Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bowl-O-Rama: Covina Bowl

I guess when you're hanging out at a bowling alley wearing overalls, you just can't help but be a weirdo magnet.  Why can't I just sneak around the bowling alley taking photos of light fixtures and terrazzo flooring without being solicited into beating up a group of thirteen-year-old boys by a 28-year-old man playing shoot 'em up video games who is admittedly the father to no less than fourteen children of his own but has nothing better to do than play video games and threaten minors in the middle of a weekday?  To echo my sentiment from an earlier post, I sure am grateful for the neat places that are still here.

The other day we took a short drive to a veritable temple of the bowling arts, Covina Bowl in Covina, CA.  

What an entrance!!

Built more than thirty years too late to cash in on the Tut-mania of the 1920's, this bowling alley is inexplicably, if only very superficially, Egyptian themed.  The roofline speaks much more to mid-Century tiki architecture and the references to ancient Alexandria are scarce.  Whatever the thinking behind architect George Powers' 1955 masterpiece, we didn't even make it inside before we fell in love! 

In various states of repair, the signs were beautiful in their simplicity!

A taste of Egypt on an exterior wall

Once inside, our options for discovery were plentiful,
 but who would want to get bored in a board room,
when one could just as easily play urban Indiana Jones and
explore the wonders of the Egyptian and Pyramid Rooms!!! 

The Egyptian Room was definitely my favorite area of Covina Bowl.  Completely trapped in time, it is the coffee shop that must have served thousands of ravenous bowlers over the years.  Although it is completely outfitted to operate as a functional coffee shop/cafe, it now sits empty just begging for a wonderful entrepreneurial restaurateur to come along and fill the seats.  Given the means, I would love to run a wacky tacky eatery in the space; it just needs a little bit of love before it could be the coolest place to grub in Covina!

Mary sits at the counter where the stainless steel display cases are longing for pies, cakes, and Jell-O.
Behind the window, there is a huge commercial kitchen.  All of the facilities/utilities are in place and seem to be in good shape;  I guess there must be a reason why the Egyptian Room is is non-operational, but I can't think of a good one!
A detail of the stained, textured glass wall behind a booth in
the Egyptian Room. 

We poked our heads into the Pyramid Room and found
 a rather spiritless banquet room that was being
 prepared for a quinceanera  later that evening.
Instead of a bunch of tables covered in white table cloths,
here is a photo of Mary, walking like an Egyptian.

As ever, I find delight in terrazzo floors and light fixtures and Covina Bowl did not disappoint!  The building is enormous and it must have taken a whole quarry full of marble chips to make the miles of flooring.

I wonder how many other bloggers include pictures of the floor wherever they go?
The floor was much more green than this photo could capture.

I love light fixtures!  
I was particularly fond of the pendant lamps with stripes of coral, lavender and blue.

We couldn't leave without visiting the arcade (the site of the near brawl between man and children).  Any time I have the opportunity to trade my hard-earned money for tokens with the slight chance that those tokens might translate into paper tickets that I can then swap for plastic prizes that I could have simply purchased for mere pennies on the dollar, I'M IN!!!

We stayed as far away from the "Flamin Finger" as we possibly could.
It seems like no amount of antibiotics could cure flamin' finger.

I'm much more of a speed demon!
I am game challenged and in too much of a hurry to read
the rules.  Even after reviewing them in the photo, it occurs
me that, "1. Get a Speed Demon Here" and "2. To play here,"
weren't quite explicit enough for me.  Huh??? 

Nevertheless, I was triumphant!!!

We actually won enough tickets for only one of these rings, but having
clearly gained the favor of the ancient bowling gods, the machine that
 dispensed arcade prizes gave us each one!  Jealous?

Sometimes you don't realize how similar you are to a bowling pin until the side-by-side comparison.
All that separates us is a crown and some bowling shoes.

Oh yeah, did we mention that they offer bowling at Covina Bowl?
50 lanes of gleaming hardwood!
Covina Bowl is a definite feather in the cap of Southern California bowling alleys.  Maybe next time we visit, we'll actually bowl a few frames!

After all, the first step in that best seller "Bowl To Stay Slim," is BOWL!

Covina Bowl
1060 W San Bernardino Rd
Covina, CA



Mr. Tiny


  1. I've always wanted to do a show here...

    1. This would be an awesome place for a show!!! DO IT!!!

  2. What a fantastic building! I love all the little details in the bowling alley.

    1. It's all in the details! I think that is often what's lacking in contemporary buildings.

  3. I love your posts...they make me smile!! Brings back lots of fun memories of you making me laugh!!

  4. I LOVE the architecture, the lighting, AND the flooring. Sad to say pretty much all of our bowling alleys here have been "updated." When I first walked in to the Capitol Bowl in West Sacramento to see that there were no longer giant wooden cowboy boots on the wall my eyes actually welled up with tears. I'm glad this place exists.

    1. You know better than most how much work it can take to keep these places open and unchanged. There are some updates here, but they are not disruptive to the spirit of the original design - thank goodness!!!

  5. Hahaha, the flamin' finger. I LOVE the Egyptian room coffee counter! It's a darn shame it's not operational...but at least it's there waiting for somebody, intact, when they decide to re-open it in all its girls-in-the-office MCM lunchroom glory. You should start a kickstarter for the official, original Wacky Tacky Eats and Treats location!!

    1. BEWARE the FLAMING FINGER!!! Maybe I should. The older I get, the more I would love to have a cafe/coffee shop/diner. I really can't believe why the space sits dark and empty.

  6. My Dad grew up in Covina in the late 50's. I am going to send him the link to your blog. I am sure he will have tons of memories as a kid at this place. Thanks Mr. Tiny!!

    1. Thank you, Anon!!! Your father sounds like a man of refinement and good taste. I would love to hear if he has any recollections of Covina Bowl!!!

  7. Replies
    1. It was a really cool place. There are still quite a few bowling alleys around town that we need to visit - stay tuned!!!

  8. oh what a wonderful place! i love an old bowling alley. that is pretty much the only time i dress vintage and have to have a beehive, when we go bowling! i love the egypt theme! there is a church in downtown nashville that is egypt themed. it is really beautiful and WEIRD because the sanctuary looks like an egyptian temple! winged snakes and all!

    1. Hahahaha!!! I want to see photo documentation of YOUR bowling adventures! Seriously, it sounds like I need to book a trip to Nashville to see all the cool stuff. When is the weather the best?

  9. Love this place! What a good choice for a wacky visit! I was here on a tour of the San Gabriel a couple of weeks ago and we go to meet the 96 year old architect. That was a real kick!

    1. Isn't it cool!!! Your tour is what inspired me to check it out. I got wind of the tour but couldn't make it. I wish we could have met Mr. Powers; instead we met an arcade goon!!! Hahahahaha! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. just saw this and had to comment - I once waitressed at the Egyptian Room, for six weeks. Changed my tipping habits forever!!!

    1. That bad, huh? Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment!

  11. I graduated from Monrovia High School in 1966. Our class voted to have our all night grad party at Covina Bowl over Disneyland. Food, live music and bowling. Doesn't get any better than that. Nice to know that some things as old as us are still around........for the moment.