1942
Franklin Lanes Opens
Franklin Lanes Opens

Franklin Lanes opened on March 28, 1942. Since World War II had commenced, the owners of Franklin Lanes had to receive special permission from the government to finish construction. It cost $135,000 to build. Since construction had already started before the war, permission was granted. Original owners lived in Chicago:…
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1943
One of our first newspaper ads
One of our first newspaper ads

Note back in the 40s phone numbers were only five digits. Ours was 3-9394.

1945
Duke Ellington at “Franklin Gardens”
Duke Ellington at “Franklin Gardens”

Briefly our name was changed to Franklin Gardens in the summer months, our slow time of the year. The original owners put a big stage and dance floor over the lanes and brought in prominent acts to perform include Duke Ellington.

1946
Sale to O’Daniel and Kent
Sale to O’Daniel and Kent

Partners Joseph O'Daniel and Kenny Kent purchase Franklin Lanes. At the time, O'Daniel was in the car business via O'Daniel-Ranes and  Kent was running Wolflin Lumber.

1953
Bowling Centers in the 1950s
Bowling Centers in the 1950s

Back in the 1950s, there were six bowling centers - Rose Bowl, West Side Lanes (also on Franklin Street), Pocket Alleys, Jensen Recreation, the YMCA Lanes, and Franklin Lanes. We are the only ones still around. Six centers is way too many for a town the size of Evansville, and…
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1955
Championship Bowling on WFIE
Championship Bowling on WFIE

WFIE used to broadcast an hour of bowling every Monday night from 10:30 to 11:30.

1956
Neathery purchases Franklin Lanes
Neathery purchases Franklin Lanes

Russ Neathery "purchases" the business from Joe O'Daniel and Kenny Kent. Kent wanted to focus on the car business, a business O'Daniel was already in. We put purchases in quotes as the form of the agreement was a lease with the option to buy. On August 10, 1960, Neathery exercises…
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1958
David King starts at Franklin Lanes

David King sold his paper route and began working part-time at Franklin Lanes while a senior at Reitz High School.

1964
Automatic pinsetters added
Automatic pinsetters added

Always innovating, Franklin Lanes was the first local bowling center to add automatic "A-2" pinsetters. Before the pinsetters, pin boys would set the pins and return the bowling balls.

David King leaves Franklin Lanes
David King leaves Franklin Lanes

David King, a newly-minted Evansville College graduate, leaves Franklin Lanes to go to work at Evansville Waterworks. His time there was short-lived. After two months, he quit and returned to work at Franklin, where he continued to work into the 2020s until health issues began to limit his availability.

1985
King and Hatcher purchase
King and Hatcher purchase

Russ Neathery, fulfilling a promise he made to two of his employees, sells Franklin Lanes to David King and Walt Hatcher. Hatcher passed away in 2006, leaving King as the sole owner.

1994
Automatic scoring
Automatic scoring

We were the first local bowling center to add automatic scoring. We now have generations of bowlers who can't keep score!

2024
Closed for new scoring system
Closed for new scoring system

Franklin Lanes closed for a week to upgrade its scoring system to the latest technology. This was the first time in decades that Franklin was closed for a week or more. Prior to the current synthetic lanes, Franklin would close for two weeks during the summer while the lanes were…
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