Devon bowling league honored for its longevity
EASTTOWN >> Groups that last for as long as 58 years strike a special spot, and so it is with the Early Bird League. Started by bowlers at Devon Lanes, the league was formed when the alley first opened on Lancaster Avenue in 1959. On Wednesday, Devon Lanes honored the morning league for the many years at the alley.
League secretary, Richard Kompas of Wayne, said the league was formed to allow people working night shift, young mothers and retired people the chance to bowl in the morning, as opposed to the evening when most leagues played. Kompas, who has been bowling at Devon Lanes since 1961, said founding members included former KYW anchorman Vince Leonard of Malvern and Wally “The Weatherman” Kinnan, also a television personality.
Kompas, who joined the Early Birds in 2001, said the mixed league has ten teams with forty members. He estimated their bowling averages range from 86 to 173, while the age of the members is between 43 and 94.
“We try and have fun,” he said. “People come here for a good time.”
The Early Bird League is a point money league: teams get a small sum for each win.
On Wednesday morning as members enjoyed coffee and doughnuts, they exchanged memories about bowling at Devon. Margie Widmann of Gladwyne remembered coming to Devon when her children were small. “They had a day care upstairs, my children were happy and I was happy,” she said.
Retired Army Colonel Ed Drinkwater, 94, of West Chester said he like the group because it helps him stay active.
Pete Hyser of Wayne said he has been bowling at Devon Lanes since 1984 and on the Early Birds since 2004. Asked what attracted him to the league, he responded, ”Look at the people, they’re a great group.” He said teams rotate every year to give everyone a chance to meet new people.
“It’s a rare thing to want to do any one particular thing for 60 years,” said Devon Lanes co-owner Brett Furman. “We’re so honored that this group of friends has chosen to stay with us for such a long time. We hope they’ll be with us for years to come.” Furman and his family have owned Devon Lanes since 2002.
Devon Lanes has 24 lanes as well as an arcade. They host gatherings like company team building events, bachelor(ette) nights, fundraisers, and revamped party packages for all age groups and occasions.
For Isabella McNull its a family affair; she joined in 1994 and comes down from Morgantown each week with her sister Lolly Davison who lives in Lancaster County. “It’s the people and place; they are so nice,” she said. “Her daughter, who lives in King of Prussia, is also in the league.
“It’s a beautiful and rare thing,” Eileen McFalls of King of Prussia said after rolling a strike. However, she could have been referring to the Early Birds League as well.