Chicago's historic Southport Lanes, Oak Lawn's Cupid Candies close Sunday due to COVID-19 pandemic struggles

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago's historic Southport Lanes, Oak Lawn's Cupid Candies close Sunday due to COVID-19 pandemic struggles
"It's not a wake, it's a celebration."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lakeview's Southport Lanes first opened in 1922, and a lot has changed since then with the neighborhood and the city.

Once a speakeasy and illegal gambling parlor in the '20s, Southport Lanes evolved into one of Chicago's most beloved billiards halls and bowling alleys, which until this year still used human pinsetters rather than a machine.

Tucked away in a Chicago neighborhood speakeasy, you can go bowling like it's 1922 all over again!

Then the pandemic hit.

"I've been telling everybody. It's not a wake, it's a celebration. It's a celebration of what we've done here," said Southport Lanes General Manager Phil Carneol. "I don't want people to be sad. I want people to keep their memories alive, what it meant to them and being part of real Chicago history."

Wendell Deeter, 55, is part of that history. He was a pin boy at age 13 and in charge of setting up two of the four bowling lanes.

"What would happen is when they had the tournaments, guys would put roll up money and put it in the balls. The finger holes of the balls. And if they left a couple of pins up, you'd pick up a stick and knock it down, so give them the strike. That's the way it worked. You take care of the pin boys, they take care of you," Deeter said.

Oak Lawn's Cupid Candies also closed Saturday.

The iconic candy store with its old-fashioned ice-cream parlor and soda fountain has been a staple in the neighborhood for 64 years.

A line out the door formed nearly as soon as they opened Sunday morning.

Four generations of a single-family came together to enjoy one last ice-cream shake in the parking lot.

"We used to go to 63rd street. My dad would take us when we kids. Letting us get a banana split, knowing we could never finish it, so he would finish it. So when we moved out this way we'd come out here. My kids, the grandparents would take my kids, us. I'd take my grandchildren now. We've all been here. It's all memories here," said Maureen Bianco.

And while it's certainly not the same, the factory will remain open so fans can still get their Cupid Candies fix online, same secret family recipes, albeit, under new ownership.