THE ghost of the Diplomat Bowl still holds forth on Snyder Avenue east of Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, across from the former Flatbush Town Hall (before it was annexed by the city of Brooklyn and then became part of Greater New York, Flatbush was a separate town in Kings County. It has been abandoned for a decade or more.
Snyder Avenue runs from the heart of Flatbush, Flatbush Avenue just south of the Dutch Reformed Church, all the way east to Ralph Avenue. Originally known as Grant Street, it was renamed to honor a prominent Dutch landowning family (as so many of Brooklyn’s streets have been); it wasn’t named for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ cleanup hitter Duke Snider, who spelled his name differently, anyway.
In the late 1970s I belonged to a bowling league here, and being carless and living in Bay Ridge, bowling here took dedication. Each Tuesday night I rode the B16 bus down Fort Hamilton Parkway, transferred to the B35 at 39th Street, got out at Church and Flatbush Avenues and walked 7 blocks. After awhile, the league switched to Mark Roth’s Rainbow Lanes on Avenue X and Knapp Street. That meant a half-hour ride on the B4 to Nostrand Avenue and Avenue X, and an 8-block walk. Like I said, I was dedicated in those days. Rainbow Lanes has similarly been closed for years. At Rainbow, there used to be a Burger King across the street at Knapp and Avenue Y and the bunch of us would pile in there for a post-league meal. I’d get back to Bay Ridge around 2 AM, and most times, I had school the next day. At 8 or 9.
“AMF” stands for American Machine and Foundry, and for many years was a leading manufacturer of “recreational machinery” such as Pinsetters, bowling pins, bowling balls, ball returns, lane surfaces, automatic scoring equipment, and bowling center furniture; eventually AMF operated bowling alleys itself.
Today, among old-school Brooklyn alleys, I believe only Shell Lanes, Gravesend and Melody Lanes, Sunset Park, remain; newer alleys have been built in the hip, hep, happening areas like Williamsburg.
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