Since whoever's been spamming me in broken English is now contributing this site more often that I am, I suppose I have some catching up to do. I should follow the fine example set by the likeminded Googiemel: Shorter posts, more often!
When it comes to old buildings, I'm very much in favor of adaptive re-use--even if it's quick and a little sloppy. A non-invasive rush job often leaves open the possibility that the building in question might someday be returned to its original purpose--but even if pieces of the past have deteriorated beyond all practicality, it's cool (if a little melancholy) when they're kept around as artifacts of a bygone age.
The latter would seem to be the case at Sporto's Pub and Grill, a cozy little watering hole in spiffy downtown Red Bud, Illinois. I stopped in because it looked like a decent place to have a sandwich and a beer, and it's in a building that appears to be closing in on the century mark. We all know that older bars have more personality, right? Well, as I sat at the bar and waited for my burger to arrive, I noticed this crazy ol' thing sticking up out of the floor:
One of the locals noticed that I was eyeing it, and he commented that it was pretty much what it looked like: A very, very, very old ball return. Turns out Sporto's used to be a bowling alley! It couldn't have had more than two or three lanes, and they're now covered by carpeting and used as a pool room--but the ball return was too much trouble to extract, so they just left it there behind the buffet table.
I was told the bowling lanes were never modernized, and they were in use until just a couple of years ago. (I secretly doubted this until I saw evidence that bowling at Sporto's coincided, at least, with the Internet age.) Pins were re-set by hand until the bitter end, and somebody in your group would have to know how to keep score the old-fashioned way. I've been spending time in bowling alleys for 35 years, and I've never seen a situation this primitive! People rhapsodize about how old-school the Saratoga Lanes in St. Louis are, but Sporto's is home to a museum-quality artifact. If they ever give the joint a more thorough remodeling, I hope they donate the old Brunswick equipment to the Historical Society or something. (Or me.)
And speaking of old things that are in relatively good shape: I got carded! I love this place.
(You can still bowl in Red Bud, by the way; the VFW hall has six lanes that offer open bowling on weekends. And I found evidence in an old high school yearbook suggesting that the facility now occupied by Sporto's was called Mac's Bowling Alley.)