September 8, 2011
Bowling Alley Celebrating 50 Years as Local Entertainment Center
R.C., Tami and Sue Seppelt have owned and operated the bowling alley the past 32 years of its 50 years in business in Memphis.
Over the past half century, the name has changed, as have the owners and the employees, but one thing has remained constant at Scotland County Lanes, the bowling.
The Memphis Lanes was opened in September of 1961 by Harold and Dorothy Childress of Gorin. The building, located on Highway 136 near the east city limits of town, was built to house the eight bowling lanes complete with Brunswick automatic pin setters and telescorers.
Harold Childress and his wife Dorothy opened the Memphis Lanes bowling alley in 1961.
"Back in the 60's Memphis Lanes was a gathering place for high school kids with a juke box and snack bar," said the former owners' daughter LeAnn Carl. "Many youngsters turned their new bowling experience into a lifelong pastime. The 60's was a fun time to grow up in Memphis."
After a decade in business, the lanes changed hands. The Childress family sold the bowling alley to Richard E. Seppelt in 1971, and the name was changed to Scotland County Lanes.
In the mid 70's Seppelt installed Type II upgrades for the pin setting machines, making them faster and more efficient.
Richard E. Seppelt bought the Memphis Lanes in 1971, and later sold the bowling alley to his son, R.C. Seppelt.
Around the same time the building was expanded, adding a new game room. The current bowling center desk was installed, and the snack bar area was expanded, with the pool tables and other items being transitioned into the game room, located on the east side of the lanes.
In 1979, the lanes changed hands again, as Seppelt sold the business to his son, R.C., who had recently moved back to the area from California.
R.C., his wife Sue have owned and operated the lanes the past 32 years.
"We came back home on vacation and while we were here, decided that this was a much better place to raise a family," R.C. said of his move back to Missouri from Los Angeles.
When the couple bought the business, Sue took over as manager, leaving her position as a surgical nurse at the hospital. Their daughter Tami joined the family business when she moved back to Memphis in 1993.
R.C. continued his job in Keokuk, IA, in addition to working at the bowling alley.
That changed in 1980, when SC Vending was born. What started as an initiative to better supply the game room at the bowling alley, turned into a far-ranging service to supply video games and vending machines to businesses in the Tri-state area.
"Dad had told me that the game room would generate enough revenue to pay our utility bills each month," R..C. said. "I never imagined it would turn into a full-time business."
The family remained constants in the bowling alley, fitting since it was in a similar institution that R.C. and Sue first met in California.
"It's kind of ironic that we met in a bowling alley and then we ended up owning one," said R.C.
Sue has since given up the hobby, but bowling still runs deep in the Seppelt family.
R.C. has bowled in league action at the lanes for the nearly 40 years they have been in Scotland County. Tami grew up with the sport and continues to be one of the better performers in league play, as does R.C.'s brother, Dave.
The trio have combined for four of the 10 perfect games ever bowled at the facility.
Dave has two 300 games to his record, while R.C. and Tami each have reached perfection once. Other 300 games were recorded by Bob Courtright, Sam Berkowitz, Randy Watkins, Stan Eggleston, Steve Simpson and Don Chancellor.
There have been 10 perfect games bowled at the Memphis bowling alley. Pictured in front are RC Seppelt (12/29/99) and Tami Seppelt (1/18/07). Back row (L to R) are Bob Courtright (2/23/00), Sam Berkowitz (11/28/07), Dave Seppelt (1/18/95 and 3/20/07), Don Chancellor (3/15/95), Randy Watkins (11/17/99) and Stan Eggleston (4/19/95). Not pictured was Steve Simpson who bowled a 300 game on September 8, 2008.
The bowling alley features league contests four nights a week, with men's women's and mixed play sanctioned by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). An annual city-wide tournament is held with local bowlers also traveling to the state USBC tournament.
The Childress family still honors its roots in bowling. The four daughters of the late Harold and Dorothy Childress, annually sponsor a youth bowling day at the lanes.
Over the years, a larger portion of the family business has shifted to the restaurant side of the company. Sue and Tami manage the lunch counter. Tami handles the evening dinner crowds and also is in charge of the evening league nights, with help from Dave.
"No matter how far away from home that I travel, I always look forward to eating a cheeseburger from the bowling alley when I come home," said former Memphis resident Kiel Fogle. "I have ate there for over 20 years and every bite has been as good as the first."
While the quality food draws in the crowds for lunch and dinner, it is still the pins and the lanes that pack the parking lot on weeknights as bowlers lineup to try to throw the 11th perfect game in the lanes history.
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