20th Century Lanes

20th Century Bowl

3255 N. Cicero Ave.

53 Responses to “20th Century Lanes”

  1. Bob Schumacher Says:

    Was around when it opened in ’54. 24-lane Brunswick house with parking on the roof. Good action in the early 60’s

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      Good action in the poolroom, too—especially when Milwaukee Lou was around.

  2. Steven Says:

    In the Chicago Tribune Archives – Nov. 30, 1952 – there’s a big article with photos about the 1st Installation in Chicago of the AMF Automatic Pinspotter at 20th Century Lanes on Cicero. Did they later switch to Brunswicks??

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      I must check out that article—other people have told me that Rolaway on Pulaski Road had the first Chicago automatics. It seems like they have foggy memories.

    • Bob Schumacher Says:

      I was 9 years old and lived a block from 20th and remember the fire that took down the old 20th. I don’t recall any AMF pinsetters prior to the Brunswicks being there, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen that way.. I really didn’t start to bowl there until I was 11, a couple years later.

    • Robert Schumacher Says:

      Hi Paul,
      Bill Cwik, Tom Kazmer, and I were some of the early house rats from 20th Century. We were there from the mid-50’s to the mid-60’s. I lived at Kilpatrick and Roscoe, Bill lived at LaVergne and Roscoe. When were you there?

      • Kenneth Dura Says:

        Hi Robert. As you might recall. In January 1960 20th Century Lanes was destroyed by a fire. When they rebuilt, they installed Brunswick.

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        Yes, I am aware of the fire. I believe you and I have talked about same previously. I also have the masking unit from the Brunswick install on a film I took in the spring of 1965,while filming Bill Cwik bowling. I’ll see if I can find a way to get the film on the internet.


      • Joel Goldberg Says:

        Joe Goldberg
        I hung out with Bill Cwik for a few years and spent many a day & night at 20th Century. Bowled in a kids league and that got me hooked. Lived at 4831 Roscoe. Also hung out with Robert “Rippy” Penn, Bob Kalbfeld, and others from St. Bart’s and Falconer.

  3. Bob Schumacher Says:

    I recall Milwaukee Lou Hodor (sp?). He could put on a show. Very good straight pool player; played in the yearly Chicago Tournament.

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      Here’s an article about Milwaukee Lou Hodor from 1983– http://billiardsdigest.com/bestoffels/jan83.php
      Back in the day, I never knew his last name.

      • Bob Schumacher Says:

        I only knew his last name because Bill Cwik and I went to watch him in the Chicago Tournament in, I believe, 1962. His last name was on the pairings board. He would play any of the ‘kids’ as long as they paid the time. The deal included a full commentary on strategy and Lou pointing out mistakes and/or opportunities during the play of 14-1 continuous. I learned a lot from Lou. I have great memories from the pool room and the bowling lanes at 20th I was known as ‘Inky’. Do you remember Mike Bartels, Motorcylce Mike,Willie Johnson, or the ‘Undertaker’? I think you’re a half-a-generation younger than me, so some of those guys might’ve been gone. Those were fun times.

      • Bob Schumacher Says:

        I read the Billiards Digest article and nothing in there surprised me. Why? Because I’d seen it all before; many times. He could strut like a peacock! My father was a 3-cushion player and growing up his children had a pool table in the basement. When I was old enough to play at 20th (Counter man Tom Acouros made the decision) one of the first players I met was Lou. Sure he was over-the-top flashy, bombastic, and flamboyant, but he was a good person. In 1957 when I was 14 Mosconi came through and put on an exhibition. Dad took me to watch. You were probably too young to recall that. Frank Malin was a good promoter.

      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        I was a bowler, not a pool player—my high run my entire life was 15 balls—but I used to shoot pool every couple of weeks with a buddy until I got married in 1972. You couldn’t miss Milwaukee Lou; he wouldn’t let you miss him. But as you said, a good person.

      • Bob Schumacher Says:

        The bow tie too. Can’t forget Lou’s bow tie!

        I lived on the corner of Kilpatrick and Roscoe until I joined the Navy in Jan. of ’63. Bowling was my main sport, but I played at least one professional tournament in bowling, golf, and billiards. Bowling provided the income though; younger brother Jim and I owned and operated one of the nations higher volume pro shops in San Jose, CA and were the authors of Larry Lichstein’s “The Profitable Pro Shop”. Also, we were one of the nine shops that founded the IBPSIA in 1990. After the service in ’67 I settled in California.

