Here is an article in today's Detroit News that speaks about Garden Bowl, one of the two bowling centers left within the city limits of Detroit. It's in the Wayne St. University area, and I believe, is the oldest center in Michigan.
Smoke-free era to begin in Michigan
FRANCIS X. DONNELLY
The Detroit News
At the Garden Bowl, bowlers have smoked since the first gutter ball in 1913.
Bowling and smoking are so intertwined that a player is as likely to be clutching a cigarette in one hand as a bowling ball in the other.
For the first time in 97 years, the Detroit bowling alley will be smoke-free. And so will most other public places in Michigan as the state institutes a smoking ban in 17,000 bars, restaurants and other establishments.
"We're part of the last century," said Joe Zainea, whose family owns the business, one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country. "The new century says smoking is out."
With cigarettes already vanquished from most pop culture and workplaces, the statewide edict contributes to the passing of an era, say culture experts. Smoking has been part of the country's social fabric for nearly a century.
People lit up with their morning coffee, while having a beer or after dinner. Cigarettes were omnipresent at various haunts: bars, bingo halls, VFW posts, pool halls, private clubs.
Its erasure from culture is even retroactive, say social observers.
The U.S. Post Office, before placing painter Jackson Pollock and musician Robert Johnson onto stamps, digitally removed cigarettes from their mouths.
"It's OK to discriminate against us," said Cathy Fenwick, 47, who was eating lunch at Smokies Restaurant and Lounge in Wyandotte. "People want to drive us away."
On the eve of the ban this week, the owners of Metro Detroit's smokiest provinces fretted about the future.
Phil Brigandi, who manages four bars in Detroit and the suburbs, said customers have told him that they're going to start drinking at home.
"In these economic times, this is the worst thing that can happen to me," he said.
Impact seen as low
Other states and cities that have snuffed out public smoking said businesses were hurt at first but bounced back. Michigan, where 21 percent of adults still smoke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is the 39th state to ban smoking
In New York City, some bars and restaurants lost a quarter of sales during the first few months after a ban was imposed in 2003, according to the New York State Restaurant Association.
But customers eventually returned and the retailers haven't been affected by the law.
At Hall of Fame Billiards in Warren, manager Rudy Toma hopes the ban will draw new customers. That is, people who have avoided the pool hall in the past will now venture into the smoke-free environs.
"We'll see a lot of people we've never seen before," he said.
Old habits die hard
Among those raging against the dying of the light are the dwindling members of VFW Post 7546 in Dearborn Heights.
Few members are younger than 55. One is 94. The post was formed in 1946.
Their meeting place is a windowless, concrete bunker of a building half a block from St. Hedwig Cemetery.
"They're not worried about smoking," said Greg Belback, lounge manager. "They feel like they don't have long to live anyway."
Members believe that, as long as cigarettes are legal, people should be able to smoke them anywhere.
The next thing you know, one said, government will try to impose a two-beer limit on people.
One joked he might switch to marijuana because it's becoming more acceptable than cigarettes.
"I need it for medical reasons," said Ron McKenzie, 59, of Dearborn.
Ban hits across strata
The working class isn't the only group affected by the smoking ban.
So are the longtime smoking bastions of the hoity-toity.
The white linen tablecloths of the Grosse Ile Yacht Club will be safe from cigarette ash Saturday.
Smoking was a sore point at the 75-year-old club long before the state ban, members said.
Three years ago, smokers were exiled to a second bar upstairs, said Kathy Walker, the club's finance chairwoman.
Walker welcomed the state law because it meant club leaders wouldn't have to decide on their own whether to impose a ban.
"It takes the sting out of it," she said. "No ifs, ands or buts, we have to do it."
She worried that some members may spend less time at the club and more at cigar bars, where smoking will remain legal. Also exempted from the ban are tobacco shops and the gaming floors of the casinos in Detroit.
Walker said the three-year banishment of smokers wasn't that bad because the upstairs lounge had TVs, was fully stocked and, on a clear day, offered a view all the way across Lake Erie to Ohio.
She meant it as a good thing.
Workers' health a bonus
Joe Zainea isn't worried about the smoking ban hurting his family business, Garden Bowl.
He's more concerned about the health of workers. Along those lines, he's ecstatic about the smoking ban.
"Did you ever bowl next to a smoker?" he asked with a chuckle. "It's horrible."
Zainea, 76, is the voice of experience.
He has worked at Garden Bowl since his dad, Al, bought it in 1946.
He breathed in so much second-hand smoke that he lost part of a lung in 1972.
"What is the value of smoking?" he asked. "I don't know why people do it. If they want to get high, they should drink. If they want to get dizzy in the head, they should smoke a little marijuana."
Still, he allowed smoking because customers wanted it.
It remained through the decades as customers changed from Polish to southern transplants to Asians to blacks to hipsters.
It remained as ownership passed through three generations of his family.
The checkerboard ceiling was so stained by smoke it had to be repainted every year, Zainea said.
On Saturday, the family can put the paintbrushes away.
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