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Braymiller's to celebrate 70th year

There will be some partying and celebrating next Friday at Braymiller's Lanes in the village of Hamburg.

No, it's not to celebrate the holiday season. It's to mark the 70th anniversary of the eight-lane bowling house at 39 Buffalo Street.

It's been Braymiller's since 1942, when Howard Braymiller Sr., bought the place from Henry Bruce, who was called off to military duty and put the business up for sale. Bruce had opened the bowling establishment in 1935 in what had been a Studebaker auto agency.

"Henry offered the place to my father," Howard Braymiller Jr. said. "My father was a customer and liked to bowl. He was single at the time and hanging around there a lot. When Henry offered it to him he thought it was something he'd like to do and that's what he did."

Braymiller's has endured as a bowling house and an eating and drinking spot for 70 years. It's said to be the longest-operating business in the village of Hamburg.

"Over the years, the place has been completely renovated on a continual basis, from front to back, outside and in, the bowling area one year and the lounge one year," said Howard, Jr., who has turned over management to his son, Howard III, but still is a presence and a weekly bowler.

"I still love it," he said.

Braymiller's has had to overcome some setbacks, such as two roof collapses caused by snow, the most recent in January of 1999.

"It's a third-generation business," Howard Jr. said. "My son is going to continue it. We've been very successful; we don't have any financial problems. We have 16 employees. We're located right in the center of the village and very involved in everything that goes on."

Braymiller's is proud of its "small village atmosphere."

"It's small, friendly, cozy and clean," said Howard Jr. "It's a place where everybody knows your name, says hello. It's a totally different atmosphere than in a big house."

"It's where I learned to bowl," recalled Jim Lyon, Hamburg resident and home improvement contractor. "It's a great place."

He's just one of thousands who learned the game as youngsters -- or even worked as pinboys before the advent of the automatic pinsetters -- over the years at Braymiller's.

Braymiller Jr. says there are 31 leagues that bowl at the lanes and a very active youth program. Braymiller's has served as host for several WNY Bowling Proprietors season youth tournaments, including the 2011 Fall championship.

Of all the bowlers who competed there over the years, among the most accomplished was Howard Jr.'s brother, Lee.

Lee Braymiller, a Greater Buffalo USBC Hall of Famer (1972) was a phenom in national tournaments and on the money circuit that preceded the founding of the Professional Bowlers Association Tour in 1959.

Lee, who died in 1967, was a protege of Allie Brandt. As a young bowler, he was Brandt's doubles partner in the American Bowling Congress tournaments. He bowled with and against some of the sport's stars of that era -- Buddy Bomar, Ned Day, John Quinzi and Buzz Fazio -- often in big money matches.

Next Friday's celebration will include live music by Sugar Spoon, open bowling all night and food and drink specials. Braymiller III will be master of ceremonies.

Then it's on to a 71st year of operation and a few prayers that a heavy snowfall will leave the roof intact.

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Pin chasers

*Doug Petti and Ben Demler earned the championships of the Tonawandas USBC 20th annual Keith Kreger Memorial Singles Shootout Tournament at the Tonawanda Bowling Center.

High 'A' Division qualifier Petti defeated Shane Davis, 255-204, to win that title. Demler, high qualifier in the 'B' Division, outscored Danita Harrison, 240-237, to win that crown. In preliminary 'A' matches, Ed Abbott beat Jerry Smith, 252-181, and Davis eliminated Abbott, 192-181. Petti paced the 'A' qualifier with a 734 (698 scratch) and Demler's 674 (593 scratch) led the 'B' bowlers.

*The Tonawandas Adult/Youth Championship will be Jan. 15 at Manor Lanes II and the Youth Team event Jan. 22 at Classic.

*The New York State USBC Association will be conducting four state championship tournaments in the spring in the Binghamton and Glens Falls areas: the Masters Championship on March 24 at Owego Bowl; the Women's Championships April 14-May 20 in Vestal; the NYS Queens Championship April 21 in Kirkwood; the State Open Championships April 14-May 6 South Glens Falls.

Entry forms and other pertinent information about NYS USBC tournaments can be found at the state association's website -- www.bowlny.com.

*The Festival of Lights Tournament, one of the highlights of the local high school season, will be Tuesday at AMF Thruway Lanes starting at 9 a.m.

*Catch Cheektowaga pro Ryan Ciminelli in action in his Johnny Petraglia Division eliminator match of the PBA World Championship at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day on ESPN. The match was bowled and taped last month in Las Vegas, Nev.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com