable, and everything seemed so important and substantial. You just seemed to know your place in life and the value of things... where's my baseball cards?


Aside from the subject matter - the colors in this photo are absolutely stupendous.

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