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February 18, 2009

BAYLOR: Scoreboard daze of old

My period of part-time employment at Scoreboard Liquors along West Spring Street in downtown New Albany lasted from 1982 to 1988.

Do you remember the store? It directly faced the federal courthouse and was within spitting distance of numerous bankers, lawyers, title abstractors and others performing their time-honored roles in the daily antics of a county seat. For a lad from Georgetown, working the package liquor trade in the core of the historic business district was a kick and an education.

Surely, the 1940s-era building was the ugliest in all of downtown. Frumpily tacked to its backside was the infamous Cadillac Lanes bowling alley, so named because in olden times, the retail space had hosted an upscale automobile dealership.

The barren north side of Cadillac Lanes faced a gravel parking lot separating it from Elm Street, and it became known among employees that in figurative terms, to be taken “out behind the bowling alley” meant to be stood against the otherwise useless concrete block wall and shot for crimes against nature. In retrospect, I freely admit to the tactlessness of the phrase, but it was used quite often, especially in conjunction with obnoxious, drunken customers.

I worked two or three nights, Saturday afternoons and the occasional day shift. The job was good and included discounts on merchandise, where most of my paycheck landed. But after a few years, business downtown declined, and the owners had few good options when the lease expired in 1988.

They decided to relocate Scoreboard that summer. I took a week off from my “real” job in Louisville to help move the store to cheaper digs at the traffic-challenged corner of East Spring and Beharell. Few tears were shed when the downtown building was hastily demolished to make room for the bank that still stands there today.

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