History of the Les Dames de 700 Bowling Club
In January 1947, Ann Ziesse, Secretary of the Detroit Women’s Bowling Association, wrote to Ferd Lipovetz of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Grand Pin Buoy (Secretary) of the Men’s “700” Bowling Club of America, and asked if two Detroit girls who had bowled a 700 series during the season were eligible for membership. The matter was officially acted upon at the February 8, 1947 Men’s “700” Club national officers meeting and all women bowlers who bowled a 700 or higher 3-game series in sanctioned WIBC league or tournament competition were voted an Honorary Membership in the “700” BCA.
In March 1947, Alberta Crowe, who was then Public Relations Director of the WIBC, wrote to Carolyn Lueder and advised her that she was eligible to enroll in the men’s “700” BCA.
Carolyn Lueder and Dorothy Miller of Chicago submitted their applications. Ferd Lipovetz suggested that they organize a ladies chapter. It was also decided that any girl who had previously bowled a 700 or higher 3-game series would be eligible for the ladies chapter providing she could verify her score.
Because Carolyn Lueder’s 722 series was the highest series for that season and Dorothy Miller had bowled three 700 series, these two were selected to head and organize the group. Since the men appointed their officers according to highest series, it was Ferd Lipovetz’s suggestion that this club follow that same method. However, once the club was organized, a rule was adopted that the officers be elected by vote of the membership.
After receiving a list from Ferd Lipovetz of those who had been accepted for membership, they were notified of a meeting to be held in Chicago in October 1947.
Ferd Lipovetz came to Chicago on October 10, 1947 and a meeting was held in Joe Norris’s office at Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. Attending were Val Mikiel, Hulda Otten, Ann Ziesse and Minnie Sackerman from Michigan; Anita Rump from Indiana; and Margaret Frank, Dorothy Miller, Georgia E. Veatch and Carolyn Lueder from Chicago. These girls were elected as Officers:
- Carolyn Lueder, La Reine de la Pin, Queen Pin (President)
- Val Mikiel, Princesse de la Pin (Vice President)
- Dorothy Miller, Secretaure-Tresoriere de la Pin (Secretary-Treasurer)
- Anita Rump, La Guarde de la Pin (Sergeant-at-Arms)
- Minnie Sackerman, Aumoniere de la Pin (Chaplain)
On October 24, 1947 a few of the girls met Ferd Lipovetz at the Chicago airport to discuss the Charter. It was determined that the club would be established as an honorary organization of sanctioned women bowlers, would be designed to give recognition to good bowling and high scores and would promote bowling fellowship.
On October 28, a meeting was held at the Lorraine Bowling Lanes in Chicago to discuss the Constitution and select Honorary Members. They were Jeanette Knepprath, President of the WIBC; Ann Ziesse, Secretary of the Detroit WBA; and Georgia Veatch, President of the Chicago WBA. In 1955, Emma Phaler, Executive Secretary of the WIBC, was also selected as an Honorary Member.
All the members were notified of a meeting to be held in January 1948 and of the special “700” Club squad to be held in Chicago at the Bowling Lanes Classic tournament on January 24. The newspaper columns were very good and it was “wagered there had never been a more powerful group of women bowlers on the same alleys at the same time than would appear on this exclusive squad.”
Sunday, January 25, 1948, the newly organized Les Dames de “700” Club of BCA held a Charter meeting and dinner at Howie’s Restaurant, 5120 Broadway, Chicago, Illinois; 3 honorary members and a few distinguished and interested bowling friends were also invited. William Morrissey of the Fanatorium Recreation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, donated and presented to the 18 members solid gold pins which had been designed by Georgia E. Veatch. Jo Norris was instrumental in obtaining the Charter and Paul Morrill of Brunswicke-Balke-Collender Co. presented the Club with membership cards. Joe Kissel of the Chicago Bowler; Byron Schuman, a newspaper reporter; Sam Weinstein, Manhattan Bowling Ball Co.; and Ferd Lipovetz were also guests. Ann Ziesse donated the club stationery. Jeannette Knepprath offered a trophy to the member rolling the highest 700 series during the year. Georgia E. Veatch presented the club with the constitution in booklet form. She also wrote the ritual which is used for the initiation ceremony.
