Ronnie Holt, the co-owner of Thunder Bowl in Fulton, bowled for a living for a short time.
But he had to quit.
“Got hungry; had to quit,” he said with a laugh.
Years later, Holt has managed to find a way of earning his livelihood with the sport he loves. He’s bowled 28 perfect games, by the way. In 2006, he sank just about every dollar he had – more than 20 years’ worth of scrimping and saving – into a 10-lane bowling center inside what was once the Fulton Fred’s.
“This was everything,” he said, nodding out at the lanes shining with fresh oil. Over his shoulder, the alley’s collection of arcade cabinets sprang to life. “If this failed, we wouldn’t have had anything.”
Thunder Bowl is the very definition of family-owned and family-operated. Along with Holt and his wife and co-owner, the only other employees are their daughter, Veronica, and her husband, Neil Sellman. They alternate work days (although Holt is there for just about all of them), but otherwise the alley is essentially a second home for Holt and his children. In fact, they may be there more than at their own homes.
Mondays are for youth leagues; mixed leagues roll on Tuesday; Wednesday is church night (churches also occasionally have service at Thunder Bowl); Thursday is for the classic, all-men league play; Friday and Saturday are open to the public; and Sunday is double-league day (those are two-person teams).
Intermittently spread throughout this puzzle box of events are hours open to the public, plus time set aside for local high school bowling teams. Frequently, area nursing homes drop by with some of their residents, too.
Adam Armour, Itawamba County Times
• Owners: Ronnie and Aileen Holt
• Est.: 2006
• Employees: 4
• Address: 212 N. Cummings St., Fulton
• Phone: (662) 862-7077
• Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. until 11 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.; and after-hours lock-ins by appointment