Since reopening the doors, the din of laughter, music and the crash of bowling ball against pin has been emanating regularly from the building located at 114 N. Walnut Street in Peabody’s historic downtown.
“We thought it would be great,” Christie said. “We’ve been business owners before, and we enjoyed it. And we enjoy bowling. We’re not very good, but we have fun.”
To which Curtis replied with a laugh, “Hey, speak for yourself.”
The McBrides knew about Peabody as well as Peabody Lanes through Christie’s parents. Her mother was a long-time employee of Baker Furniture.
“Our kids would stay with them on the weekends or whatever, and they would come out here,” Curtis said. “My father-in-law, while my mother-in-law was working, would bring the kids over here to bowl.”
Curtis said owning Peabody Lanes was “just something we thought about doing one time.”
“We just kind of jokingly said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be kind of cool to own that bowling alley in Peabody,’” he said.
“We just kind of laughed it off, like no big deal. And then a few months later we were out at dinner with some friends, and some of their family members live here in Peabody, and we were like, ‘Hey, why don’t you find out who owns the bowling alley?’
“Within a few days we were out here looking at it.”
In addition to local ties and prior business experience, the McBrides have a personal interest in bowling.
Their son, 18-year-old Josh, is a member of the Wichita State University Shocker bowling team, a nationally recognized program.
“It’s a pretty big deal if you make the WSU team,” Curtis said. “They’re the most winningest college team in the U.S. They have more national titles than any other bowling team for college.We’re proud of him.”
Because of Josh’s bowling success, the McBrides are aware that high school students can receive bowling scholarships for college tuition and books.
And they want to get the word out to others.
“Our son is a prodigy of high school bowling,” Curtis said.
“High school bowling is really big in Wichita and some surrounding towns,” Christie added.
“Not everybody’s a football player, so the children can still obtain a letter. There’s also options in college to bowl, and people can get scholarship money, which a lot of people don’t know.”
That’s why the McBrides are working with Peabody-Burns High School to start a high school bowling team––maybe as soon as the next school year.
“Hopefully, surrounding towns like Hillsboro and Marion will also pick up on it,” Christie said. “(Hillsboro and Marion) also have bowling alleys in your area, and you also have high schools, so there’s no reason we couldn’t compete with one another.”
Excitement for the proposed high school bowling team is already apparent.
“I didn’t even bring it up today,” Curtis said, “but there was a couple of kids today that said, ‘If there’s a high school bowling team next year, I’m bowling.’”
“It just gives them another thing to go out for,” he added.
The couple is working to fill a variety of bowling leagues––youth, adult mixed, adult men, adult women, and a doubles league with one adult and one youth paired together. The leagues will remain open until they are filled.
“You can bowl at any age,” Christie said. “We have children out here that are 2 or 3, and then we have people out here that bowl in their 60s and 70s. So it’s not age-specific.”
“And you don’t have to be good,” Curtis said, adding with a laugh: “We have bumpers.”
“If you’re on a league and you’re not that good of a bowler, you get a handicap that gives you an equal playing field with everybody else,” he said.
Despite their already busy schedules––forming high school teams as well as leagues, working full-time in Wichita, and planning an eventual move to Peabody––the McBrides find time for the alley to have open bowling. They also plan to renovate the interior of the building.
“It’s interesting every week,” Curtis said. “It’s been fun getting to know the people, getting to know the town. We’ve been to city council meetings, we’ve been to school board meetings and we’ve been to economic development meetings.”
“You wear a lot of different hats when you’re in a small town,” Christie added. “That’s why we like it.”
Peabody Lanes is open Wednesday through Sunday. Weeknight hours of operation are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday. On Saturday the alley opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 1 a.m., and Sunday is open from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Shoe rental for all ages is 75 cents. Open bowling prices are as follows: high school and below, $1.50 per game; adults, $2.50 per game; and seniors 65+, $1.50 per game.
More information on open bowling hours, league schedules, or other special events, is available by calling Peabody Lanes at 620-983-2012.