During most of this time, Frank Milhous, Allan Nystrom, Ralph Hostetler and myself were spending most evenings, some days and the bulk of our weekends stripping out the building. The building was cleared wall to wall and floor to ceiling. The amount of material in a store building of this size is daunting. Stripping and removing took several months of part-time effort.
Many, many loads of debris made it to various landfills in the area. Stripping the building revealed concrete damage to the floor and, more seriously, it revealed a structural failure in the roof system. Several yards of concrete, and more than two months of evenings later, these problems were corrected.
Every foot of electrical conduit was removed. All the plumbing except for one single toilet was pulled out as well. Finally, even this remaining toilet went. Heating and cooling ducts were removed and the old roof mounted heaters were jettisoned over the side. The suspended ceiling was dropped on the floor and taken out. Hundreds of pieces of insulation came with the ceiling and were also removed. Thousands of floor tiles were lifted and disposed of. Walls were scraped and cleaned.
It was a lot of work, and the small group of dedicated people above did all of it. Occasionally they brought some help, and at times interested people would stop by and lend a hand. Clean-up committees were formed, and on the weekends the balance of the investors would fill the ranks and then 14 or 15 people would clean up, scrape, load and sweep. Then the work would begin again.
Once the work of reinforcing the ceiling cells was complete (750 ceiling studs installed by glue and screws 16 feet off the floor), work began on rebuilding the sewer system. The ceiling was then insulated, the raised floor in the area back of the lane approaches was constructed (175 tons of crushed sand and 75 cubic yards of concrete all ultimately placed by hand), storefront windows were framed in, insulated and sheet-rocked. The entire sprinkler system was reconfigured (700 pipe cuts and re-assemblies) with new recessed sprinkler heads to match the new ceiling.
Electrical included a completely new service panel and an outside PG & E service drop, along with all new interior service runs. Even the yard lights required redoing. New plumbing, framing, painting and many other crafts went into remodeling. Some were contracted and much was done by the same people who had been there all along. We had a plan and a lot of discussions and freely changed and adapted as we progressed. The humor was "We'll decide how it is to be done, and the person doing the work will do it his way anyway." It almost always went well, and the end result was impressive.
Along with the work came the equipment and material. This included lumber, steel, tools, trucks, trailers, loaders, backhoes, forklifts, compressors, power tools and much more. All as before was provided by the investors doing the work — none of it received compensation.
Inside work progressed well but the project lacked counters. In particular, we needed a main control counter, a snack bar, bar and back bar, work counters and cabinets in the pro shop, storage cabinets for janitorial supplies and electrical panels, and kitchen cabinets.
Keith Miller built each of these items in the cabinet shop at Milhous Boys Ranch. Sylvia Bonivert stained every piece of it. Dozens of tasks were undertaken and slowly the work progressed. Evelyn organized the weekend work parties and cut hundreds of pieces of framing to size. Howard worked on forms, concrete repairs, painted handrails and installed siding. Luanua caulked, Stephanie repaired light fixtures. Don ground on the old tilt-up concrete walls, Phil removed sheetrock and power-washed exterior walls. Judy cleaned and painted. Lennis appeared with the lunch order in between sanding and cleaning. By now the "never happen" folks were saying "They'll be broke in 6 months."
Lane beds and pinsetters and then the computer scoring followed the installation of sound and special lighting equipment. Finally, in mid-September, we opened the doors and immediately the first league bowling commenced. Chaos had nothing on us! Initially and for months after, it took a minimum of two people in the back to keep the machines running. Often, it took more.
Eventually, things settled down and we now operate a full house with a regular complement of staff. Life still gets chaotic but our reliability is getting better, most of the time, and Prosperity Lanes has steadily improved its ability to serve its customers. There is no doubt we beat up on the bowlers pretty badly during this time but they hung in, and we will always appreciate that.
We are just finishing our 10th month, summer leagues are drawing to a close, and we will soon start our second year.
There is no question but that we are on a steep learning curve. That being said we have widespread community support; our leagues are growing and open play is attracting new bowlers each day. Prosperity Lanes has been a success from the day it opened and we recognize it is our job and opportunity to keep it so.