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First edition of Curling News reveals War era

By David Garber, U.S. Curling News Columnist,

Volume 1, Number 1 of the National Curling News. Dated Jan. 1, 1945, this was “the first Curl- ing News in the history of the game.” Te editor, the late Glenn Harris of Superior, Wis., wrote that “the idea for a Curling News, like topsy, ‘just grew.’” He hoped “the ‘News’ would develop into a part of curling itself,” and a “real benefit to the curling game.” His efforts succeeded. He renamed the pa-


per the North American Curling News the next year, since the Canadian Curling News was not founded until 1957, and Glenn wanted to serve our northern neighbors, too. Harris sold his paper to “Tink” Kreutzig in

1959; Frank and China Rhyme were publishers from 1979-1991, when they sold to the USCA, which renamed the paper the United States Curl- ing News. Harris was inducted into the USCA Hall of Fame in 1988. What was up in the world of curling in Janu-

ary 1945? World War II was still raging, although victory now seemed certain, but thousands were still dying. Life was very gradually returning to normal for North Americans. Here are some published items from that inaugural issue, with my comments in parentheses: A National Curling News survey reveals there

are 50 curling clubs in nine northern states in the U.S. – Wisconsin (15); Minnesota (14); New York (7); North Dakota (4); Illinois (3); Massachusetts (3); Connecticut (2); Michigan (1); New Hamp- shire (1). More clubs likely exist, but have not been reported for this survey. Te Grand National Curling Club of America,

founded 1867, has 14 affiliated clubs (including Detroit, now part of the Great Lakes Curling As- sociation). Te Midwest Curling Association has 36 clubs. (Shortly aſter the USCA’s 1958 found- ing, the MCA disbanded, to be replaced by state associations in Illinois, North Dakota, Minne- sota, and Wisconsin.) Drayton, N.D., has a population of 650, of

hanks to David “Angus MacTavish” Sgriccia of the Detroit Curling Club, the USCA office now has a copy of

whom 80 are curlers! Te three Chicago area clubs, Skokie, Indian

Hill and Exmoor, curl on outdoor ice, laid out on three of the finest golf courses in the Midwest. St. Paul will soon “cheat (the) weatherman with six artificial sheets.” Scotland’s curling rinks are booked to capac-

ity despite the war. Curling was a dying sport in the 20th

century due to lack of cold weather (curl-

ing had been founded during the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600s and 1700s). But in the 1930s eight new ice rinks were built, according to Charles Wyllie of Andrew Kay & Company, curling stone manufacturers. Te effect of war on club rosters show some

gains, some losses: Exmoor (Ill.) has 30 new members and two extra sheets. Lake Saranac (N.Y.) had to turn its new rink back to the own- ers due to loss of members. Duluth (Minn.) has hired a director of activities for its more than 400 members. Portage (Wis.) has 75 members, “a large reduction, due to the ordnance plant lo- cated 20 miles away, which employs many of our curlers on various shiſts, and due to the entrance of nearly 50 of our members into the armed services.” Utica (N.Y.) reports travel to ‘spiels is more difficult since clubs are spread out in the east. Wauwatosa and Superior (Wis.) report steady levels of membership. Bonspiels were popular affairs in Duluth, Su-

perior, the Mesaba Range, Milwaukee/Wauwato- sa, Medford, and the New York and Boston areas. Te Heather Curling Club of Mapleton

(Minn.), was founded in 1905, but curling existed for many years before that, according to John E. Sutton, current club secretary, who said people “curled for many years before that, on the river, with wooden blocks.” Vilter Manufacturing (refrigeration equip-

ment) placed a full-page ad in the inaugural NCN. (Te next 15 years saw a great expansion of U.S. curling facilities with refrigerated ice.) Curling grew considerably in the post-War

period, through the 1980s, to about 130 clubs and 13,000 registered participants, almost all in the northern tier of the nation. But curling re- mained a little-known sport (except in Canada) until NBC began extensive television coverage

Te first edition of the National Curling News (above), which would become this magazine, was published on Jan. 1, 1945, out of Superior, Wis. Although more than 70 years have passed many of the topics are similar – club growth, bonspiels happenings and how to create great curling ice. A big thank you to David “Angus MacTavish” Sgriccia for sending copies of the first edition for our national office records.

USA Curling (( 31

of Olympic Winter Games curling in 2002. Now, there are 190 clubs (covering most states) and more than 22,000 participants in the USA. In- ternationally, curling used to be a sport limited to cold-climate nations including Canada, the U.S., Japan, Scotland, Scandinavian countries, and northern/western Europe. Today, the World Curling Federation includes 61 nations. Te se- cret is out! Q

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