By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Eileen Jacoby, 92, stepped up and let the bowling ball drop onto the lane.
It rolled slowly toward the gutter, then curved back toward the pins and gently pushed them all over like dominos.
“Those are rare for me,” she said with a beaming smile.
Jacoby did it twice more, in a row, in the same game.
“Are you just trying to show off for me?” said Helen Peterson, 84, one of Jacoby’s bowling partners at Robin Hood Lanes on Wednesday.
Perhaps, or maybe the nonagenarian wanted to make the best of her last time at the bowling alley, which is scheduled to close for good at the end of business tonight.
The building’s owner, John Guenther, sold the land, at 9801 Edmonds Way to California-based Seven Hills Properties, which plans to tear down the bowling alley and build a Walgreens store and a bank on the parcel.
It will be the first time since 1960 that the property will be home to anything other than Robin Hood Lanes.
“We’re so sad. We’re in here all the time,” said Esther Jones, 13, of Edmonds.
“I’m not crying now, but I will,” said Josi Jones, Esther’s mom.
Jones, 42, said she’s been coming to Robin Hood Lanes since she attended Edmonds High School in the 1980s.
Her son, Ellis, 16, works part time at the bowling alley. Sometimes she drives her kids down, sometimes they ride their bikes.
Now she’ll be driving them to Brunswick Majestic Lanes on 164th Street SW and Kenmore Lanes in Kenmore, she said.
With Sunset Lanes in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood closing in 2008 and Leilani Lanes in north Seattle closing in 2005, bowling space has become increasingly tight in the area.
Robin Hood Lanes is almost always packed in the evenings, Ellis Jones said. It’s home to more than 20 leagues, and some of them won’t have a place to go because of the space crunch, said Charlie Pascoe, one of the owners of the Edmonds bowling business.
Several groups of seniors became regulars at Robin Hood when the alleys in Seattle closed, said Marina Ekonomakis, Robin Hood’s office manager.
Peterson and her husband Jack, 87, along with Jacoby and Frank Sidbeck, 76, were among them. All four live in Seattle.
Helen Peterson said they were welcomed with open arms at Robin Hood.
“Everyone who works here is so nice,” she said. “They let us bring our own cookies.”
Sidbeck said he first bowled at Robin Hood Lanes in 1963. Peterson has been coming off and on for nearly 40 years.
“I’ve got to find some other form of exercise and I hate to exercise,” she said.
On the other end of the age spectrum, “I wonder what the kids are going to do,” Jacoby said.
The alley has 20 employees but only a few are full time, Pascoe said.
Some have already found other jobs, cook Cindy Wilson said. She’s going to take the summer off and then will have a job at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.
Pascoe has been at Robin Hood Lanes since 1980. He’s received some offers from other alleys, he said.
Still, he and others are bitter.
“There’s no reason for us to go anywhere, we’re making great money, but we didn’t own the land and they bought it from underneath us,” he said.
Guenther, the building’s former owner, could not be reached for comment.
“I think it’s kind of silly,” said Clay Iverson, 69, who bowls in a couple of senior leagues and volunteers every day at the alley.
“There’s a pharmacy down there at QFC and Bartell’s (nearby) and they want to build another one here. Just what we need,” he said.
Robin Hood Lanes will serve a roast beef special for dinner tonight, the final night.
“I’m trying to keep my head up and a smile on and keep the customers happy like we’ve been doing for years,” Pascoe said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.