Small town lanes feature big time traditions

By Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

The new logo on the wall says it all ‘Community Lanes: “Your local gathering place since 1959.”

The 10th Annual Barley Memorial is coming May 18 – as an amazing follow-up to the recently completed 2019 Help Bluffton event of April 20.

Minster and Blufftonare a little over 50 miles apart but it appears that the mindset of the management teams of the two establishments is a great deal more similar.

It is meeting the needs and the traditions of the communities that is the most important element in what they are trying to accomplish.

“Community Lanes will always be known as the house that Joe built.”

There was a great deal of conversation during a packed Community Lanes on Friday evening for the reveal of the new logo and the introduction of the management team for Community Lanes. Yet on this evening Doug Davidson made it perfectly clear in that Joe Baumer who roughly 60 years ago turned the first shovel of dirt will always be honored at the lanes.

It was not merely words on the part of Davidson as shortly after his remarks a composite photo picturing Baumer as well as illustrating other moments in the history of the lanes was revealed and word was shared that it would always hang in a position of prominence at the lanes.

Tradition will be honored.

It was a short time after the remarks that Baumer threw the first ball for the reopening of the lanes, now under the ownership of Doug, his wife Lori and Mike and Steve Henry.

Baumer would throw a five count and the spry octogenarian wanted a shot at the spare.

Rumor has it that this will be the last Barley Memorial to be held under the lead of Southgate Lanes.

The combination bowling and golf event is sold out once again this season but those who want to be a part of another great evening can still come to the after party at The Mason Jar, located just below the clubhouse for what promises to be an incredible evening if the maestros of the event Brandon Falk and Derek Dukes have anything to do with it. Incidentally it was Dukes who indicated that Falk needs top billing this time around.

The event will benefit the family of Bill Frideger. Frideger passed away three weeks after receiving his diagnosis for pancreatic cancer. His wife Amy, and children Calvin, Drew and Evan will be the benefactors of this event.

The Memorial, Southgate-style originated ten years ago by the World Famous Gators, notably John Dailey to honor Marty (Barley) Johnson who seemed to be glued at times to the counter assuring that the guests of Southgate were well taken care of. Marty may have been the name but he was so well known as Barley that many may struggle to remember his real name. He was loved and taken way too soon from the bowling world. This barley is for you Barley.

The focus on the community will continue. The most recent Help 2019 event with DJ Phil Austin in charge generated nearly $5,000 for the various non-profit groups in Bluffton. Normally this money has been earmarked to assist agencies who provide for families.

The Davidsons, the Henrys, the Daileys and now most certainly Derek and the Bean (Dukes and Brandon Falk) clearly understand their importance in the community. It is very apparent that they do not appear to simply stand on the sidelines and collect money from league bowlers. They are ambassadors of the sport and will do what is needed to help.

We should all mirror what they are doing and find a place to help as well.

The more that I thought of Barley and his role at Southgate, in the era of Original Gators, I thought of other individuals.

Barley was not your typical counter person. He was a character that fit well into the bowling scene at Southgate. I am not sure that the history of Southgate can be written without him.

Among the first that came to mind were Mike Moore of Astro and Oscar Dixon and Dutch Williams of 20th Century.

We have spoken in the past of Mike and Oscar but Dutch was indeed special.

There was a time that he apparently served as the night watch person at the lanes but we have always wondered just how well he could see! Henson’s Remodeling bowling squad led by Keith Henson loved to have Dutch keep score for his team. We would pay him off with cigars that we saw him chew but never light for writing down numbers reflecting pins knocked down on shots we are not sure he ever saw. He was as legible with those pencils as any of the professional scorekeepers in the day.

I trust that you all have your favorites that you would love to see mentioned here … you can reach me at

By Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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