Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bowl-O-Rama: Friendly Hills Bowl

Do you ever just drive around looking at/for cool signs?  I'm pretty sure that every region of the United States still offers an abundance of interesting signage to inspire the natural marketer/advertiser in all of us - if we just keep our eyes open.  Many times my eyes are so wide open looking for cool signs that I miss what is happening on the road.  As we have discovered, some of the best vintage signs are to be found at bowling alleys and we were certainly not disappointed by the towering, skewered diamonds of Friendly Hills Bowl in Whittier, CA.

wacky tacky bowlorama

Like many of the bowling alleys around Southern California, Friendly Hills Bowl is a relic of Jet Age optimism and architecture.  The roof line looks like a jet taking flight while the structure is grounded by the weight of stacked stones; this juxtaposition of ultra modern angles and stone age materials always lends a dissonance that I find both confusing and thrilling.

Friendly Hills Bowl - Whittier, CA

I'm telling you, it's all about mid-Century optimism.
 I've always heard that a person whose writing angles upward,
 is a natural optimist.  Here, the script of the bowling alley's sign
follows the ascending flight path of the roof line, followed
by the diamonds repeated from the larger sign.

So a cocktail tray, a trifle bowl, a coffee carafe and a martini
 glass walk into a bowling alley; they start to juggle and...
I'm not exactly sure what this mural at the entrance to the bowling
 alley signifies, but please write me a hilarious joke that
 ends with the punchline, "Those aren't bowling balls!".

Anywhere we go, I'm always interested in light fixtures,
but the more interesting part to me was the muted violet color
that predominated the color scheme of this and the last bowling
 alley we featured (owned by two different companies).  Is there
some psychological effect that shades of purple have on bowlers?
  Eat more? Drink more?  Bowl a few more frames?

 Mary had to stop for a hip photo op in front of the color-blocked lockers.

The flooring, paint scheme, and  menu have been "updated," but the
 barstools and chrome prove that the bones of a cool snack shop are still there.

Is it the friendly barroom at Friendly Hills Bowl, or the popular,
 teen hang out, The Max, from Saved by the Bell?

A view of some fancy bowling balls
available for purchase in the pro shop
I wonder if they have any of these in 4.5 lbs.
 with extra large finger holes???

So Friendly Hills Bowl has all the hallmarks of a genuine bowling alley - Snack bar/coffee shop, check.  Bar, check.  Pro Shop, check.  Beauty Parlor, Check.  Beauty Parlor?!?!

Friendly Hills Bowl has a beauty parlor conveniently located inside the bowling alley.
 H-A-I-R, big "D," little "e," Big "S," Big "I," Big "G,", Big "N," spells "coiffure me!"
Now that's class!

I've always had a love-hate relationship with those Nagel-esque salon illustrations.
 This one is funny because it is a whole family and not just those smoky eyes, razor
cheekbones, and single, red rose.  They always seemed so creepy but now they leave
me a little nostalgic for stylized, 80's cartoons like "Jem."

Come to think of it, I'm not sure that Jem, herself, isn't
 a product of Hair DeSign's gifted team of stylists!

Just in case you had any doubts - this ain't no salon; this is a beauty parlor.
 I can only assume that this is some kind of combination potty chair/hair dryer.

It seemed so strange to have a beauty parlor inside a bowling alley until we remembered that Covina Bowl had a beauty parlor as well, called Hair'em (adhering to the ye olde Egyptian theme of that establishment).  Some of you more informed types out there might be able to fill me in; was it de rigueur to have a beauty shop as an obligatory addendum to the greater bowling experience?

Hair'em at Covina Bowl
All I know is that it must've been nice for Marge and Leona to know that they needn't worry about getting all dolled up before the big tournament; they could simply show up in curlers and a scarf and leave with a bubble flip and the league championship!

