Memories uncovered at Southway building

Driver's license, bankbook found under bowling lanes

January 19, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The questions could trigger a Baltimore detective novel:

Why were Lula Mrozinski's driver's license and bankbook buried beneath an 8,000-pound, 62-year-old duckpin lane at Federal Hill's Southway Bowling Center?

Were they stolen? Do they hold clues to a mystery? Was Lula Mrozinski simply careless, as her husband always said?

Mrozinski died seven years ago, and we may never know all the answers.

Her license - so old it has no picture - and other decades-old items were uncovered yesterday as workers pulled up Southway Bowling Center's maple wood lanes and moved them out of a top-floor window of the three-story building.

They are clearing the space this week to make room for nine loft apartments, which should be ready in June.

Mrozinski's son Michael, 54, says he remembers his mother's purse being stolen from the lanes in the 1950s. The contents were probably shoved under the lanes after the thief took her money, he said.

She was an avid bowler at Southway. Her husband, Frank, who died in 1984, was a pinsetter who worked for 5- and 10-cent tips. His Esso Standard Oil credit card was also found under the lane.

"It's amazing," said Michael Mrozinski, who now lives in Elkridge. "She would really be excited to see they found the stuff after all these years."

According to her license - No. A-595905 - Lula Mrozinski was born in 1921, stood 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 138 pounds and lived on East Randall Street. She was upset when her purse was stolen, her son said, especially because her husband suspected she'd lost it.

"If she was alive, she'd probably say, `See, I told Frank it was stolen. I didn't lose it,'" he said. "She was one of those feisty South Baltimore women."

He said he was going to call his brother in Arizona to tell him someone had found some of their parents' belongings, then stop by Southway to pick up the items. The few inches between the bottom of the lanes and the floor have acted as an unlikely time capsule, also preserving the lanes' original prepaid railway pass and shipping tag from Nov. 30, 1939, showing they came from Muskegon, Mich.

Beneath the lanes, workers also found a blue Bromo Seltzer bottle, tin cans of Chase's liquid glue and a Coca-Cola bottle with "Annapolis, MD" on the bottom.

Some of the items, including broken, wooden duckpins, are on display in a Charles Street storefront window at Loradd Construction Inc., the company that is converting the space to apartments.

Loradd President Louren S. Reddick says he's trying to preserve some of the history of the Southway building, which was erected in 1896.

Most of Southway's 26 lanes will be temporarily stored for $1 a month in Locust Point's Coca-Cola plant, an old factory that is being turned into office space. Many of them may stay at the East Fort Avenue site and become part of a new bowling center and museum, if local activists get their way.

The cost of moving the lanes is about $45,000, said developer Patrick Turner, who owns the Southway building and is footing most of the bill for the transfer. The rest, about $15,000, comes from community fund raising.

Turner also will keep some of the Southway feel in his loft apartments, which will be 2,000 square feet and have skylights and industrial kitchens.

The kitchen counters will be made from the maple wood lanes.

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