The Flood of 1955 was one of the worst floods in Connecticut's history. Two back-to-back hurricanes saturated the land and several river valleys in the state, causing severe flooding in August 1955. The rivers most affected were the Mad River and Housatonic River, and Still River> in Winsted, the Naugatuck River, the Farmington River, and the Quinebaug River. The towns that suffered much loss include Farmington, Putnam, Waterbury, and Winsted. 87 people died during the flooding, and property damage across the state was estimated at more than $200 million, in 1955 figure.
WINSTED - Three years after originally going on the block, Laurel Lanes will reopen, bringing back one of northwestern Connecticut's few duckpin bowling houses.
Keeping the business in the family was significant for Noel, who started bowling at Laurel Lanes when he was four years old. Coming back from Las Vegas, where duckpin bowling is unheard of, George, his wife Misty and his brother Todd Noel will have "a lot of hours" to put in getting the business up and running
"I always thought it was very important," said Noel of keeping the business in the DeSanti family. "We've talked about it for eight or 10 years. My wife and I have been married for 11 years, and we've talked about it a lot where we've said 'we should go back there and run the bowling alley'."
The building's current owner, originally put Laurel Lanes up for sale in 2008. Since putting it on the market herself, rather than through an agent, there have been some nibbles, both on the building and the equipment - which is particularly rare given the regional nature of duckpin bowling.
Duckpin machinery and equipment can sell for a premium, according to McCarthy. The Winsted resident inherited Laurel Lanes after her father, DeSanti, retired after 70 years in the business. Those years were busy, but as of late, duckpin bowlers have had to travel to Waterbury or Newington.
"There was quite a bit of activity going on at the time," said McCarthy. "There were a lot of parties and bowlers coming in from out of town. (DeSanti) had bowlers from Otis, Massachusetts, Canaan, all over."
But as George Noel said, the equipment will stay in place, although the memorabilia may not hang on the walls. Noel said he wanted to stop the building's owners from taking out the various plaques and memorabilia inside Laurel Lanes, and although he
may take them down, he plans on displaying them in some capacity, such as on television screens."Up until the
time I left, I was still bowling here," said Noel. "Me and Doug are so competitive, we've already told each other
we're going to see who's the best duckpin bowler in the world."
WINSTED — Yes, you can bowl and drink your
bubble tea, too.
At least that’s what Toan “Tony” Hang, the new
owner of Laurel Lanes duckpin bowling
alley, wants his future patrons to believe.
Hang said he purchased the alley last month for the market price of $300,000 from former owners George Noel Jr. and Doug Hausch, who had bought it 10 years ago.
He opened the Mama Pho Vietnamese restaurant at 242 Main St., in 2018, and then the Papa Boba store a couple of doors down in 2019 to sell bubble tea. Laurel Lanes is next door to Papa Boba.
Bubble tea is a Taiwanese-based drink invented in the 1980s that blends flavors of milk, sugar, tapioca and different kinds of jelly. Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency.
Hang said he plans to move Papa Popa into Laurel Lanes, thus he can sell bubble tea to his bowling patrons. He said he hopes to open by next week, in time for those who want to sign up for summer league teams. Laurel Lanes closed at the end of April.
He said he wants to preserve a sport — duckpin bowling — that is hard to find in America now.
“It’s history,” he said. “That’s why I don’t want something else there.”
Before Hausch and Noel bought it in 2011, Laurel Lanes was owned and run by the late Angelo
and Lucy DeSanti for more than 60 years before they closed it in 2009. Shortly after Hausch
and Noel bought it, Noel moved back to Las Vegas, leaving Hausch in charge.
In a recent Facebook post, Hausch said, “I will always cherish the great times, wonderful
memories, and all the friends I made over years. You have a great little town here and I will
definitely miss it. Retirement and family have me and the wife heading south. Not gonna
lie, walking out for the last time and leaving had me tearing up. I will be back to visit, and
I can’t wait to bowl with the new owner Tony at the helm.”
Hang said his businesses were getting hurt by the COVID pandemic. He said he has to close Papa Boba a year ago and sell the bubble tea out of his Mama Pho restaurant.
When Laurel Lanes re-opens, he said he will have a lounge area where visitors can sip on bubble tea and watch TV while waiting for family and friends to finish a frame.
The scariest part for Hang is that he has never owned a bowling alley before and was unfamiliar with the sport.
“I know about cooking and making dishes,” he said.
He said there was a lot to learn and Hausch taught him the basics but Hang said he can call him if he runs into any major problems. Some of the equipment is so old that it’s very hard to find replacement parts. Patrons still have to manually fill out scoring sheets.
“But a lot of people like the old stuff,” Hang said. “Hopefully, people will still like it.”