Treasures of the Valley

Verdugo Hills Bowl – Fond Memories Part 1

The Verdugo Hills Bowl operated on Foothill Boulevard west of Pennsylvania Avenue from 1959 until 1996. It was a magnet for young people of the valley (and their parents). For those people, Verdugo Hills Bowl was all about the good memories. I’ve collected a two-part sampling of those reminiscences.

“I was an architecture geek even as a 9-year-old. I noticed that the building was unique in that it was built on a sloping lot, as was almost everything in the Crescenta Valley. Despite the name, Crescenta Valley is more like a tilted plane than a flat valley. This made the main floor of the facility significantly above Foothill Boulevard. The restaurant was on the street side. It must have had a great view across the valley.”

“My parents were both in bowling leagues in the ’70s, so I kind [of] feel like I grew up in the basement in the child care areas. Then, when I went to CV High School, I took bowling instead of PE. It was fantastic!!! We would go there for zero or first period, roll the ball a bit and then walk to school. Oh! And sometimes my dad would take me into the ‘fancy’ restaurant there and I’d order a Shirley Temple … lots of donuts from the diner.”

“Our parents bowled there and I remember many a night being in the daycare downstairs. Then we would get to go up and sit in the bar and eat ice cream.”

“My sister taught me how to bowl [there] and then I was in a league with my brother. Bought my first bowling shoes and ball (orange, with finger holes drilled deep to accommodate my fingernails).”

“Got my first 200 in league! Our team was the Tiny Tigers.”

“Growing up, I bowled there all of the time and learned how to play pool. As a senior at Verdugo Hills High School (1973), I had good enough grades to be able to bowl here three times a week in place of gym. It was pretty cool. The cost was 50 cents each day.”

“Loved it there and ran into Great White (’80s rock band). I remember that they were in the corner chilling. I got an autograph but didn’t get a pic, but so awesome to have them in town!”

“My father was the first manager there and ran the place from when it opened through my high school years. I kept score for the league play a couple of nights a week. Also bowled in a junior league and played a lot of pool in high school. So many memories …”

“I practically lived in that pool hall. Made a lot of money playing nine-ball.”

“I bowled there all the time and my first husband was always on a league. Gianera Pontiac was next door.”

“I played on a bowling team between Kentucky Fried Chicken stores from Sunland-Tujunga and La Cañada. Such memories back around 1978-79!”

“I was on numerous leagues there and it was good times. The coffee shop had good food and the bar was fun as well!”

“Such memories from the daycare below to the arcade and pool tables as I got older to bowling for PE. I think many of us were raised there.”

“I actually took a CV PE bowling class there. Every morning from 7-8:30 a.m. (as I recall).”

“That was our main hangout in ’57, ’58, and ’59. In the ’60s it started to drop off. The guys and gals started getting married in ’61 and ’62. The draft started in ’64 and ’65. Guys started going to Vietnam and when they came back nothing was ever the same. Families were being started. Kids started showing up. Then all of a sudden we were adults with careers.”

“We used to go Blue Chip Stamp bowling there.”

“My senior year first period was bowling – 1984.”

“My parents were on a bowling/drinking league. When we were really young, I remember a room they used to put us in near the snack bar.”

“First spot in town to get videogames, too. I played Space Invaders arcade console game for 25 cents there.”

“Many fond memories of playing Space Invaders there. And the time I went in the vintage clothing store at Foothill Boulevard street-level and found some really cool dress shoes I used for special occasions for many years.”

“Does anyone remember the Slot Car track next door towards Pennsylvania Avenue?”

“Yes, I remember it! Wasn’t Mr. Krause’s Foothill Swim School in the vicinity also?”

“We had it all in the ’60s: Indian Springs, Montrose and Verdugo Hills Bowl. And don’t forget the miniature golf course on Foothill also. So lucky to grow up in La Crescenta!”

“Loved going to the diner in the bowling alley to get cherry cokes!”

“I beat the heck out of the gutters!”

“All [of] our friends and neighbors in colorful bowling shirts, the sound of a ball hitting pins or landing in the gutter, the din of 28, later 40, automated pinsetters cleaning up and setting up, the crack of a cue ball hitting freshly racked billiard balls, the faint smell of sweaty socks in leather shoes, the pinging of a pinball hitting a bumper, the laughter of both children and adults, the mixed aroma of snack bar food and cigarette smoke in the air – it’s not gone. It is still alive and well, and I’m there. Forever.”

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at