Sunset was also listed under “Health Clubs” in the yellow pages–now I know why! While I’m at it, I should mention Markay Recreation here. Markay was a small, older bowling alley located almost directly across Western Avenue from Sunset. Having two establishments so close together was rare, even in Chicago.
I worked there as a “porter” for the last seven months it was open, until March 1979. It was my first real job. Stan was the manager, Mary worked in the office, and Ron was behind the counter most nights, with Abe on Sunday nights. There were lots of leagues-S&C Electric, Montgomery Wards Auto Club, and many others. Pete was the bartender. Don worked on the bowling machines (which always seemed to need attention). There were four pinball machines: Lost World, Mata Hari, and Bobby Orr Power Play (all Bally), and Stars (made by Stern). Later, the Power Play was replaced by a Playboy.
Guys my grand father john sr and my farther john were both mechanics at sunset. I’m not sure of the years but I’m heard the stories. My dad was due to start work there the day I was born which was sept 1974.
My earliest memories was having a duck pin ball drilled for my hand at the age of about 4 or 5.
Fact, July 7,1966 my best friend and his cousin , both 9 years old got into the paint shed behind the bowling alley. They were with an older boy about 12 yrs old..The shed door was held closed by a chain.
About a half an hour prior both 9 yr old boys were in front of my house playing with blue tip matches, It was right after July 4th too.
My Mom called from a window to get into the house right now and that she was calling both of the boys mothers.
Well they lit a match in the shed and that started a fie and explosion. It was bout 3 pm in the afternoon and I was on the corner two blocks away. The bloom of smoke was high in the sky. I heard fire engines coming down Western Ave. The janitor was able to get the door open and the two boys ran burning across the high grass field behind the bowling alley.
i didn’t know it until later that it was my best friend Joe Klein. He lasted 2 days and died . I visit him when I can at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston . The older boy got out just before the fire started and was unharmed. You can see the burned lines where to boys ran all the way to the town houses behind the bowling alley.
The did pave that area over but The whole St Margaret Mary Parish was in shock.
I found out about a half hour later that it was the 2 cousin’s that were involved. The one boy last name was Garrity, his father was a Fireman that responded to that very fire, That’s how the news started to roll. When I found out I ran to my friends house ( last name was Klein) also the 2 cousins lived next door to each other on the 7200 block on Bell Ave.
I waited until his father arrived and sitting on my bike, I was crying and I told him Joe was in a fire at the bowling alley, he grabbed my shoulders and said “What are you talking about” his wife ran out too him. I guess he didnt know until he arrived home. I will never forget that. I remembered an African American man that was the Janitor there. Apparently he burned his hands trying to undo the lock on the shed. I remembered seeing him about a week later with my Mom at the bowling alley with his hands bandaged up.
The older boy who was 12 years old lived next door to the cousins.
Klein, lasted two days and passed away on July 7 1966 his cousin passed away July 28, 1966. I do visit Klein on occasion. He was my best friend.
My Mom always reminded me of how she saved my life that day. If it was not for her, I could have been the 3rd victim.