        Are you still in Chicago? You and I need to spend an afternoon over a plate of food and swap ‘war stories’; we’re brothers from different mothers. I get to Chicago fairly often and expect to be there this summer. I still know Tom Kazmer, if that name rings a bell. He was a ‘house ape’ at 20th for a while. Might’ve been a bit earlier than you also, but he’s in our mold. Bill Cwik is dead; I went to his funeral in Crystal Lake in 2012. I’ll bet we both have stories the other would like to hear!

        Let’s keep in touch. You have my e-mail in your system.

        Bob Schumacher

      • Don Judge Says:

        I play golf with Chuck Mascara who is the son of 1 of the owners Joe Mascara.I also played pool with Milwaukee Lou once in a while.I saw Bill Cwik bowl and always thought he had the smoothest delivery I ever saw

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        Hi Don. I have the feeling I should know you. I was a frequent visitor to 2oth from 1959 to early in ’63 when I joined the Navy. I played many a straight pool game with Milwaukee Lou Hodor. He wouldn’t play for anything but the time. Bill Cwik and I bowled many doubles matches against names from Chicago you would know. But our greatest match was in the summer of ’62 at 20th – lanes 11/12 against Nelson Burton Jr. and Jack Biondolillo. Eight straight games – they never won a game!! Bill was great! My email is: sdbob43@gmail.com I’d love to talk bowling with you.

  4. Ken D. Says:

    I remember the Twentieth Century Bowling
    Lanes. It was rebuilt in the early 1960’s after
    a devistatng fire. Many fond memories there
    from my youth.

    • Bob Schumacher Says:

      The fire was in ’53-54 or so. It started in the maintenance room in the basement. The FD came and put it out, but a half-hour later it started up again. (Go figure!) Burned the place to the ground. In the summer of ’62 the best bowler in the house, Bill Cwik, and I bowled Nelson Burton, Jr. and Jack Biondolillo in an epic match that lasted into the wee hours of the AM. They never won a game, lost a significant amount of money for the time, and hopped back in their car and headed home to St. Louis. Bill was the best bowler at 20th for a long time.

      • Ken Dura Says:

        Hi Bob, Thank You for the reply. I feel it is incredible how this place, 20th Century Lanes, has continued to intrigue me after so many years. Then to find other folks who share that, wow. As to the fire, I was there at the time, and I truly believe it was 58 -59, with the reopening in 1960. Perhaps there are some news archives that can be found. Do you know if any interior pictures exist of both the old and new? I’d like very much to keep the discussion going. Thanks again. / Ken Dura

  5. Bob Schumacher Says:

    J. R. – I’ll be in Chicago from July 5th or so to the 12th.to visit with high school buddies. I’d love to have lunch one day during that span and swap 20th Century stories. I’m thinking we’d enjoy that. 858-335-2839

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      July is a great time to travel, and I’ll be out of Chicago on two different mini-trips in early July. Have fun with your buddies!

  6. Steven Says:

    Just noticed – the Nov. 1952 article on the 1st installation of AMF automatics at 20th Century Lanes also said that Bill Schultz owner of Roloway Alleys will also be getting the new AMF’s. So, maybe Roloway wasn’t the 1st but they were very close to being the first.

  7. Ken Dura Says:

    Hey Bob, I noticed in one of you prior comments that you and your brother owned a pro shop in San Jose, CA. I live in San Jose.

    • Bob Schumacher Says:

      San Jose: moved there in ’67, left in ’96. Owned the pro shop at Futurama Bowl for 21 years. It was the 2nd largest bowling pro shop west of the Mississippi, or at least the salespeople told us that. Las Vegas was the largest. Had 2300 sq. ft. two drilling stations, and 6-8 employees. Our best years were in the 800K range – no wholesale; all retail. My e-mail is: sdbob43@gmail.com. Let’s chat. Or I’m on Facebook. Nice to hear from you.

  8. Paul J Says:

    Have a short demo film that was done there. Lady bowler.

  9. Ray Wiese Says:

    When the bowling alley burned down I lived at School and Lavergne. I watched it burn that night. Next day me and a few friends rumaged thru the building.

