Ironic justice?

by Bob Johnson 0

In January, Loyle Lanes in Vineland, N.J., burned to the ground.

Arson was suspected.

Shortly thereafter, Steve Smink, the operator of nearby Pike Lanes, was charged with setting the fire. In anticipation of convening a grand jury to indict Smink, laboratory tests of evidence gathered at the scene are being conducted.

Meanwhile, the Loyle family, which owned Loyle Lanes, is awaiting an official decision by its insurance carrier that will determine whether the center will be rebuilt.

If it is, it may be the only bowling center in Cumberland County.

That’s because many bowlers who suspect Smink set the fire have been boycotting Pike Lanes.

And Pike Lanes — which stood to benefit the most from Loyle Lanes’ demise — now has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.