Remember the Ano Garage on 125 E. Commercial St.? Probably not, it closed as a
garage over 80 years ago. The owner was the late George Ano, a grizzly gent, who knew
what made horses run and what made the first automobile perk down the street at the
horrifying speed of 20 miles per hour.
George was a respected and honest businessman, a onetime member of the village board
of trustees, an avid bowler and a hardy blacksmith. Ano was one of the first businessmen
in the village. His wood building was of unique design and after its years as a
horseshoeing place and blacksmith shop, became a sales and repair service for the long-
gone Studebaker models of the classic auto era.
George Ano retired from the business and sold the building to the late Joe Parrotta and
Tony Ricci, and born from it was the village’s first modern bowling alleys. It created jobs for
the local high school kids called pin setting. They would set the pins back up after a ball
was rolled down the alley. It was a dangerous job, as some bowlers thought the setters
were not fast enough and let the ball go before the boys were done setting the pins. This
was compounded by the fact that to earn more money the guys often set up two alleys.
This was called setting doubles. Later, this job was replaced by automatic pinsetters. Now
even the score keeping is automated.
The business last became the property of Bob and Betty Bach. In 1962, a deadly fire swept
the bar side of the building causing $75,000 worth of damage. Fortunately, the bowling hall side of the establishment was not seriously harmed. Fire Chief Perry (Sonny) Reid led
the battle to save the building.
When the bigger alleys sprouted up in the plazas, the days became numbered for the
Cocktail Center, and its demise was hastened in the early 1970s when urban renewal brought
its federal bulldozers on the site.
Bach and his wife moved to Cape Vincent with their federal dollars and became the
proprietors of the historic Roxy Hotel. After they retired, the Roxy lived on under the
direction of Jack Ashton, another local citizen.
George Ano might cringe in his grave to know that his blacksmith and livery shop is gone,
covered now with black asphalt of a parking lot. Times have changed the area, but
memories are forever.