When Rusty Bryant first started working at the Pro Zone shop insider the Mission Hills Bowl 19 years ago, there were 30 bowling alleys in the San Fernando Valley.
"It used to be that there were plenty of shops like this to go to if your bowling ball had a nick in it, or if you needed the finger holes resized," Bryant said.
Today, Mission Hills Bowl exists with only half a dozen other bowling centers in the whole San Fernando Valley.
If you get a chink in your ball (which happens on the automatic lanes), if you need the finger holes resized, or if you simply want your ball buffed and shiny, people in the know send you to "the Ultimate Pro Shop" (as it says on Bryant's card) at the Pro Zone.
The Pro Zone is located inside Mission Hills Bowl, where it's not hard to find people who have come regularly for 20 years or more—some even since 1955 when the business first opened. Diddy Watts, the youth league supervisor, has been in that position for 26 years. Some of the bowlers remember when youths set up the pins in the back by hand. Others remember the advent of the automatic electronic scoring.
Filling a bowling ball and resizing the finger holes doesn't seem too tough, but it requires some specific sizing and measuring.
"It's becoming a lost art," Bryant said. "Not many people do it anymore."
Check out the photos and video of Bryant measuring fingers for a ball.