Bowling in Kokomo - 1930 to 1935
This era saw Kokomo bowlers perform exceptionally well at the State level. It also saw a reduction in the number of bowling lanes for the first time, a location change, and then an expansion. Finally, it saw the start of women’s league bowling. See the accompanying article for an account of the start of women’s league bowling and the Kokomo Women’s Bowling Association (KWBA).
Harry Schneiderman was still a dominant force on the Kokomo Bowling scene. In the 1931 ABC Tournament in Buffalo, Schneiderman shot 654 in the singles event. In January 1932, he set a Kokomo league record when he recorded a 710 series. In the 1931 State tournament at South Bend, he shot 1908 all-events to take the lead. His team total of 692 and singles total of 633 contributed most of that total. He eventually finished 2nd in all-events to a local South Bend bowler and 9th in singles. This was the 2nd time that Schneiderman narrowly missed winning a State championship.
His persistence and skill eventually triumphed. However this time he was a resident of Peru, having moved from Kokomo two years earlier. In the 1934 State tournament in Fort Wayne, Schneiderman broke through for two State titles. He won the singles event with a 698 series and all-events with an enormous score of 1964. He also finished 9th in doubles that year.
Henry "Lefty" Willer
Another bowler beginning to dominate the Kokomo bowling scene was Henry "Lefty" Willer. In the 1930/31 season, Willer averaged 199 for 103 games in the City League. This set an all time Kokomo league average record. In the process he also broke the record for the most 200 games in a league when he rolled 48 of them. His 693 series was the highest for Kokomo that season. He also set a record with 17 series of 600 or higher in a season. He led the City League in 200 games for six straight seasons. His individual and team’s dominance and visibility persuaded Firestone Tires to sponsor his team for the 1934/35 season.
Schneiderman and Willer did not do all the fine bowling. There were many other notable accomplishments.
The Kokomo American Legion team won the State American Legion tournament in 1931. Bobby Resener, Harry O. Davis, George Elliott, "Lefty" Willer and Bobby Overton comprised the winning team. They won by shooting a score of 2921 in Indianapolis. Resener and Willer were also members of the 1922 State American Legion champion team.
Harold Schrader lit up the lanes for a tournament leading 687 series in the 1933 State tournament in Indianapolis. The Fridlin Laundry team also took the lead with a score of 2885. However, Kokomo would be denied their first State title again when Schrader finished 3rd and Fridlin Laundry 7th. Schrader also shot a 703 series in April 1935 for one of Kokomo’s early 700 series.
In the 1934 State Tournament dominated by Schneiderman, a pair of Kokomo bowlers set two Kokomo records. Walt McFatridge and Harry O. Davis rolled a combined 501 doubles team game and a 1234 team series to finish in 8th place. Both of these scores were records for Kokomo bowlers at the State Tournament.
In the 1935 State Tournament in Terre Haute, Ralph "Ham" Hansell and Charlie Burk combined to roll 1213 in doubles. Burk’s 288 game and 650 series propelled the team to a 9th place finish.
New City Records
New team game and team series records were posted in 1933. The old team series record was 2999 and was set in 1927 by the American Central Life team. Two teams would top that record in one night in 1933. The Kelvie Press team shot 3015. Four of their bowlers -- Bobby Overton, Russell Kelvie, Carl Heady and Bobby Resener -- set the old record too. The 1927 team included George Elliott while the 1933 team included Bill Cooper. However, the record would belong to Lefty’s Stars, captained by "Lefty" Willer, when they tossed a 3051 series. Also on the team were Paul Allison, Fred Hurstel, Ed Critchley and Harold Schrader. Their second game score of 1087 also set a Kokomo record.
Fewer Lanes and Recreation Alleys Move
For the first time ever, Kokomo saw a reduction in the number of lanes available for league play. The Recreation Alleys was a 10-lane center owned by Harry Schneiderman and Sam Phillips. In the summer of 1932, Schneiderman took four of the lanes to Peru to form the Peru Recreation. This left Kokomo with only six lanes for the 1932/33 season.
In the summer of 1933, the remaining six lanes were moved from their Buckeye Street location. Their new home would be in the old Odd Fellows building at the southwest corner of Taylor and Main Street. In the summer of 1935, six more lanes were added in the basement. This increased the number of Kokomo's bowling lanes to a total of 12. This made the Kokomo Recreation Alleys unique in that they had six lanes in the basement and six lanes upstairs.