Bowling in Kokomo - 50 Years Ago (1946-47)
It was 50 years ago, and time for the 1946-47 bowling season to begin. World War II had just ended. The old City League was revived after a wartime death. It consisted of eight teams and was bowled for 35 weeks at the Evans Bowling Academy. President of the league was Don Lowry, who himself was back from military duty in San Diego. Secretary of the league was Jack Hardin.
This league revival meant that there were again two scratch leagues in town; the other being the Classic League. The top bowlers in that era looks like a Who’s Who in Kokomo bowling. You will notice many future Kokomo Bowling Hall of Famers. Some of the top bowlers in the scratch leagues were:
John Cox, Larry Hubert, Jack Currens, Barney Pickering
Peck Bratton, Hap Land, Paul Allison, Cecil Symons
Eddie Schupp, Everette Quinnette, Jim DeVinney, Fred Swaney
Bud Fridlin, Walt McFatridge, Clyde Myer, Cloyd Long
Fred Hurstel, Francis Fisher, Don Sellers, Don Lowry.
The last six bowlers (Myer through Lowry) comprised the Lawson’s Jewelry team which bowled in both of the scratch leagues. This team was a dominant force on the local bowling scene and one of the best of all time in Kokomo. Don Sellers was the alternate on the team and averaged 185. Clyde Myer averaged 191, Francis Fisher - 193, Cloyd Long - 195, Fred Hurstel - 199 and Don Lowry - 201 in the City League. Their 980 team average probably was not topped until the 1970’s.
Other high averages in the league were Hap Land with 200 and Eddie Schupp with 202.6. Schupp’s average set an all-time Kokomo record. With averages like these, there is no question in my mind that this was one of the high scoring eras, but, nothing like we have today. Over the years scoring has had its peaks and valleys. This was one of the peaks.
The 700 series shooters that season were Peck Bratton - 705, Art Baer - 708, Jack Currens - 718, Peck Bratton - 706, Larry Hubert - 742, Carl Foust - 708 and Fred Hurstel with a 701. Hubert’s series was only 11 pins short of Ronnie Wray’s record of 753. Peck Bratton had the high game for the season with a nice 289. Seems like we see scores like this every week now!
The cost to enter each event of the City Tournament was $2.25. Oh, the good ole days! Entries in the 1946-47 City Tournament consisted of 104 teams. It took us 50 years to get back to that level.
Twenty-eight teams rolled in the State Tournament in Indianapolis. The ABC tournament was held in Los Angeles, unfortunately with no Kokomo representation. It was one of the few years where Kokomo did not have a team participate.
Ads were placed in the Tribune for pin boys for $5 per night (two lanes for two leagues).
The Kokomo Recreation Alleys (then located at 500 N Main Street) added a lunch counter and soda fountain to their facility.
Not all of the good bowling was being done by the men. The women bowlers in Kokomo had been organized for about 10 years and we had some stars. Names like, Peg Hawkins, Elsie Pettay, Betty Thompson and Olive Hartung were in their prime.
Hawkins rolled a 289 game of her own in the Women’s State Tournament in Indianapolis. That was an all-time State Tournament record score. Her 616 series helped her doubles partner Martha Bone to a 3rd place finish. Twelve years later, Hawkins would roll the all-time Kokomo women’s record game of 298.
Well, now it is time to turn the clock ahead to the present. Hope you can match the scores that were rolled 50 years ago.