    • Bob Schumacher Says:

      My brother and I were there also. We lived at Roscoe and Kilpatrick. Did you know Valerie Bencal? I think she lived on School. How about Bill, Mary, or John Cwik? They lived at Lavergne and Roscoe

    • Kenneth Dura Says:

      Hi Ray. I did the same thing when the 20 Century fire occurred. I lived at Newport and Lavernge. Who knows, we may have crossed paths.

      Ken Dura

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        I suspect you fella’s know that prior to the big fire, another small fire had started and the Fire Department came by and put it out. Then about three hours later it started again and the place burned down.

  10. Robert Schumacher Says:

    Did either of you guys know Dennis Wells, or Jerome Lalasz? Dennis lived in the apartment building right on the corner across from the bowl. He was a fairly good bowler. He died about 15 years ago. Also, Bill Cwik died a while back. I flew back from San Diego to attend his funeral. He was my best friend in the area. I dated his sister Mary for a while, and she’s gone too. Younger brother Johhny I believe is still around, as is Tom Kazmer, another very good player back in the day. I saw Tom just a few months ago.

  11. Dan Lalasz Says:

    Jerome was my brother. He died in 1995 in Florida.

    • Robert Schumacher Says:

      Hi Dan. My name is Bob Schumacher. I knew your brother Jerome very well. We attended St. Bart’s grade school and were in the same class; class of ’57. I lived on the corner of Kilpatrick and Roscoe and also hung out at 20th. I was part of a group of folks who organized a class of ’57 52-year class Reunion in ’09, and while scouring the U.S. Death Index I saw your brother’s listing. I’m sad I didn’t get an opportunity to talk with Jerome. I recall a few times when we would pick up a sandwich at the Atomic next door and sit at one of the tables on the concourse and talk while watching the bowlers. My e-mail is: sdbob43@gmail.com I’d love to communicate with you.

  12. Bob Schumacher Says:


    Was going through some of my old stuff the other day; that’s what us old folks do, and I ran across an old 8mm film of Bill Cwik and I bowling at 20th. The masking units are clearly Brunswick. It was taken in the spring of 1965 when both of us were home on leave from the service. Bill was the best ‘unknown’ bowler I ever knew of. I knew his entire family; I dated Bill’s sister Mary in the spring of 1961. Both Bill and Mary have passed, but I believe their younger brother John is still around.

    Bob Schumacher

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      Marvelous! Once things return to normal, make sure you get the film converted to DVD.

      • Kenneth Dura Says:

        It would be great if you can find a way to put that on the internet or on a file that can be downloaded. I’d love to see photos or film footage from that wonderful place.

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        You must be a mind reader! I spent part of this AM going through my old files to see if I could find it. I believe I will but my wife and I just moved into retirement in the suburbs of San Diego and everything is in boxes including the disc it was on. It was filmed in April of 1965 on lanes 5/6 or 7/8 at 20th. The film is dark but easily viewed. I’ll keep working on it; I believe I’ll find it. When I do I’ll post it Of course, Bill looks smooth and solid; I look like someone shot my with a rifle on the way to the foul line


      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        Chicago-to-San Diego retirement? You’re following Joe Norris.

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        I’ll try. I’m currently unable to locate it. But I’ll find it and post it.

  13. Robert Schumacher Says:

    Norris could play a little. Joe Wilman and Carmen Salvino were players I watched also, along with Buddy Bomar, who drilled balls north of 20th, up at six corners.

    • Kenneth Dura Says:

      I did not know this about Buddy Bomar. I knew he bowled at 20th Ceuntury. Did he own a pro shop at six corners or just work at one? Did he live in the area? Ken

      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        Buddy Bomar owned four pro shops in Chicago. The link below is from a 1953 ad for his first three shops. I expect that you’ve heard of at least two of his shop managers.


        Bomar’s fourth shop was at 3956 North Cicero Avenue. I bought various things there during the 1960s, but never saw Buddy in the shop.

        I’ve been told that Bomar lived around Western and Foster in his early Chicago years, and that he later had a house in the Edgebrook neighborhood. I don’t have the exact addresses, and he might have lived other places as well.


      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        Bomar drilled my first ball, a Brunswick Black Beauty in, I would say, 1959 or ’60 in a shop near 6 corners. He did the measuring and his assistant actually drilled the ball. Also, in ’61 and/or ’62 he would come into 20th to practice. He practiced alone, usually on the north end of the house and didn’t like to be interrupted.

