Bowling (Will Faust, Clarence Van Essen, HISTORY):


Winner of the first annual Inner-League playoff between Brainerd and C-I in April 1970 was Aire N' Aqua of Brainerd with Marshall, Lloyd. Johnson, Will Faust, Jerry Kvistad and Sid Palmer its competitors.


In a resume of bowling for the county, written by Roy Zierke; who managed both the Lake Region Lanes here and the Crosby-Ironton Lanes, some idea of the top keglers of the earlier era can be attained.

According to Zierke, who was succeeded by Sid Mott and then, Theisen in running Lake Region Lanes, bowling history for Crow Wing county must be confined to the turn of the century as the first Brainerd alleys weren't put up until about that time in the Globe Hotel, "which burned down shortly before I came to Brainerd in 1911," Zierke recalled in 1958.

"In 1911, Coffrain and Hess operated bowling alleys in the basement of the Ransford Hotel. The alleys were under their barber shop. About 1913, Ray Campbell opened alleys in the basement of the Carlson Clothing store. This burned down several years later and that, together with the closing of the Coffrain and Hess alleys, left Brainerd without any place to bowl for several seasons.

"Fred Cook then opened six alleys upstairs on Seventh Street over what was later the Red Owl store. Cook later sold out to Ralph Stevenson and the alleys were managed by Leonard O'Kelsvin. These also burned down and alleys then were installed in the basement of the Elks building and operated by a man named Block, assisted by his wife. These later were taken over by Clarence Van Essen," Zierke related.

Then in 1938, the Lake Region Lanes came into being, with Al Siegel of Little Falls installing eight alleys in the Ransord Annex. They were managed in the beginning by Forrest (Buck) Simpson, a longtime Cass county sheriff. Zierke and his son Calvin managed the lanes for eight years and Sid and Coletta Mott ran them for four years until turning over the ownership to Theisen and Dick Imgrund.

"There were many good bowlers in the past and they did not have modern facilities either," Zierke asserted. Naming an all-star team of Brainerd bowlers, he averred, "Under modern conditions, this team should average around 200."

That team would consist of Katus, Bill Sasser, Frank Ziske, Bill Demmers, Joe Zimmer and Ralph Stevenson. His choice of the top men's team of the late years was "the old Lakeside Bar team in the Classic league." It included Larry Jordan, Bob Block, Rod Sims, Wally Gavin and Cal Zierke.

Zierke recalled Sasser as "the, boilermaker" with what we called the snowplow ball. Bill was perhaps, considering the conditions, the highest scoring bowler in Brainerd history. He bowled with the Eagles team in the old Fraternal league."

Stevenson was distinguished by a slow approach and an accurate backup ball, while Ziske, known affectionately as "High Pockets," featured a fast back-up and Demmers a slow hook. Zimmer, was "slow, careful, calm, the most accurate spare bowler I ever saw," in the words of his chronicler.

Zierke recalled Clarence Van Essen for a "beautiful hook," Happy Englund "a dandy bowler," Iver Gustafson for his "mud ball," Oscar Olwein, Billy Bender, Fred Cook, Hanse Sande, Elmer Bikke (the fast baller), Lou and Jack Imgrund, Ira White, Hilding and Fred Maghan, Clark, Henry and Ralph Gum, Leonard O'Kelsvin (called "Mr. Goodness" by his. mates) and Mrs. Block, "the best woman bowler in Brainerd's history -- one who competed against men in their leagues."

A great coup occurred in 1969 at the Minnesota Bowling Proprietors Assn. convention in Minneapolis when the Zierkes made a play for the 1950 convention for Brainerd on the basis that it should be held the day the fishing season opened and conventioneers thus could take advantage of Brainerd's "wonderful fishing and resorts." Conventioneers dutifully cast a unanimous vote for Brainerd and Zierke couldn't ever forget, or live down, the fact that when the 1950 bowling session opened here all area lakes were still covered by ice.

Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).