Page 40 - Oct2017

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As a token of gratitude to Feese and Risinger, the Galveston
Women’s Bowling Association (formerly GWBL) paid tribute to the
men and their wives at their annual gala. The organization had been
in existence more than fifty years, but unless the bowling alley was
reopened, it would have soon lost its certification with the Women’s
International Bowling Congress due to the absence of a hometown
bowling alley.
This second incarnation of the Seawall’s bowling facility outlasted
the first, if only by a couple of years, and after a partner acquisition,
Island Bowl stayed in the Risinger family for the entirety of its
existence. And once again, only nature personified could be
responsible for its undoing—Hurricane Ike, 2008. Although the
building was entirely protected from the storm surge that invaded
the harbor side of the Island, the interior still sustained significant
water damage after Ike’s brutal winds shredded parts of the roof and
left it unprotected from the rain.
Owner Duane Risinger did have insurance on the building, but he
explained to the
Galveston Daily News
that the cost to reopen—a
task that would require among other minor repairs, entirely new
carpet and a complete replacement of the electronic scoring
system—would be around $850,000, an insurmountable sum for any
small business. Risinger was also concerned that the large number
of residents and businesses that were displaced by the storm did not
bode well for business levels. Island Bowl was never reopened.
The property was purchased in 2012 by affiliates of Landry’s, Inc.,
but still remains untouched.
Women’s Bowling League (GWBL) who had recently
finished 16
in the World’s Invitational Tournament.
The colorful interior sparkled with fresh turquoise and
gray paint, and the facility boasted twenty-four lanes
officially equipped by American Machine and Foundry
or AMF, still today an ubiquitous name in bowling
and at one time the nation’s largest and most diverse
recreational equipment companies. Automatic pinsetters
and the latest in ball-return technology were linked with
a top-of-the-line AMF “telescorer,” an early electronic
Other amenities included a large, carpeted nursery that
was staffed both in the daytime and in the evening and
offered for free to patrons, as well as a restaurant with
table, booth, and counter seating, and a wide variety of
bowling balls and rental shoes. Seahorse Bowl was also
a proud purveyor of Strike-A-Shape, a figure analysis and
control program that assessed a bowler’s technique in
order to help them make improvements to their form for
improved bowling skills.
Seahorse Bowl endured as a popular favorite for more
than two decades and was the last of the three Island
bowling alleys remaining, until Hurricane Alicia in 1983
left the building severely damaged. The owners decided
to sell instead of take on the task of repairing, and in
July of 1984 Jack Feese of Houston, owner of an alley in
Alvin, and Berry Risinger, also of Houston and owner of
a Bryan bowling alley, announced their purchase of the
Seahorse Bowl.
It was renamed simply, Island Bowl. The exterior was
repaired and rebuilt where needed, and the interior
of the building was completely renovated with all new
lanes and new, state-of-the-art Brunswick equipment.
Island Bowl exterior September 2017
Inside Island Bowl, circa 2006
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Exterior image by John Hall, inside image courtesy of UTMB