Curry, and his wife Sherre, are peramanent fixtures at the historic bowling alley and entertainment center on Shiloh Road in Corinth. Literally hundreds of thousands over the years have entered through the double glass doors at the entrance and enjoyed not just bowling but billiards, air hockey, video games and more.
And it would probably be a safe bet to say that most patrons have slipped money into the nostalgic juke box and played their favorite songs dozens of times.
The bowling alley first opened for business in August of 1960 under the name Gateway Lanes, the company that originally built and owned the business for the first five years of it’s existence.
The father/son combination of Noel and Ralph Strickland took over in 1965 with Noel as the owner and Ralph managed the daily business affairs. At that time Gateway Lanes became Plaza Lanes and a city fixture was established.
In March of 1967, a Corinth High School junior walked in to apply for a part-time job. Mr Ralph hired the young man who would eventually take over as owner in 1979.
That young man was David Curry, better known to his friends as Kidd Curry because of his pension to kid people and pull pranks. He still goes by that moniker in the bowling leagues, where he still competes multiple times a week.
And still owns a 200-plus average.
But owning a bowling alley wasn’t what Curry had in mind when he graduated from Corinth High School in 1968. He had his eyes and mind set on a career as an educator. He graduated from Northeast with a 2-year degree in 1970 and then from Delta State in ’72 with a BSE degree in Math with a teaching certificate.
He was hired for his first teaching job in the Fall of 1972 at Alcorn Central, where he stayed only one year before a one-year stint at Hardin County High School in Savannah.
Then in 1974 he was hired by the Corinth School District to teach advanced math, geometry and chemistry. And speaking of chemistry, sparks flew when Curry met his future wife Sherre in 1974 when she was working as a beutician just a block and a half from where David was.
His old friend John Treadway played cupid.
They were a year apart in school but had never met. They were married in 1975.
Then in 1979 something special happened that changed Curry’s life completely. All the while he was going to college and teaching he still worked part-time for Plaza Lanes, first for Strickland and later for Sam Rizutti, who bought the business from Strickland in 1969.
“As a teacher I was bringing home a certain amount of money that really didn’t pay all the bills without part-time work,” Curry remembered.”I came in to work one day in ’79 and Mr. Rizutti sat me down and explained to me that he was going to sell the bowling alley to an investment group. The group asked him if there was anyone in Corinth he would recommend to be the manager and I overheard him through the closed door meeting say my name.”
Before Rizutti made the deal with the investment group he had a sit-down with Curry and talked things over and told him what he was planning on doing.
But then he offered Curry something he couldn’t resist.
“He offered to sell the business to me outright if I was interested,” Curry continued.”He started to talk about the kind of money I could make here compared to what I was making as a teacher and it wasn’t even close.”
“I borrowed the money from the bank and the rest is history.”
Aside from the regular duties of managing the front desk, equipment maintenance, running the cafe, and lane care among other things, one of the most important skills that put Curry over the top in Rizutti’s mind and into ownership status was his ability to ball-drill.
“It takes a lot of effort and expertise to be able to drill holes in bowling balls properly. I do them all here on site with our drill press. There are all kinds of angles that holes can be drilled in and it takes someone who really knows how to do it and do it right.”
Thus Curry began his foray into bowling alley ownership and management, but even he didn’t expect in the beginning that he would have been in this position for this long.
“Sherre and I have talked about the possibility of selling but she claims that if we were to do that she would have to find part-time work somewhere becasue she’d go stir crazy.”
And to be perfectly honest so would David.
“Why sell if you like what you do on a daily basis? If I were to get out I may end up doing something I don’t enjoy near as much and that wouldn’t make any sense.”
The Curry’s are the proud parents of Dr. Lorie Williams and Dr. Kelle Summrall. Williams just retired as chief of mental health at Fresno (CA) prison and continues a private practice. Summrall teaches at Lafayette County (MS) Junior High and has a goal of becoming a professor at Ole Miss in the next few years.
Around 1980 Curry hired another man that became synonomous with Plaza Lanes.
“Charlie Gooch was irreplacable to us here,” Curry lamented.”Whatever needed to be done he did it or could do it. He was my most important resource here until he passed away in 2011. He meant so much, not only to us, but to everyone that walked through these doors.”
“He was the best thing about this bowling alley,” Sherre continued.”This was really more his home than ours.. He was the most dedicated man to this place than anyone will ever know.”
Gooch didn’t bowl much but he did so many things that he probably didn’t have time.
Gooch’s son Jeff has been Curry’s main man for several years now, primarily taking care of the mechanics of the bowling lanes: the area behind the pins that not many people ever get to see.
And it’s an amazing site to see how things work behind the lanes. If you ever do get the opportunity for a tour someday beware: it’s extremly loud back there.
The bottom line with Curry is that he loves being the owner of Plaza Lanes. But he loves something else even more.
“I was saved on March 6th, 1991 at Holly Baptist Church at 7:30,” he said proudly.”It’s strange how you can remember specific dates and times like that. God changed my life that night and now I really enjoy teaching and speaking at different churches and organizational events like the Lighthouse. I’m not tied down here as much and this job gives me better opportunity to do the work of the Lord.”
It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years this month since Curry started his association with Plaza Lanes. Noone know how much longer he and Sherre will hold on to the iconic Corinth business: not even them.
But one thing’s for sure: Curry, known simply to many as ‘the bowling alley man’, will greet you with a smile and a great place to have fun for all ages. That goes for Sherre and every employee at Plaza lanes.
After all, bowling is the sport played by more people all over the world than any other. It should be fun.
And just in case you were wondering: most of the equipment inside the business is original, including the ball racks and the seating around the lanes.
If you haven’t already, drop by this month and wish ‘the bowling alley man’ a happy Golden Anniversary at Plaza Lanes.