Considering getting a permanent, Mr. Tiny was feeling pretty
 friendly himself standing in the in the atrium-like
setting of Friendly Hills Bowl's entry created by the
sun-drenched horticulture filtered only by the architectural beams.

If you're looking for a fun day of bowling or just a slice of pizza and a finger wave, make your way down to Friendly Hills Bowl in Whittier.  Look for the diamonds in the sky.

Friendly Hills Bowl
15545 E Whittier Blvd
Whittier, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. LMAO!!!! Sorry, Mr Tiny, you do have a way with words!! But I don't think the hairdryer chair is also a potty chair!! Ha Ha!! Maybe the men used to go bowling in leagues and the little women could go beautify in the salons!! Then they would meet up in the bar for a nightcap! As for a joke to go with the punchline, I'm sorry - but I sure hope someone comes up with something funny where that would be a perfect ending!! I just love the crazy stuff you and your sweetie find to check out and take pix of!!!! :)

    1. Thanks RS! But I hate to burst your romantic bubble - that "sweetie" is actually quite sour...she is my kid sister. It really makes me happy that you are entertained by wacky tacky and I'll do my best to keep you laughing!

  2. Good gravy sir! This place is amazing! There are so many great building in SoCal that we don't have here. We do have some great signs here though. And a few relics I can rest my bottom in after a long day. Thank goodness!

    1. We have more to share so stay tuned!!! I've been slacking lately so I have blog backlog!

  3. I love looking at the old 80's hair style books, they are the best.

    1. The clothing trends always seem to cycle back around, but are the hair trends ever coming back? I'm ready to see some crazy bangs on people!!!

  4. Fabulous wacky & tacky as usual! Makes me think of the simi-catchy song "We're gonna bowl tonight" from the ill fated Grease2. 'we're gonna rock, we're gonna roll, we're gonna bop, we're gonna BO00000000000WL TONIGHT!'

    1. Now I have to admit that I have never seen "Grease 2." Honestly, I didn't even see "Grease" until I was an adult. However, if they are rockin', rollin', boppin', and bowlin', I might just have to check it out. Michelle Pfeiffer grew up very close to where we live!

  5. Another great find! Love the photos! I have tried Mr. Tiny, but it appears I will never find anything out here except for brown hills and cows. Flocks and flocks of cows (ok I know it's herds now, that was just a hilarious joke)

    A beauty parlor in a bowling alley is just genius!

    1. Thanks Trixie! I've been wondering where you've been. Was I right to assume you were busy tending to your gaggle of wildebeests? Thanks for stopping by!!!

  6. Just four miles east on Whittier Blvd. is "La Habra 300 Bowl" which offers very good (American-style) Chinese Food in the Coffee Shop; "La Habra Motel" with a cool neon sign; "Chicken Box" which still looks 1960s; and "Magnolia Country Store" which is one of a relatively small number of brick-and-mortars with a good selection of Janet Klein CDs.

  7. Hello, yes i will be in the High fest from the 1st september till the 10th. And you ?

    1. We arrive the 5th and we're staying through the 15th! I'll make sure to say hello if I see you!

    2. Easy, i will be with parisians guys who never made clothing efforts. We are the ones who looks like normal people, really it's easy to spotted us because the festival is not a bigger one as Viva.
      I will paid attention to Gals with basket purse :)
      I'm so impatient it's my favorite festival and this year the bands are awesome. I can't wait for the Excellos.

      See you there :)


  8. Love the sign. I'm not only nostalgic for the sign but the activity of bowling as well. Why is that bowling by many is viewed as some kids activity? I totally remember my dad and grandparents being in bowling leagues when I was a little kid. By the way Mr. Tiny, I just recently discovered your blog and I'm really enjoying reading through your post. Fantastic site!

    1. Thanks Robby! I'm glad you found us and I hope you'll drop by again soon. We're always on the hunt for cool sign, cool places, and cool people! I am a terrible bowler but the atmosphere gets me every time.