Ghost Alley and Scooter Bar and Museum owners Sue and Gary Williams (Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal)
WADSWORTH: When Gary Williams bought the old Kolony Lanes bowling alley and bar two years ago, he got more in the bargain.
He also got a resident ghost named Charles.
''He's never been a mean ghost,'' Williams said, ''but he'll let you know that he's around.''
Thus the new name for the business: Ghost Alley and Scooters Bar & Museum.
Sue Williams, co-owner of the 10-lane bowling alley and Gary Williams' wife (they were married Oct. 24), said she has seen Charles.
She said she was downstairs and ''all the lights went out. He was standing by the light switch. He was tall, slender, with dark hair, green eyes — very green eyes — and a very pleasant smile.''
The Williamses said they believe the ghost is a man named Charles who worked at the bowling alley. Sue said she thinks his last name was Wilson but has not been able to verify that detail.
''He was crushed by one of the big, huge machines behind the lanes'' in 1948, Sue Williams said.
Charles was only 25 years old when he died.
It seems the active Charles hasn't yet figured that out.
''I was working on lane 9, behind the lanes, with two other people,'' day manager Rob DeLong said. ''I felt just a tap on my shoulder and I turned around and there was nobody there.''
They speak of chairs suddenly toppling over or moving about the room; the time a first-aid sign taped to the wall in a back room came flying out through the doorway into the snack bar area; employees feeling someone tugging on their aprons; and a display of purses that were for sale being knocked down.
Then there was the time Gary and Sue Williams were there alone, cleaning up, when a woman screamed and the lights went out.
The couple had a paranormal expert come in to check things out. The conclusion: There are two ghosts.
''One lives here — Charles — and the other just passes through,'' Sue Williams said.
She said a psychic told her Charles follows her around ''like he has to protect me. Like I remind him of someone.''
Gary Williams said a woman who had taken a photo at the alley, where her child was having a birthday party, told them the ghost showed up in the picture. An old photo of the building, from when the VFW owned it, shows a man looking out the glass doors.
''It looks like him,'' Sue Williams said of the image in the picture. ''He just had the nicest smile. I do not feel afraid'' when he is around.
The couple said that when Gary Williams bought the building at 456 College St. he had no intention of opening the bowling alley and bar. He wanted it to store items in the 10,000-square-foot basement for his other business, Retail Renovations.
But people kept coming by, urging him to reopen the bowling alley. They said things like, ''My family has been bowling here forever.''
Gary Williams tore down inner walls and opened up the bar area, making it bigger and adding such features as Wi-Fi, Wii bowling, and an Internet jukebox that allows people to play music from any era, and other features.
He also brings in some of his vast collection of everything from old children's pedal cars to souped-up tricycles to old bicycles, scooters and motorcycles to display.
Williams also collects Studebaker cars and owns a 2002 Indian motorcycle and a 2009 Victory Vision — a futuristic-looking motorcycle with heated seats and other amenities.
A deejay and karaoke are on hand to keep things lively on Friday nights. The couple bring in different bands on Saturday nights. Wednesday nights are for euchre.
Gary Williams said the building that first opened for business in 1948 as a bowling alley and recreation center ''was the first approved bomb shelter in Medina County for a long time.''
The bowling alley has new pins and automatic scoring has been added, but, bowling alley mechanic Dan Handshue said, the gutters are original, as are the huge, 1946 pin setters behind the lanes.
Besides league bowling, including kid leagues at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, they offer lane rental for two hours of unlimited play on Sundays for $8.
Sue Williams puts together parties for adults or children at Ghost Alley. In the future they plan to host banquets in the basement, she said.
For more information, call Ghost Alley at 330-33G-HOST (334-4678).
Maybe Charles will answer.
Linda Golz can be reached at 330-996-3640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.