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Bowling alley, nearly destroyed during Agnes, still rolling

In June of 1972, a family had just achieved a dream; purchasing a small bowling alley. The very next day, it was all underwater.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — June 22, 1972 was a momentous day for the Chacko family. 

Jon Chacko Sr. finalized a deal to purchase an old bowling center on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. 

His son remembers that evening well.

"He went there to the lanes itself to sign the papers over and he was happy. He came home and was thrilled," said Dan Chacko, now a co-owner of Chacko's Family Bowling Center. "Then the next day, we had the dikes break."

The next morning, flood waters from Hurricane Agnes swept through the city and filled the newly purchased bowling alley; the water rising above the doorway.

"You walk in and you look at it and it was like, it was unbelievable," Chacko said.

When the flood waters receded, the Chacko's got their first glimpse at the damage. 

Dan was 15 at the time. 

He said the floorboards and basement were caked in thick layers of mud.

"All these lanes that were here, they were all buckled up and twisted and they had to be cut in sections and broken apart," Chacko said. "[My father] wasn't just worried about himself, but knew that it was destroyed. Then he had to get an SBA loan to rebuild the place."

The Chacko's didn't let the bad luck get them down in the gutter and were determined to set the pins up again.

"Actually, it was good luck, I think because these were older machines and then we ended up getting newer models," Chacko said. "It all worked out."

The business reopened in the fall as Chacko's Family Bowling Center. 

The business has moved several times since then, but 50 years later it's still rolling along on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, despite the menacing flood waters from Agnes.

"It's something that you never forget about actually. It's always in your mind. When is it going to come again?" Chacko said. 

See more stories about the Agnes Flood on YouTube.

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