Gage Park Bowl

Gage Park Bowl

5639 S. Western Ave.

24 Responses to “Gage Park Bowl”

  1. Geno Says:

    I worked at Gage Park Bowl during high school, in the early to mid 70s. It was one of the largest bowling establishments in the world, with 62 lanes in a line.

    A previous poster has the right idea. The place closed because the roof collapsed, during or just after the January 14, 1979 blizzard. I had moved out of Chicago by that time, but was relocating from Southern Illinois to Madison WI that week, and was spending a couple of nights at my parents’ house at 55th and Oakley.

    Names I remember well: Joe Rajacic and Eddie Oakes (managers) … Ben Zilis (ran tournaments) … Joyce Devening, Ed Wysocki, and Wally Lenkowski (in charge of the counter) … Bill Pitts, Gary Bee, Larry Jackson, Abe Vasquez, Dick Pawlicz, and Ed Gronski (worked on the Brunswick Model “A” pinsetters) … Terry and Karen Roeback had the concession/shoe/billiards counter.

    Thanks for the memories. It’s great to see a picture of the place where I spent so much of my formative years.

  2. bob wozniak Says:

    used to bowl there durring school hours..i think it was 2 bucks all you could bowl from 10 am to 12 pm…something like that…bob wozniak

  3. Tom OBrien Says:

    I bowled here in the St Rita grade school league back in early 70s. I remember walking from 62nd and fairfield after school every week. Good memories

  4. jorge ramirez Says:

    any more fantastic pics of them area of gage park? I live at 58th and washtenaw and will love to hear stories and pictures of the past. email me at greatly appreciated!

  5. chris Says:

    i lived on 55th and claremont and played in the rubble after collaspe wish i could find more pictures i was there everyday growing up

    • Geno Says:

      Chris — You would have lived right across the alley from me, then … I grew up at 5522 S. Oakley, 1957-’75. Did I know you, or did you know my brothers Jimmy and/or Larry? Jimmy practically lived at Gage Park Lanes, too … and although I got fairly good, he was a much better bowler than I ever was.

      Our last name is Christianson.

  6. Tom Boyd Says:

    I worked the counter 3 nights a week and remember watching the TV news story about the roof and how lucky is happen in the very early morning hours when it was closed . My dad bowled on there on Sunday morning for many years too. The noise of 58 wooden lanes running ! I could still see Eddie Oaks with that cigar and leading the Ben Zilis tournament once for a 2 months ! Great memories !

    • radiogeno2 Says:

      That would be 52 lanes! And yesterday (Sep. 11, 2015) I found Ben Zilis’ widow listed in the Chicago Tribune obits. At least two of their sons, Greg and Dave, worked at Gage, at one time or another.

      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        To settle the confusion, check out the picture. Gage Park had 62 lanes.

      • jorge ramirez Says:

        I love Gage Park stories!

      • Tom Boyd Says:

        JRS is correct…… I am corrected to say 62 lanes were at Gage Park and Miami had 80 lanes in 2 buildings which is gone now too at Archer & Pulaski. Gage Park’s Sunday’s Morning Glory league took up lanes 1 – 32, then there was a buffer of 2 lanes, another 10 open bowling lanes, another 2 lane buffer, and the other 16 lanes for the other Sunday league , on the south end of the house, that my dad bowled in, that was always getting free sausage from General Sausage Co. 3 times a year. Ben Zilis was a great guy and ran a super tournament. I do remember the boys .

      • radiogeno2 Says:

        Yup, 62 … as I wrote four years ago, in my first post under the picture. I guess I had a brain-phart, or an errant finger. lol Tom, when did you work the counter there? Most of my time was spent in the back, but I also helped run the concession stand at the north end for a year or so.

  7. jorge ramirez Says:

    Wish to see pictures from inside…but most than likely people don’t know about this page to share.

  8. Tom Boyd Says:

    I was hired by Eddie Oakes in late 1976 if I remember correctly. Worked the counter 2 or 3 times a week usually late shift since it was a second job for me for several years until the roof failed. Remember waiting for the wife to pick me up at night and I would be the only one bowling in front of the counter after I closed the lanes but the bar was still open & busy. Seldom worked the weekends but did at times. Remember that Ken Krug had a pro shop at 59th & Kedzie across from the movie show too.

    • radiogeno2 Says:

      I moved out of the ‘hood in ’75. Any idea how long Eddie lived, after the involuntary closure of Gage Park Bowl? I mean … he had to be in his mid- or late-70s by that time, yes/no?

  9. tony majcher jr. Says:

    My grandfather Tony Majcher built Gage Park Bowl. His son Tony just passed away on April 24th 2016. He was the last tie to the old place. I heard some unbelievable stories out of there. I remember all the above names, Eddie Oakes, Ben Zillis, Ed Gronski, and Joe Rajacic. Ken Krug drilled a few balls for me. I still see Bill Switalski who bowled there almost until the end.

    • radiogeno2 Says:

      So sorry to learn of your loss. I don’t believe I ever met your dad. The name doesn’t ring a bell at all, unfortunately. Maybe I’d recognize a period photo of him, though.

      If my rusty memory serves me, the owner when I was around there, was a Mr. Strauss. His son-in-law, Charles Fox, also had some management involvement. Chuck was pretty hip. I remember him driving around in a VW van with a big green ecology symbol on the side. I also remember seeing him at a couple of Grateful Dead concerts.

    • Ted Slawinski Says:

      Tony, you and me have never met, your dad and I were First Cousins Conrad Majcher and I live in Arizona. I would like to
      contact you and talk old stories. My email address is

  10. R.Glonek Says:

    We have a Gage Park 1956 original poster that we would like to sell – any help would be appreciated

  11. radiogeno2 Says:

    Can you post a photo of the poster?

  12. Bob Mainhardt Says:

    I worked for Mr. Josef Strauss in the summer of 1970 and he owned the bowling alley as his son-in-law Charles Fox was the manager. I was Josef”s chauffeur for the summer and drove him from Glencoe each day of the week to the bowling alley and then usually to the Loop.

    • radiogeno2 Says:

      Bob, I would have been around there quite a bit around that time.

      I wish there were more pictures of the place! The only one that comes up in a Google search, is the pic above.

      • Bob Mainhardt Says:

        I lived in Glencoe with the Strauss’ during that summer. Wish I would have taken some photos. I drove him every day down there and would then bowl or go down to Gage Park and get into pickup basketball games. He also owned a block in the Diversey/Green Bay ave and one other street. It had storefronts on the street level and apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floor. I would take him there a couple times a week and at least a couple times a week to the Loop for banking or whatever else he did down there. Was a pretty nice job while going to college.

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