        Also, he bowled in the travelling league, so he was at 20th periodically.

  14. Bill scharnow Says:

    I was just reading all the p ok sts . My first ball was a black beauty i got from buddys pro shop at 6 corners around 63. Also bowled i. The foreman high school leauge at 20th century from 63 to 65. . Had my first 300 5here in 64. Loved that bowl and manor also

    • Robert Schumacher Says:

      Good grief Bill!! You and I are virtual neighbors!!! And our lives are intertwined in a couple ways. Let me explain. I lived on the corner of Kilpatrick and Roscoe, My Dad was a billiards player and hung around the billiard parlor at 20th, but the first game I ever rolled was at Stratford or Manor, I don’t recall which for sure. I’m a few years older than you; I graduated from St. Pat’s in ’61. I have multiple 300’s also, and was a PBA player for a couple decades. My best buddies at 20th were Bill Cwik and Dennis Wells. you might recall either of those guys. Both have passed away.

      But here’s the kicker – Buddy Myers. He bought Buddy Bomar’s shop at 6 corners around 1960. i joined the Navy in ’63 and left Chicago for good. Fast forward to 1979. My younger brother Jim and I have settled in San Jose, CA and are considering opening some type of business together. We finally decide it would be a bowling pro shop, so we buy an existing one from an old guy who recently had a heart attack and wanted to retire. That guy was Buddy Meyers!!!! We found out during the negotiations we were all from the same part of Chicago!

      I’m geeked! My email is: sdbob43@gmail.com If you’d love to talk, I would too.

      Bob “Inky” Schumacher

  15. Mike Stamp Says:

    20th Century rat here from the 70s-80s. Lived at School and Kilpatrick. Some of my best memories.

    • Kenneth Dura Says:

      Regarding 20th Century lanes, I may have written this before, not sure. FYI In Chicago Tribune Archives: 01/29/1960 edition contains news story and photo of the fire that occurred the night of 01/28/1960. I was just a kid at the time, but I vividly remember being there and watching fire fighters battle the blaze. When the new place was rebuilt, my bowling days began.

      • Robert Schumacher Says:

        Hi Ken,
        It has to be that you and I were in 20th at the same time a hundred times. You had to know Bill Cwik and Tom Kazmer. Then there was Buddy Bomar, Eddie Kawolicks, and Rudy Habetler. Habetler had his own bowl, but he came over to 20th to practice ’cause people didn’t bother him there. At his own place they pestered him to death!!

  16. Mark Zimmerman Says:

    Spent many hours and $$ there from the Sat. morning leagues, through Adult leagues in the mid 60’s through the 70’s. Sad to see it go. I also bowled for Prosser High @ Manor Bowl on Central. Never cared for Stratford Bowl, down the block from Manor. But they did have some cool “old school” arcade games, in the lobby.

    • Bob Schumacher Says:

      Myself, Bill Cwik, and Tom Kazmer were about ten years ahead of you. We knew the place before and after the ‘fire’. Bowled my first game ever at Stratford Bowl on Central — against a pinboy in 1953. Left for the Navy in ’63 and never came back. Live in SoCal now.

      IF, and that’s a big if, I ever get back to Chi Town, I’d love sit down with you and visit the ‘old days’.

      • Kenneth Dura Says:

        Hi Bob, About a year ago you mentioned you had some old 8mm film from the 20th Century lanes. You wrote that you had hopes of getting it onto a format that could be posted on line. I was just wondering if you were able to do that. It sure would be great to see pictures of that great place.

      • Steve Says:

        The Chicago Tribune Nov. 30, 1952 has almost a full page article on 20th Century Lanes with photos of the “new” AMF Automatic Pinspotter. Your local library maybe be able to access it for you.

      • Bob Schumacher Says:

        You’re right, I do. And, just about a year ago we moved from San Diego and retired to Winchester, CA., about an hour north of SD. I’ve got it somewhere. You’re re-motivated me to find it. I’m a writer with two projects going presently, but I owe you the favor of finding it and getting it on line. Truth is; I’d love to see it again also. I’ll see what I can do. My email is: sdbob43@gmail.com Let’s keep in touch. Bob

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