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Forward Lanes: A Living Memory Gone Forever

Forward Lanes Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh landmark shut down this past weekend - a place that held a lot of memories from a lot of different times in my life.

Foraward Lanes Pittsburgh

Forward Lanes was fixed in time, a constant during a fairly unpredictable 29 years. As children we celebrated birthdays and learned to bowl. As teenagers we escaped our parents and got into trouble. As an adult I reminisced about it all a couple weeks back over a few PBRs.

Bowling Pittsburgh

Had we known that our evening there two weeks ago would be our last maybe we wouldn’t have had such a good time. I happened to have my camera with me and was able to capture our last bout. Character this deep is disappearing, cherish it.

Fuji XT1

For this photo essay, I experimented with some new editing techniques (using Lightroom). Given the vintage and nostalgic feel of Forward Lanes both in reality and in my mind, I felt that I could be a bit more creative with post processing in order to give these photos the right mood.

Also, the quality that the Fuji XT1 produces seems almost perfectly conducive to this type of snapshot storytelling. It's size with the 23mm is unobtrusive and does not intimidate people like the Canon 5D MKIV. I can easily get away with snapping candids and quick environmental portraits without anyone batting an eye....I love that.

I sometimes struggle approaching people to ask for a portrait (I'm working hard at it). But, something pushed me that evening to strike up a conversation with the woman working the desk. Peeking over from our lane, I saw her spraying down a row of bowling shoes. It felt so authentic. I knew I'd beat myself up later if I didn't get the shot, so I approached her with a friendly smile and asked if I could take her picture. I explained that seeing her spray down the shoes felt very nostalgic for me. I told her that I've been coming to Forward Lanes my entire life. She told me she hears that I lot and gave me a lovable smirk. It's pretty ominous thinking about it now considering she probably knew that Forward Lanes was approaching its final days. After reading about the closing I found out that her name is Andrea Brewer (I know, I should have gotten this information when I spoke to her), the operator of Forward Lanes for the past 14 years.

I am truly and deeply going to miss this place. Coming here wasn't a weekly or even monthly thing necessarily, but it was one of the only places in the whole world that I could walk into and feel like time stood still. I saw every version of myself in Forward Lanes and the version that walked out those doors a couple weeks ago is going to have to find a new place to make the next 29 years of memories.

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