The Les Dames de “700” Club was invited to the WIBC convention luncheon held in Dallas, Texas on April 19, 1948. A table had been reserved and decorated by the Dallas WBA in their honor. The 18 members present held their first National Sweeper in conjunction with the WIBC Tournament. A traveling trophy and an Individual trophy were donated by Brunswicke-Balke-Collender Co. and were won by Laura Stellmacher of Chicago, Illinois. In 1954 a second place trophy donated by National Bowling and Billiard Corporation, then a subsidiary of American Machine and Foundry Co., and a third place trophy donated by National Trophy Sales Co. of Chicago, Illinois were added to the awards.
In 1953 a Mail-O-Graphic tournament was held. Each member contributed an amount of money to be used for a prize fund. She was then on her honor to submit the 3-game series score rolled on her first league night of a designated week. This tournament continued for several years until 1957 when a new ruling in the WIBC bylaws forced its cancellation. To replace this event, a “White Elephant” Strike tournament was added. The winner was determined by the highest number of strikes bowled during league play on a given night. The prize was a “white elephant” that was donated by each member who had agreed to compete in this tournament.
In 1954 the first local chapter was organized in Chicago. A meeting was held at the home of Carolyn Lueder in Morton Grove, Illinois. All local members were invited and were asked to bring a useful “white elephant.” These “gifts” were auctioned and the money given to the appointed officers to be used for stationery and supplies. This Chicago Chapter met once a month, usually in a member’s home and occasionally downtown in a restaurant. They held three main events – a costumed Halloween Party, a Christmas Party with an exchange of gifts and a Golf Outing that they conducted for all the women bowlers in Chicago.
It was in 1959 that the Chicago Chapter offered to underwrite the Initial expenses of organizing a club for women bowlers. This group became known as the Professional Woman’s Bowling Association.
In 1956 the Les Dames de “700” Club of BCA asked to withdraw from the men’s “700” BCA. The men’s BCA gave their approval. The women printed their own membership applications, designed their own arm emblem, a replica of their National Pin, and dropped the “of BCA” from the name.
In the beginning, meetings were held in many cities, in bowling lanes and in hotel rooms, at any hour that was convenient for the majority of the members. There was a time or two when a meeting was called as late as 1:00 a.m. after the girls had finished bowling. By the end of 1949, the club had 71 members. By the end of 1971 the roster listed 654 members which included 370 active members.
After the women bowlers were included in the All Star Tournament in Chicago, the national meetings were held at the Coliseum in conjunction with this tournament. Business meetings were followed by a light supper. In 1960 the date was changed to a Sunday that coincided with the World’s Invitational Tournament. The meeting was held in a hotel and brunch was served. This proved to be an enjoyable way to discuss business and to visit with each other.
In 1966 the annual meeting site was moved to the WIBC tournament city and in 1968 the annual tournament was resumed. Between 1968 and 2004 both have been held in the host city of the WIBC Championship Tournament. The National 600 Club conducts this tournament for us, an agreement that has continued through a change of format. Since 2003 the annual tournament has been conducted using scores bowled in the WIBC Championship Tournament.
Following the merger of ABC, WIBC and YABA to the United States Bowling Congress on August 1, 2005, a change in the location of the 2006 annual meeting to the host city of the first USBC convention was made. What will be done in future years remains to be seen.
In 1995 WIBC amended its bylaws to again allow modified format sanctioning for tournaments. In January 1997 a Mail-0-Graphic tournament was conducted under this format and 221 entrants competed in 3 divisions.
When the newly organized Les Dames de “700” Club of the BCA held its charter meeting January 25, 1948, there were 15 members and 3 honorary members present. By January 13, 1955 there were 144 members. Records during these years are not clear but it is known that by the 1958-59 season there were 226 members.
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Through the 2004-05 season the club continued to grow. The merger of ABC, WIBC and YABA, however, began a steady decline in our membership. Fewer women were serving as delegates so fewer were attending our annual meetings traditionally held during the WIBC convention. Not knowing of our existence, the non-merged BA and Youth USBC associations and many of the newly merged associations do not inform their newly eligible members of our organization.
We all share in a proud history not only of bowling accomplishments but of friendship and caring for the sport we all love. Here’s to another 700 and another 50 years!